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Publishing Institute Post #5: Publishing in The Name of ________

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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:

Joel_Fotinos_Web
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:

1) Christianity:

-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.

2) Judaism:

– 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

3) Islam:

– 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.

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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Advice, Publishing Institute

 

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Publishing Institute Post #2: What’s an Agent? Why should you get one?

Golden Gate Bridge

(Warning: the following lesson may not be appropriate for those who want to self-publish or send excerpts and short stories to magazines or publishing books. For everyone else: enjoy.)

So picture this:

Many moons ago you had an idea, nay, an urge to write. For weeks you slaved over details, world building, character creation, and crafting. You’ve received good and bad advice. You’ve struggled with writer’s block. You’ve neglected the dirty dishes in the sink. After an undefined period of time, you’ve finally done it! You’ve written a novel. Now all that’s left is to send it in to a publisher right? After that the big bucks come flowing in… right?

Wait… Why am I not getting any feedback? (I sent it to like… seven Publishing houses)

Why is my story being ignored? (I worked so hard on it. I even bought books on writing)

Why won’t anyone take me seriously? (I swear I showered last night!)

If the above sounds like an exaggerated version of you, do not lose hope. It’s not that your story is bad, or that you’re unlikeable. It’s that you have no representation.

Now you might be wondering: What the heck is this nut talking about? Representation? Isn’t my skill enough?

It’s a fair question, but have you ever heard of Nikolai Tesla? The man was a genius, crafting marvels of scientific wonder and shattering the per-conceived notions of his time. He’s the reason electricity works the way it does, and is partially responsible for the name of an amazing 80’s heavy metal band.

"I'm on the highway to that one place full of bad people." -Heavily paraphrased by me.

“I’m on the highway to that one place full of bad people.”
-Heavily paraphrased by me.

Unfortunately, the man died broke and shamed. It wasn’t that his talent wasn’t enough, but that no one wanted to vouch for his brilliance. In fact, the man had most of his inventions stolen by a dude who crafted the lightbulb. The ones that weren’t stolen were disavowed or made infamous by a man with way more money and influence.

So what went wrong? Well it wasn’t that the man wasn’t talented, that’s for certain. Instead it’s that he wasn’t very well represented in his life. Had he the lauding and background we give him today things might have been different for good ‘ol Tesla.

Fortunately for you, dear writer, you don’t need to pass on to gain representation. The States are a much more forgiving place nowadays, and anyone with an iota of brilliance can gain the representation they need to help make their dreams a reality. How, you ask?

Why, with an Agent of course!

"You called?"

“You called?”

Wrong Agent…

Actually, the kind of agent i’m talking about is a Publishing Agent. Should one choose to go the traditional route, these people are your first step to getting your story published. Paid by commission, these men and women work tirelessly to make your manuscript as perfect a possible. All the while they act as a liaison between you and the Publishing company, ensuring you come out of the bargain with the best possible rewards and rights.

“But wait!” you might say, “What if this agent is no help at all? What if they try to steal my work I so lovingly crafted?”

Again another fair question. As writers we often feel wary with sharing with other people our works. It’s the ultimate paradox really, for we are careful with disclosure, but we want people to see and love our works. Thus I say to you, aspiring writers, if you wish to let others see your work, why not start with one who’s life goal is to help those like you?

See, in a previous article I talked about people who work by commission. Like a freelance editor, an agent works the same way. The difference: rather than be paid up front, the agent is paid when you are paid by the publishing company. In essence their entire livelihood exists solely because writer’s like you need representation. Thus many agents are more than happy to give that, should time or skill permit.

In addition to that, the very word “Agent” has quite the history in and of itself. It’s origin, agere, is the Latin word for “to set in motion, drive, lead, or conduct.” Seems fitting for one who tries to get your work noticed, no? Well wait, it gets better! In the 1550’s, the decade before Shakespeare himself was born, the term had a much more powerful meaning. According to the Online Etymology “Agent” meant “Any natural force or substance which produces a phenomenon,” a fitting definition for one who wishes to help stories succeed. Four decades later it meant “the representative,” again another fitting definition. It wasn’t until the 1910’s that the word became synonymous with “spies,” but I digress.

“Well they sound great and all, but where can I find one?” you may ask. Fortunately the answer is quite simple.

Take a novel you like, preferably one you’re novel resembles in tone or genre, and look at the dedications. Often times authors will acknowledge their agent in the dedications of their books. While this is a good start, there is also no harm in searching for agents online. Agents’ webpages and blogs pepper the internet far and wide. Oftentimes they’ll list what they’ve worked on and what they want to endorse. All it takes is one email.

Or,you could use this website: http://publishersmarketplace.com/

I mean… I guess you could look up your favorite books. Maybe the agent will be listed. I suppose you could pay for the full service, i’m told it might be totally worth it.

Like the picture above, an agent is like a bridge. They serve to connect what is naturally separate, in this case the writer and publishers. In addition they support those who wish to cross, as they will do for your manuscript as it goes to the publisher. If things pan out the bridge will help make it to the other side, and will even support you on the way back. That’s what bridges do, and I feel agents do that just as well.

And if your bridge is bad then you could always find another one.

—-

So that’s my word on bri- I mean agents. I know I said I’d talk about editors this time around but I felt this needed to be said first. I promise the next one will talk about the various kinds of editors that help shape your books to excellence.

In the meantime, does anyone have a personal experience with an agents? Have you ever found a good one? Are there any you find particularly exciting?

If you want, leave a comment below. Until next time.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Advice, Publishing Institute

 

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