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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Heartsong Presents -- Countdown to Demise


It is sad news week, I'm afraid.

Yesterday, an official announcement went out stating as of the end of 2011, the Heartsong Presents book club will cease to exist. The book club is being canceled. After nearly 20 years and over 1,000 titles released, this club will see its last shipment in December of this year.

To say I was stunned when I heard this doesn't even begin to describe the feelings I've been experiencing. Not only does it mean book club members won't be receiving those wholesome romances they love (both to read and pass on to friends or young female readers), but it means I have to find another publishing house for my books and writing. Two of my books promised for contract are now not going to be contracted.

A lot of big-name Christian fiction authors got their start by writing for Heartsong Presents. Authors like Tracie Peterson, Colleen Coble, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter, Mary Connealy, Judith Miller, Donita K. Paul, and at least 20 others. I just can't think of their names right now. :)

I can't say I'm surprised, as I've seen the club numbers dwindle over the past 3-4 years. The world of publishing is changing, and unfortunately, this book club no longer fits the needs and buying habits of the average Christian romance reader. Mass-markets are going the way of the dinosaur, and those looking for value-priced books are migrating to e-books by the thousands!

I joined this club in 1992 when it first began, and this club gave me my first publishing contract. It is with bittersweet fondness that I begin the process of saying goodbye.

At least the 4-in-1 novella collections will continue. And they are going to continue doing the repacks of Heartsong books until they have released ALL Heartsong titles in a 3-in-1 repack. Barbour Publishing will also continue with the Romancing America line with the novellas, and they have trade-length BRIDE/WEDDING single title romances coming out starting this year. This is in addition to their standard trade-length single titles in the romance genre. Romance is still strong with them. It just won't be through Heartsong Presents anymore.

So, what about you? Any thoughts or comments?

29 comments:

Ausjenny said...

That is sad I remember buying these books when they first came to Australia and still buy them occasionally. I have read so many of them and have alot to read on the shelf.
I wonder if the Love inspired ranges are now taking over some of the audience. I notice that Barbour have more longer books out now.
I hope you pick up a new contract quickly as I do like your books. This will affect alot of people I am sure.

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Oh my gosh! This is soooo sad!!! I totally got my Christian fiction start by reading Heartsongs! I still have a bunch of them in my permanent library, they are good little stories and I'll be sad to see them go. :-(

XOXO~ Renee

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Love Inspired does have a greater financial backing through Harlequin, but not sure about their readership and if they are the reason for the decline in the HP club.

So many got their start in Christian fiction, either reading or publishing with the HP books. Far-reaching effects, no doubt.

Praying for everyone involved.

Barbara said...

This is SUCH sad news.

Hayden said...

Oh, sad news! I was never part of the book club, but I've bought a few individually, and I was always very happy with them. Oh, sad day :(

squiresj said...

Will you still be able to get the books without the book club or not? I have loved these books and passed so many of them on to friends. I think the economy and lack of jobs is hurting every industry.
jrs362 at hotmail dot com

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

You'll only be able to get the individual books through online retailers or directly through Barbour as long as the titles are still in stock. Once they are sold out, they're gone. Barbour won't be publishing any more of this book club line.

And yes, the economy is hurting many. The book club became too expensive to keep afloat. :(

Carole said...

I read from the Love Inspired series rather than Heartsong for the simple reason that they are available as ebooks. While not ready for large-print books, mass market print is just too small for me to comfortably read. I wrote Barbour over a year ago, expressing the desire that they release both the Heartsong line and novella collections in ebook format, but they didn't seem to be interested. I can't help but wonder if that contributed to their dwindling number of readers, because I would definitely have bought them on my Kindle.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Ironic that you mention this, Carole, as Barbour announced just 2 months ago all their titles going forward from May 1, 2011, would be released as e-books, including the Heartsong (3 months after they hit the book club). The trade-lengths would be simultaneous to their print release, and the Romancing America as well as the novella collections would be the same.

With readers seeking e-books for their bargains now, it makes me wonder if Barbour couldn't have made the book club an e-book club option. Perhaps that would have garnered more members.

It's done now, though. And I know it wasn't an easy decision for them to make. Just a sad one. :(

Sylvia said...

Amber, I am sorry to hear about this too. What about the authors that had Heartsongs that were to be released in 2012? Are their contracts cancelled? I know Annalisa Daughety had some Heartsongs on contract. Have you thought about the Summerside Press Love Finds You line or some of their other categories? Right now their books are the closest I can think of in matching Heartsong content. Whitaker House might be a possibility too.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Sylvia, those authors who had contracts will still see their books release in some form. They just won't go through the book club. The books might see a release as e-books or they'll be held for a possible collection compilation. Barbour doesn't yet know.

As for Summerside and Whitaker, I need to have an agent to submit to them. And right now, there are some negotiations still to take place on agent representation. I'm working on it.

susansbooks said...

I am so sad about this, I still cry every time I read an article about it. I am still mourning the loss of the Mysteries line. I really wish that these two lines were not so precipitously dropped, leaving series unfinished, because that is what I specialize in, gathering series, and because my heart aches for the authors who put so much work into a novel, and were so excited about having it contracted, only to have it be all for naught. All of the ebook switches are causing me big problems, first of all because I love actual books, and second because I sell them. I am in the process of making some big changes because of the fact that I was unable to sell enough books to even pay book seller fees. The whole thing makes me feel depressed, but I am trying really hard to look beyond the temporal to the eternal, and trust that God has something new for me out there.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

You're not alone, Susan, and those of us authors who have been left in the lurch (both with the Mysteries line and now with the Heartsong line) appreciate your commiseration. I also am sad to see series titles dropped. It's hard on the author to not be able to finish, but I think harder on the reader being unable to read the rest of the story.

I don't know about others, but I will likely release the other 2 books in my newest series as e-books unless Barbour comes back to say they want to release them in print.

Until then, it's onward and upward toward following God's plan. Praying you find a new niche as well with your endeavors.

Rebecca Herman said...

Oh, that's sad! I don't like ebooks and don't understand the ebook craze at all, I don't own an ereader and I doubt I ever will.

Will the Colonial Courtship collection still be published? Is it just the two books in the Brandywine series that were cancelled?

Rebecca Herman said...

also since they seem to have gotten rid of the heartsong website already is there still a place I can see a list of all the books as well as the few still coming out this year?

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Rebecca, you're not alone with the ebook conundrum. I do own an e-reader and enjoy the flexibility of having multiple books on one slim item to slip into my purse. But when I'm home or on vacation, I enjoy the feel of holding an actual printed book in my hands. The e-book craze, I believe, is for those constantly on the go and desiring a less bulky/cluttered way to read.

As for Colonial Courtships, yes. The novella collections are still going to continue. They have no connection to the Heartsong club. You'll see those actually *increase* in 2012 and the senior editor at Barbour hopes to continue with those (2 new every month) in 2013.

So, it's just the 2 Brandywine Brides books that won't see print with Barbour. I will likely shop them somewhere else.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Oh, and to see the Heartsong titles since they took down the web site, go to www.barbourbooks.com. Do a search under "heartsong presents" and there are 968 matches, sorted by title. Not all of them are available, but you'll get the full collection there.

Rebecca Herman said...

thanks! it's too bad they didn't keep the website up a little longer, since it would have made it easier to see the last few new releases.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

I agree, Rebecca, especially since one of those releases will be mine with Bound by Grace. It's in the next to last shipment of books.

Would have been great to see it on the web site. But the technical issues they were having wasn't worth the money it would take to fix it since they were going to be shutting down the site anyway. We'll just have to use other outlets for promotion.

Angela A. said...

I started my Christian romance reading through Heartsong Presents I just love the books. its a shame that other other young adult readers wont be able to read these too. :-(

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Actually, Angela, there's been a change, and there's now a potential buyer for the club. So, at least until summer of 2012, the club is remaining open, and I've been blessed with the 2 remaining contracts on my current trilogy.

Looks like those young adult readers will get to read these after all. And they're always available online, as well as soon to be eBooks. They're not going away just yet.

Will update when I hear more news to share.

Margaret Daley said...

Have you got any thoughts on who might be looking to purchase the Heartsong Presents club? It will be interesting to see if it happens. So many great writers started with Heartsong Presents.

Anonymous said...

Anne Stevens- This is so sad! I have spent many enjoyable hours reading their books and then passing them on to others.They gave us hope that there was some clean interesting books out there. They are loosing a great way of witnessing. What a bummer!

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Margaret, I'm sure you already know Heartsong has been purchased by Harlequin, and they'll be continuing the line separate from Love Inspired starting in 2013.

Anne, as you can see from my comment above, Heartsong Presents will continue, just with a different publisher. We heard last week from one of the editors and they are looking for new proposals for books to launch the line beginning in January 2013. Heartsongs right now are being distributed by Harlequin this year, and the line will continue uninterrupted in January.

So, there is still hope, and the books with a message are still going strong. :)

Anonymous said...

Reader Service Has The Books Still
Coming Out If People Join the Series

Rebecca Herman said...

Amber - do you know of anywhere where there is a list of the recent Heartsong books? Harlequin doesn't have a list. :(

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Rebecca, I actually have a request in with the current editor for the new Heartsong line. She should see it tomorrow and get back to me within a day or so. As soon as I get the list, I'll publicize it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Amber!!

I'm in the same boat as Rebecca. I've been wanting a complete list of every book every published. i like how the heartsong group used to have a website that had a printable book series list with each book in order. also is there a certain order that they go in or can they go in any order? it's not so easy to find good christian book series and this is one of the best ones i think.
Thanks, Michelle

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Michelle and Rebecca, 980 of the HP titles are being released on eBook this year (2012) as part of Barbour's Truly Yours imprint. So, if you search Amazon.com for "Truly Yours" in the Kindle Library, you can find a great deal of them.

However, I have located a document online that takes you up to #856 in order from 1-856 in the series. That will at least get you close to the complete collection.

Heartsong Books 1 through 856

You have to pay to print or download the list, but you can at least view it online. I have the 8 pages saved as JPGs and will be posting a separate blog post with the content for anyone who wishes to save it.

Stay tuned!