Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Is Thomas Nelson Moving away from the CBA?

A very interesting article was brought to my attention this morning from fellow author, Sue Dent, (www.shoutlife.com/suedent), that Thomas Nelson had gone on the record with the trade publication, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, that they are not a publisher of Christian Fiction!

Wow...that would be news to the publishing world indeed. Before going any further, read the entire article to understand the context: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6530751.html?industryid=47140

Now that your back ....Let me explain what I think this all means, from a position of one who's been in these Graphic Novel publishing trenches.

Thomas Nelson (http://www.thomasnelson.com/) is indeed a company that people look to for quality "Christian based Fiction" (which I define as stories that go anywhere from overtly Biblical, to those with spiritual or Christian principles or ideas at their core), but a company who is now attempting to make headway into the GRAPHIC NOVEL MARKETPLACE, which is not so friendly to Christian based works (partly due to a bias created by years of persecution from the politically Christian Right, over freedom of speech issues with the product...among other issues).

With their upcoming line of GN's they are attempting to parlay the success they've found with their prose fiction (re: Dekker's works) to their GN lines...which is you read the orginal article talks about that 70% of their prose fiction sales come from outside of the CBA, while only 50% of their current GN sales are outside of the CBA (re: Dekker's trilogy and Serenity).

For those of you who are not in the know, GN's represent the largest catagory of growth in Publishing over the past few years in the USA. Outside of the USA it represents the top catagory of publishing worldwide and now we in the states are catching up in sales, beause the US book market is finally understanding that ANY KIND OF STORY can be told in this format, not just kids stuff or superhero's, but serious literary works of all genres.

So far the CBA has been kind of resistent to the GN format for a number of reasons, (a. don't really understand the format or it's potential to attract teens into their stores... and b. don't really understand how to display and market it, etc....). So TN, is being proactive to all book retailers by making this statement. They are in essence announcing...HEY, we're not just publishing illustrated Bible adaptations or tracts...this is serious fiction here FOR ALL BOOK RETAILERS, not just the CBA! But that does indeed kind of put them in a rocky place where their membership with the CBA is concerned. But, in the big economic picture they realize there is much more money to be made outside the CBA then their is inside. They just have to have a internal sitdown, I'd guess and decide what kind of publishing house they really want to be!

Footnote: We here at Head Press Publishing have been traveling down this Christian Graphic Novel path and clearing the brush for these larger publishers to follow. Through the publication of the AWARD WINNING Eye Witness graphic novel series, (which premiered in August of 2002), we have experienced and worked through many of the same barriers to our product in both the CBA and secular book trade that TN now is attempting to overcome. As they are finding, given the format, it creates challenges that are unique and quite different from prose only works.

But unlike TN, (or other very large publishing concerns), our bottom line goal with Eye Witness is not to generate the most income possible, but rather to impact the most people with the story of the Gospel shared within it who may not hear about it otherwise. Now don't get confused and think we're socialists (LOL)....if the books sell big-time and generate a healthy profit, we won't complain, but on the other hand that is not what spurred us to create this work, that would just be a nice benefit.

And when all is said and done, staying centered on that goal is what will keep the series on track through it's conclusion (all four books of the tetralogy published)!

Bob Luedke