Spotlight On: Harvest House Publishers
Harvest House is a family-owned, private company in Oregon. They started in 1974, with five books. After a bit more of the company history, editor Kim Moore (right) opened the floor to questions. She reported that they now publish 200 titles a year, including fiction, nonfiction, children’s, etc.
Q: When can someone who is just contracted expect to see a book release?
A: Their acquisitions are now up to 2013. 2011 and 2012 are filled, unless something amazing is contracted.
Q: What genres are you looking for?
A: Historical romance and romantic suspense, mystery, and Amish.
Q: Does an unpublished author need to have a complete manuscript and what word count are you looking for?
A: Yes, a manuscript needs to be completed, and for first-time authors the word count is between 90K-110K words—and it needs to be polished.
Q: Why aren’t there any guidelines on Harvest House’s website?
A: Harvest House doesn’t take unsolicited manuscripts, so there’s no need for guidelines on the website.
Q: Do you ever look to the web for manuscripts?
A: Yes, sometimes, we look at ECPA, christianmanuscripts.com, and Writer’s Edge.
Q: What do you do to help the author with marketing?
A: First of all, a great book helps with marketing. What Harvest House does is write the catalog copy, the back cover copy, and create the best cover they can. They’re on the author’s side. They’re open to conversation with authors on their covers. The offer oversize posters, post cards, book trailers, blog tours, long lead publicity, and for the final book in a series, book marks. They help create influencer lists and send ARCs out.
To demonstrate some marketing Harvest House has done, Katie Lane (right) showed book trailers for Mary Ellis’, A Marriage for Megan, and for Janelle Mowery’s, When Two Hearts Meet.
Q: How edgy can a manuscript be and what is the line?
A: With romance, nothing graphic, nothing steamy. Language must be conservative.
Q: What element makes romantic suspense different from plain suspense?
A: The hope of romance is 50/50 in R/S.
Q: What makes an author successful to Harvest House, the number of books sold or earning out an advance?
A: Some of both. If the author is engaged with their readers that can help, even if the number of books sold isn’t as great. The break-even point is 10K books sold.
Q: How do they engage readers, by having a fan page?
A: Readers want to be able to reach an author, so a contact on your website or a fan page on Facebook is helpful. Commenting on other blogs and websites drives traffic back to you (out bounding). Authors put on one persona when they write and another when they market. Another way to connect with readers is to call in to book clubs.
Q: When pitching, do you need a full manuscript?
A: No, you can pitch the idea, but complete the manuscript before you turn it in.
Q: What are you looking for in spiritual arc of story?
A: We want some inspirational message, but we don’t publish message-driven books. Don’t slap a Christian message on it to make it CBA. It has to be right for the story.
Q: What is your acquisition process?
A: We receive a manuscript. Kim never looks at the synopsis first but reads the first chapter. If she likes it, she stops and reads the synopsis. If it’s a good fit for Harvest House and if she loves it, it goes either to acquisitions or straight to publishing committee.
Q: How long is the process from receipt of a manuscript to contract?
A: Four months is our minimum response time.
Q: What is the percentage of books contracted to the number you take to committee?
A: In fiction, it’s 9 out of 10.
Q: In historical, what is your preferred time period?
A: WWII, 1800s in West, and late 1940s to the early 1950s.
Q: Anything in particular that you really want?
A: Romantic historical Texas westerns, strong Romantic Suspense with strong protagonist, and Amish.
Q: What’s your dream story?
A: Great writing that I don’t want to put down, appealing characters, warm and engaging, romance, and with a strong sense of place.
Q: In RS, what balance of POV do you prefer between male and female?
A: Whatever works best for your story.
Q: Language? Can you use OMG or oh my gosh?
A: Be sensitive to your readers. Is it really necessary? Does it have to be there?
Q: Are you taking any contemporary other than RS?
A: We’d like to, but for Harvest House it seems to be a harder sell.
Q: Does Harvest House do two book contracts or single titles?
A: We don’t do singles, usually, but prefer to do multiples.