You’ve probably seen them in your hometown: Bookstores that sell a particular niche. A particular religious niche. A particular religious, but more often than not, Christian niche. These are the bookstores where you can’t help but wonder “Out of all the countless books that are published, how the heck do they find all these?”
Well, my dear readers, the answer is simple: Just as there are publishers for Fantasy, Mystery, and Paranormal Lovecraftian Romance, there are publishing houses that specialize in Religion books. No i’m not talking about people who reprint The Holy Testament or The Bhagavad Gita, but rather books that have an overt, observable religious theme to them.
(And yes, Paranormal Lovecraftian Romance is a thing. No I don’t want to look it up.)
(Fine here is an example, don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
As with every facet of publishing, DPI had a fantastic slew of women and men who took time out of their busy lives to educate us bright eyed would-be publishers. For this lecture, the man in charge was none other than the great Joel Fotinos. Say hello Joe:
Look at that smile! With such an attractive picture you’d think he’s been all over the Religious publishing world. And you’d be right! This man held jobs in various Christian publications across the Midwest and even dabbled a bit in other religious houses (those stories, however, are not mine to tell). In fact, he is so well rounded he was the first to win “Spiritual Hero of the Year” from The Science of the Mind Magazine due to his magnanimity and outreach efforts.
For us at DPI we were fortunate to have such a splendid man lecture us on the Religious Publishing world. Though it may seem like a small time genre, religious publishing has never been stronger. In fact, Religious publishing has great potential for growth, and is more varied than you would think.
So, dear reader, if you plan to work for, or publish something of religious intent, allow me to provide you a handy reference list, taught to me by the man above (Joel, not the other one) with a little self added information. That way you may be a little more prepared in your future endeavors.
THE FIVE RELIGIOUS PUBLISHING MARKETS:
-Due to this being the most prevalent religion in the USA, this group actually is split into four.
A) The Christian Books Association (CBA): Conservative Christian Market, publishes books like Heaven is for Real and is a very black and white industry. Usually for Christian Tracts and Evangelical books. Examples include: CSPA and Thomas Nelson Inc.
B) The Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit (RBTE): Liberal Christian Market, for more “Spiritual Christians” or books with redemptive endings. Anne Lamott’s books are published here, as was Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. Examples include: Riverhead Books and Knopf Canada (the latter does more than just religious publishing.)
C) Catholic Publishing: This one overlaps with both the CBA and the RBTE, but as you could guess most of these books have a Catholic perspective to them. The books they publish tend to be sold in Cathedrals Catholic retreats. Examples include: Ignatius and TAN Books
D) Mormon Publishing: Also overlaps with the CBA and RBTE but with a Mormon perspective to it. Very insular, most books in these markets sell only in Mormom cathedrals and Mormon bookstores. Examples include: Eborn Books and Signature Books.
– The second largest market in America, this market is responsible for giving us amazing works of literature such as The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank), Everything is Illuminated (Jonathan Saffran Foer), and The Book Thief (Markus Zusak). While they’re not as big as the Christian market, this section makes up for it by being available anywhere outside of religious events and Jewish communities. Examples of Jewish Publishing Houses include: KTAV, Feldheim, and Gefen Publishing
– I’ll be honest when I say I haven’t done much research on this sect of Religious publishers. However, I can say that they’re a growing market dedicated to dispelling the myths and misconceptions regarding their beliefs. If nothing else I say give a few of their books a shot, and maybe you’ll be surprised at what you discover. Since it’s small in America it’s difficult to find a list of notable publishing houses. However, the wonder blogger at Muslim Writers has compiled a list of useful places to start.
4) Eastern Doctrines:
– These are actually a bunch of different “umbrella houses” that kind of get grouped into one due to their size. Religions included in this market are :Buddhism (including Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana), Taoism, Hinduism and the Baha’i Faith. Famous books from these publishers include, among many others, a The Tao of Pooh (Benjamin Hoff), Siddhartha (Herman Hesse), and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert M. Pirsig). Popular Eastern Doctrine Publshing Houses include: New Directions and Wisdom Publishing
5) New Age:
– This is also a catch all term for a rather large group. It includes anything that’s gained a major following within the last century/half century. Usually includes anything involving Pagan, Wiccan, Near Death Experiences, Acupuncture, Tarot, etc. It’s a rather open ended market but it’s really picking up steam in America. Popular Publishing Houses include: New Leaf Publishing Group and Sounds True.
Should you wish to pitch a book to any of these companies, keep this in mind:
Religious Publishing isn’t about publishing books, it’s about publishing content. The heart of the book, from the words on the page to the theme of the narrative, are what they consider when taking on a book.
So before you send your manuscript, ask yourself: Is my book on the level with this publishing house? Do I speak to the audience they wish to reach? Or will my book do better somewhere else?
Sure that seems obvious, but content matters. The heart of the story matters. No one at in the CBA would consider taking a story about chakras, even if the protagonists are deeply religious. Chances are your manuscript is fine the way it is, but only needs the right house to publish and distribute it.
If you have any further questions or comments you’re all welcome to speak your mind below. Until next time.