Monday, July 2, 2012

What Does Zondervan First Mean for You?

 by Dina Sleiman
On June 6th a huge announcement hit the publishing world. Zondervan launched a direct to digital imprint called Zondervan First. You might not realize it, but this is exciting news for both you and me. Zondervan is one of the oldest and most respected names in Christian publishing, it's one of the biggest companies, and it is owned by Harper Collins. This new imprint opens doors for both readers and writers. And in an even more exciting turn of events, my historical romance, Love in Three-Quarter Time, will be the launch title for this new imprint. You can read about it here in Publisher's Weekly.

* Good News For Readers: The Zondervan First imprint will allow Zondervan to broaden their content and take more chances. This is much needed in Christian publishing, and many readers have been clamoring for it. The overhead for these direct to digital books will be much lower, allowing Zondervan First to try new things. I looked at Zondervan's historical catalog and was surprised to find only a few authors under their traditional imprint. Not much variety. But this new imprint will change that for sure. In addition, the cost of the ebooks will be lower, which provides more reason for the reader to rejoice. And if you're not an ebook fan, no worries. Zondervan First will also offer print books right along side the digital versions. The main difference is that they will be doing most of their marketing and distribution through online sources. And let's face it, that's how most of us are buying our books these days, so it's great to see Zondervan responding to the changing industry.

Considering the fact that they chose my novel to launch their line, I can't help but wonder if they might have a slightly different audience in mind for this new digital imprint than the traditional CBA reader. Hmm... They've certainly taken a little bit of a chance by choosing a book set in 1817 Charlottesville, VA rather than the prairies or an Amish farm. And since my novel revolves around dance, I think it's safe to say they aren't catering to the ultra-conservative crowd. Although I would not call this novel "edgy," I do have a rather passionate heroine I think you will find delightful and refreshing.

* Good News For Writers: With each passing year it becomes harder and harder to get those illusive contracts. Especially for first time authors. Looking through the Zondervan adult fiction catalog, all I could find were established authors. But, according to their website, this new Zondervan First imprint is designed to allow Zondervan to give a chance to new authors. Although they do not offer advances, there are plenty of other perks. They offer their full Zondervan expertise in editing, marketing, cover design, and distribution. There is a quick turn around time (mine will be released about three months after being contracted). The royalties are good. And, as I mentioned, they do offer print books as well as digital. In addition, they will be using this imprint to find authors to move to their traditional Zondervan line.

But the best news for writers is that you do not need an agent to submit to Zondervan First!!! It seems these days it's  becoming almost impossible for new writers to find agents, so this is an incredible opportunity. If you would like to submit to Zondervan First, go to their website. Be sure to read all of their requirements in full as well as the "Frequently Asked Questions" page in detail. You don't want to waste this wonderful chance. At the moment they are primarily looking for novels that are finished, polished, and around 70k. They are hoping to release 10 in 2012!!! So get in there while the need is great. And they plan to open up to nonfiction in the future as well.

* Good News For Me Too: The only difficult aspect of my decision to go with Zondervan First was that I had to make it in one day. Yikes! The reason was, if I made the decision quickly I would be included in all the press releases about the new imprint, which they would be making later that week. The down side was that we didn't have time to wait for counter offers from other publishers, and my book had only been sent out about three weeks earlier. But I felt like God provided some pretty cool reassurances for me. The best one was an opportunity to meet Zondervan editor Sue Brower the week before at Blue Ridge--and even to hang out with her in a relaxed setting away from the conference. I really liked her and had full faith in her. Second, the only other editor who had shown significant interest at that point called with a no only a few minutes before this offer came through. Seemed like God was opening all the right doors (and closing the wrong ones), so I decided to walk through.

Of course the fact that my agent thought the deal was good, even without an advance, was a huge factor as well. As the launch author for Zondervan First, I will be getting a lot of extra publicity and advertising, which has already started happening. And I'll likely have my first royalty check in hand by around the same time I could have reasonably hoped to get an advance. It's a thrilling opportunity, and I'm so glad I seized it. Exciting stuff is going on at Zondervan, and I'm happy to be a part.

Here's the current blurb for my soon to be released Zondervan First novel, Love in Three-Quarter Time.

"When the belle of the ball falls into genteel poverty, Constance Cavendish must teach the dances she once loved to help her family survive. The opportunity of a lifetime might await her in the frontier town of Charlottesville, but the position will require her to instruct the sisters of the plantation owner who jilted her when she needed him most. Can Constance possibly face Robert Montgomery, her painful past, and the guilt that threatens to destroy her in time to waltz her way to a fresh start?"

Hope you enjoy it.

So what do you think of this new Zondervan line? Do you plan to give it a try? Do you like ebooks, or would you opt for print? Authors, anyone thinking of submitting?

Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, is now available at amazon and other online and ebook distributors. Her latest novel, Love in Three-Quarter Time, will be the launch title for the new Zondervan First imprint. Dina is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at


  1. Exciting news all around! Congratulations Dina. I can't wait to see how Zondervan First does over the next few years!

    And I love your book!

  2. Thanks, Deb. And they didn't do any major changes to the story, so you'll still recognize it ;)

  3. Very cool. Congrats Dina! I'll have to check out Zondervan online now. I'm very familiar with Zondervan otherwise.

    My thought is perhaps other Inkies will benefit from Zondervan First (Anita comes to mind).

  4. I hope so. Of course, Anita has an agent now, so that would be her call.

  5. Dina, I'm so thrilled for you. This is so very awesome and exciting. I do have an idea that I am thinking about pitching to them. I think this is a wonderful opportunity for writers and as you said - for readers. Yay!

  6. Yes, I'm always happy to hear of anything that will open up the market.

  7. Great news for writers and readers. And I'm thrilled for you, Dina! What a blessing.

    I have an idea or two which might work for this line... exciting!

  8. What an exciting new adventure for you!

    Yes, it's true that writing opportunities can be so elusive, so it's always wonderful to see something like this take off for you. And how fabulous that you'll be the very first in this new Zondervan venture.


  9. I think you should give it a try, Susie, and Suzie too!

  10. DeAnna, that has certainly made it extra exciting. That and how fast it's all moving.

  11. Thank you, Dina, for saying that. It means a lot to me. :-)

  12. Congrats, Dina. Zondervan couldn't have picked a better person to launch this project.

    Although I think it's a great idea and something in my future, at this time I have no plans to submit anything to any direct ebook publisher. I'm having a hard enough time submitting my projects to my agent on time. However, like you, if my agent brings me a contract for something like this and suggests I take it, then that's another ball of yarn altogether. :)


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