At a time when many publishers are cutting back, tiny Tristan Publishing is expanding—and how.

Known for small, elaborately crafted gift books of less than 1,000 words, the mom-and-pop Christian publishing house in Minnesota is stepping into putting out full-length titles for the first time with My Boy, Ben: A Story of Love, Loss and Grace by former tennis pro David Wheaton.

“Our tagline is ‘books with a message,’” says Sheila Waldman, whose unusual title is “president of relationships” at Tristan, which she heads with her husband, Brett Waldman, the publisher. “We only will do books that uplift the spirit. And this book, while it is longer in length than what we have done, is incredibly uplifting. It is all about hope and grace.”

Due out in October, My Boy, Ben tells the story of Wheaton’s deep and emotional relationship with Ben, a yellow Labrador retriever, who waited patiently for him to come home from the pro tennis circuit. Two-hanky memoir that examines what Ben taught Wheaton about God’s grace. Galleys of the book will be on hand in the Tristan booth (852) beginning today.

The decision to add a full-length title to its roster of six to 10 gift books a year has been percolating at Tristan for a while. The Waldmans have received numerous long manuscripts before, but have always turned them away. But after meeting Wheaton’s father (the Waldmans attend the same church as the Wheatons, but did not know them) they agreed to look at the manuscript and help get it published—by someone else.

“Our first reaction was, this book is not our format, but we love everything about it,” Brett Waldman says. “And then it shifted in our hearts.”

Nor is it the only first for Tristan, which employs a total of five people. Earlier this year, the company purchased Studio J, which features the inspirational art of Jodi Hill, a Tristan author, on cards, prints, and magnets. They will have a selection of Studio J goods in their booth.