Monday, March 3, 2014

Spotlight on Small Publishers: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Eddie Jones is a North Carolina-based writer and Acquisition Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is a three-time winner of the Delaware Writers Conference and his Young Adult novel, The Curse of Captain LaFoote, won the 2012 Moonbeam Award in the Pre-Teen Fiction/Fantasy category and 2011 Selah Award in Young Adult fiction. Dead Man's Hand, the first book in the Caden Chronicles mystery series, is now available from Zonderkidz.

He co-writes the He Said, She Said devotions, available at

His latest adult novel, Bahama Breeze, is a humorous romantic suspense available from Harbourlight Books. Eddie's recent devotional book, My Father's Business: 30 Inspirational Stories for Discerning and Doing God's Will, features Biblical insights and practical applications from the lives of Bruce Wilkerson, George S. Patton, Mother Teresa and more.

1. Why did you choose to open your own publishing company?

We were responding to a need within the industry. Around 2007 we noticed a number of larger houses withdrawing from writers’ conferences, cancelling book contracts, reducing the number of titles they released, etc. Cindy Sproles and I both are of one mind on this: Christ never retreated from a field, He always advanced. Only time he says run is from the Devil. So it struck us that Christians were abandoning the book publishing market because (I assume) they couldn’t make money. To us, that sounded like a business model issue.

We published a few devotional compilations for Christian Devotions Ministries, learned the POD and ebook process, and found they provided a nice revenue stream for the ministry. Within months a couple of authors approached asking if we would publish their devotional book. We explained we didn’t know what we were doing, but we’d try. Those books sold in small numbers; we’d learned more.

Fast forward a couple of years. We had published around 20 books and the ministry was bringing a decent amount of money. So much so, Cindy feared the IRS would no longer consider Christian Devotions Ministries a non-profit. So we spun off the book publishing side into a for profit business. That’s where Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas is today.

In 2013, we published over 40 books, and we have at least that many planned for next year. I don’t have the sales figures handy, but if I had to guess I would say we’ll sell over 50,000 copies in 2014, most of those ebooks. We distribute royalties monthly and those checks (combined) normally run between three and four thousand dollars. So I think this year we will distribute around fifty thousand dollars in royalties.

All because we said yes to an opportunity presented to us by God.

2. How do you see your role in the current industry?--competing? providing a service? filling a neglected niche?

We hope we are providing inspiration for authors and other publishers. I have begged the larger houses to try what we’re doing so more of God’s truth goes forth. Rather than laying off editors and cutting staff, if other houses would set up a separate division and try the POD / ebook model they might find they can reach smaller and profitable markets.

From our perspective there is no competition – we’re all working for the same Boss.

3. What does your publishing house have to offer the author?

Not enough. Not enough marketing, not enough sales, not enough editing. Not enough.

But what we try to do is give them a marketing road map that, if followed, should allow their book to grow legs and find an audience. We give them documents, offer social media help, post their book on our ministry’s websites, help them get on blog talk radio shows. We have a whole marketing arm whose only job is to help grow legs on our books.

Our sales goals for each nonfiction books is 2000 copies sold over a two year period, 5000 for fiction over that same time. Again, this is ebook and print combined. That’s hard to do, harder than it was a year ago for sure, now that everyone is self publishing a book. But really, you’re only looking at between 100 and 200 copies sold per month. That’s like, three to six books sold a day. If an author works their social media platform, helps others, speaks to groups, is out doing the thing God called them to do and not sitting back waiting for their publisher to wave a magic wand over their book, then I believe they can sell three to six copies each day.

We try to keep the price point attractive to consumers. But at the end of the day, every author is responsible for their own book. God gave it to them, we helped birth it, but it’s their baby.

4. What genre/style are you most interested in? What are you looking for?

We recently launched five new imprints: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Romance, Southern fiction, Historical fiction, and devotionals. We are moving our devotional books into the SonRise imprint. We also publish general nonfiction but we have found fiction pays the bills, nonfiction and devotionals change lives. Not that fiction can’t change lives but we view that more as good, solid entertainment.

5. How and when can an author submit to you?

Meet with us at a writers’ conference or have your agent contact us. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts except from agents. We like to meet our author first, see their heart, and find out why they’re writing. We still get tricked into publishing books for authors whose primary goal is fame and vanity, but for the most part our authors understand they are working for God first, not a royalty check.

I do not believe any author is ever satisfied with their sales, royalties, publisher’s promotional efforts, and all. But if we’re all working for the same Boss then maybe we can agree we are (or should be) doing all we can and when that’s done, leave the rest to Him.

Upcoming from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas:

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