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Religion Update I, February 2014

Religion Update I, February 2014

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Published by Publishers Weekly
Novel Spirits; Fresh voices and fan favorites energize inspirational fiction
Novel Spirits; Fresh voices and fan favorites energize inspirational fiction

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Published by: Publishers Weekly on Feb 12, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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espite mixed fortunes in 2013 in a category that might be feeling digital disruption more than any other, publishers of Christian and inspirational fiction remain optimistic as they look to the coming year. It’s a glass-half-full view based on some new strategies, strong lists, and unswerving belief in the power of a good read.
Karen Watson projects growth for Tyn-dale House, where she is associate pub-lisher for fiction. That’s based in part on forthcoming titles from
bestselling authors Joel Rosenberg (
Escape from Aus-chwitz
, Mar.) and Francine Rivers (
Bridge to Haven,
 Apr.). The company’s 35–40 releases in the year ahead will be “fairly consistent” with previous years, Watson says. Though sales in 2013 were “fairly flat,” Watson was encouraged by “excellent response and critical recognition” for several titles, and Christy Award prizes for three authors with new books coming in 2014: Chris Fabry (as yet untitled, Oct.), Tracy Groot (
The Sentinels of Andersonville
, Feb.; profiled in this issue), and Susan May Warren (
Take a Chance on Me,
 Feb.). Tyn-dale has added a full-time social media specialist to train and support its authors’ efforts.At HarperCollins Christian Publish-ing, v-p of fiction Daisy Hutton says, “We plan to maintain the size of our pro-gram in terms of the number of titles we is also true. So as we move forward we want to maximize the marketing and sales in each format for each author.”While sales last year were below expec-tations for Moody Publishers’ River North imprint, associate publisher Deb Keiser looks forward to growth this year. Part of that rests on their first book from bestselling author Davis Bunn (profiled in this issue), whose
The Turning 
 releases in April.David C. Cook will likely trim its fic-tion list by almost half compared to five years ago, according to Don Pape, speak-ing shortly before announcing his depar-ture as Cook’s trade publisher to Nav-Press at the turn of the year. Cook is “assessing how to move forward in this category,” Pape says. “There are a number of players crowding the shelves—add the self-published fiction tribe and it makes it hard for good new stories to be discovered.”Abingdon Press will be retrenching some, though Pamela Clements, associate publisher for fiction and Christian living, is confident that ”readers still love fiction, and they love our fiction.” One challenge last year was getting stores to carry and display as a line the imprint’s Quilts of Love series—aimed at the country’s 20 million-plus quilters—with each title written by a different author. “Each book covers different genres and settings, so we understand how stores would want to shelve the books according to their tradi-tional categories,” says Clements. “The advantage of grouping the books together as a line remains to be seen, though. In the meantime, we are continuing to see orders of the backlist as readers discover the new releases.”
After a few years of frenzy, publishers are getting more of a handle on the scale and impact of digital fiction—something that Pape notes “went from zero to one hundred quickly.” Sales in that space are
Religion Update
 FEBRUARY 10, 2014
Christian fiction publishers forecast 2014
Looking Back,
 Looking Ahead
B󰁹 A󰁮󰁤󰁹 B󰁵󰁴󰁣󰁨󰁥󰁲
publish.” The combined Thomas Nelson and Zondervan fiction catalogue will fea-ture 60 new frontlist novels, 12 trade paper conversions and repackages, and 27 e-single novellas.HCCP’s inaugural “e-first” project, the Calendar Brides Collection, was one of 2013’s highlights. In addition to combin-ing Nelson and Zondervan editorial and marketing teams, the year also saw mar-keting and PR teams restructured accord-ing to category rather than task. As a result, “each member is cross-trained and focuses on a specific category,” Hutton says, “allowing them to become experts in that category and build strong rela-tionships with the gatekeepers—publica-tions, bloggers—and also allowing each of our authors to work with a single team member for their full campaign.”Dave Lewis, Baker Publishing Group executive v-p of sales and marketing, says that creating the new position of e-book promotion analyst played “a significant role” in increasing fiction revenues. Last year was “solid” for Baker, with Revell and Bethany House print sales also up, he says. This year Lewis anticipates further growth, with about the same number of new titles. One will be June’s
Child of  Mine
 by Beverly and [author] David Lewis, whose
 sold more than 250,000 units a few years ago.“In publishing one sees growth in a couple of ways: being aware of market shifts and publishing better-selling titles,” Baker’s Lewis says. “There are spe-cific authors who sell much better as an e-book than they do in print. The reverse
 Karen Watson Daisy HuttonDave Lewis Don Pape
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