Harvest House Publishers - Finding New Authors
Written By: Timothy Fish Published: 7/28/2007
With 160 new titles each year and a backlist of 700 titles in print, Harvest House Publishers may not have much more than a small percentage of the total publishing industry, but it is one of the top five Christian book publishers and anyone who has walked into a Christian book store has probably seen more than a few of their titles. It is not my intention to sing the praises of Harvest House Publishers since they are perfectly capable of doing that for themselves. Instead I mention their position in the publishing industry because the position that Harvest House Publishers holds gives a level of credence to their opinion of methods that are used to get a book into print.
When we consider that Harvest House Publishers only publishes 160 new books a year, we quickly see that the chances of an unknown author making it onto that list is very slim. Their list of authors does not read like a Whoís Who of Christian authors, but Harvest House Publishers has a few names on their list that have done well. When these authorís have a new book, they will probably end up on the publication schedule more quickly, some of the others may have their books accepted and Harvest House Publishers will go looking through thousands of manuscripts to fill out the rest of the schedule. Unknown authors have slim chances.
For those authors who think that getting their book published through a well known Christian book publisher is the only way to go, Harvest House Publishers has a couple of recommendations. An unpublished author who wants to make it onto Harvest House Publishers list of authors can submit a manuscript through one of a couple of manuscript submission services. Each service charges approximately $100 for the author to make the manuscript available to several months and even with the author doing that Harvest House Publishers has an donít call us, weíll call you policy. This is ironic because one of the supposed advantages of going through a traditional publisher is that the publisher pays the author rather than the other way around. Authors now have to pay, just to be considered by the publisher.
The situation gets even more interesting. Farther down the page on which they answer the question of whether Harvest House Publishers accepts unsolicited manuscripts or not, we find what amounts to recommendation that unpublished authors make use of one of three self-publishing companies. Going with any of these companies, the author can probably expect to pay hundreds of dollars to get into print. This is typical for companies that do all of the work except sell the books. In my opinion, there are better and more ethical options, but I am sure that Harvest House Publishers picked these because they have the word Christian on their website. That doesnít really matter.
What matters is that Harvest House Publishers thinks self-publishing is a good idea. Harvest House Publishers is a well known, well respected, traditional publisher. They can be selective of the books they choose to publish. It does not appear to concern Harvest House Publishers that good authors may be slipping through their fingers. We might assume that Harvest House Publishers has realized that the average self-published book sells about 150 copies and figures that the good authors will grow tied of those numbers an return to traditional publishing, but the people who run Harvest House Publishers understand publishing better than that. It really doesnít matter how many books the other guys are selling, the authors that a publisher wants will sell plenty of books anyway. It may take a while to build up sales by word of mouth, but in time, the book will sell well.
It is speculation on my part, but the thing that I believe Harvest House Publishers as well as other publishing companies have realized is that they have time to wait. It does not make sense to gamble on an unknown author. Let someone else do that, or let him publish his own book first. If he proves himself to be a good salesman then sign him. Every good author will always have a next book in the works. Harvest House Publishers might miss a few good manuscripts by using pay-to-submit services and encouraging self-publishing, but they wonít lose money by publishing something that they canít sell. Instead, Harvest House Publishers can watch the sales figures, make a guess on what they might be able to do and then go make the author an offer. They might have to pay him a higher advance and a higher percentage in royalties, but it is more of a sure thing rather than a shot in the dark.