HarperCollins Publishers

  • Publisher, Nelson Books

    Job Locations US-TN-Nashville
  • Overview

    Job Summary: The Nelson Books imprint publishes compelling nonfiction that informs, inspires, entertains, and leads to changes that matter. We specialize in developing memorable messaging alongside great content, building lasting brands, and leading our industry in marketing innovation. Our successes include the New York Times bestsellers Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis (9 weeks at #1); Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst; Everybody, Always by Bob Goff; For the Love by Jen Hatmaker; and The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.


    The Publisher is charged with leading and managing all aspects of the Nelson Books publishing program, including Max Lucado’s trade books and the NEXT line. This includes vision casting; long-range strategic planning; developing the team; developing the imprint’s annual business plan; leading the team in successfully acquiring, developing, publishing, and promoting 40 to 50 new books—plus managing an extensive backlist—each year; collaborating with the sales team on the development and implementation of sales plans; analyzing financial performance; and interfacing with peers as well as senior leadership of the company. The publisher is responsible for the Nelson Books editorial team and the Nelson Books and Lucado marketing teams. In addition, the Publisher is personally responsible for identifying, pursuing, presenting, and acquiring 8 to 10 book projects per year as well as managing relationships with the imprint’s key authors. Success is defined as meeting or exceeding annual goals, especially revenue, expense, and profit goals.  


    Essential Responsibilities:

    1. Business Planning and Management: casts vision for the Nelson Books publishing program, develops and refines the imprint’s mission and strategy, leads the team in long-range planning (including frontlist, backlist, and custom product development), develops the imprint’s annual business plan, and analyzes monthly financial reports and presents findings at the company-wide monthly business review meeting, and leads development of the imprint’s annual business plan.

    2. Sales Collaboration: collaborates with sales on development of annual revenue and profit plan, leads bi-monthly Pub Board meetings, meets one-on-one with sales channel heads as needed, reviews catalog pages and back cover and flap copy, leads team in preparing for Sales Conference, and presents key titles at Sales Conference.

    3. Author Acquisition: develops productive relationships with literary agents; actively pursues, receives, and reviews book proposals from them on an ongoing basis; identifies and pursues potential author targets; creates book concepts for target authors as needed; makes initial contacts and sets meetings; prepares proposals and makes presentations at Ed Board and Pub Board meetings; manages financial approval process for Nelson Books, Lucado, and NEXT projects; negotiates major deal terms on projects acquired by the publisher; reviews and approves all Contract Request Forms; and works with the contracts team to develop long-form contracts.

    4.Team Building: meets with, coaches, and develops direct reports; prepares for and conducts employee performance reviews; collaborates with direct reports on their career development plans; and hires and trains new employees as needed. Manages onsite and remote direct reports as necessary.

    5. Author Retention: develops productive relationships with key Nelson Books authors; as necessary, creates book concepts for current authors; prepares for and attends planning meetings with key Nelson Books authors; and participates in the Lucado Brand Leadership Team’s work.

    6. Program Management: ensures the Nelson Books, Lucado, and NEXT publishing lists are filled out and well-spaced in time for annual planning and presentation to sales; ensures we are publishing to our target categories and stated revenue goals; and plans for ancillary products including derivatives and format conversions.

    7. Product Development: participates in Titling meetings for Nelson Books, Lucado, and NEXT projects to achieve final, approved copy by Sales Conference; reviews and approves front cover designs; leads the catalog process on an approved schedule for Sales Conference; reviews and approves final front cover copy, back cover copy, and flap copy; and makes product presentations at Sales Conference.

    8. Program Management: leads the Nelson Books acquisitions cycle from Editorial Board to contract execution; oversees on-time delivery of book projects to printer; leads the editorial team to ensure manuscript receipt by contractual due dates and effective processing from substantive development stage to final printer files; oversees and evaluates the team to assure the editorial and marketing functions are working effectively and efficiently; leads the team in developing robust publishing lists by season; works with the associate publisher to ensure that fiscal year releases are strategically scheduled in time for annual revenue plan development; ensures we are publishing to target categories; makes sure we have planned the proper ancillary products; and reviews and approves P&Ls for all new products.

    9. Managing Up: prepares notes from meetings with key authors and agents for Group Publisher as needed; meets with Group Publisher to review the business; and responds to requests and special assignments from the Group Publisher and others on the Executive Leadership Team.

    10. Travel: represents the Company and the Nelson Books imprint at industry events; attends consumer events where potential author relationships can be developed; and meets with literary agents, potential authors, and current authors as needed to develop good opportunities and relationships.


    Work Experience: At least 10 years in publishing, with 3 to 5 years in a leadership role that included budget planning and forecasting as well as P&L responsibility. At least 5 years of book acquisitions experience. Supervisory experience managing multiple direct reports.


    Education: Master’s Degree in Business, English, Journalism, Communications, or related field strongly preferred; Bachelor’s degree required. Additional training in business management or fundamentals of finance/accounting is desirable.


    General and/or Industry Knowledge: Knowledge of book publishing market—key competitors, authors, and agencies; current content, branding, marketing, and sales trends. Knowledge and experience working in the religious/inspirational product space strongly preferred.



    • ·management (including onsite and remote direct reports), leadership, and professional development skills
    • ·ability to analyze and understand financial data and act upon it
    • ·strong collaboration skills, with internal and external stakeholders
    • ·efficient task management
    • ·effective product development management
    • ·excellent book development skills
    • ·proficiency in Microsoft Office, especially Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
    • ·ability to lead meetings toward specific desired outcomes
    • ·public speaking
    • strong copywriting (including cover, catalog, and online copy) skills

    Additional Skills:

    • Collaborative
    • Authoritative
    • Flexible
    • Instinct for ownership of work
    • Positive
    • Goal and results-oriented
    • Calm under pressure
    • Good interpersonal skills
    • Strong relationship management
    • Coach/mentor mentality and approach
    • Decisive
    • Keen business judgment

    HarperCollins Christian Publishing is an Equal Opportunity Employer. 


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