Nashville-based B&H Publishing Group has announced a “realignment” of its fiction strategy that tethers novels to other brands and initiatives of B&H and Lifeway Christian Resources, of which B&H is a division.

“Moving forward we’ll continue to publish novels, but only those that strategically tie to other brands,” said Jennifer Lyell, trade books publisher for B&H. “We’re redefining our fiction strategy to reach a broad audience through maximum expression of a message, in all of the forms available to us as a company that serves the church through many forms of publishing and media.”

Lyell talked of cross collaboration between other divisions, such as Lifeway Films and the B&H Kids line and with external film partners and ministries, in addition to publishing novels related to brands within the B&H line. “This change may result in us developing novels with ministry partners who might not have initially thought of novels as a potential expression of their message,” said Lyell.

B&H Publishing will release contracted fiction titles through April 2014, Lyell said, but the realignment begins immediately: “We are not going to acquire new novels that do not tie to a broader brand or initiative of B&H/Lifeway.” The company had been publishing about 20 fiction titles annually in recent years. Under the new strategy, there will be no target number.

Lyell noted the reality of market challenges for Christian fiction, saying there remains a place for novelists publishing in traditional ways, “but we don’t feel we’re best poised for that strategy moving forward. We’re looking for ministry partners with a ministry message—via film, nonfiction, etc.—that we see as being part of a broader strategy.”

Says Lyell, “Publishers are all facing the same challenges; we’re all trying to evaluate who we are, the realities of the marketplace, and how we can best serve the body of Christ. This decision was not hastily made, and was bathed in intensive prayer and research.”