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An Interview with Our Speaker, Bob Hostetler

Behind the scenes, the folks at the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference are putting the finishing touches on bringing you our best conference to date!

Months before attendees check in for their first class, our committee chooses a keynote speaker and we are so pleased to introduce this year’s keynote: acclaimed author, editor, and literary agent, Bob Hostetler.

Recently, we reached out to Bob to hear his thoughts on the impact conferences make to a writer.

Why is attending a writer’s conference so important to a writer? 

There’s so much to know about writing for publication that those who’ve never attended a writer’s conference just can’t imagine. They teach how to write, but also provide information about submitting your work, working with agents, editors, and publishers, and mistakes to avoid. The experience will blow your mind and perhaps set you on a course toward publication. A good conference is a learning experience, a tribe-building exercise, and a networking opportunity all rolled into one.

Many aspiring authors are apprehensive about attending an in-person writing event. What advice would you share with them as an editor and literary agent? 

In the past, a writer could labor in obscurity, mail his or her masterpiece to an editor somewhere, and hope for success. However, today—especially in the Christian market—publishing is not only about the words, but also about the people. It’s about relationships. Anyone who wants and hopes to write for publication should rejoice in the prospect of making lifelong friends, building deep and lasting relationships with others in the Christian publishing world. That’s how the process works these days, and it’s also a large part of what makes it so rewarding.

Can you describe your writing space? 

My office has changed a lot in 2019. For the last fifteen years or so, I had a large basement space, with my library of 2000-plus volumes wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling. But in the latter half of 2019, my wife and I moved across the country and into a new home. We are closer to our children and grandchildren, but the move necessitated much downsizing. Now I have a lovely 12×14 office (I think), with a window, L-shaped desk and computer hutch, and shelving for my library of classics, which consists of about 250 volumes.

Can you share the steps you’ve taken to transform your inspiration into a message for others to enjoy?

That’s a tough question to answer because the process is different in every single case. In general, I don’t start with the inspiration—I start with the need. My process begins with the reader—what he or she craves, or what he or she already feels a strong, even urgent, need for. With that as my starting point, the material is then written according to where the reader would most likely first encounter my book (or article or blog post), and I seek to walk alongside the reader, so to speak, in taking the steps that will meet that need.

How has your life of faith influenced your writing? 

My “mission statement” has long been “to know God and make him known.” That calling permeates and guides everything I do as a writer.

You’ve reached an incredible milestone in publishing 50 books. What was it like to see your name on the cover of your first piece?  And on your 50th book? 

It never gets old. That first book (the co-authored Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door, with Josh McDowell) has had a long, deep, and wide ministry. This is what writing is about for me—not so much the name on the cover, but the ministry, the influence, the occasional letter or email saying, “this book changed my life!” That’s the absolute best.

In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, what effects have the last few weeks had on your writing? What are you most hopeful for in the near future? 

I comment almost daily that (other than travel and speaking, which has been curtailed) my daily life is much the same as it always is. I sit at the desk and write. And there are thousands of people like me, who are still writing, still publishing. Sure, this crazy episode will have a huge effect on writing, publishing, and book-selling, but much of it will be temporary. The value of “a word fitly spoken” (or written) won’t change, however. I believe that value will be amplified in the new conditions that arise following this chapter of our history.

Learn more about Bob by visiting him at .

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