The Latest Casualty of the Publishing Industry

For the past few years, large publishing houses have consistently cut their number of annual title releases. As book sales struggle, publishers have struggled right along to find ways to continue to make money in this difficult business.

One of the casualties of this publishing dilemma is authors; especially well-reviewed authors who don’t have stellar sales. While their books may sell well, they don’t garner the blockbuster sales. In order to keep publishing sales up, publishing houses are cutting back to established, best-selling authors and new authors with single book test-runs they hope will immediately become best-sellers.

Take David Fulmer. Fulmer is a mystery author originally published by Poisoned Pen, he received a contract from Harcourt Houghton Mifflin for a three-book deal. After his third book was released, Harcourt Houghton Mifflin did not offer him a new contract. All three of his books received great reviews from national publications and at least one was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best Novel.

David Fulmer found himself in a bind. He wanted to continue to advance his writing career but none of the large publishing houses were giving his literary agent the time of day. David did not want to self-publish, yet he wanted to release another book in 2010.

Fulmer ended up taking the same route as William P. Young, author of the best-selling book, The Shack. Finding two individuals to partner with him, the three created their own publishing company, Five Stones Press. David’s seventh mystery novel will be released in March 2010, published by this new publishing house.

Fulmer’s story is not unique. This scenario is becoming more common in both the general and the Christian publishing industry. Mid-level authors are being squeezed out and new publishing companies are accommodating these authors’ desires to continue to bring out new titles.

New publishing houses like Summerside Press, who publishes a line of Christian romance novels titled Love Finds You in …, and Sheaf House, who also publishes Christian novels, are picking up these solid, mid-list authors.

The tide is slowly turning. Large publishing houses’ grip on the publishing world has slackened. New, smaller presses are taking up the call to arms. The publishing industry may yet follow in the footsteps of Ma Bell.


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