Thursday, June 13, 2019

An interview with Exaltation Press

A friend of mine brought Exaltation Press to my attention a few weeks ago. I emailed them for an interview and Fr. John Hogg was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

How long has the press been "in business" and what prompted you to start this effort?

My family is bilingual and so for years, we've gotten our kids good Orthodox books from other countries. As the priest of a parish with a lot of children (out of about 110 people, over half are children) I know that parents are eager to have good books for their children and I've often regretted not being able to lend them the books we read to our kids. A few years ago, we bought a book on Great Lent for children, with a reading for every day of the fast (and for the pre-Lenten Sundays). It looked really good and so it got me thinking about translating it. At that point, I had no idea about how I would get the rights or get it published, but just wanted to see if there was interest in a project like that and so I asked in an Orthodox homeschool group on Facebook and the response was very strong. That got me looking at other books that I had around the house that we found to be useful with our kids. I've been working with a group called "The Orthodox Christian Translation Society" to publish some of these books. Once I started translating, though, I found I could translate a lot very quickly and so started thinking about starting my own publishing company to give me the ability to work faster with more freedom in choosing projects.

I published the first book in December but didn't have the website ready yet and so I only really started to sell the books in earnest at the end of February.

You seem to have made a special effort to produce children's books. How did you pick the books you've chosen so far and what titles are you planning for the future?

As a parent and a priest I try to pick books that I believe would be useful and helpful to families. I especially like books that both have good content and are beautifully made. I think beauty is very important for children.

In terms of children's books, we have a lot upcoming. We'll be releasing a children's catechism within the next few months that's all translated and edited and that we just are waiting on a few illustrations for. There's a series of 32-page books called "Orthodoxy for Children" that covers topics like God, the layout of an Orthodox Church, Divine Liturgy, confession, prayer, the Great Feasts, etc. That has eight books in it so far with a ninth in the works. We have a book for parents. And we'll also be releasing two children's prayer books, one for younger children and the other a high quality one for older children.

I first found out about your press from my goddaughter posting about putting a bulk order of your "Pocket Commemoration Book" for local friends. What are your plans for more prayer/devotional books?

Make sure that she sends me a message to put the order in so I can give her the bulk discount! In terms of prayer and devotional books, we have the two prayer books for children coming out, we just released the Pocket Commemoration Book today, and I'll probably also be putting together books on preparing for confession and a few other devotional topics. As a priest, I've noticed that there are a lot of questions that come up on a regular basis where having explanatory material available could be helpful.

Is the plan to do translated books in the main or are you thinking about adding original content, too? Considering how few English language books on Orthodoxy there were for the average American 20 years ago, I'm sure there's a glut of foreign-language books to be translated and published.

Right now, the plan is mostly to do translated books. Since your first email, I've bought the rights to ten additional books, including an eight book series called "Orthodoxy for Children" which includes: The Divine Liturgy, The Temple Building, The Clergy, Prayer, Fasting, Confession, The Great Feasts, and God. I hope to have them all out within the next month and from there, there are other books I'd like to publish.

I have thought about doing original content at some point but that would be further in the future and is not something I'm actively planning right now. As you mentioned, there are lots of good Orthodox books available in other languages still to be translated.

Where can we order books? Amazon? Your website? Is there a special discount for bulk orders or parish bookshops?

All of our books are available both on Amazon and on our website ( Orders from Amazon can often arrive in two days with their Prime option so that's a good option if someone needs the books quickly. However, Amazon takes a significant cut off of the sale price, and so the profit margin is more narrow. Orders through our website can take a week or two to arrive, but the profit margin is greater and as a mission priest, I'm very grateful for all website orders. Plus, through my website, I can offer discounts and sales, while I have no control over what Amazon does. There are definitely bulk discounts and discounts for parishes, monasteries, and homeschool co-ops.

Also, I'm definitely open to discounts for financial need. While I hope this publishing company will help support my family, more than anything, I'm choosing books where I believe in their quality and believe they can be useful to families. Many people have contacted me to say that the Holy Week and Pascha book, "The Resurrection of Christ," was helpful for their children during Holy Week. I know how family budgets can be tight and so if there's financial need, I'm always open to someone using the "Contact Us" form on the website to ask about discounts.

Do any of your titles lend themselves to use in Sunday schools or for homeschoolers?

Yes. The three book series "Scripture and Feasts for Children" has already been used in some Sunday schools and I've heard of some people using the book "Sacred History from Adam to Me" with their homeschooled children. Our new eight book series will hopefully also be useful in that way as will our children's catechism.

You're going to be publishing a child-friendly version of the famous "Law of God" by Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy. The original was a great tool for parents to teach their children about the faith. Is this title more of a book for children to read themselves?

It definitely is a book that children could read to themselves but it's also good for parents to read to their children. I've been reading the original Russian version with my own children and they've really enjoyed it. The original version is much more comprehensive and designed for a slightly older age group.

Sale of your books funds Orthodox causes. Could you speak a little about that?

Yes. From time to time, rather than putting a sale on the books, I'll pick an Orthodox cause. The books will still be sold at full price, but I'll take the amount of the sale price that would have gone towards a sale and put it towards that cause. Since things are still small, this area is still rather undeveloped but it is something that I want to make more a part of the publishing house as, God willing, things grow.

Thanks so much for your time. I look forward to keeping up with your new titles as they come out!

Thank you! I'm excited about this. With another baby on the way soon, I'm eager to find any ways I can to spread the word.


  1. what a marvellous cover on this book The Miracles of Christ! It has an iconographic sensibility and yet manages to combine that with a simple liveliness especially fitting for a children's book. Too often we see illustrations supposedly meant for Orthodox children that are either simply reproductions of icons, or else are indistinguishable from Western or secular styles aimed at children. This one hits the sweet spot in the middle.

  2. Feel free to spread the word! :-)