Marietta Pastor Sells More than 1 Million Copies of Books
After 27 years of writing, Tommy Higle has officially sold more than 1 million copies of his works. “When I first started, I didn’t know I would sell 10 books outside of what we used in my church,” Higle said after selling more than 1 million of his “Journey Series” books.
Higle, pastor of Marietta, First for 26 years, said he expected to pass the 1 million mark in November, but increased sales in September brought the milestone sooner. Higle said he is pleased that the Bible studies are still vital to Christians all over the world.
“In the United States alone, more than 12,000 churches have used The Journey Series(r) in 40 different denominations and all 50 states,” he said. What’s more, the million copies sold were all published in Marietta. Higle got his start writing Bible studies in the late 1970s when he was serving as a pastor in Nashville, Ark.
“I was not fully satisfied with any studies I found, so I began writing my own,” he said. While writing, he taught his own series of lessons through the Bible.
After other pastors in the area saw his church swell from 75 to 200 in number, they questioned what was working so well. The calls he received from area ministers prompted Higle to print and sell his series.
He planned to print only 500 copies, but before he completed the printing of the studies from the Old Testament, Higle already had that many sold, so he increased the printing to 2,500 copies. By the time the New Testament studies were printed, Higle said all 2,500 were sold.
“I never thought about selling the studies until pastors started calling and asking about it,” Higle said. He said he understood the requests of area ministers due to his own search for a simple, comprehensive study about the Bible as a whole, highlighting each book and its contents.
Selling more than 1 million copies is a feat for an unknown minister in a small rural church, but Higle has found success in his writing and continues with plans to write and publish numerous future works.
“People seem amazed when I tell them I have sold a million copies,” Higle said. “I was first asked if I was a pastor of a megachurch. It seems only the big-time pastors write and sell that many books.” Higle also was questioned about having his own radio or television show to market his materials.
“We publish a catalog and revise it each year to highlight new releases,” he said. “That, our Web site and word of mouth are all we use to advertise The Journey Series(r).” The business welcomes 80 new customers each month, mostly from word of mouth.
Not only has Higle served as writer, but in the beginning he also ran the printing press. “It wasn’t easy,” he said. “I worked at the church until 5 p.m., and then came home and printed until 1 or 2 a.m.”
Today seven individuals make up the staff at “The Journey House” in Marietta, where more than 1,200 studies are shipped to customers each week.
Every part of production of The Journey Series(r) takes place in their facility, from writing, editing, printing and binding to finishing and shipping. The only marketed job is four-color printing of their catalogs and Bible study covers.
His wife, Virginia, edits all the books before they are published. “My wife is the administrator/editor-in-chief of The Journey Series(r),” Higle said. “She is a former English teacher, and has taught me so much about grammar and English.
“My Bible studies are sermons I have preached that I adapt to a Bible study format I use on Wednesday nights,” Higle said.
The lessons included in each “Journey” book begin as sermons he preaches in a series. He preaches through a series two or three times before it becomes a Bible study.
“The people in my church actually serve as ‘guinea pigs’ for my Bible studies,” he said. “They have been tremendously supportive of my writing. In fact, I could not have done all of this without their support and encouragement.”
First Church offers a Community Bible Class during the Sunday School hour that is open to anyone in the community. This class is taught by Higle, out of The Journey Series(r), and averages 75 in attendance.
Higle said he has never had the desire to be the pastor of a megachurch. “To be honest, I’ve never known a church better for me to serve in than this one,” he said. “Even outside of my church, I have received amazing support for me and my family, as well as the “Journey” ministry.”
The success of The Journey Series(r) does not stop at the boundaries of the U.S. Higle has also established relationships overseas with individuals who have published his books in the Philippines, Russia, China and Australia.
The future of The Journey Series(r), Higle said, will continue as long as he does. “I don’t plan to stop writing,” he said. “I am happiest when I am studying, reading and writing. I will always write.
“I hope to improve. I think each book should be a little better, but I want them to remain simple and relevant, something people enjoy studying.”
The top selling books from The Journey Series(r) in 2008 include Journey Into Powerful Living, Journey Of A Lifetime, Deepening Your Spiritual Roots, Journey Into Living God’s Way, Journey Into Stress-free Living, Journey Into Believer Building, Journey Into Living Wisely, Journey From Religion To Relationship, Journey Into Overcoming, and Journey From Despair To Delight.
To learn more about Higle’s The Journey Series(r), visit www.JourneySeries.com.