The Christian Publishing Industry | A Look Back at 2015 and a Look Forward to 2016

January 22nd, 2016

Where are we at and where are we going? The Litfuse chicks share about the growth of the christian publishing industry

A Look Back at 2015 — Caitlin Wilson

Ch-ch-ch-changes! If there’s one word to describe what 2015 looked like in the Christian publishing industry, that word would be changing. In light of Abingdon Press announcing the closure of its fiction program, 2015 was a year of shifting and movement within the industry.

Overall, fiction seemed to take a back seat to non-fiction releases in 2015. From our company’s perspective, we toured more non-fiction books in 2015 than in any previous year, and readers seemed to be asking for more non-fiction. The top 100 best-selling Christian books of 2015 is proof that non-fiction continues to fuel the industry; if you take a look at that list, you’ll notice that the list consists of many perennial best-sellers from familiar names.

Don’t count fiction out just yet, though. Amish fiction is still going strong, particularly among its most loyal readers. We’ve also seen fiction authors branching into different genres than what they’re known for (James Rubart’s The Five Times I Met Myself is a perfect example).

We also saw great progress in 2015 toward translating books to the silver screen. Nothing has been set in stone yet, but Storehouse Media Group has been working on a number of exciting projects that stem from books within the publishing industry.

All professionals within the Christian publishing industry will agree that 2015 was a rocky year—but every year presents new challenges and new successes, and we can’t wait for what 2016 holds! Here’s a sneak peek:

A Look Forward to 2016 — Audra Jennings

What will be hot in 2016? Will readers want more of the same or something completely different? That’s the question every author, publisher, and agent would love to know.

“Trends are hard to grasp because by the time we are talking about them the window to participate is already closing, if not closed,” explains agent Steve Laube, who also owns Enclave Publishing.

Even though no agent or editor claims to have the gift of prophecy, a few were able to give us insight based on their experience and the books already set to publish in 2016.

According to Dawn Anderson, editor at Kregel Publications, there are several topics in non-fiction you are sure to see: the intersection of spirituality and health, political issues surrounding an election year, and social issues such as racial tensions, religious tensions with Muslims, and the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. “These social issues touch Christians on a daily basis in the workplace, marketplace, and neighborhood.”

Agent Chip MacGregor expects we will see a number of the familiar big-name non-fiction authors with huge media platforms topping the best sellers lists again this year (Joel Osteen, Dave Ramsey, Beth Moore and T.D. Jakes). He also says that publishers are looking for books on evergreen topics from contemporary/new-world speakers, insightful takes from writers who challenge Christians to pursue something big, and more books exploring what Jesus would have to say about issues such as gun control and refugee crises.

Looking for something a little lighter in the non-fiction realm? Janet Kobobel-Grant, President of Books & Such Literary Management, believes shoppers will see variations on the coloring book theme. “The idea of combining stress relief, meditation on Scripture, and artistic expression is such a natural fit for the CBA market, that I think some coloring books should show a lot of energy in 2016. But such items as journaling Bibles also will do well.” (A personal note from Audra . . . I have a Bible coming out in March from Zondervan on my wish list!)

What can fiction readers expect to find? Grant and MacGregor agree: Amish fiction still tops the list. Although the genre seems to have lost the high velocity it maintained for several years, avid Amish readers continue to want more. World War II fiction is also making a comeback.

MacGregor thinks readers are also looking for well-written suspense novels, thoughtful novels about relationships, and books that make them think in new ways or learn something from the past.

Many Christian publishers have tightened their belts on fiction, so there will be a drop in the number of books published. “I expect fewer titles across genres, and less overtly Christian content,” Anderson explains. “Our house still wants a definite spiritual growth arc that has its foundation in the saving work of Jesus Christ, even where that is not expressly stated in the book.”

As a reader, is this good news for you? Are there any topics and genres you would like to see more of?

Caitlin Israel

{More About Caitlin Israel}

Caitlin (Chick Incubator) works as Litfuse’s director of operations. When she isn’t blogging or on Twitter, she’s at her local coffee shop with her Kindle Fire, browsing Pinterest and reading. @remixher

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Audra Jennings

{More About Audra Jennings}

Audra is the PR Hen (aka the publicist) at Litfuse. When she’s not juggling schedules, placing reviews or writing PR, she’s likely to be keeping everyone entertained. @audrajennings

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