Religion Update | Feature
Christian fiction authors from HCCP and other publishers will
attend the breakfast.
HCCP is also tapping into corporate opportunities such as the
ChurchSource catalogue, as well as the church library market and
women’s online communities. And when a retailer steps forward
to support a particular book or author, HCCP “is going to honor
that support,” Bond says, with marketing that directs consumers
to that retailer, and with price incentives.
Dave Lewis, executive v-p for sales and marketing for Baker
Publishing Group (BPG), also sees focused marketing as key to
success. “We continue to support fiction with robust marketing
in print and social media, and with author websites,” he says.
“Also, we have taken our older backlist titles and created sig-
nificant price point promotions for retailers to help them com-
bat cheaper e-book prices.”
Online promotions are aggressive, with 200–300 fiction and
nonfiction titles on sale at least a few days every month. Every
title, especially backlist, ends up on sale at least one or two days
a year. “We’re always experimenting,” Lewis says. “We test each
author and each genre to learn where we can maximize pricing.”
Faith Words is also focusing particular attention online. “Social
media offers a whole array of ways to connect readers with our
books,” says Christina Boys, senior editor. The Faith Words Face-
book page has more than two million “likes,” and the publisher
“E-book pricing is changing expectations for what is a fair price
for print books, and books increasingly need to be price-pointed
to move in volume,” he says. And Christian retailers, believing
that e-book sales would take over, have reduced shelf space for
fiction and replaced it with higher-yield merchandise such as
cards and gifts. “They created their own sales decline,” Oates
says, “and pushed readers who wanted broad selection into pur-
chasing online, but they also shrank the market.”
To meet these challenges, publishers are searching for ways to
target particular audiences and tailoring their marketing efforts
toward reaching those audiences. “We’re getting very specific
about our sales channels,” Hutton says, “and we’re a lot more
focused on digging in and doing activities that work in specific
For example, HCCP fiction marketing director Katie Bond
began attending the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention
in 2010 to get perspective on how the publisher might meet
readers in that venue. Last year, HCCP hosted an open breakfast
that featured a number of its romance authors; more than 300
guests attended. “We could not have anticipated that kind of
response,” Bond says. “We were blown away.” This year, 19
Founded: Gaston, Ore., 2009
List: Nine books per year.
Payment: 50% royalty on POD and e-books.
Notable titles: On the Threshhold (2013), by Sherrie Ashcraft
and Christina Tarabochia, and Dianne Price’s Thistle series.
Cofounder Tarabochia published her debut novel, The Familiar
Stranger, with Moody in 2009, but she failed to land subsequent
contracts. In 2013, she and Ashcraft, her mother, launched
Ashberry Lane in order to self-publish On the Threshold. Shortly
after its release, Price, who was terminally ill with cancer,
approached the pair about publishing her six-book historical
romance series. “We decided that we would be a traditional
publisher,” Tarabochia says. “We want to be the middle ground
for those who can’t get [one of] those eight to 10 slots at major
houses, but whose story is really good.”
Founded: Hopeland, Pa., 2013
List: Eight to 10 books per year.
Payment: 50% royalty on POD and e-books.
Notable title: West for the Black Hills (2015), by Peter Leavell,
was recently reviewed by PW—a first for the fledgling company.
The reviewer called it “a nicely textured narrative” and an
“absorbing read.” Founder C.J. Darlington says she launched the
company with her mother and sister because her author friends
were losing contracts with large houses, and talented new
authors were not getting in the door. “We say the need,” she
says. Darlington won Jerry B. Jenkins’s Operation: First Novel
competition in 2008 with Thicker than Blood, and she rereleased
it as a Mountainview title in 2013.
Founded: Phoenix, 2014
List: 12 novels scheduled for 2015.
Payment: Enclave declined to reveal royalty rates.
Notable titles: A Time to Die, by Nadine Brandes, and Failstate:
Nemesis, by John W. Otte, are 2015 Christy Award finalists.
“We in the speculative fiction genre are considered weird by
nonfans,” says owner Steve Laube, who purchased Marcher Lord
Press in 2014 and renamed it Enclave. “So we understand that
we have to band together to accomplish more.” For Laube, the
role of the indie publisher remains consistent despite the
changing publishing landscape. “Intrinsic to the small publisher
is the ability to support outlier authors and books—those that
don’t fit the normal market but still have a powerful voice and
story to tell.”
Founded: Pinellas Park, Fla., 2014
List: 25 titles scheduled for this year; the house mainly publishes
fiction, including adult, YA, early readers, and picture books.
Payment: 40% royalty on net for digital formats, and 9%–12% on
print, with a token advance offered in some circumstances.
Notable title: Runaway (2014), a historical romance novella by
Renee Donne, was the press’s first release. “The hardest thing
about being a smaller house is that we don’t have the major
resources that larger publishers do,” says executive editor Eden
Plantz. “It’s not scary so much as interesting and fun.” That said,
she adds, “Our plan is to stay small. We like our community feel.
We like knowing who our authors are and what they’ve written.”