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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why is "Speculative Fiction" Under-represented in Christian Bookstores?

Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of being a Christian who reads speculative fiction (supernatural, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, etc.) is the lack of speculative titles available in Christian bookstores. It is routinely estimated that 75-80% of all Christian novels are some form of romance, which leaves the other quarter-of-a-percent to duke it out for the remaining space. But apart from the two big names -- Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti -- spec titles are a rarity in Christian bookstores.

While many groups have formed (independent presses, blog tours, message boards, crit groups, etc.) aimed at addressing this disparity, the bottom line remains:
Christians who like speculative fiction are forced to find their "fix" outside the Christian market.

Why is this?

I privately queried one industry insider regarding the dearth of spec-fic in Christian bookstores and they wrote back with this answer:

"...it's not just a CBA thing. Across all of publishing, sales of Spec fiction lag behind many other kinds of fiction. The spec/fantasy crowd (both writers and readers) are an extremely vocal minority. They are always out there screaming that there's not enough spec fiction to suit them, but publishers have not seen profit in it. Believe me, if they did, everyone would be publishing a lot more spec."
I'll be honest: I have a hard time believing this. I mean, when Borders and Barnes and Noble contain aisles -- not just a couple shelves -- aisles of horror, science fiction, graphic novels, and fantasy, it is really difficult to believe that "publishers have not seen profit in it." On top of that is the prominence of spec-fic in popular culture. For instance, of the 50 highest-grossing movies of all-time, more than half contain speculative themes (The Dark Knight, The Sixth Sense, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Spider Man, etc.). In literature, there’s Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight epic and Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which have sold gazillions of copies. Nevertheless, spec titles comprise a relatively minuscule portion of the religious fiction market.

So what gives? Is this industry insider (and their professional peers) deluded? Are they part of some grand CBA conspiracy to suppress the growth of speculative fiction? Is the spec/fantasy crowd simply "an extremely vocal minority"? Or are Christian readers really not that interested in speculative fiction?

I recently posted on this subject at my website (link HERE) and received a lot of great response (the comment thread is currently pushing 50). Nevertheless, the answers remain varied. Of the possible reasons why speculative fiction is under-represented in Christian bookstores, these seem to be the most common:

  • Demographics; the Christian market is primarily geared toward women, and women, by and large, don't prefer spec titles


  • Christian publishers are behind the times, operating under an "old model," unwilling (perhaps unable) to risk broadening their market


  • Speculative titles are "unsafe" and push the boundaries (thematically and theologically) of traditional Christian fare


  • Christian bookstores cater to conservative clientele; hardcore spec fans cannot go to Christian bookstores to find their "fix"

Anyway, these are the going theories.. While I have several of my own, definitive answers appear elusive. Either way, I guess I'm part of that "extremely vocal minority." What about you? Why do you think Speculative Fiction is so under-represented in Christian bookstores?

Mike is a monthly contributor to Novel Journey. He is represented by the rockin' Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary. Look for Mike's debut novel, "The Resurrection," in stores Spring of 2011. You can visit his website at www.mikeduran.com.

39 comments:

Yvonne Anderson said...

Thanks for bringing this up, Mike.
I agree, spec fiction is grossly under-represented in the Christian bookstores. As the proud owner of a great speculative MS, I've found it perplexingly difficult to sell it, as it's too Christian for the secular market but not appropriate for the CBA. I think the main thing is the safety issue -- safety in both subject matter and profit. Publishers can't exist if they don't make money, so they have to be careful what they gamble on. I don't see any of this changing in the near future, either. Like it or not, that's the way it is.

B.K. Jackson said...

I don't happen to read spec fic (unless you count the Star Trek books I read in the 70's--which I loved). I can see how sci-fi or fantasy might be used in conjunction with Christian themes. But as Jane Q Public in the Christian bookstore, I think I would ask myself "Why would I as a Christian want to read horror?" That doesn't mean my take is right or wrong, but that's honestly what I would think. I'm certain I don't understand the genre, but with all the genre choices, it wouldn't be one I'd select.

It's not much comfort, spec writers, but those aren't the only genre underdogs. But every dog has its day. 8-)

I was totally surprised that the estimate of romance as percent of market was only 75-80%. I would have guessed somewhere around 90%.

I do believe for every great book, it's turn will come. 8-)

Mike Duran said...

Yvonne, what I can't seem to figure out is why speculative themes are so predominant in pop culture, but so "risky" for Christian publishers. I hate to admit it but I agree with you and "don't see any of this changing in the near future."

B.K. I have heard the romance estimates are as high as 90%. Regarding Christians and horror you might want to check out my post on this site entitled Is "Christian Horror" Becoming a Trend? The genres are not as antithetical as you might think!

lynnrush said...

Great topic. It's something that has baffled me as well. I've heard mostly from other writers, that they think it's because it's hard to keep in line with strict Christian themes. But then again, I'm not sure. It'll come around. Someday. It's just that time in between where we have to keep writing up a storm so we're ready with a bunch of novels, right? **smile**
Thanks for this post!

Nicole said...

I think the mindset of the quoted professional pervades the CBA industry at that level. And like you I doubt it's . . . real. Even if the specfic people are a minority, they're a genuine market, niche or not, and somehow if you want a growing place in the overall market, you're going to have to feed them--and not junk food.

At the recent conference I attended, almost everyone I asked about what they were writing replied "fantasy" or some other kind of specfic. There's no question it has an audience. I just don't think a lot of these publishers' sales and marketing teams have a clue how to effectively market anything but the tried and true. JMO.

Liz said...

Very interesting post -- I'm always interested in how books are selected and what gets good play (kind of like at the grocery store, in a sense). And of course, with the advent of the super chains, everything seems pretty homogenized. I do agree, though, that it seems like fantasy (more so than sci fi) is EVERYWHERE. I wonder if you'll soon see a shift in Christian bookstores. I'm reading something now that, to me, fits the speculative category, "The Testings of Devotion," by Cheryl Dellesega. It's speculative because it's fiction about angels and their lives in heaven -- their duties and how they're tempted by fallen and dark angels. Sophia, who is to carry out the Testings of Devotion but discovers just how strong the lure of Earth can be, along with its seeming pleasures. (Some people may find this just an awful idea -- I like to think it opens the mind.) Those interested in spiritual warfare and the battle between good and evil will enjoy this. Certainly anyone fascinated by angels among us will like it.

BK said...

Nicole--you mentioned several writers writing fantasy--it reminded me of another ready-made market of readers-who-are-writers. The plethora of books on writing that writers gobble up by the boatload.

Mike Duran said...

Nicole, I mentioned the response I received from my mystery insider to another writer friend. "They don't have a clue," she snorted. "Christian publishers do not know how to market speculative fiction." Needless to say, this writer thinks the problem is on the publishing side, not the reading side. My counter: "Don't you think publishers want to make sales? If there really was a market for Christian spec, someone would tap into it." So we remain at an impasse.

Collins said...

This year at the Christy awards in the VISIONARY category Jill Williamson won with her Fantasy novel By Darkness Hid • Marcher Lord Press

Mike Duran said...

Collins, I'm so glad you brought this up (and big congrats to Jill!). The interesting thing about this is that Jill's book was published by Jeff Gerke's Marcher Lord Press. MLP is a POD publisher and Jeff has openly stated that the reason he began the business was in direct response to the CBA's target market, business model, and lack of spec titles. So it's an interesting dichotomy. On the one hand, MLP is attempting to fill that Christian spec void. A good thing. On the other hand, the fact that it takes a small independent press to do this is troublesome. Hopefully, the recognition brought to Jill's book and Jeff's outfit will reinvigorate discussion amongst the CBA gatekeepers. Thanks for commenting!

Nicole said...

You know, Mike, recently on an agent's blog, this agent mentioned the one person that had to be "sold" on the pub board about the book is the sales rep/team. By saying that, it brings it around to the sales part of the gig being potentially out of step with the readers other than the risk-free market they keep supplying. There's a whole 'nother group of readers out here who do not read bonnet books and romance novels. And they're hungry for novels that don't feed the secular mindset. But they're readers, too, so they'll go wherever to find--and buy--books in their genres of preference.

Kelly Freestone said...

"Speculative titles are "unsafe" and push the boundaries (thematically and theologically) of traditional Christian fare"

I assumed this when I read your title.

I'm writing what, I guess would be considered speculative, it's the only thing I can figure.

Its set in America's future...no given date...just a different one, even worse morals than now.
The protaganist is the reason for the change, and when her life is changed forever, she must reverse her life's work to save her own baby's life.

Speculative? Maybe, but not too far fetched, ya know?

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean. I absolutely adore Ted Dekker's books, but there's just not enough like them. We need more novels that stretch those 'old-fashioned' bounds that publishers seem to have placed on Christian writing. I, for one, am working on a novel that hopefully can be classified as something like this. But now that I've read your post, the outlook for my publishing future is not very good. But, nevertheless, I'm going to try, and keep trying, until I succeed!

Grace Bridges said...

I too have gone into publishing because there are so many great manuscripts out there and I want to help give them a chance. We had two titles out last year, and Lord willing, we'll have six this year at Splashdown Books. I have given up on trying to change the CBA and shifted to solving the problem another way.

Mike Duran said...

Just found an interesting link to this article at i09 website http://bit.ly/acjNen

wilsonwriter said...

I've written five (out of my ten) novels in this genre. They haven't sold well. I'm done beating my head against this CBA wall, and the publishers are done trying--unless you're one of the few with big sales numbers.

It's sad to me, too. I've reviewed hundreds of CBA books, most of them in this genre. With seemingly little effect.

I'm done trying, at least in this market.

Kerry Nietz said...

Sorry to hear that, Eric. I know I've really enjoyed your work.

That said, I think there are a number of factors involved. Primarily, I think sales expectations for the genre is too high. We've seen the success of Peretti and others and expect that there is this huge market for speculative fiction out there, while I would argue that those blockbuster books were special cases that happened because people (for whatever reason) were drawn out of their reading comfort zone. A unique confluence of interests, as it work.

My experience so far (in my year of being in the market) is that there is a large percentage of the Christian reading public that is leery of anything new or different. They really have to be challenged to try it.

Let's face it, the idea of a Christian Science Fiction book is a bit weird. Regardless of the fact that sci-fi authors have been writing about spiritual things since the time of Clarke and Asimov, usually the words "Christian" and "Science Fiction" don't meet together in the same sentence, much less the same book. The people who normally read science fiction, usually don’t want to read anything remotely Christian, and vice versa.

Because of that, I think for the near future Christian speculative fiction is a niche, but a niche with lots of room to expand on both ends. If composed and presented properly, it could touch both the secular and Christian market. It also needs a large group of standard bearers (like Eric) who will continually challenge people to try it.

Kerry Nietz said...

I could also add that Jeff Gerke has written a series of insightful Tips on this very subject on his WhereTheMapEnds site.

Just check out Tips 16-18 here: http://www.wherethemapends.com/writerstools/writers_tools_pages/tip_of_the_week--11-20.htm

Mike Duran said...

One more plug for a fascinating discussion at io9 which has spring-boarded off several of my posts re: Christians and sci-fi. The crowd over there is mostly secular, which makes their observations all the more interesting.

Anonymous said...

As someone trying to make it in SF who grew up on the Golden Age SF authors, all I can say is this:

When the only science permitted in your SF is Young Earth Creation Science;

When the only future you're permitted to have is the no-future of Late Great Planet Earth and Left Behind;

Don't expect Hugo Award-level material.

Back in the Eighties, local SF litfandom had a saying:

"It's gotta be Christian. Look how shoddy it is."

Kerry Nietz said...

Sounds like a challenge...albeit a bit of a cowardly one, since you signed as Anonymous.

John Robinson said...

For what it's worth, I think things are changing. Not through the CBA, perhaps, but more of an end-run by companies like Marcher Lord Press and Sheaf House Publishers.

In the interests of full disclosure, I need to say that SH is doing my apocalypse-with-a-twist novel Heading Home (which releases on August 2nd), but it's being marketed to the 18-35 secular demographic as a paranormal thriller (which, in truth, it is).

To further expand, Sheaf House's edgier imprint, Narrow Road Press, is publishing my new Mac Ryan suspense series, as well as my stand-alone SF novel The Radiance, to the same market.

Bottom line, if Christians want to read them that's great, but the CBA is not our audience.

John W. Morehead said...

I suggest a few reasons of my own as to why Christians keep science fiction at arms length:

http://www.theofantastique.com/2010/06/29/i09-why-wont-christian-publishers-take-on-science-fiction/

Mike Duran said...

Anonymous, the Christian Church is no longer beholden to Young Earth Creation Science as it once was. Many Christians, including myself, believe in (at least tolerate) some form of theistic evolution. The same goes for "Left Behind" eschatology. Among believers, there is quite a range of opinion as regards end-time scenarios... which is also true among secularists.

While I agree with you that Christian fiction, at one time, may have been "shoddy," that is no longer the case. There are plenty of great Christian writers. In fact, your comments suggest that you bring a bias of your own with you into this discussion -- a bias AGAINST religion. So while Christians may be constrained by a certain theology, secularists face a dilemma of their own: being constrained by their anti-religious bias.

Kerry Nietz said...

I agree with what you've said, Mike.

And I think it is inaccurate to paint the "golden age" of sci-fi as purely secular or even averse to Christianity. All of the greats touched on spirituality in one way or another. (I would even venture to say that a few were overt in their respect for Christianity -- Ray Bradbury, for instance.) What is Clarke's 2001, if not a search for the divine, for the ultimate first cause? What is Herbert's Dune, if not an outer space Christ allegory?

The only thing that stands in the way of entertaining and meaningful Christian sci-fi is the bounds of ones imagination.

Kristen said...

I think it's possible that the CBA is stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle. Most of the books that sell are Romance, so most of the books that get published are Romance, so when the shoppers go to the bookstore, most of the books they have to choose from are Romance, so most of the books that sell are Romance...

Of course, what keeps publishers and booksellers and readers from breaking the cycle is fear of the unknown. Readers who don't normally read spec fic don't want to spend money on something they don't like, and Christian readers who do read spec fic get their material from the secular aisle.

C.L. Dyck said...

Eric: NNNOOOOOO!!

You're breaking my heart, dude.

Anon, here's something to think about: YEC'ers should really be the most open to spec in the Christian milieu. First talking animal? Genesis 3. Dragons? All over the King James version. Giants, weird creatures, all kindsa things.

One of the big questions for young people leaving the faith (at a 70-80% rate, polls say) is how the Bible is any different than other world myths.

I'd think if Christian fiction is written to bring some kind of supplementary inspiration and affirmation to those who want to live by the Bible, we might start paying attention to how much intersection there is between the questions explored in speculative fiction and those explored by the disenchanted with religion.

Clearly bonnets and buggies are comfortable, but there are deeper discomforts in life than are generally addressed in that genre. What about the children of those women readers? Are we looking at how to serve these wives and mothers over the span of their lives?

Fiction is a thought lab where we can be shown the pragmatics we're told about in non-fiction. The big advantage of spec is being able to completely deconstruct the context in which we experience those deep discomforts, run an alternate scenario, and find out whether the answers we think we have are as transcendent as we've been told.

Good story, as opposed to "it's so bad it must be Christian," exists for a reason. Good story functions to test ideas, rather than being a mutated host to parasitic concepts.

70-80% of young adults.

Maybe we're not so transcendent. Maybe we should be engaging and examining in entirely different ways.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that certain books aren't selling well within CBA or ABA, not because there isn't a readership for them, but because they're simply not that well written or great of stories? Dekker does well because his stories are engaging. The problem many not be the CBA but with the authors.

C.L. Dyck said...

Anon, have you read Kerry or Eric? See what you think. The Marcher Lord website has sample reads from a bunch of authors, and Eric's got a great site explaining what he does.

Re craft, it very much depends. As Eric expresses, there is a lot of market resistance to the genre. A lot of it has to do with things that are typecast as "demonic" or "anti-Christian" because of the way they've popped up in the wider culture from time to time.

With Eric and Kerry, and with the Marcher Lord bunch as a whole, craft is absolutely not an issue. These are highly trained, expressive writers with smart subjects. They raise questions and engage readers on wide issues of society and the human state. The couple that I'm consulting with Splashdown for editing, same thing. I've done a few of these books, and I come at it from a secular background, with an abhorrence for preachy, flat material. Craft is not the primary issue.

I talked with a reader recently and asked, "So if speculative is ungodly, what do you do, sneak secular books out of the library?"

The answer was: pretty much. And the individual's Christian friends who read it, don't talk about it, because they'll get sermonized at by peers for it. The knee-jerk reaction within evangelical culture is that it's an anti-God area of literature.

Joy Pierson said...

I wonder if it is a problem that may fix itself over time - not with the publishers particularly changing - but with them possibly going out of business.

My thinking behind this is twofold -
One - the e-reader revolution has made it increasingly unnecessary to have to go to the bookstores at all - while I realize this has become a majority yet - I believe in time it will. I personally have not been to a Christian bookstore since buying a Kindle. Because of the formatting of the Kindle - when i typed in "Ted Dekker" and then explored "similar Authors" it led me to Robin Parrish and Jeffrey Overstreet and others that I might have never found otherwise. The fact is this a few clicks on the Kindle opened up a huge world of Spec fiction that I had no idea was out there. I realize I am not the majority of course - but my point is this there are authors out there there now that through technology are bypassing the publishers all together by writing blogs first, gaining a readership and then releasing e-books, and finally being recognized - I think the publishing world as a whole is about to go through significant change and Christian publishers who are reluctant to embrace the new technology may just get left out in the cold to die.

Point two - is to beg the question - should our goal be to appeal to the Christianese audience to begin with? This subculture is a fascinating one.....I don't see authors such as Salman Rushdie showing up in the "Islamic Publishing" section. Not Amy Tan showing up in the "Taoist Publishing" section - both of whom are speculative and incorporate religion into their works. In my seven years of living in Asia I have yet to stumble upon a similar subculture.

Which leads me to ponder the question is Christian publishing about to reach the end of its usefulness? For it did serve a use and fill the gap in the pre-electronic communication days but will it continue to into the future? Is the whole genre going to perish? Would it be a bad thing if it did?

To CL - yes that is exactly what I used to do - check it out of the library or buy at Barnes and Noble and not talk too much about it. I never could reconcile to my good Christian friends my love for Michael Chrichton novels..... it just didn't seem worth the arguments that seemed inevitable.

bob said...

I'm new to this area of writing and publishing. However, I've recently been checking into the Christian supernatural fiction market, and I'm amazed at how many people share my views on the subject. I believe that through our fiction we should try to reach everyone, not just a specialized market.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Duran,
You might want to check out Sarah Hoyt's blog 'According to Hoyt'. She's a mid-lister, but she's doing indie as well, and she has numerous things to say about the publishing establishment in the secular world.

She's definitely of the 'they're clueless' persuasion.

Tennwriter

Anonymous said...

I'm a christian and am a HUGE lover of fantasy. Ever since I was a kid I've always loved fantasy and have never read nor do I read today, anything non-fiction. It has never interested me. I've always loved fantasy, it's always been my favorite genere. Though the Christian bookstore has gotten better when it comes to the fantasy genre, I think there's still not enough of it out there. If I want a book I go to Barnse and Noble. Very rarely will I go to the Christan book store to find a book because the fantasy is still so limited. But I'll have to admit it was faaar worse when i was a kid. Back then there was litterily no fantasy in the Christan book stores except maybe two or three authors and the fantasy books that were out there were so poorly written that they didn't catch my interest. I always hated it when my aunt and uncle would send me gift cards to the christian bookstore for Christmas or my birthday because I would search and search for an hour or two, looking at every bookshelf and couldn't find a single book on fantasy. So I would always leave empty-handed and go to Borders or Barnse and Noble because fantasy was plentiful there and let my mom use the Christan bookstore gift card.
Then, to make matters worse, my aunt and uncle eventually sent me christan fiction books about historical girls (none of which were fantasy) or they'd give me those stupid Chicken noodle soup for the christan teenage soul books (also non-fictian) which I'd never read. The first book they gave me I read the first page, but lost intrest after the first couple of paragrphs because immediately they screamed "non-fiction!" and I put it on the hallway bookshelf and never touched it again for years. Then they gave me another one and, reading the title I knew immediately what it was and never even opened it. It went immediately to the bookshelf with the other one and stayed there for years until one day I was going through books to sell at a garage sale and those were the first to go.

Though I still prefer Barnse and Noble over the christian book store, I do have to admit it has gotten better when it comes to fantasy. But I still think there's not enough of it out there as there should be.

You'd think by now the christian bookstore would be as swamped with fantasy as Barnse and Noble but to my disappointment it's not. Will that ever change? Only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with you. I don't find specfic unsafe at all. I love it infact. Fantasy books are all I've ever read and all i ever will read. I've loved fantasy ever since I was a kid. I think it's pretty redicilous how so many christians(most, by the way, who have probably never even OPENED a SINGLE fantasy book in their entire LIVES,) think that ALL fantasy books are "dangerous!"

Personally, I think that as long as you realize that the fantasy stories (no matter what they're about) is just FANTASY and not REAL, there's no reason to worry. I'm sure that there have been alot of christian bookstore emploies who have constantly wondered 'Why don't we get kids in the christian bookstore? We see them all the time in Barnse and Noble, but hardly ever here.' Well, there's a simple answer to that-there's not enough of what kids want in the christian bookstore-and that's fantasy.

My entire life I've always loved fantasy but the christian bookstore never carried enough of it, so I'd happily go to Barnse and Noble to get my fix. In the past whenever i'd go into the christian bookstore I would search and search and search but NEVER come upon ANY fantasy. It was nothing but none-fiction and some other books I found uninteresting.
I still prefer get my fix of fantasy at Barnse and NOble rather than the christian bookstore. I think I've cleaned out allthe fantasy the christian bookstoer carries-which STILL isn't much.

Anonymous said...

One post above my last one said that fantasy books are 'unsafe.' Unsafe? Please! There's no such thing as 'dangerous' fantasy books! It's just a story! There's nothing DANGEROUS about them! Saying that a fantasy book is unsafe is like saying 'If I read a fantasy book a guy with a gun'll pop out of my book and shoot me!' Could that really happen? I don't think so! You are sooo exagerating if you think a book is 'dangerous!' Ha! That's sooo laughable!

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons that I think fantasy is so underestimated in the Christians bookstore is because people think a lot of the stuff in fantasy is weird. Weird? Psh! Yeah right! There's nothing weird about a fantasy book no matter what it's about! I've always thought that...that is, until yesterday, March 27th.

I say (until yesterday) because I'd gotten on the internet and was looking on the Colorado Christian Writer's Confrence website and came across an article that this publisher or editor (don't know which one it was) had interviewed this lady about her fantasy book that she was pitching. He asked "So what's your book about?"

And she replied, "A YA fantasy about giant, mutant, flesh-eating frogs!" The publisher's eyes popped out of his head when he heard that-and I'm shocked to say it, but so did mine! I was so shocked that I repeated the line out-loud. "Giant, mutant, flesh-eating FROGS? That's the weirdest fantasy I've ever heard of in my entire life!"

I continued reading the post and, unsurprisingly, the publisher turned it down, immediately. The lady of course, argued her case saying "But it's Christian!" no doubt trying to get him to think it over and consider giving it a shot. He remained unmoved.

I told my mom about it and she was just as shocked and disgusted as me. Truthfully, I always thought Christians were always too judge-mental when it came to the fantasy books because when they asked what kind of books I liked and I told them 'I love fantasy,' a lot of people would look at me weirdly and go "You, as a Christian, like fantasy?"

I look at them like 'Well, duh!' and argue my case. When I asked why they hated fantasy so much they'd give me stupid answers like, 'Cause I just don't' or 'Fantasy books are too weird.'

I'd gawk at them like they had two heads and walk away thinking, 'They're just judging the books because they've never read them,' or 'They're too afraid to try reading anything out of their comfort zone.' Ect., ect.

But since I've read the post about the giant, mutant, flesh-eating frog story I can kind of understand, to some degree, how they feel.

I still would like to see a major boost in fantasy in the Christian bookstore, but hopefully nothing as weird as the monster frog story!

E. W. FiInch, III said...

In 2013 the YA market in NA was $84 million. Most of that was speculative fiction (Mockingbird, Twilight, HP) so the market is there. The problem is the publishers with rare exception don't understand speculative fiction. Remember the original Star Trek series was cancelled by execs who disliked it and misinterpreted their ratings. They moved it to a slot late on Fridays where it was sure to die. Execs tend to be more concrete and conservative and are not comfortable with ideas that are wildly (or even mildly) abstract.

I have written a series of YA sci-fi that is a coming of age/space adventure centered on a group of young teens that have enlisted in the Scout Corps. The "dangerously" speculative part is the books explore the way in which God might have revealed himself to some alien races as he did through Jesus to humans.

I have been offered co-publishing and POD contracts by more than one publisher, but no royalty publishing yet. My last book cost me thousands to co-publish and I can't afford to keep doing that.

From where I sit, the reason speculative fiction is the red-headed step-child of the CBA is that they do not market the books properly. When I have done book signings in CBA stores (which I am thankful for the opportunities) I sit among the potpourri, sale Bibles and Christian T-shirts selling my books. I sell far more inspirational books (#1 on the CBA top selling genre) than I do sci-fi. Teenagers, the target audience, do not frequent the stores. I do better at secular stores which sell Christian lit as well. Next. I'm going to try a few local comi-cons. I'll let you know how that works out.

If you want to catch fish, you've got to go where the fish are.

Anonymous said...

I am in the middle of writing a children's fantasy-animal novel that has some Christian elements to it, but is not strictly Christian. The book is mostly secular, but everyone in my Christian crit. group loves it! It's funny, because for years my mom wouldn't let me be in her Christian crit. group because I wrote about talking animals and my mom was afraid it would offend them. But finally, after years of begging and pleading, my mom finally gave-in. I've been the crit. group for over a year now, and have sent the chapters one through sixteen through the crit. group and everyone absolutely loves my story, even though it's not strictly Christian.

They've given me lots of good feed-back and my writing has gotten much better since being in the crit. group. When and if it gets published, I'm sure it'll appeal to both Christian and secular kids who love animal-fantasy.

Anonymous said...

It's been soooo long since I've been on here. I finally finished my children's animal-fantasy novel that I mentioned above. Yeah! I'm now working on writing the sequel. Well, not exactly "writing" it, as of yet. I've just finished planning out the characters for my book, and I have a loose plot-line running around in my head, but nothing to the extreme yet.

What I do know, is that this book will be a bit darker than the first one, (the first one is dark, too,) but this one will be darker because it will be written from one of the villain's POV's. I have two sets of villains in book one. One is more evil and dark than the other. The "kinder villains" story will be book two and the really evil, dark villains story will be the seventh and last book in the series.

Just like the Warriors Cat series and the Harry Potter series, my books will get a little darker with each new installment, but will still be light-hearted and child-friendly enough for kids to read.