Colorado Springs, CO – December 3, 2018—Alive Literary Agency today announced its Founder and CEO Rick Christian is stepping down March 1 after 30 years, and that an internal sale of the agency has been executed with its President Bryan Norman and Executive VP Lisa Jackson.
“I am grateful I could spend the bulk of my working years doing what I love with people I adore, realize my dreams, and accomplish the tasks with which I was entrusted,” said Christian. “There is no greater joy than to now pass the baton to such qualified successors.”
“It’s an honor to build on the strong foundation Rick established, and we look forward to leading Alive for the next 30 years,” said Norman, who joined Alive in 2013 after nine years at Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville. He rose there through the editorial ranks to become Associate Publisher at one of the industry’s leading nonfiction trade groups.
He reported that he and Jackson will continue operations under the same name with their current business titles. “We are grateful Rick will continue to consult with us for three years to ensure continuity of all things within the author and publishing communities, and enable us to fully replicate everything he’s been doing in the film and TV space.”
Christian’s daughter and 12-year Alive agent Andrea Heinecke will continue her employment with the agency, overseeing existing clients, backlist titles, and assisting with the burgeoning publishing and film/TV career of novelist Karen Kingsbury and her son Tyler Russell, the sole clients Christian will personally work with under his consulting relationship.
“We’ve been working on this plan for the past three years with the help of outside consultants, most notably a woman in Denver who built a thriving business advising top corporate and military leaders and consulting with the Pentagon,” said Jackson, who joined Alive in 2015 after a publishing career spanning newspapers, magazines and 15 years as the Associate Publisher of nonfiction at Tyndale Publishing House in Carol Stream, IL. “While we’ve faced unique challenges, the transition has been seamless and a fabulous model by any measure. And yet it is bittersweet to see our dear friend and mentor step away from Alive’s helm after such a distinguished and storied career.”
“We’re told for everything there is a season,” said Christian, who turns 65 December 22. “Three years ago when I first broached the idea of the transition, I placed a walking stick and backpack prominently in my office as a visual reminder to staff and others that our paths would diverge at some point. As for the road ahead, I want to take a long sabbatical season to reread my favorite novels and all of Eugene Peterson’s works, hike and fish the high mountains of Colorado, discover new music and poetry, finish a book I started writing, ski plenty, and give my soul breathing room to allow new things to bubble up and provide direction for my next assignment. My wife Debbie and I are rich with friends and privileged to have a large and close family, and so there’s much to look forward to with them and our 12 grands.”
Christian launched Alive in Los Angeles in 1989 and moved operations to Colorado Springs in 1991. In his tenure, he has 15 New York Times #1 bestsellers to his credit, and books Alive represented have sold more than 250 million copies.
Christian’s efforts on behalf of top authors have been widely chronicled in leading newspapers and magazines, including a cover profile for Christianity Today. His biography and record of achievement have appeared in Who’s Who in America.
Raised in San Diego and a 1977 graduate of Stanford University (communications and creative writing), he also studied at Capernwray Bible School in England and the University of Southern California where he pursued graduate work in professional writing, though he never completed that degree.
Christian launched his publishing career as a newspaper reporter and columnist, followed by a career switch to magazine publishing. He served as associate editor of Campus Life magazine, executive editor of The Saturday Evening Post, and then transitioned to executive leadership in book publishing. Along the way, he wrote several books himself, including the youth devotional Alive, The Woodland Hills Tragedy, A Gift of Life, and Silent Night, which was adapted for the television series “Sue Thomas F.B.Eye.”
It is as a literary agent that Christian became renowned, particularly for his entrepreneurial efforts behind such mega-sellers as Jerry Jenkins’ and Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series (70 million copies with millions more in 27 languages), Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible (20 million copies), Karen Kingsbury’s novels (25 million copies), Lisa Beamer’s post 9-11 Let’s Roll (1.5 million copies), and the Life Recovery Bible (3 million copies).
He is also celebrated for his literary efforts on behalf of Brennan Manning, Anne Graham Lotz, Henri Nouwen, Emerson Eggerichs, Elisa Morgan, Dave and Jan Dravecky, Rwanda President Paul Kagame, and select titles from Billy Graham and Philip Yancey, among many others. Other Alive phenoms include Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz (1 million copies), Ron Hall and Denver Moore’s Same Kind of Different as Me (1 million), and Heaven is for Real (13 million). Additionally, he has championed the adaptation of Alive books for film and TV, including Tri-Star’s hit production of Heaven Is for Real, Paramount’s Same Kind of Different as Me, Karen Kingsbury’s upcoming Baxter Family streaming series with Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, and numerous films for Hallmark Channel and various independent producers.
Christian’s representation of high-profile properties, negotiation for major film and TV adaptations, and pioneering work to develop crossover markets and leverage support across all formats and media earned him and his Alive team its reputation as the premier agency for inspirational content and authors.
Christian also served as the longtime Board Chair of Tirzah International, a grassroots ministry that addresses issues of injustice affecting women and girls worldwide. He and his wife Debbie have a blended family of seven children and live on a ranch in Black Forest, outside of Colorado Springs.
“I was given a leg up by many, and am glad I could pay it forward along the way,” Christian said. “Authors, publishers and retailers face critical challenges, but I’m encouraged that industry sales are largely up in the latest reports and that young parents continue reading to their children who hopefully will become the next-gen authors Alive represents in seasons ahead.”
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