Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Not New York: Book Business & Publishers in Nashville

NashvilleNotNewYorkWe’re moving back east and heading down south to the vibrant city of Nashville, Tennessee, namesake of the popular TV show, home to a famously large music scene, and, of course, to publishing.

Specifically, Nashville is known for hosting a number of religious publishing houses. Best-known, perhaps, are Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, both of which are now owned by HarperCollins and which, together, comprise HarperCollins Christian. Thomas Nelson is the world’s largest Christian publisher and is known in the larger market for New York Times bestseller Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. Zondervan is one of the world’s leading publishers of Bibles, and HC Christian is also responsible for BibleGateway.com, a web site (and app) that allows users to search within over 100 versions of the Bible. Simon & Schuster’s Christian imprint, Howard Books, is also in Nashville.

On the independent side, there’s Worthy Publishing in nearby Brentwood. Worthy’s titles span several genres, including  inspiration, current events, fiction, Bible study, leadership, biography, and personal growth. B&H Publishing Group, too, publishes trade fiction and nonfiction, academic titles, church group books, and bestseller The Vow, a book about the true events that inspired the 2012 film with Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams.

But, if religious publishing is not your cup of tea, never fear. There are other options. Vanderbilt University Press publishes high-quality scholarly works as well as general-interest books relating to the Nashville region. Vanderbilt UP also boasts a co-publishing program with the Country Music Foundation Press, publishing arm of the Country Music Hall of Fame. There is also Turner Publishing, a top independent publisher based in both New York and Nashville. Turner has a number of fiction and nonficiton imprints, including Ancestry: Genealogy, the book division of Ancestry.com. In addition to their fiction and nonfiction lists, Turner recently acquired roughly 1,500 print and digital titles from the John Wiley & Sons pets, crafts, and general interest lists (including the annual  Baseball Prospectus, for you sports fans).

Thanks to a number of colleges and universities, Nashville is a youth-friendly city with lots of restaurants, a huge monthly flee market, and the fabulous independent bookstore Parnassas Books, owned by best-selling author and Nashville resident Ann Patchett. And, of course, there’s music. In the nicer months, you can always find a free outdoor concert, or perhaps catch a movie or dancing in a park. The city is a relatively affordable one. Preferred neighborhoods for young people are East Nashville and Green Hill. It is, however, advisable to have a car, as the public bus system is not necessarily reliable.

Publishing life in Nashville is rich, but more laid back than in New York. However, since it’s such an industry hub, entry-level candidates should anticipate expectations of internship experience and demonstrated bibliophilia. (Also, if you’re looking to get into religious publishing, specific knowledge of and experience with religious books are a definite plus.)

And are the people friendly? When asked, Laura Laffoon, Editorial Assistant at a Big Six Nashville office, responded, “This is the South. So, yes. Very friendly.”

Do you work in Nashville or another Southern city? How do you find the industry there? What other parts of  the Southern book business should people know about?  If you’ve worked in publishing elsewhere, particularly in New York, how does Nashville compare?

One Comment

  1. Hi,
    I have written a book on Word and would like to publish with Lightning Source. They have very specific requirements about submitting files. they recommend getting a professional book designer to format the book properly. Do you know of anyone in the Nashville area that is very experienced with book formatting?
    Thanks,
    Karen

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