2015 – A Year in Review

I like to take a look at the past year as an exercise in measuring success and failure – all while counting God’s blessings. (If you’d like to look at previous annual reports they can be found here: 2014, 2013201220112009.)

The Agency Thrives

The agency continues to thrive in the midst of some tough economic challenges. It was exciting to secure contracts for over 130 forthcoming books. Twelve contracts were for debut authors!

It is a privilege to be working with such great authors and with fellow agents Tamela Hancock Murray, Karen Ball, and Dan Balow. We make a great team (a really great team) and are poised for growth in the new year. We added a number of new clients and now have 118 novelists and 122 non-fiction authors under our management. We try to keep busy. (!)

The Industry

Oh my, what a year. The major event was the bankruptcy of Family Christian Stores and their eventual return to business “as usual.” I blogged about it many times because of their significance as a retail outlet in our industry. We felt the economic speedbump in sales and royalty earnings throughout the year. We hope the worst is past and that next year will see a return to normalcy.

It was disappointing to lose yet another publishing company as a place to sell new fiction (Abingdon chose to focus solely on non-fiction). The winnowing of outlets to sell new fiction has been a challenge for the last few years. Hopefully we have reached the end of that journey and new opportunities will present themselves in the new year.

The fiction space continues to be a challenge for all writers. “Discoverability” is an elusive secret. But there is no lack of trying! Many novelists have dipped into the Indie waters with a wide range of success.

Oddly enough, there wasn’t a new “blockbuster” title in either fiction or non-fiction that carried the industry. At least not one that dominated the sales charts. Instead the Adult Coloring Book phenomenon startled everyone with the volume of units sold. (One company sold 400,000 units in the month of May alone!) In response you will see dozens and dozens of new products coming on the market in an attempt to feed the voracious buyers. Unfortunately, as Jane Friedman and Porter Anderson said, “Adult coloring books don’t deliver readers: they deliver colorers.“

Enclave Publishing Grows

Year two of owning and running Enclave Publishing has been fun. We released 12 new titles and sales for the year were double what they were in 2014. It is good to see the new stories resonate with our readers. We debuted two first time authors and contracted four other debut authors whose books will start appearing in 2016.

With the continued resurgence in interest in Fantasy and Science Fiction in the mainstream market the need for stories coming from authors with a Christian worldview continues to be an important part of what we do.

What’s Next?

If I knew what the next big thing would be I’d be tempted to keep that secret for myself! The coloring book surge is a perfect example of something that caught fire for no single reason. While publishers try to anticipate interest the practice is often reactionary to what is happening.

I continue to look for fresh voices with exciting ideas or concepts. And continue to encourage our existing clients in their pursuit of excellence.

It is indeed a golden era of written content. The ability to get your stories and your message out has never been so viable. It is a privilege to be a part of a community of writers who are seeking to change the world word by word.

11 Responses to 2015 – A Year in Review

  1. Michael January 4, 2016 at 7:21 am #

    ‘In everything, give thanks’ is all I’m doing at the moment. No request. Thanks be to God for the Steve Laube agency.

  2. Christine Henderson January 4, 2016 at 7:27 am #

    This past weekend I met with one of my writers groups and we discussed the adult coloring book trend. Since we meet at a Barnes and Noble, we were able to review many of the options. As a whole we could not understand their appeal. In this day when people want instant gratification there seems to be way too many little spaces to fill in before an individual could finish the project. We all preferred to have a story with the pictures that could add to the experience.

    • Carol Ashby January 4, 2016 at 11:13 am #

      I think the appeal of adult coloring books is at least two-fold. They satisfy the same urge that makes many of us doodle. I often fill in letters or draw abstract shapes and color them during long phone conversations. It relaxes me even while my mind is engaged with something else. They also satisfy our creative impulses. Most of us don’t have great gifts as visual artists, but we can create something beautiful filling in the shapes, something uniquely our own in a color palette of our own choosing. My guess is this second one is the main appeal.

  3. Janet Ann Collins January 4, 2016 at 8:45 am #

    Steve, you’ll never know this side of Heaven how many lives have changed because of people reading books that wouldn’t have been published without you and your agency. Thanks for all you do.

  4. Jeanne Takenaka January 4, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    Steve, I’ve appreciated your posts about the industry, and your other ones. 🙂 I learn a lot from your blog here.

    Though I’m not a fantasy/sci-fi writer, I’m thrilled to hear that Enclave had a great year. It’s so good to have this genre of fiction coming out with a Christian worldview. May this year continue to see much progress and growth!

  5. rochellino January 4, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

    Adult coloring books, really! Who would have thought. A blockbuster in the non-fiction category.

    The folks that had the insight and wisdom to see an opportunity in these “book” sales had a great advantage over the rest of us, ignorance. Blissful ignorance as they happily went about their business ignoring advice from people like myself who would have said something on the order of “Dude, seriously. You got to be kidding”.

    I remain humbled. We just don’t know what all we don’t know!

    They have every right to ask….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3umaLe37-LE

    A wise sage named Dan Balow once said “there is nothing new under the sun”. Toward that thought this looks like a “crafty” rejuvenation of the 1950’s craze, paint by number.

    Great year Steve and company, congrats, on a to an even greater 2016!

    • Carol Ashby January 4, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

      I think your proposed relationship to paint-by-number is intriguing. All the fun of creating a work of art without having to use a solvent to clean a paintbrush!

      • rochellino January 4, 2016 at 8:04 pm #

        Carol, great to hear from you. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Regards!

  6. Leola Ogle January 4, 2016 at 8:26 pm #

    Happy and most blessed New Year to you and yours, Steve. I always enjoy your blogs for their positive outlook, even on negative things. And coloring books? Who would’ve imagined? I was invited to an adult coloring party. I think in a world of chaos, people yearn for something to enjoy that relaxes them. Me – I do jigsaw puzzles. My husband says puzzles would make him grind his teeth and pull his hair. LOL To each his own.

  7. Diana Derringer January 5, 2016 at 8:57 am #

    Thank you for your ongoing updates.

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