Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Interesting Debut Author Stats

In case you're an aspiring author looking to break in, here are a few interesting statistics from the Debut Novel page.

(Please note: the list for 2011 is still incomplete as I only have books listed through September. The majority listed release by May.)

Total Books Listed: 32

Amish - 2
Biblical Fiction - 2
Contemporary - 3
Historical Fiction - 11
Memoir - 1
Romantic Suspense - 3
Romance - 7
Speculative - 1
Young Adult - 2

Abingdon Press - 1
B&H Books - 2
Barbour Novella - 1
Barbour Publishing - 1
Barbour/Heartsong - 1
Bethany House - 2
Black Lyon Publishing - 1
Desert Breeze - 3
GES - 1
JourneyForth - 1
Love Inspired Historical - 1
OakTara - 1
Realms - 1
Revell - 1
SkySail Books - 1
Thomas Nelson - 5
Torn Veil - 1
Tyndale House - 2
Waterbrook Multnomah - 1
Whitaker House - 1
White Rose - 1
WhiteFire - 1
Zondervan - 1

It doesn't surprise me that Historical Fiction leads the way with eleven debut novels. Romance lags a bit behind with seven. Combine that with the three from romantic suspense and you have ten. I am rather surprised that Amish only has two.

It's also interesting to note that Thomas Nelson has five new authors while other major publishing houses only have one or two. A little over one-third of the books releasing this year come out under a small or lesser known publishing label.

Question: What is your take on these statistics? Does it give you hope? Does it point you in a different direction?


  1. Brenda, I'm learning as I go but it's interesting to me that pubs weren't wanting historicals a few years back and now this! Of course that could flip at any moment. Amish is still very strong, leading in sales over all other genres, from what I understand. The stat curculating (again, I don't know its validity) is that 80-90% of authors, including debut authors, don't earn-out on their advances. Yet people are buying these books! Publishers seem to be more conservative now due to the economy and there simply aren't as many publishing slots available as before. In my case, I have a book coming out every summer/fall for the next 5 years. Good news for me but I've also recently heard a publisher can cancel a contract if sales aren't what they should be after a book or series releases, etc. Again, this might all be hearsay. So much of publishing is a gamble. But we know Who's ultimately in control;)

  2. Interesting stats, Brenda. I'd like a year's worth though to really get a handle on the trends.

    And we don't know about the debut novels waiting in the wings...the ones having just been accepted but aren't even typeset yet. It would be neat to find out how many of those there are and compare the trends -- are more Amish about to explode onto the market? Would the total debut authors with each publishing house be different? And I noticed you don't have Steeple Hill (Love Inspired) on your list. I wonder how many debut authors they might have in a year?

    Food for thought for sure. I suppose if you wanted to hedge your bets you could write a historical suspense with strong romantic elements. :-)

  3. Thanks for posting these stats, Brenda. They're a little discouraging for me, a Christian romantic suspense/suspense author. But it's more confirmation that maybe traditional publishing isn't the place I need to be.

    More to mull over and pray about as I move forward, yes?

  4. Laura, I'm thrilled that you've signed for another five years! I know I'll have at least one book to look forward to every year. :)

    I've heard that same stat about authors not earning their advances and I'm certain that fuels the publishers' choices in who they sign. It's much easier taking on a new author who writes in a popular genre than an author who likes to bend the rules.

    Like you said, God's in control & that's where we have to leave it.

  5. Kav - you caught a mistake. I initially omitted the one Love Inspired Historical in the stats, but it's listed now. I'm surprised there aren't more from Love Inspired and/or Heartsong Presents. And maybe there are, I'm just not aware of them.

    I sent an e-mail to the publicity departments of all the publishers, & precious few have gotten back to me. Some just sent a link to their website. Big help there. Others (Baker & Waterbrook) were very gracious and helpful though. So, I've been finding debut authors via the hunt & peck method.

    I completely agree with you that we need the wisdom of time to see the trends, but this list gives us a starting place. I plan on keeping up with the debut authors and will track the trends. It'll be interesting to see how those trends measure against what sells as a whole in the CBA.

    I'll leave it up to you to write the historical suspense with romantic elements. Lorna says you can write anything. :)

  6. Jerri - definitely something to pray over. I completely understand how discouraging this business can be, yet I'm encouraged that there are so many new writers and even fledgling publishers out there willing to take a risk on a newbie.

    I write contemporary with strong romantic elements and my characters lead very messy lives. With readers seeking escapist literature, what I write is too real. It's not a fit for today's market. There's always that niggling thought of self-publishing, but right now I don't believe that's where God wants me. He's teaching me to wait.

    Laura Frantz has an excellent quote on her blog today that puts waiting in perspective:

  7. Brenda,
    You've made such a good point (well, lots of them, actually) about those of us who write a bit out of the box. Love how you describe your writing.

    In hindsight I'm now realizing I wouldn't have been a good fit at most CBA houses because my work is not set in a popular time period and I deal with messy issues. I would still be waiting, if not for my editor.

    Revell is expanding their fiction line and has a new head editor who was/is willing to take chances on debut authors who write out of the box. But even with a renewed contract, nothing is ever secure. I've seen quite a few very gifted published authors out of work.

    Despite everything, I just want to encourage you and others that if God's plan for you is to write, He'll make it happen in His time and in ways you won't have envisioned. And if He keeps that from you then it is only in your best interest. Publishing is quite pressured and thorny, for lack of a better word. Sometimes I long for my days of quiet and relative isolation where I wrote for the sheer joy of writing.

  8. Laura, I'm so glad Revell took a chance on you. I love how your stories are journeys that take readers down unfamiliar paths leading us to the unknown.

    As for waiting? It's never easy, but I know there's a reason for the waiting season, and I rest in the knowledge that things will happen in God's perfect timing.

  9. Honestly, no. Sometimes in my world for my "realism" I have to come to certain conclusions. In light of what I've read in the last year and in taking note of the staggering number of those seeking publication, these statistics prove to me that I'm not a viable candidate for CBA royalty publishing, as disappointing as that is. Perhaps if I were younger, they might have a different effect.

  10. I commend you, Nicole, for making a decision & taking a different direction, one that I see more and more writers pursuing. Maybe you'll end up stretching those tight boundaries of the CBA. You know I'm cheering you on.

  11. In spite of Breath of Life? ;) It's just another direction, Brenda. One I probably won't be able to do for all my completed novels. And maybe the powers that be think I'm a crummy writer. And maybe I am . . . But I'm grateful for your support. Means so much.

  12. Not in spite of, Nicole, but because of. You take your characters in a unique direction, which you know I love. And the way you fleshed out the male protag was beautiful. Seriously.