February 13, 2020
By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
Martine Bates Fairbanks has read a lot of books through the years. She’s always been a voracious reader. And working as a book reviewer for The Alabama Baptist has brought even more books her way during the past several years.
“There have been hundreds,” Fairbanks said.
And sometimes as she’s held a book, she’s had this thought: “I wish I could’ve gotten my hands on this book before it was published.”
Sometimes that’s because she feels like a keen editorial eye could have taken the story from good to great. Other times it’s because she wishes the author had the benefit of a marketing team helping him or her get the word out.
And recently Fairbanks found a solution she thinks might be the answer to both of those needs. Back in June, she — along with business partner Alice Evans — bought a publishing company.
“I wasn’t seeking it out; this one fell in our laps,” Fairbanks said.
Fairbanks and Evans had wanted to see a line of children’s books — the Alabama Roots Biography Series — get in the hands of more children, so they approached the publisher, Seacoast Publishing, with some ideas. It’s a popular series with educators, which is exactly Fairbanks’ background, and both she and Evans had written several titles for the series.
They didn’t expect Seacoast’s owner to offer them the company — but they said yes, they’d take it.
“My intent from the very beginning was to add a Christian component,” Fairbanks said.
Evans’ publishing interests lay in other directions, so Fairbanks started talking to her former pastor, Rob Jackson, along with his daughter, Abigail — who works in marketing — and Jackson’s longtime friend Max Croft, who once owned a large Christian bookstore and has a seminary background.
Fairbanks’ son, Ben Bates, a pastor in North Alabama with degrees in theology and English, also joined them, and together they formed SonCoast Publishing, which they plan to operate as both a traditional publishing company and a resource for authors who want to self publish.
“We want to provide a forum for Christian books as well as an avenue for people who want to write a book and need a little coaching and guidance,” Fairbanks said.
Jackson, currently associate professor of Christian studies at University of Mobile, said the prospect of creating SonCoast was an answer to prayer for him — he had been praying for new ways to reach people with the truth of Christ. For him, SonCoast opened up the possibility not only to publish books but to be able to distribute materials globally to assist with pastor training. And that’s the tip of the iceberg.
“I would love to help people print and promote books that are going to change the world,” Jackson said. “Can we help writers become authors who will change the world? Can we help market and promote Christian literature not only here but around the world so Christ can be glorified? Can we have more resources to give to further the kingdom of God? Those were the questions we have been asking.”
And it seems, he said, that the answer is yes.