The Future of Publishing

Many are calling December 3, 2008 the Black Wednesday of Publishing. The term Black Wednesday comes from September 16, 1992, when the British government was forced to withdraw the pound from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism when they were unable to keep Sterling above its agreed lower limit and investors lost billions of pounds.

On December 3, a number of large general publishing houses announced layoffs and restructuring, and one announced a moratorium on purchasing new books. In Christian publishing the scenario was similar. Some of the large publishing houses also announced layoffs for December and one filed for bankruptcy protection.

Of course, all these changes and downsizing lead to numerous speculations about the future of the publishing industry. Some are saying that fewer books will be published while others are saying that this is the jumping off point for the brilliant future of ebooks. While it is evident that publishers have less money to throw after books right now and consumers have less money to spend on books, how this all plays out is still left to be seen.

Maybe these changes bring a great opportunity for small presses to step in and fill the gap. I believe that people will continue to publish books and that books will continue to be read. Book sales are a $23 billion dollar industry. Such a large industry will not fall into oblivion overnight. Well-written books that address needs, that resonate with and speak to readers will always be in demand.

While we are in the midst of uncertain economic times, anxiety and fear should not rule us. I think all publishers can all benefit from a little scriptural advice.

James 4:13-17 says Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins (niv).

I am going to let “If it is the Lord’s will” rule my life this year and I encourage you to also.

If it is the Lord’s will, I will complete and publish an updated and expanded version of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace this year. If it is the Lord’s will, Christian Small Publishers Association will host its second annual Publishers Institute to train and encourage small and new publishers at ICRS this summer. And if it is the Lord’s will, I will get fully onboard with social networking using social media on the web and help other publishers and authors do this too.

How about you?

5 thoughts on “The Future of Publishing

  1. Good comments, thanks.

    When I remind myself to “let God” and pray for him to open doors or take my printed words where they need to go, he does! Just last week, my publisher (Revell) informed me that my book, The Birth to Five Book: Confident Childrearing Right from the Start, is contracted for a Korean-language edition. How exciting is that? Evidently God wants these words of wisdom empowering parents there. I’m both excited and humbled with this news.

    Likewise, with radio interviews and speaking invitations, I try to keep a “if it is the Lord’s will” attitude. Yes, we must do our part – labor in the fields – and not sit on our hindquarters, but we must also remind ourselves that God is our “silent partner” and he can do great things when we relax a bit and put confidence in him.

    Best wishes on your book and productivity this year.


  2. Hi Sarah,
    I came across your blog via John Kremer’s Bookmarketing Tips of the Week, and am delighted to find this new venture. I’ve been a published author for twenty-five years (though for ten of them I produced no books as I was working for a publishing company). But despite having a Sunday Times No. 4 Bestseller with Hodder & Stoughton, I had great difficulty in publishing my latest book, last year, a novel titled A Painful Post Mortem.

    All my previous publishers, including Lion and Kingsway, wanted it to be a testimony instead of a novel – and I felt it should be for the secular market. So eventually I self-published with a POD company and I’m now marketing it via my website and talks. (I’m on the Activate – once Christian Viewpoint – Speakers’ List, and have also, at times, been asked to do some radio work.)

    Taking Romans 8:28 as a text, I’m convinced that what is happening to the economy, in general, will be a Good Thing in God’s hands (though sadly, painful for many). In publishing terms, it may mean that He will prune the celebrity cult which dominates our culture, and create a need for good quality inspirational fiction and ‘self-help’ (bit of an oxymoron) Christian books. But like you, I place myself and my work in his hands.


  3. Welcome to the world of blogging. I came kicking and screaming to blogging but now I love it! What a great way to spread the good news about Christ.

    I, too, am tiptoeing into social marketing. There is only so much time in the day. I look forward to reading this blog on a regular basis.


  4. I,too, found this in John Kremer’Bookmarketing Tips. I love your focus, since I went with a Christian publisher. My self-help book, YOU WANT ME ME TO DO WHAT? JOURNALING FOR CAREGIVERS offers encouragement, simple instructions, and over 200 sentence starts to help caregivers release stress.

    You’ll find more reasons for journaling, sample prompts, and an opportunity to share your thoughts if you visit Writer Advice, and click on Journaling for Caregivers.

    I know that God watches over caregivers (and all of us), and I hope He will help this book find its way into the hands of those who most need it. I am sooo open to His guidance.

    Best wishes on this website. It is a real service.

    B. Lynn Goodwin


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