Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Independent Press Profile: New Growth Press

As I mentioned in an earlier post, last month I was back East visiting my extended family. My uncle asked me how my writing was going (standard answer: It's good!). He then remembered that one of his good friends from high school works in publishing, and offered to set me up with him.

This is how I got the opportunity to interview Mark Teears, owner of New Growth Press. New Growth is a medium-sized Christian press that publishes almost entirely non-fiction titles. It's completely different from all the publishers I've ever researched as a Young Adult fiction writer. So for me, it was fascinating to see how New Growth acquires books and builds its list.

If you visit New Growth's website, you'll notice that it's devoted to selling the books it publishes, as opposed to soliciting work from new authors. I assumed that meant they weren't open to unsolicited submissions, and that most of their work was submitted by literary agents. Mark explained to me that New Growth has contracts with many different Christian ministries, who submit books to be published by New Growth. New Growth started out publishing Christian counseling books, but has branched out as more authors associated with these ministries have come on board.

As there are many different sects of Christianity that teach a variety of doctrines and practices, I asked Mark how they select the ones that they will publish. To Mark, it is very important that someone who reads books published by New Growth will know what to expect when they buy another New Growth book, and so they are careful to publish books that teach similar doctrines. The Chief Editor at New Growth makes sure that all of the books considered for publication teach the same doctrine, and will appeal to the same audience.

Once a quarter, the Chief Editor brings projects under consideration to an acquisitions meeting, where they discuss which titles to publish. So even though a ministry has a contract with New Growth, they don't automatically get all of their books published. New Growth is still a business, and has to choose those books that they think they can sell. Author platform is an important factor in these decisions, which is true for any kind of non-fiction book. New Growth publishes approximately 175 books a year.

Many of those books are "minibooks." As the name suggests, these books are shorter, and focus on one subject. Mark credits his wife with the idea of publishing the minibooks, which are a very successful product for New Growth.

Mark is an entrepreneur at heart; New Growth is not the first business he's owned and operated. When I asked him what contributed to his success with New Growth, he told me that "niche is important." New Growth knows what it does well, and works hard to appeal to that niche. When they do venture outside their niche area, they do so cautiously. For example, New Growth recently published its first fiction title. Before acquiring more, they will wait to see how this one does, to see if their customers are interested in fiction or not.

As a writer, the takeaways I got from my interview with Mark were these: Find your niche, and try different things within it. For me, I've written books in several genres, but the one I'm really hoping will go somewhere is Young Adult speculative. I want that to be my niche, but I can try different things within it beside novels; short fiction contests, anthologies, magazines, etcetera.

I greatly appreciate the time Mark spent talking to me about New Growth and publishing in general. While at first I didn't think I'd get much out of interviewing a publisher that was never going to publish my books, I was wrong! It was fascinating to get a inside look at New Growth Press and still learn things that are applicable to many aspects of publishing.

1 comment:

  1. Very neat to hear how it works behind the scenes there. They have a really nice website too. A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest has a fantastic cover. It looks like that's the fiction title you mentioned. =)

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