Karen Ball is the Executive Editor for Fiction at the B&H Publishing group. Karen considers it a gift that she’s been able to use her love of authors and story, during 25+ years in publishing, to build and lead successful fiction lines at several publishers (Tyndale, Multnomah, Zondervan, and now B&H). As Executive Editor of fiction at B&H, Karen partners with authors to help refine their craft and provide readers with stories that move and enlighten. She’s been honored to acquire and work with some of the best novelists in the market, including Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, Robin Jones Gunn, Terri Blackstock, and many others. A writer in her own right, Karen’s novel, What Lies Within, was a finalist for the 2007 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice award and the 2007 Christy Award. She lives in Oregon with her husband and a collection of four-legged, furry “kids,” including a 9-month-old, perpetual-motion Siberian husky and an Aussie-Terrier mix that should have been named “Destructo.” Check out our fiction portal at www.bhpublishinggroup.com/fiction/
Say Hello to B&H, the New Kids on the (Fiction) Block!
Come join me, dear
dreamers, let’s spin us a tale,
There’s nothing better than a good story. A tale of good versus evil, of a brave and true character facing dark and deadly times—and triumphing. No better way to spend a day than sunk deep in your favorite chair, snuggled under a cozy blanket as you enter a world contained in the pages of a novel. From depths to heights, hate to love, struggle to victory, few things move and inspire as deeply as beautifully crafted fiction.
I’ve loved fiction since I was tiny. I spent a good portion of my growing-up years deep in my imagination, creating worlds of fantasy and romance, adventure and drama, sometimes certain those creations in my head were far more real than the world around me. No surprise, then, that I’ve landed where I have in my career.
I am, ever and always, a fiction editor. I love fiction; love fiction writers. I find such joy in entering into the creative process with novelists and seeing their stories not just take flight, but soar. Most folks in publishing know that anyone who is looking for someone who is passionate about the power and quality of fiction can call me.
Which is why I was so surprised when I got a call from B&H Publishing Group.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. They’ve been around forever. Since 1743! (Check it out at http://bhpublishinggroup.com/About.asp.) This company has put Bibles and books into people’s hands for 266 years! Think they know the Christian market? Count on it. A company that’s been around—and been successful—that long has to know the readers and retailers. And they can’t rest on their laurels. They have to recognize that publishing changes almost as often as Imelda Marcos changes her shoes, and they make sure they stay ahead of the curve. B&H has done all that.
Well . . . almost.
The one area B&H hadn’t succeeded was fiction. Sure, they published it, but they were missing a lot. Most notable was strategy. Hence, my surprise when they called and asked me to help them build a fiction line.
You can imagine, then, what was on my mind as I hopped a plane for Tennessee. (Yes, okay, that I could get fresh grits and buttermilk biscuits—but beyond that, people!) “Wow. These folks don’t know what they’re asking—or what they’ll have to do to make it work.” Know what? I was right. But here’s the great thing: That’s why they called me. They wanted someone passionate about fiction to help build their line and take them where they’d never gone before: to a solid position as a CBA fiction house.
I’m telling you, by the time I walked away from those meetings, I knew these folks were serious. About making changes. About
doing things right. Today, two years after those meetings, and one year after the launch of our Pure Enjoyment fiction line, I can say without hesitation, Fiction is HAPPENIN’ at B&H!
Why? Well, the most important reason is the fiction team: Julie Gwinn, a fiction aficionado who happens to be our marketing director, and yours truly, a reader from the time I could hold a book and a lover (and writer) of fiction! Julie and I both believe fiction is a powerful vehicle for God’s truth and that quality stories told with authenticity and vulnerability will change hearts and lives. We’ve seen—and experienced—the power of well-crafted fiction. And we determined from the get-go to up the bar, not just at B&H, but within the industry.
We intend to become known for the quality of our authors and their craft and to partner with our authors, working together to do what it takes to get their books into readers’ hands. And boy! Have we got a great team already: Jamie Carie, John Olson, James David Jordan, Tracy Higley, Rebeca Seitz, Julie Carobini, Robin Caroll, Captain Jeff Streuker and Alton Gansky, Chuck Norris, Leanna Ellis, James Rubart, Patti Hill, and Pam Ewen. With authors like that, we can’t lose.
Our vision is to be known as the house that listens to its authors. Julie and I make a concerted effort to get to know our authors and to make sure they know how much we care about and appreciate them. We work to share their hearts within the publishing house and to make sure we’re getting the whole B&H team as excited about our novels as we are.
Our vision is to be strategic in acquisitions, content development, marketing, PR, and even in the genres we pursue. And boy howdy (the South has rubbed off on me, can you tell?), are we seeing results! Pure Enjoyment launched January ’08, and we’re already seeing sales three times the normal for fiction at B&H. A number of our novels (James David Jordan’s Forsaken and Jamie Carie’s historical novels) have received awards or nominations. All of our books are receiving raves from reviewers, bloggers, and readers.
Our vision is to have our fiction take the Web by storm. There’s a readership peering at computer screens who seldom (if ever) visits brick-and-mortar stores. Enter our killer Web site (http://bhpublishinggroup.com/fiction/), complete with award-winning trailers that you can also find on YouTube, GodTube, and any number of places. And we’re finding new avenues all the time to promote the line and our amazing authors.
Most of all, though, our vision is to bring God’s truth to life in the minds and hearts of readers, to let them know they’re not alone, to see people helped and lives changed through the power of story, and to know that we’re not only selling books, but also bringing light to end darkness, truth to destroy deception, and hope to uplift a weary, hurting world.
And that’s what B&H fiction is all about.