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, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009.)
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. (!)
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.
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.