f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Day 2 of Our CBA Publishing Industry Tour—So. Much. Fiction

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Day 2 of Our CBA Publishing Industry Tour—So. Much. Fiction

CBA fiction is seen as a growth industry so perhaps it’s natural that everyone and their uncle Sam wants a piece of the action. The problem is that right now we simply don’t have the line-up of authors to support such ventures. We have many authors who publish multiple (four or five) books a year, often with a variety of publishers. It’s a bad system that leads to a glut of mediocre books.

That’s not to indicate that the publishers that follow publish only mediocre books. We ALL publish our share of mediocre books. I just say it again because you’ll see the sheer volume of fiction departments out there trying to put together catalogs, often from the scraps left over from more popular programs. We’re in a bad cycle and only some spectacular flame-outs or the arrival of more than a handful of talented new artists is going to save the day.

Waterbrook – Our friends at Waterbrook operate out of Colorado Springs. They are owned by Doubleday/Random House, who is turned is owned by German publishing and media giant Bertelsmann.

Waterbrook is newer and working quickly to establish a growing and fairly impressive slate of books and authors. Their fiction is represented by Randy Alcorn, Liz Curtis Higg’s historical novels, and Lisa Samson. They are my sworn enemy after securing a project we hoped to land. I wish them authors with a Caps Lock key that won’t turn off.

Harvest House - Based in Eugene, Oregon, this is a privately-held publisher that’s been a pretty steady gainer in the industry.

They publish Stormie Omartian and Elizabeth George on the nonfiction side. Fiction is represented by mainly by Lori Wick though they have some talented smaller names too.

Cook Communications - Cook is an old publisher dating back to David Cook, which published curriculum. Since then they’ve broadened their sites and now have a number of imprints or divisions in the company, Honor Books, Victor Books, Life Journey, Next Gen, and their fiction imprint RiverOak.

RiverOak, based in Oklahoma, is currently calling themselves that “Christian readers choice for literary fiction.” That’s a bit of a stretch, personally. Perhaps that’s their end goal, but they (and all of us in fact) have a ways to go before we should even bring up the words “literary fiction.”

I’ve heard good things about author Michael Morris. Jack Cavanaugh published with them and is a talented historical novelist.

Broadman & Holman - There’s always a company in your industry you just know nothing about. For me that company is B&H. Don’t know anybody who works there or even used to work there. Nothing.

An old-time Bible publisher who’s lasted the years and done some merging, they publish the Christian Standard Bible. They also work with Beth Moore.

Oh, and they are publishing Oliver North’s fiction. That should tell you something right there. Unrelated to Oliver North, they work out of Nashville.

Barbour - Best-known for putting classics and/or very inexpensive books into market, they’re an interesting company in Ohio, I think. Most likely if you own My Utmost for His Highest you own a Barbour book. They also do very inexpensive mass market romance novels under the HeartQuest imprint.

They tried a upscale revamp of their fiction and nonfiction under the name of Promise Press, but it seems that that’s not worked out, at least in name. Those trade-size books are now released under the Barbour name. Their fiction list is mid-list authors.

Crossway - Coming out of Wheaton, IL, they started strong with Frank Peretti in fiction. Now they seem to focus on suspense and medical and westerns in genre categories. They’re making a nonfiction splash at the moment with John Piper’s timely, The Passion of Jesus Christ

Moody Publishers - Also in the Chicago-area of IL, this publishing house is linked to Dwight Moody's ministry and the Bible Institute. Larry Burkett and Gary Chapman are here. I looked at the their fiction list and didn’t really recognize titles or authors. That’s not a condemnation as I just don’t know their list.

Howard Publishing - This publisher, based in Louisiana, is best known for their hymnal publishing though they’ve recently entered the fiction world as well. It’s a small is at the moment. Gary Parker is probably the biggest author.

And finally…newly entered into the ring:

Relevant Books - From the same group out of Orlando that publishes the magazine and also releases those nonfiction books about rock stars and movies, this is a publisher for an emerging market. They recently published their first novel which, oddly enough, is about a martyred Roman woman from 200 AD. It’s called Perpetua. Seems an odd match to their audience but who knows. I don’t know their plans for fiction in the future.

I’m sure there’s more CBA publishers who do fiction here and there. But this will cover most of your bases. Tomorrow we’ll look at the more peripheral Christian publishers or the general market publishers who stray into the CBA field now and then. Folks like Paraclete, Warner Faith, Harper San Francisco, etc.