Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Season for Everything


Outside the window is the season for snow and extreme cold. Inside the office refrigerator it is apparently the season for reigning in control of health and weight by looks of all the salad containers. In the office files it’s the season for budget projections and new book plans going into 2010.

2008 was the season for the cozy mystery romance at Barbour. We spent 2 years planning for our new book club. We built a strong team of managing editor and authors who worked hard on both content and marketing of the books. Then we launched the club early 2008 based on strong initial membership drives.

All was going well until our early fall membership drive (traditionally a strong time for adding new members) hit at the same time as the news from Wall Street about the financial crisis. The membership drive had the worst response that we have ever experienced or even heard of in the industry. At that point, to save the club would have required major investment dollars. By the end of 2008, we knew that the national financial climate would not allow for a marketing gamble on something that was still new and unproven.

2008 was a pretty good year overall for Barbour, but with 2009 looking to be a hard one for retailers, we know we have to tighten our belt and keep our money where we are confident it can give us the most return. So, for that reason, we will be closing the Heartsong Presents Mystery Romance Club. We have a couple more shipments that will go out, then books we have contracted will be used in other ways. Most likely they will go into 3-in-1 collections like Cozy in Kansas and Alibis in Arkansas. These 2 books released in late fall 2008 and had very good sales showings over Christmas. We hope you cozy mystery lovers out there will look for these books and support your author friends by buying them.

We do hope to keep Susan Downs around as much as possible, but in February her job will change from a full-time project managing editor to a freelance editor.

It has been a fun ride with these quirky mysteries – some quirky authors too. I’ll miss a lot of that, but I hope the cozy mystery genre never goes completely away. I still feel that there is a market for a lighthearted, light on blood and danger kind of mystery that, of course, is sprinkled with some romance too. We’ll just have to see how things develop.

Thanks so much to Susan and all the authors who gave this club venture their all.

21 comments:

Ed J. Horton said...

I was truly sorry to hear this news. I pray God will bless Barbour, Susan Downs, and the "cozy" authors in their future endeavors.

Mary Connealy said...

These were fun books. Maybe in the future when what ever is happening right now to the ecomomy STOPS happening, it might be worth trying again.

CHickey said...

As a cozy author, it was a bummer. I mourned for a day, then got back to writing and planning new goals for 2009. Someday, maybe I'll get to write these fun books again.

Pam Meyers said...

I heard about this two days ago and felt as though someone had died. I had so hoped of being able to write for the line.

It was so fun and entertaining.

Thanks to Susan for all the encouragement she has given me for my writing over the past few years.

I'll be praying for you and your new direction.

NancyMehl said...

Like Cindy, I was sad to hear this news. But at the same time I feel so blessed to have worked with an editor like Susan Downs. If I'd created the perfect editor, she still wouldn't have lived up to Susan.

I'm also grateful to have had the chance to work with people like Cindy, Dana Menink, Mary "Mouse" Connealy, Janice Thompson, Darlene Franklin, Candice Speare...the list goes on and on. These great authors have taught me so much - not just about writing - but about class and compassion. I don't intend to let our friendships fade.

So, my thanks to Barbour for the opportunity. My love to Susan and to my fellow authors. We've only begun our adventure - and our friendship.(S)

Nancy

Lynette Sowell said...

What a fun experience it's been, and a learning experience too. But business is business, and after I allowed myself some blue hours, I'm looking forward to what's next. I was really excited to see the cozy 3-in-1's in our local Wal-Mart, and also to learn how well they've been selling. When one door closes, watch for another door--or even window! :)

Janet Spaeth said...

This is very sad indeed. I'll miss that package of books in my mailbox!

Cecelia Dowdy said...

I'm a Mystery Book Club member and I enjoyed getting that box of books regularly. The stories were fun and quirky, and I enjoyed featuring the novels on my blog. Perhaps you all at Barbour can revisit this idea within the next year or so?

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Like everyone else here, I'm so sad to hear this news. Susan, I'll be praying for you as God leads in in your new season. I was laid off in 2000 and He was in control. I'm glad to know you'll at least be able to freelance.

I know this decision was hard for Barbour to make, but God will get us all through this. It's a season of growing pains, even though it seems like everything is downsizing. We are simply growing in different ways.

Many Blessings to everyone,

Katy McKenna said...

I was a member of the club, also. I gave my first eight books to my MIL, who is disabled and lives in assisted living. She has spent all of 2008 reading and re-reading those books! She loved them thoroughly. Thank you so much for the blessing you brought into her life.

Deena said...

WAAAAHHHH!! I Loved having Cozies I knew were clean and safe! PLEASE keep putting out the trilogies...I promise to keep buying them and reviewing them....PLEASE???

CherryBlossomMJ said...

As a reader I can tell you I love 3-in-1's that are trade paperback size, so I'll definitely look out for them!

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

What a blessing and honor it was to have been a part of this venture! Susan, thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to the line. May God bless you richly in all that you do.

Susan said...

One big blessing has come from all this--everyone is saying such nice things...and I didn't even have to die!
You've warmed my heart with your well wishes, compliments, and prayer-promises. Thank you!
I think I can also speak for all the mystery authors and editors when I say that we gave it our all. And we had a blast in the process.
So, now on to a new chapter.
(I'll be blogging again at least a time or two before my final day as a Barbie girl. Tune in Monday!)

CatMom said...

Susan, My prayers for you as the Lord leads you to more adventures. You will be greatly missed, I'm sure (your comment about the nice comments without you dying had me LOL !!). ~If possible, please post another pic of Malakai before you finish this blog!?! (He's such a DOLL!).
Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

Janice Thompson said...

It has been such an honor to work with Susan and her team. And what a blessing this "cozy" season has been! Thanks to everyone at Barbour who took this vision and ran with it. We're sad to see the season end, but know God is in control.

Linda Kozar said...

Writing for HPM was such a wonderful experience, I think I'll be spoiled forevermore! I'm going to miss having Susan Downs as my editor--she's one of a kind. My prayers and love to you Susan. I know what God takes away with one hand, he gives generously with the other.

As to HP Mysteries, perhaps we'll see them emerge again someday, but if not, we can be proud of what we've accomplished together. It's an awesome line!

Ausjenny said...

I am a member of the club also and love getting the books even if im months behind in reading. I love the line and hope when the crisis is over it may be picked up again.

Carole said...

I am so sorry to see this line end, but realize how tough things are during this financial crisis. I have been a fan of cozy mysteries since reading my first Agatha Christie over 40 years ago.

Your cozy mystery line was done extremely well with enticing covers and good marketing, and I've been delighted to have them in the Christian fiction market. Cozies are very popular today, so I hope you will consider bringing this line back when things turn around.

Blissful said...

I was saddened to hear this announcement. It must be so disappointing for you, Susan, as well as all you mystery writers. I have enjoyed the books very much. Thank you for all you have done!

Mari said...

Darn! I just discovered these books :( I devoured Alibis in Arkansas. I still have Cozy in Kansas to read. How sad. I hope these authors will still find a venue for their books. They are such enjoyable reads.