The Publishing World is Alive and Well

More books are being published these days than ever before.

Writers are writing them. Agents are selling them. Editors are buying them.

I subscribe to Publishers Marketplace, which is where agents and editors announce the deals they’ve closed. Each weekday at noon Eastern time, a new edition of Publishers Lunch shows up in my inbox. For $20 a month, I get the latest industry news and the opportunity to see who’s buying what from whom. (If you’re curious what a deal listing looks like, you can see my Publishers Marketplace announcement.)

Not surprisingly, romance is alive and well. Children’s books and YA are doing great, too. As an inspirational writer, I’m excited to see how many CBA books are being purchased these days. The ABA is thriving, too.

The Deals section in the March 17 issue of Publishers Lunch had this lead in, “The deals are coming in as if the London Book Fair was still in mid-March instead of mid-April….”

One of the many great features Publishers Marketplace offers is called Top Dealmakers. A subscriber can design just the list she wants to see. One can choose the Dealmaker type (editors, imprints, agents, or agencies) and the Dealmaker category (fiction, non-fiction, children’s, and so on). The resulting list can be viewed by Last 6 months, Last 12 months, Six-figure deals, and Overall, with the #1 spot on any list belonging to the Top Dealmaker.

While I struggled during my semester in stats class, I find this data fascinating as well as encouraging. The placements change whenever a deal is announced, so I never know what surprises await me.

I created a list at the end of the day March 17th at midnight PST. (Yes, I was up late preparing a post after spending the day on tax prep. I’m a bit of a night owl at times.)

Because I write for the CBA market, I’ve chosen to list only those agents who sell primarily to CBA houses. The other spots belong to agents selling primarily to the ABA market. CBA and ABA announcements aren’t separated on PM.

The list I created goes down to the 145th place, but I’m listing only those CBA agent in the top 30 spots. In those instances when there’s a tie in the number of deals announced, PM places the Dealmaker with the most recent deal higher on the list.

Publishers Marketplace Top Dealmakers by Agent for Last 12 Months

(list created 3/18/11 @ 12:01 am PST)

#2 Chip MacGregor with 46 deals
#3 Steve Laube with 41 deals
#4 Natasha Kern with 39 deals

#7 Rachelle Gardner with 34 deals
#8 Tamela Hancock Murray with 34 deals
#11 Terry Burns with 30 deals
#13 Sandra Bishop with 28 deals
#20 Mary Sue Seymour with 24 deals
#26 Janet Kobobel Grant with 22 deals
#28 Greg Johnson with 22 deals

I didn’t do well in that stats class, my excuse being I’m happier dealing with words than numbers, but I couldn’t resist gathering some information from the facts presented.

320 of the 893 deals listed by the top 30 agents were announced by those listed above.

1/2 of the top 10 agents who reported deals on PM last year sell primarily to the CBA.

1/3 of the top 30 agents who reported deals on PM last year sell primarily to the CBA.

Do you see why I’m a fan of PM? It’s one place I can go to learn heaps about what’s happening in the publishing world. Although not everyone can justify the expense, what’s nice about PM is that you can subscribe on a month by month basis. In fact, there’s no discount for those who opt for an annual subscription.

PM also serves as a huge source of encouragement. Not long after I began writing my historicals, I heard that no one was buying them. Once I had my PM subscription, I watched the deal announcements to see for myself what was selling. I noticed that historicals showed up regularly. There might not have been as many as in the past, but agents were selling them and publishers were buying them, so I didn’t let the purveyors of gloom and doom discourage me.

* * *

What do you think? Is there reason to feel hopeful about the state of publishing today?

What do you do when you hear “everyone” saying that one genre or other is dead?

Where do you go to find accurate information about what books are selling?


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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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15 Responses to The Publishing World is Alive and Well

  1. Keli you are so COOL!

    I was just using good ole optimism fight its way through, but that’s get tiring after a while. I’m calling you next time!

    GREAT post. THanks for the information. I wondered how you got the PM announcement when mine was posted. How encouraging to see our very own RG placed so high and I mean HIGH.

    Have a great day!

  2. Cindy R. Wilson says:

    Keli, thanks for this information! It’s so encouraging. I don’t subscribe to PM, though some days I wish I did. I find about trends in the marketplace mostly through blogs or websites, though I don’t visit consistently enough (or widely enough, probably) to get a really good feel for it all. I’m happy readers are buying books and publishers are contracting books–it’s a tough job, tough to break into publishing, but there’s still lots of hope out there 🙂

  3. Sherrinda says:

    Wow! What a great encouragement that is! And those agents getting all those deals…that is awesome. I haven’t even heard about PM, but I’m sure it is really interesting to look through each month, tracking trends and seeing who has sold. Thanks for a fun post!

  4. Erica Vetsch says:

    I don’t subscribe to PM, but I sure am glad you do. Thank you for sending me news of my book sales that have been posted there.

    I can’t wait for your book to release. That’s going to be such a great day!!!!!

  5. Pepper says:

    GREAT list, Keli. Wow. And encouraging too. You have a wonderful list of agents for me to make sure I have on my ‘wish list’, Keli 🙂

  6. Julie Musil says:

    Keli, I have a lot of hope for the publishing industry. I think people will continue to enjoy stories, even if they read them on e-readers. Thanks for this thorough breakdown of your findings. I need to learn what CBA is. Is it a Christian market?

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Julie, here’s how the CBA describes itself on its website: “CBA is the trade association for the Christian Retail Channel, serving the interests and meeting the needs of thousands of member Christian retailers, publishers, music labels, and gift distributors.” To find out more about the CBA, you can follow the clickable link in the post, which will take you to their website.

  7. I love this post! So much better than the doom and gloom that is so prevalent out there! And yay for our agent! One of the top ten deal makers. That is awesome!

  8. Jill Kemerer says:

    I love statistics, and I so appreciate you sharing all of this interesting information! It IS encouraging to see so many CBA books being published!

  9. Very encouraging news, Keli! Thank you for sharing all this great information. ~ I’ve always been kind of a “Pollyanna” so I tend to think positive about things – – but I truly do feel encouraged about the state of publishing today. People will always want to read good books – – if for no other reason than an escape from all the awful news we’re being bombarded with on TV, newspapers, our computers, etc. ~ Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

  10. Susan Mason says:

    Wow. Maybe you were bad is Stats class – me, I never even took it!! LOL.

    I’m the proverbial ostrich with her head in the sand. Thanks for making me poke my head up now and again!

    P.S. Just read Jody’s book. Amazing story. She evokes so much emotion in her writing. LOVED it!

  11. Tana Adams says:

    Yay! This post cheered me up in a big way! And go Rachelle!!! Woo-hoo!!!!!!

  12. Keli, since I’ve been reading your blog and seeing all the authors recently published, I’ve been telling myself that traditional publishers are still doing it. My novel needs revisions and they are going very slowly with all that I have to do. I want to blog. I started my blog because I was told that I had to blog to get my novel published. Since then, my motive for blogging has changed.

    I plan to seek traditional publishing when I get there. I cannot explain why God put Chip MacGregor’s agency on my heart two years ago. I picked his agency, randomly, I thought, from the Christian Writer’s Market Guide. Now, I’m wondering if it wasn’t a random choice, but a guided one. I began to contact his agency, not at all ready but unaware of my unreadiness, but Chip Gregor spotted it immediately. Also, his agency requires a reference or a platform, neither of which I have at this time.

    Your post is encouraging. Maybe it will help me to get my revisions finished. When I complete them, I may be back to a novella, or I may find that I have to flesh it out more. God knows what I need to do. I’ll keep going along as time permits.

    I will purchase a subscription to Publishers Lunch from Publishers Marketplace. I’ll wait until I am closer to readiness, since funds are tight. The price is reasonable. Thank you for sharing all this great information. Blessings to you, Keli…

  13. Keli, this is a fantastic post. Thanks for going to the effort of putting it together. Off to tweet it!

  14. Statistics can be fascinating. Thanks for your work in compiling them. You’ve come up with quite the list. I’ve never worried much about all the market negativity. Although I’m saddened by the demise of some of my favourite indie bookstores and the downsizing of a few bigger ones, I figure all I can do is keep reading and writing. Everyone I know is still reading, so I’m confident that there will always be a market for well written books.

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