I thought you might be interested in a few specifics from my publisher meetings:Abdingdon Press (a Methodist house) is starting a new fiction line, headed by Barbara Scott (formerly of Zondervan). Their line will NOT be denominationally focused and they’ll be open to Catholic and Jewish themes/authors. They’ll be publishing mostly new authors to begin with and are looking for romance, historical, suspense and contemporary women’s with word counts in the 75-85k range. They’ll mostly take agented submissions but Barbara will also be at some writers’ conferences. (Brandilyn Collins did an in-depth post about Abingdon here.)Monarch Books, a division of Lion Hudson in the U.K., is aggressively pursuing American authors. They have terrific worldwide distribution, nice sales figures, and they’re looking for at least six first-time authors each year. They publish fiction (especially romance) and a lot of nonfiction including biography, self-help and social justice. They’re distributed in the U.S. by Kregel.Angela Scheff at Zondervan told me that calling your book a memoir is the kiss of death right now. Call it narrative nonfiction or spiritual growth, or something else that’s more specific than memoir. The word “memoir” doesn’t convey what the reader will get out of the book, and it can also imply that this book is “all about you” even though you are probably using your own experience as a framework to lead readers to a bigger truth. The problem is that so many writers write their own story narcissistically, call it memoir, and submit it… so the word “memoir” has developed a somewhat negative connotation in the eyes of some editors. Your goal is to get the editor to be excited about reading your proposal, so be careful how you categorize it.Bethany House, who publishes more fiction than anyone in CBA, is looking for books in all their regular categories but right now they’re especially seeking some great “historical romantic suspense” titles. (If you’ve got one, send it to me!) However, out of about 40-42 novels they publish each year, only 2-5 are newbies.Howard Books (Simon & Schuster) is filling their fiction lists with previously published authors, but in the fall will begin to consider adding a few first-timers.Barbour is publishing romance in the 80,000-word range, and looks at first-time authors. The guideline for Barbour is, if you can remove the romance plotline and still have a book, it’s not for them.Tyndale is not looking at fantasy/sci-fi, western, Biblical, chick lit, or end times. They are looking for contemporary women’s fiction, romance, suspense/mystery/thrillers, and a limited number of late 19th- to early 20th-century historicals. They generally do not accept unagented or unsolicited submissions.Guideposts isn’t a house you often think of when pitching your books, but they’re a terrific publisher with great distribution and they’re increasing their focus on their book line which targets primarily women in their 40’s. Lighter fare inspirational romance and cozy mysteries work well with this crowd.
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Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent affiliated with WordServe Literary Group in Colorado.