Regarding the closing of Heartsong Presents, and the changes it means for Christian novelists, may I offer a perspective from a longtime literary agent?
First, this isn’t really a surprise. Mass market fiction in print form is going away — readers who want inexpensive novels are moving to e-books by the thousands. Even some of the big New York houses are considering doing away with the mass market format. So don’t think of this as a disaster — it’s just part of the continuing evolution of the industry.
Second, while it hurts to see a place that has launched so many new authors shut down, read between the lines — Barbour is moving more heavily into e-books, so there will still be opportunity. It’s just a different opportunity.
Third, keep in mind that the e-book movement is in its infancy. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of new e-book companies getting started. That means a lot of new openings for authors. They may not be as established, and some won’t survive, but certainly some of the new houses will survive and thrive. (If you were at RWA, you saw the growth of Belle Books, and the great job they’re doing with romances in the general market. Take a look at what Janet Benrey is doing with romances at Greenbrier Press, or what Aaron Patterson has done with thrillers at Stonehouse Ink, or what Carol Johnson is trying to do with Hendrickson Publishers. There are plenty of other examples.)
Fourth, this is the golden age of Christian fiction. There have never been more new Christian novels getting published. So celebrate the fact that we live in a great time to write (and sell… and read) good Christian fiction. Instead of focusing on the demise of one (very good) line, rejoice that there are so many other possibilities.
Finally, this is a reminder that growing in your craft and getting better at writing are the best steps you can take if you want to be published. So think hard about attending the ACFW conference this fall. A great place to meet those editors and agents who can help you (as well as connecting with like-minded authors who will have some wisdom as you walk this path).
Be encouraged, everyone. This is not the end of opportunity for CBA novelists.
Eternal Optimist and President