Rebecca Germany

Rebecca Germany is the senior editor of fiction Barbour Publishing who has been with the company for 15 years. In 2004, she was honored as the Golden Scroll fiction editor of the year by ASWA. Over 100 novels and story collections go through her department yearly, but she has found time to have five of her own novellas, numerous small gift books, and a cookbook series published in the Barbour Books line.

Staying the Course

Tyndale Publishers

Tucked in the hill country of eastern Ohio, in a very small town, is a hidden gem of a company. Even if they knew of the company’s existence, most locals wouldn’t believe the volume of books that goes through the warehouse each year to meet the company’s mission to publish inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses—worldwide.

Barbour Publishing is the leading CBA publisher of fiction categorized as “romance.” We are fourth in the CBA for number of units produced in fiction. We started publishing fiction as romance “flip” books way back in 1983 with authors like Colleen Reece, Irene B. Brand, and Elaine Schulte. I wasn’t at Barbour then, so I’m not exactly sure how we settled on romance, but it has been Barbour’s strength ever since.

The Heartsong Presents book club began in 1992, the year before I joined Barbour, and out of it have come many of CBA’s shining stars, including Tracie Peterson, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Lauraine Snelling, Colleen Coble, Cathy Marie Hake, and more (forgive me for not naming them all here). Our book club series have helped us stay open to working with unpublished authors and developing them into strong writers.

Other Barbour strengths have been doing series and repackaging previously published material (including Grace Livingston Hill) to extend the breadth and life of the product. Our novella collections were born out of that when we decided we could also create new short stories specifically for collections under topics of our choice.

When we decided to do full-length fiction for the trade, we looked at an area that at the time didn’t seem to be well tapped—suspense with broad appeal to include male readers. We left our core readership of women hooked on romance and tried to reach a niche market—and failed. Even with strong authors,

the market didn’t respond to this fiction approach from Barbour. When we swung back to romance, the sales placements and numbers went up

significantly. We learned our lesson that for Barbour, having the plot focus on romance is key. Brunstetter’s Amish settings blended with romance have struck a chord with our readers and generate our highest sales. We also find that traditional American historical settings appeal to our core readership. Romance has many sub categories, but we’ve found that things like chick lit and suspense don’t work for us.

In the last couple years, Barbour has also increased its focus on building up authors’ names. In the early days of Barbour, the majority of our authors were either dead or writing for a set series where author name wasn’t the key to sales. Now Barbour recognizes the need to focus on authors in selling full-length fiction alongside the recognized Barbour brand. We’ve signed six authors to multi-book/exclusive contracts, and we are putting a lot of effort into marketing them.

In these times of economic hardship, I’m glad I’m with a company that from its roots has recognized the need to provide good books at very affordable prices. When people can no longer afford to spend money on a couple hours out to dinner or a movie, they turn to cheaper forms of entertainment like books—and a book can be read again and again.

Through 2010 and beyond, Barbour will stay the course with fiction that keeps romance at the heart of the story. We will also continue to focus on authors, giving new ones a chance to break into publishing through our book clubs, and offering a small pool of authors a chance to build careers within our full-length fiction line.

Rebecca Germany
Senior Fiction Editor
Barbour Publishing, Inc.