Publishing Trends

© 2011 Sally Stuart

When the topic of publishing trends comes up, what people really want to know is which topics are hot—and which are not. The problem is predicting what magazine topics will be of interest a year from now or what book topics will top the list in two or more years. (That’s how long it usually takes for your material to reach the market once it has been accepted.) Unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball, so I am not able to answer those questions.

Instead, let’s look at some of the inside information and statistics that will continue to have an effect on us as writers.

Publishing Trends

  • Publishers are buying other publishers; bookstores are buying other bookstores; and New York houses are buying Christian imprints. Many bookstores are also closing.
  • eBook sales totaled almost $70 million in January 2011, a 116 percent jump over January 2010, while adult hardbacks dropped over 11 percent, and paperbacks almost 20 percent.
  • eBooks are predicted to garner 50 percent of market share in the next five years, and bookstore bookshelf space will drop 50 percent in that same time period. Some feel it will happen sooner.
  • The projected sales numbers for a book determine how much money a publisher will spend on promotion of that book. So 5,000 sales would likely generate $5,000 in promotion dollars.
  • Offering to hire a publicist does not influence a potential publisher to publish your book.
  • More can be accomplished with promotion dollars available when the author collaborates with the publisher’s publicist to maximize time and funds.

Publishing Trends Specific to the Christian Market

  • The average reader of Christian books is between 30 and 60 years old; attends a Baptist or Charismatic church; and is conservative politically, religiously, and theologically. Twenty-five percent are college graduates. Authors need to determine what those readers want to read.
  • The average book in the Christian market sells 4,000-5,000 copies—many less than 1,000.
  • Between 50 and 60 percent of Christian books ordered by general market bookstores are returned unsold.
  • The least-used type of Christian media is magazines. Only 44 percent of all church goers read Christian magazines.
  • Thomas Nelson currently gets more books on the Christian bestseller lists than any other publisher—in all categories except children’s books.

The good news is that writers who diligently polish their work, do market research, and persist in submitting are still getting published.
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Sally Stuart (Tigard, Oregon) has been writing for 44 years—full-time for the last 27. She has put out 26 editions of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide. In addition she has published a dozen other books, and countless articles and columns. She is currently writing a Q & A column for the Christian Communicator and columns for various writers’ newsletters. She is in demand as a conference speaker/teacher nationwide. Sally is the mother of three and grandmother of eight. You can find Sally at www.stuartmarket.com orwww.stuartmarket.blogspot.com.


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