Is There a Christian Market for Books?

Is There a Christian Market for Books? Dear Rachelle, Quick question – is there a Christian market for books? A member of our writing group reacted poorly when I mentioned my WIP may be more appropriate for the Christian market than women’s fiction. A heated “God does not sell” debate ensued, followed by a rousing chorus of “Every Bestseller Needs Sex or Vampires.” (We are an eclectic bunch.) Lots of misconceptions out there – hoping you can help me provide some clarity, at least to our tiny group. Sincerely, Wondering if God Sells * * * Dear Wondering, God does indeed sell. I don’t blame your group for not knowing the Christian publishing world exists. But really, it’s kind of like assuming that because you know nothing about NASCAR, it must not exist. *facepalm* Yes, there’s a thriving...
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Should We Label Christian Fiction?

Should We Label Christian Fiction? There has been a controversy brewing underground for awhile now, ever since publishers started promoting books by offering a limited-time free download. Many of the Christian publishers have done these promotions, but whenever Christian novels are promoted on Amazon as free downloads, many people download them without realizing they’re Christian. They start reading and when they realize it’s “Christian” they become enraged. They feel like they were hoodwinked somehow. And then they leave 1-star, angry reviews on Amazon. Here are some Amazon comments on a recent Christian novel that was free for a limited time: “When you read the review for this book, no mention is made of the Christian nature of the book. This is misleading.” “I resent the absence...
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What’s With All the Bonnet Books?

What’s With All the Bonnet Books? Blog reader Katharine asked: What’s with all the bonnets? Why is it that the best sellers in the CBA are of the Amish/historical fiction/period romance type of book? Not every Christian reader is drawn to those type of novels, yet that seems to be the trend. Do CBA publishers drive the market toward what is safe? Are they really aware of the tastes of the post modern Christian reader? Is there hope for writers who are smart, literary, funny and refuse to wear a bonnet? → Let’s start with the obvious: romance books make the bestseller list because a lot of people buy them. And publishers, wanting to stay in business, provide the kinds of books that large numbers of readers buy. Still, of the CBA top 20 fiction titles each month, typically less than half are “bonnet...
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My Approach to Christian Worldview

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/S51jFCV6VTI/AAAAAAAADrc/qzYdbyTqhKw/s200/cross.jpg Lately people have been confused about what I mean by “Christian worldview” and what kinds of projects I’ll consider representing. My experience the last seven years has been in CBA and for the first couple years of being an agent, most of my sales have been to CBA publishers. As many of you know, I’m beginning to branch out and represent books that would be appropriate for the general market. But what does that mean? Several people have expressed concern that they don’t want to offend me by sending something inappropriate. I appreciate the respect – thank you. But let me assure you that I will not be offended by anything that wouldn’t offend the average American adult. I read widely in bestseller fiction, and much of my personal reading is...
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The Purpose of Christian Publishing

One of the most common questions I hear about CBA is why it exists in the first place. (CBA means “Christian Booksellers Association” but refers to the entire Christian publishing industry including publishers, authors, agents, bookstores, etc.) Many are concerned that it means Christians are trying to stay set apart. Others wonder about the value of “preaching to the choir” when perhaps we should be out evangelizing to non believers. Many couch the questions in negative terms, like wondering if the point of CBA is to keep Christians insulated from the world in some kind of a bubble that needs to be burst. Let me just start here: In my opinion, the Christian publishing industry is NOT about keeping Christians insulated, safe, set apart, or in a bubble. It’s...
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The Promised Land

I recently spoke with a woman who was frustrated with her writing journey. She hadn’t been published although she’d been toiling for many years. She was working on a new project, an exploration of the idea that God doesn’t always “show up” for us in the ways we want or expect Him to. She felt led by God to write this book. The irony is that the woman was complaining that God wasn’t showing up to help her write her book. It was hard. She was struggling through the process. Where was God? If He asked her to write the book, why wasn’t He showing up to help? This made me think of the idea of “the promised land.” God may lead us to something and He may be promising something, but there is often a LOT of time and a LOT of hard work to get there. He didn’t open up the...
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Recovering from ICRS

Recovering from ICRS I’m back! Coming to you “live” from Colorado once again. I know dozens of people have already blogged about ICRS but honestly, when I got home I was SO exhausted and I am so buried with follow-up that I haven’t been able to even THINK about blogging. I’ve managed to get my thoughts together so I’ll talk about my impressions in three posts this week.This was my sixth ICRS (in my earlier years I went to the BEA, Frankfurt and London book fairs). But this was my best ICRS by far. I felt like I got a lot of important business done, far beyond the amorphous value of “networking,” connecting with old friends and making new ones. This was my first ICRS as an agent so it was my “official” face-to-face introduction to the editors and publishers (most...
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Q4U: Fiction and Ministry

Wow. What a nice, long weekend. BUSY but great! Hope you all had exactly the kind of Fourth you most enjoy. Me, I had a crazy day with the family, starting with the pancake breakfast down at the church, then the big holiday parade, then the street fair. Back in the afternoon for a brief recovery period, then off to the big picnic & fireworks display. I was so tired at the end of Friday night, then got up and had a garage sale on Saturday. (I hate garage sales, but it was a ploy to get the kids to clean out the basement and get rid of ten years’ worth of toys. It worked.) Sunday was girls’ day out for shopping… of course, my daughters had to spend that garage sale money. Whew! I’m worn out. Five days until I leave for ICRS so this is going to be a doozy of a...
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Ask the Agent: Colorful Language

I’d like to discuss the taboo of cursing in Christian fiction. It seems that many writers and publishers are willing to include rape and murder, but shy away from the occasional well chosen curse word. Personally, I think it can be a great literary tool. I do understand that it is often overdone and that many people are offended by cussing. Yet I tend to think that sexual violence is much more disturbing. Forgive me if this seems naive (I’m still learning), but isn’t it better writing to have a character throw out a foul word than to say, “David cussed?” You know, the whole showing vs telling thing. Why is it ok to push the envelope with violence but not with language in Christian fiction?Okay, I have to laugh, considering how I was called on the carpet last...
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Ask the Agent: Walking the Line

Dear Rachelle,I have written a crime mystery that involves abuse, revenge, a murder, inappropriate conduct by a pastor, and a cover-up. There is no sex in the story, but there is some rough language. There is a message of redemption and truth. I’m not sure if this is CBA or ABA. What I think I have here is a “tweener.” The nature of the story and the language might be objectionable to the Christian market. Yet it’s probably too “Christian” of a story for the mainstream market. I’d be grateful for your impression of this unique situation. Sincerely,Puzzled Writer —————————— Dear Puzzled, Welcome to the world of CBA publishing! You’ve discovered the tightrope that many Christian...
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Guest Blogger: Mark Adair

A couple of weeks ago we had some rousing discussions about the purpose of “Christian” publishing and the existence of CBA. Writer Mark Adair wrote the following and I resonated so much with what he said that I wanted to share it with you. A few years ago, my wife Stacy and I visited the U.K. There is a pub in Oxford called “Eagle and Child” that was frequented by Lewis, Tolkien, and the rest of the Inklings. They nicknamed it the “Bird and Baby.” Sitting in one of the bland, brown, beat up, wooden booths once inhabited by quite possibly the most brilliant collective creative genius of any era, I could barely contain myself. I’m pretty sure I actually became smarter as I enjoyed an ale with my wife. I still have the T-shirt. Anyway, the CBA...
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Q4U

I’m heading out of town on our last ski trip of the season and I won’t be back until Thursday. However, I’ll try to post a couple blogs from our condo in Vail, and I’ll make sure everyone gets an acknowledgment when I receive your First Page entries. Meanwhile, I’m starting another new feature that I’ll post occasionally. Q4U is Questions For You. This is your opportunity to enlighten me about yourself, your thoughts, your opinions. (Sometimes I get really sick of “me” and I want to hear more from YOU.) So here are today’s questions. Feel free to be as succinct or verbose as you like in the comments. I will probably use some of your thoughts in future blog posts. Why would someone want to publish in CBA vs. the general market? What do...
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The Purpose of Christian Books

Today I want to talk about a set of questions I often hear, which usually come across as a criticism of the Christian publishing business (CBA) in general: What good is it for us to be writing just to other Christians? Shouldn’t we be reaching out to nonbelievers? Shouldn’t we be writing with the purpose of bringing more people into the Kingdom? And what about disenfranchised believers—people who say they believe in God but don’t attend church or have an active spiritual life. Shouldn’t we be trying to reach them? These questions reflect the perception that CBA seems to be a whole business based on “preaching to the choir” as I mentioned yesterday. Most of us, as believers, have a desire to reach nonbelievers with our writing (and hopefully, with our...
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Why Does CBA Exist?

One of the primary areas of questioning about CBA is why it exists in the first place. Many are concerned that it means Christians are trying to stay “set apart” rather than “in the world.” Others wonder about the value of “preaching to the choir” when perhaps we should be out evangelizing to non believers instead. Many couch the questions in negative terms, like wondering if the point of CBA is to keep Christians “insulated” from the world in some kind of a “bubble” that needs to be burst. Let me just start here: In my opinion, the Christian publishing industry is NOT about keeping Christians insulated, safe, set apart, or in a bubble. It’s NOT about limiting your ability as a Christian writer to write whatever you want or...
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