Bon Voyage — or A New Adventure?

On Monday July 25th Barbour Publishing informed the industry that they will be discontinuing their Heartsong Presents imprint. After 18 years and 1,000 titles, it will end its run in December 2011. Publishing has always been fluid. Steve Laube says that it is important to stay flexible because “A publisher can dramatically change directions after a meeting on Tuesday.”

I never thought Heartsong Presents, a line for which I proudly wrote, would collapse. Ever. But their line isn’t the first. Remember, for instance, Palisades? Or Alabaster? Both of those romance imprints were published by Multnomah but abruptly disappeared. Or the Three Rivers imprint or the Jan Dennis imprint at Thomas Nelson (both of which ended on the same day in the 80s). Many times a writer has been waylaid as these situations changed for them, sometimes in mid-contract.

If you are an author whose line has been discontinued, you must summon the courage to take the next step. This is where your agent can be invaluable. If you don’t have an agent, get one. You’ll need an agent’s wisdom to guide you to a bright future. Listen to your agent’s description of the publishing landscape. Collaborate to determine what your next step should be. Once that advice is given, heed it. Write a killer book proposal, no matter what. The publisher who left you in the lurch is still looking for manuscripts. Hopefully they know you as an author of quality and integrity, so they may still be an option for you with your next book idea.

To increase your chances of success with a new publisher, your proposal is key. Write a proposal amazing enough to compel the editor to ignore everything else in the new submissions pile in order to linger upon your work. Creating such a proposal, which is really your primary chance to introduce yourself to a new editor, takes hard work and time. Think twice before dashing off something over a weekend and hope your agent won’t notice.

This is also one time you won’t regret holding your tongue when you feel neglected or betrayed by your publisher. (Don’t complain on your blog, Facebook page, or Twitter.) The author who maintains cordial relationships with everyone is the one who is most likely to be welcomed back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 Responses to Bon Voyage — or A New Adventure?

  1. Avatar
    Gwyn K. Weyant July 28, 2011 at 3:37 am #

    What’s really sad is new novelists have lost a potential place to be accepted with or without an agent. People who already proven will be welcomed with open arms to new publishes. This making it even harder for someone trying to get their foot in the door.

    It’s scary to me that we are losing so many areas in the publishing area all in the name of moving forward. (Technology) will I be flexible enough to handle the changes. I prah that I will.

  2. Avatar
    Gwyn K. Weyant July 28, 2011 at 3:39 am #

    What’s really sad is new novelists have lost a potential place to be accepted with or without an agent. People who already proven will be welcomed with open arms to new publishes. This making it even harder for someone trying to get their foot in the door.

    It’s scary to me that we are losing so many areas in the publishing area all in the name of moving forward. (Technology) will I be flexible enough to handle the changes. I pray that I will.

    I apologize for the error in the first comment. This android will never replace a keyboard.

  3. Avatar
    Debbie Lynne Costello July 28, 2011 at 5:54 am #

    So very true, Tamela. I was always taught to never burn any bridges. It is a sad time in the publishing industry. But where one door closes God always opens another. He is always faithful.

  4. Avatar
    V.V. Denman July 28, 2011 at 5:59 am #

    As a new author, I find this a little scary. However, you and Debbie are both encouraging. There’s still a bajillion options out there, right?

  5. Avatar
    Debby Mayne July 28, 2011 at 6:14 am #

    Excellent post, Tamela. Now that the initial shock of finding out about the demise of Heartsong Presents has worn off, what I feel is nostalgia rather than worry. Many of us will look back on the “good old days” of writing those little HPs, while we forge ahead with our careers. I’m blessed to be part of the HP club, knowing that these books touched readers while it provided opportunities for me as an author.

  6. Avatar
    Tamela Hancock Murray July 28, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    V.V., yes, there are plenty of opportunities. Publishing is such an exciting profession because new developments happen so frequently. Doors open quickly.

  7. Avatar
    Jean Wise July 28, 2011 at 8:34 am #

    All things in life can change abruptly – a lesson I am seeing more and more. One reason why I think we all need a good agent to help us with career advice and not put all our eggs in one basket.

    Read a while back that one characteristic of people who live a long, healthy life is flexibility. Good trait to work on for all of us.

    Like I have always heard it is a small industry, don’t burn any bridges.

  8. Avatar
    Marji Laine July 28, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Excellent post and the advice to hold the tongue is important in any situation of this type. Seldom will someone wish to have expressed anger or frustration, but almost always, a wise person will regret opening a mouth at such a time. As James said, taming the tongue is a mountainous task.

  9. Avatar
    Wade Webster July 28, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    Great piece of encouragement, Tamela. Satan is always trying to discourage those of us who are writing for God’s Kingdom. I pray that all writers heed your sound advice to keep on keeping on!

  10. Avatar
    Julie Jarnagin July 29, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    I’m so thankful for the peace I feel about the situation. My second book will come out with Heartsong this year, but I’m still unsure about the fate of the third book in the series. God has given me so much comfort and assurance that He’s in control of the situation. I’m a worrier, so I know it’s not through my strength but through His that I haven’t felt discouragement.

  11. Avatar
    Patty Smith Hall July 29, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    I was saddened by the news but not surprised. With the publishing world changing at lighting speed, paperback books are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and with Heartsongs target market being older women, you’d have to think the older generation would have a tougher time with new technology.

    Thank being said, I’m excited about the opportunities opening up in the world of publishing. E-book publishing houses are being established by the dozens, opening up the next avenues for new writers. So the possibilities are boundless!

  12. Avatar
    martha Ramirez July 31, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Great post, Tamela.

  13. Avatar
    Rachel Wilder August 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    I too was not surprised by the announcement, for the exact reason Patty shared. The target market for the line is shrinking on a daily basis.

    One the one hand, it is sad to see such a well-respected line close down. On the other, I’m selfishly glad it didn’t impact me. Writing short is not my forte.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Heartsong's Publishing Legacy - The Steve Laube Agency - November 17, 2014

    […] in July 2011, when still owned by Barbour Publishing, the line was temporarily shut down. (See Tamela’s blog about that. And also this post by Tiffany Amber Stockton.) A few months later (January 2012) Harlequin bought […]

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