Never a Dull Moment in Publishing
Blogger: Mary Keeley
My morning routine begins with catching up on emails and news in the industry. Lately, more times than I care to admit it’s been as late as 11:00 when I finally glanced at the little clock on my computer monitor. So many changes taking place: mergers, lawsuits, trade book lines ceasing, trade book lines reviving. It’s a challenge to keep up with them. I’m going to focus on two today.
In response to Amazon’s monstrous growth as a publishing giant, we’ve watched larger publishers merge, presumably to be more competitive. Last year it was HarperCollins’s acquisition of Thomas Nelson, which combined two CBA publishers, Zondervan and Thomas Nelson, into one imprint: HarperCollins Christian. This year in the general market we witnessed the merger of Penguin and Random House.
Two medium size publishers shut down their trade fiction or complete trade lines. The first one shut down its trade fiction line, which meant losses of expected income for many contracted authors as well as their agents. The other publisher shut down its complete trade publishing line, both fiction and non-fiction.
The immediate concern among authors and agents was that available publishing slots for books would be cut in half with each merger and reduced again by the demise of the trade lines. It’s obviously the case with regard to the closures, but it’s a wait-and-see with respect to the mergers. I’ve heard varying feedback to date.
What do these changes mean for authors, both published and unpublished? Here are five positive observations for an optimistic outlook:
1. New genres provide opportunities for new writers. Sharp eyes in the general market recognized these waiting audiences. New adult fiction, which first appeared around 2009 but picked up steam in 2011, targets the Millennial audience, which is too old for YA but can’t relate to established adult fiction and non-fiction. Baby boomer lit reaches that huge audience, which was first recognized by Hollywood. CBA publishers are showing interest in stepping out of their safe categories to embrace new genres as well. This means more opportunity for writers, especially those who haven’t yet established their brand.
2. Superb writing and a strong following are the primary factors that may convince a publisher to choose your book over the myriad of other submissions. Nothing new here…just true more than ever. For unpublished as well as published authors this means you need to be patient, continue to polish your craft, and write, write, write until you are confident your manuscript is fresh, unique, and can compete in the market. Enjoy the process; don’t rush it.
3. New people groups. Publishers are looking for stories surrounding fresh, new people groups. This presents creative opportunity in all genres.
4. Re-launch of trade lines. One publisher recently re-launched trade publishing lines for non-fiction, YA fiction, and Bible studies.
5. God still rules. Change is inevitable, but he holds the reins.
Change is the operative word in publishing, but there is plenty of opportunity. Click to Tweet.
If you are a writer who is flexible, there are many opportunities in publishing. Click to Tweet.
Authors who write about fresh new people groups have opportunities. Click to Tweet.