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Debut authors are finding a better climate for their books than in years past.
Steve Oates, VP of marketing for Bethany House, remembers 2009-2011 as a terrible time for introducing new authors, but these days both publishers and retailers are less risk averse.
“When people have a more positive view of the market, they tend to be better at risk-taking,” he says. “And as competitors get out of the fiction market, there’s more mind space to think about new authors.”
He says it’s not been about consumers being unwilling to try a new author, but retailers being unwilling to stock those new authors.
In the last four years, HarperCollins Christian Publishing has introduced a good number of debut authors including Sarah Ladd, Katherine Reay, Sara Ella, and Carrie Stuart Parks, to name a few. The house is planning to debut several new authors in 2017.
“We believe publishing debut authors is more critical than ever because the category requires an infusion of fresh voices to remain vibrant and relevant,” says Daisy Blackwell Hutton, VP and publisher, fiction, at HCCP.
Oates has seen sales flattening out for authors who have written for years, but sales growth in authors introduced recently including Rosanna White, Elizabeth Camden, and Kristi Ann Hunter.
“It’s hard to think of a big-name author who hasn’t had sales decline by at least half, but we have good stability in the middle of the market,” says Oates.
— Ann Byle