Christian book publishers provide many important resources for the Christian community, including Bibles, textbooks, devotionals, books on relationships and children's books. Although some mainstream book publishers occasionally publish books with a Christian focus, the majority of these books come from publishers that specialise in materials for the Christian market.
There are three types of dedicated publishers of Christian books: those that are part of a larger publishing house, smaller independent Christian publishers, and companies that assist authors in self-publishing their own work. Many Christian book publishers also belong to a wider organisation such as the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) or the Christian Small Publishers Association. These organisations can be a helpful way for aspiring authors or interested readers to find out more about publishers.
Many Christian book publishers only publish certain types of books or serve a particular niche market. Some publishers only produce nonfiction books such as Bible commentaries, study guides and devotionals, while others specialise in self-help or inspirational books and others publish Christian fiction. Some Christian publishers specialise in fiction and nonfiction children's materials, or Sunday- or home-school curricula. Larger publishers often produce books on a variety of subjects, while smaller publishers are more likely to have a specialised focus.
Christian book publishers vary greatly in size and in the number of books they publish per year. Zondervan, which is a division of the large mainstream publisher HarperCollins, publishes about 200 books a year. Bethany House, which is part of the Baker Publishing Group of Christian publishers, produces about 120 titles per year. In contrast, some Christian publishers may produce a dozen titles per year or less, and some may only publish titles by one author (often the founder of the company).
Christian book publishers provide Bibles, inspirational texts and religious books that many mainstream publishers will not produce. Most Christian publishers have a statement of faith and see their book publishing as a ministry, not just a business. Some books reach a wide market of readers. For example, in 2003, Christian book publisher Thomas Nelson had five books on "The New York Times" best seller list. Other books reach a small but dedicated group of readers or speciality markets.
Authors who are looking to submit their work to a Christian book publisher should research the publishers carefully to find out what types of books they publish and whether or not they accept unsolicited queries or submissions. While large Christian publishers can often reach a wider market and provide more financial benefits, some only accept submissions through agents or the ECPA. Small Christian publishers may be more open to new authors but publish a limited number of new titles. Self-publishing provides a way for dedicated authors with sufficient financial funding to see their work in print (or in an e-book) and enjoy the satisfaction of sharing it with others.