When we reflect on a prior year, it can be hard to recall highlights or lowlights. They sort of blend together. The constant barrage of wretched news media fills in the moments of silence and crowds out the goodness of God that should be readily apparent in our everyday lives. My attempt in this article is to focus only on our industry, our agency, and a couple of other good things we have going.
The supply chain nightmare began to ease somewhat, but the by-product was a disastrous surge in hard costs for publishers. Print costs jumped dramatically, which has caused an increase in the retail price of new books. Call it inflation if you will. Publishers call it “pain” in the cash flow.
And yet, book sales continued to stay strong. Publishers must constantly assess consumer buying habits. I had many conversations with publishers about sales channels and the ever-changing “normal.” One cannot count on physical stores to carry heavy inventory of every new title. Both the old term “discoverability” and the ubiquitous term “platform” are littered throughout the conversation.
If a book breaks out in sales demand, getting new copies reprinted is a challenge when printers need two to three months lead time. While ebooks are an alternative, half the market still prefers a physical book.
The U.S. Department of Justice successfully stopped the $2.2 billion sale of Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House. This was not a surprise after the judge’s initial questions in the first weeks of the trial suggested the direction things would take. If you like to geek out on stuff like this, you can read all the filings and trial transcripts for yourself in a book called The Trial. (The 1,200 page hardcover sells for $99. Or get the ebook direct from Publishers Marketplace for $19.99.) It is like a graduate course on how big publishing works with testimony from publishing executives, top literary agents, and bestselling authors.
Meanwhile, Simon and Schuster is reportedly back on the block. There is much speculation about a potential buyer, whether it be HarperCollins or Lagardère (the parent company of the Hachette Book Group), or some investment firm.
The agency continues to have the privilege of working with nearly 300 authors. Our efforts last year secured contracts for around 200 new books, over a half dozen of them from first-time authors. We negotiated a number of audio, large-print, film-option, and foreign-rights licensing deals. We also had various titles hit the ECPA bestseller charts in both fiction and nonfiction.
I am honored to have Tamela, Bob, and Dan as great agents who pour themselves into their clients’ work. We make a great team. We all continue to find new opportunities, give guidance, and troubleshoot a wide variety of issues.
What was most encouraging was our publishing partners continued acquisitions. Remember that publishing is a long process. Contracts signed this past year were not only for books releasing in 2023 but for those to be published as far out as 2029.
Some of our clients were honored with various awards (including three Book-of-the-Year Awards!):
- Amanda Cox was awarded the Christy Award Book-of-the-Year for the second year in a row! (That has never happened before.)
- Michelle Shocklee was awarded Christianity Today’s Fiction Book-of-the-Year
- Gillian Bronte Adams won the Realm Makers Book-of-the-Year award
- We had five finalists for the Christy Awards (Amanda Cox, Connilyn Cossette, Sharon Hinck, Kara Swanson, and Tracy Higley). Sharon Hinck won for best speculative novel for the third year in a row (the first time a trilogy has won for every book in a series). Kara Swanson won for best Young Adult novel.
- We had six finalists for the Carol Awards (Amanda Wen, Morgan Busse, Virginia Vaughan, Carla Laureano, Andrew Huff, and Sharon Hinck). Sharon Hinck won the award for best speculative novel.
- Sami Abrams won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.
- For the Realm Awards: Kara Swanson won the Alliance Award, which is a reader’s-choice award. Gillian Bronte Adams won for best epic fantasy. Daniel Schwabauer won for best science fiction. Morgan Busse won for best young adult novel. In addition, Kara’s book won for best cover design; and Daniel’s won for best audio production.
- The ECPA Bronze Book Award for more than 100,000 copies sold was given to Dallas Jenkins, Amanda Jenkins, and Dr. Douglas Huffman (Blessed are the Chosen published by David C. Cook).
The Christian Writers Institute and The Christian Writers Market Guide
The Christian Writers Institute (CWI) continues to provide opportunities for writers to further their education via our online audio and video courses. We have brought in some new teachers and courses (like those from DiAnn Mills and Daniel Schwabauer). Last week we launched an all-access membership option, so writers are able to select from more than 100 courses for either $25 a month or only $200 per year. The membership includes regular live training seminars with either myself or Alana Terry.
The new 2023 edition of The Christian Writers Market Guide is available right now in print, ebook, and online. (The above link takes you to shoptheword.com where the physical book is 32% off right now.) This is the seventh consecutive year we have brought out a new edition. It is still the only curated collection of resources for Christian writers available anywhere.
In a big move for CWI, we have taken over the management of the annual Write-to-Publish Conference held every June. Under the oversight of Dan Balow, we have Jerry B. Jenkins as our keynote speaker; Dr. Leland Ryken as our plenary speaker; and Michael Card, who will give a special concert on the last evening. In addition, as of this writing, there are nine literary agents and twenty editors and publishers on faculty. See writetopublish.com for more information, and join us June 13-16 in Wheaton, Illinois.
Enclave Publishing is a traditional publishing company devoted to the publication of speculative fiction written by authors who have a Christian worldview. The following describes the type of books we publish: “Enclave Publishing helps create out-of-this-world stories informed by a coherent theology.”
You may recall that a year ago I sold Enclave to Oasis Family Media. As part of the arrangement, they retained our entire editorial, production, and marketing team with me continuing as publisher. I am very grateful for the partnership.
We released 12 new titles in 2022 with 16 on the docket for 2023. It was great to have many of our books win numerous awards. For the fourth consecutive year, Enclave won a Christy award. Two authors won Carol awards. Four authors won Realm Maker awards, plus a Book-of-the-Year honor. (Three of the last four years an Enclave author has won the Book-of-the-Year award.) We are blessed to have so many fantastic authors to work with.
A Personal Project
I had the privilege of helping to create a new book called The Chosen Presents: A Blended Harmony of the Gospels with Dallas and Amanda Jenkins. In it, I wove the four gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) into one chronological narrative. Then I broke it into 40 readings, so you can immerse yourself in the life of Jesus in forty days. In the back is an exhaustive index showing which biblical passages are in each reading. Broadstreet, the publisher, did a magnificent job in preparing a beautiful package.
It is truly an honor to be a part of this project.
I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it, the world needs your nonfiction insights to counter the ills of a society careening toward self-destruction. We need your great stories to fill the fiction market and offer an alternative to the soulless stories being told by the world. The culture around us staggers from crisis headline to crisis headline, but Jesus is our unshakeable foundation. The Church and all believers must steadily pursue Christ and His Kingdom. Books are a key help in this pursuit.
Soli Deo Gloria