News You Can Use

Family Christian Stores Survive Bankruptcy

In case you missed the news, last Tuesday the court approved the sale of the Family Christian Stores (FCS) to FCS Acquisitions. The new owner is basically the previous owner since Richard Jackson was part of that company too (which I have written about before-click to read).

This sale, in essence, wipes clean over $120 million in debt that the stores owed. Their $75 million in assets will be purchased for an amount between $52.4 million and $55.7 million (finally tally determined at closing).

The publishers and suppliers (vendors) who were owed money had to vote to approve the sale and they did by a vote of 162-7. These vendors will receive a small portion of what they were owed. For example, if they had inventory on consignment at the stores (which FCS technically never owned) they will receive 35 cents on the dollar. For inventory that was never a payment the vendor will recieve around 15 cents on the dollar. While not much, it is more than any vendor would have received had the stores gone into liquidation.

Will 266 current locations the FCS management says they plan to keep more than 90% of them open, so expect some closures in the near future. This is not unusual in a situation like this as many of those stores may have leases coming up for renewal or the under-performing already.

Unfortunately a bankruptcy can have a domino effect on their vendors. A week ago Friday, Gospel Light Publications, a venerable publisher of church curriculum and Vacation Bible School curriculum declared bankruptcy (read this Wall Street Journal blog for more information). One of their reasons was that FCS owed them $143,000 and that loss, coupled with other challenges, made them unable to meet their financial obligations. This means printers, designers, staff, freelancers, and other will not be paid either. Dominos continue to fall.

For those of us in the writing community (agents and their author clients) we are still in a season of seeing the impact of the FCS bankruptcy on smaller royalty income for some clients. Since the publisher wasn’t paid, the author doesn’t get paid. So far the impact has been modest for most authors since FCS had been highly selective in the titles they have carried in their stores.

I am glad this is over so you don’t have to read my blogs about it any more! Seriously, it has been difficult to watch. We never like to see financial struggles. Especially in a business we love and participate in.

My hope is that the Family Christian Stores can use this to become a powerful tool in God’s kingdom. It is a tough retail environment out there.

If not, we may have to read about this again in the future…

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Healthy Brain Food

In this social media-saturated world where everyone seems to have an opinion about everything, it is very important to quickly determine those voices you pay attention to and those you tune out. When it comes to the book publishing business, I narrow down who I pay attention to simply because …

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Another Publisher Makes Changes

This past week our office received three separate emails detailing some changes happening at Abingdon Press. One focused on the fiction division, the second on the non-fiction division, and the third was from one of the editors making sure we received the news. We really appreciated the communication! So often we …

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National Constitution Week

by Steve Laube

September 17-23 is National Constitution Week in the United States.
September 17th is National Constitution Day.

“It was officially enacted on August 2, 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower from a congressional resolution petitioned by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The purpose of the observance week was to promote study and education about the constitution which was originally adopted by the American Congress of the Confederation on September 17, 1787.” (Quoted from the Apples for the Teacher web site.)

If it has been a while since you read it, consider fixing that this coming week. Click here for an easy to read online version.
Click here for a very good audio edition read by David Currie who was a professor at the University of Chicago Law School at the time. Also available for free download.

For even more information and to view four video lectures on the Constitution visit Justin Taylor’s incredibly informative blog “U.S. Constitution 101.”

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Dan Balow Joins The Steve Laube Agency

by Steve Laube

I am very excited to announce that Dan Balow has joined our agency as the Director of Publishing Development and Literary Agent. This gives us four members of our team, me, Tamela Hancock Murray, Karen Ball, and Dan.

I’ve been looking for ways to increase the services our agency provides to current and potential clients. I have known Dan for 15 years and by adding him to our agency we can expand our role in helping to maximize our client’s sales, work with ministries and organizations to develop their publishing efforts, and expand our reach internationally. Dan’s strengths are his understanding of book marketing, what it takes to be successful in the current publishing environment and how all the pieces of the publishing “puzzle” fit together. Our team has expertise in all facets of the industry, writer, bookseller, editor, marketer, agent, executive management, and publisher.

Dan is a 30 year veteran of the Christian publishing industry. He was the director of marketing for Tyndale House Publishers working with authors Francine Rivers, James Dobson, Josh McDowell, Charles Colson and many others.

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News You Can Use – July 16, 2013

Yesterday I posted on the issue of “Foreign Rights.” Talk about a clunker of a topic! One quarter of the normal readership thought it worthwhile to click through and read. Fascinating analytics. So let me ask those who read this “News” section, what topics would you like to see addressed in the future?

JK Rowling Snookered a Lot of Editors – She submitted her latest novel under a pen name. This article interviews some of the editors who said, “No thanks.” It goes to show the power of a brand name. And shows that an “okay” manuscript and story won’t break through if you are unknown.

Taglines Hook Your Reader – Mary Connealy writes a great article that every writer needs to read.

Prediction on E-book Sales – Ebooks will outsell paper books in the year 2017. Agree or Disagree. See the data at the link.

53 Years of To Kill a Mockingbird – Enjoy a celebration of a classic.

As Long as Reading Survives, so will Bookshops – Philip Hensher explores an interesting topic.

56 Unique Lorem Ipsum Generators – Completely silly stuff. But very fun if you need to use sample text to test out a graphic design.

Prediction on E-book Sales – Ebooks will outsell paper books in the year 2017. Agree or Disagree. See the data at the link.

53 Years of To Kill a Mockingbird – Enjoy a celebration of a classic.

As Long as Reading Survives, so will Bookshops – Philip Hensher explores an interesting topic.

56 Unique Lorem Ipsum Generators – Completely silly stuff. But very fun if you need to use sample text to test out a graphic design.

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Another Productive ICRS!

Tamela Hancock Murray

Two weeks ago I enjoyed the privilege of attending ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) as part of The Steve Laube Agency, marking my third ICRS with Steve.

As usual, our schedule was packed but seeing our colleagues is why we attend, so a full agenda is welcome. Year after year, reports say ICRS is getting smaller, and indeed we did miss seeing some of our editor friends. However, we were able to maintain great connections with over 35 interesting and productive meetings. Authors are looking for good news and I can say there is plenty. Editors are still actively acquiring all types of fiction and nonfiction. Standards are high, but then again, they always have been. Talented writers who are willing to work hard will find opportunities in today’s market.

I can’t call feasting at several dinners and banquets “hardship” duty. I had a great time at the AWSA awards lunch, the Speak Up! breakfast, and the Baker Publishing Group dinner, and was especially thrilled to be at Susie May Warren’s table on Monday night when she won her Christy Award!

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News You Can Use – July 9, 2013

Does Your Title Pass the “Radio Test” – This means, if your book title or web site address is read out loud on the radio, will the listener know how to spell it when they go to find it? For example, my last name is spelled Laube and pronounced Lobby. That does not pass the “radio test.” So I now own stevelobby.com and point it to www.stevelaube.com just in case someone misspells my name.

The Deception of Bestseller Lists – A great article by Dianna Booher.

Everything You Need to Know About the Great E-book Price War – How the antitrust lawsuit by the Department of Justice against Apple and the biggest book publishers will affect our industry.

A fun must-read poem for all writers “If You Give a Writer a Pen” by Laura Kolar

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News You Can Use – July 2, 2013

Penguin and Random House have officially merged into one entity known as Penguin Random House – Not, as I had thought, “Random Penguin” or “Penguin House.” Here’s the scary stats. They employ 10,000 people worldwide (that is where the earnings from your books go) and will publish 15,000 new books each year. That is nearly two books per hour, all year long. That is a big publisher.

Judge Rules Against Authors in Google Lawsuit – This lawsuit over Google’s attempts to digitize the world’s books has been stuck in court for years. Google offered a multi-million dollar settlement in 2011 which was rejected by the judge. On to the next lawsuit….

NPR Article on the Death of Google Reader – Today, July 1st, Google Reader was shut down. I chose to migrate to The Old Reader so I could continue to use my Feeddler Pro software on my iPad each morning. (It’s where I find most of the stuff for News You Can Use.) I tried at least 10 other RSS reader programs and didn’t like them (including the popular Feedly program).

3 Reasons Why Facebook Can’t Replace Your Author Website – Jane Friedman writes an important article! She is spot on.

4 Things Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing – One of them is NOT “Live Long and Prosper.”

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News You Can Use – June 25, 2013

Elevator Pitches: If You Build it, They Will Come. – Excellent post from Susan Spann! Do the exercise on your own pitch.

Christian Stores See 8.5% Overall Gain in 2012 – Looks like the growth came from non-book items. That is good news in that it means traffic in the stores has increased and reversed recent trends.

101 Things to Do to Build Your Writing Platform –  My advice? Don’t try all of them at once, your blood pressure can’t handle it. But pick ten and see what you can do with them by the end of Summer.

Helen Keller on Optimism – Amazing. If she could feel this way (she was deaf, dumb, and blind), why are you complaining?

Helen Keller on Optimism – Amazing. If she could feel this way (she was deaf, dumb, and blind), why are you complaining?

“Writing and the Brain” infographic. – You tell me. Does this help you understand how you think as a writer?

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