Spotlight On: Barbour Publishing, Inc.
After a brief overview of Barbour Publishing’s current status, Rebecca Germany, Senior Fiction Editor (right), opened her Spotlight session to her audience’s questions.
Celebrating its 30th year of publishing, Barbour is a privately owned business in Ohio that provides fiction, reference books, gift books, and devotionals to regular Christian trade facilities, as well as big box stores like Sam’s and Wal-Mart.
While conference attendees were told they could submit a one-page summary and three chapters for consideration, Barbour typically only considers agented manuscripts. Series ideas are better than stand-alone ideas.
The Heartsong Presents line is in limbo right now, Germany says.
Barbour’s readership likes small towns, western states, and rural areas, rather than urban settings.
Focus has shifted to other lines, such as the Brides and Weddings series, which began releasing titles in September. “Bride” titles are historical romance and “Wedding” titles are contemporary romance. The releases alternate by month. This destination romance line is new, so settings are fairly open. But Barbour’s readership likes small towns, western states, and rural areas, rather than urban settings. Word count: 80,000.
Other word counts include full-length trade, 100,000; and novellas, 20,000 (most typically a group of four).
Additional non-seasonal novella collections won’t be considered until mid-2012. But they’re popular, so Germany envisions them continuing. She is open to Christmas novella collections, and eventually another collection like 2011’s A Log Cabin Christmas may be compiled.
While some contemporary romance and romantic thrillers are releasing soon, currently Barbour’s main success comes from historical romance. They’re taking a wait-and-see approach to current releases in the teen and suspense markets before considering anything in those genres.
Once you receive a Barbour contract, the scheduling of in-house meetings influences the timeline for publication. Usually a book is released within 18 months after contract: approximately six months writing; two months editing; one month proofing; and three months printing. Amazon requires that full-length ebook files be available three months before release, so that adds to the total timeline.
Barbour uses a design agency for the book’s cover, indicating the elements they’re looking for. Once they feel it’s close to final, they show it to the author for feedback. Then the Sales Department starts pitching, and sometimes the cover has to be changed again, if buyers feel they can’t sell the book as it is.
The Marketing Department and authors work on influencers and social media presence. The marketing budget enhances the book’s presence in places like Parable catalogs, Lifeway, and bookstore end caps.
If there are no big numbers in the first six months, the book isn’t likely to catch on.
Indicators of how well a book is doing include how many buyers took it and what placement it got. If there are no big numbers in the first six months, the book isn’t likely to catch on. Today’s market is shorter than it used to be. Still, Germany likes her authors planning books for every six months. She likes to keep her authors’ names out there. Expectations are that authors will consistently sell well, not be just one-book wonders. Barbour sees their authors as investments in the future.