Following are some of the comments I heard from editors at the Writing for the Soul Conference in Colorado Springs last week:
* As larger general publishers buy out Christian publishers, there is greater emphasis on the bottom line. Those publishers demand an increase in profitability every year (10-15%). That is true even if last year's sales included a Purpose Driven Life or Prayer of Jabez--pushing that increase out of reach, and penalizing the publisher for that kind of success.
* The consolidation of publishers makes it harder for writers because there are fewer places to pitch their books.
* Because these Christian companies are under the larger parent companies, they can afford to offer bigger advances--but smaller Christian companies can't compete.
* There's a huge amount of online publishing going on, but it represents only a small percentage of all sales.
* When it comes to the content of a book, Christian publishers say if they can't sell 50% of a book they publish through a Christian bookstore, it's not worth it to publish the book. If the content contains elements (such as unacceptable language or too explicit material) the Christian bookstores will refuse to carry the book. That conservatism in Christian bookstores is not likely to change.
* Now there is a greater emphasis on frontlist sales--as opposed to backlist. (Frontlist titles are in their first year of sales, backlist are older titles.) The difference is that although bookstores might order one or two copies of a backlist book, they typically will order frontlist titles in much larger quantities.
* Christian publishers used to have 20% frontlist titles and 80% backlist titles. It has now shifted to 40% frontlist and 60% backlist. In contrast, general publishers generally have 60% frontlist and 40% backlist.
* More later. Lots of news to share.