Still, each month I have a particular question just for that month’s authors. Sometimes I ask something very specific about their craft, sometimes about their joys or frustrations, sometimes about their readers. Not too long ago, I asked my featured novelists about the Inspirational publishing market. “What, if anything,” I asked, “would you change about the Inspirational fiction industry?” Maybe you’ll identify with some of their answers.
I think most novelists would just as soon write, write, write, and leave the promotional efforts to someone more talented in that department. Ronie Kendig, author of Digitalis (Barbour), says that, since the Inspirational market “ . . . is a dynamic, constantly changing industry, I don’t know that I’d change anything. Or perhaps I’d lift the burden of marketing from the author’s shoulders and return it to the marketing department. To me, this is like asking a dog owner to be able to perform surgery on his/her pet simply because it’s their pet.” I so agree. I’ve definitely seen my “pets” thrive more from the able efforts of my publishing houses’ marketing efforts than from anything I’ve been able to accomplish.
Part of the equation for the success of our novels includes shelf placement in bookstores. Mary Connealy, author of Sharpshooter in Petticoats (Barbour), says, “I love the Inspirational fiction industry. I think it’s the most exciting genre in fiction today, expanding in all directions, trying new things, reaching new audiences.” Still, she says, “I think my books are for everybody. I wish somehow I could get them in the general romance section and the Inspirational fiction section.
The higher-selling novelists in the Inspirational industry—those who have actually experienced placement on the famed bestseller lists—can have an unique take on how our books are presented to the buying public. New York Times bestselling novelist, Terri Blackstock, author of Vicious Cycle (Zondervan), says, “I wish there were more Christian stores that reported to the New York Times so that all of our fiction could compete with the best-selling secular books. In the past, none of our Christian book store sales were counted. To make the NYT list, you had to have stellar sales in the secular stores. But in the last few months, a couple of the Christian chains announced that they are going to be reporting their sales. That’s a major breakthrough, and it’s because the New York Times recognizes that Christian books are selling very well.”
Still other authors focused their answers to my question on the content of the books themselves, and the restrictions novelists may experience in subject matter. Janelle Mowery, author of When All My Dreams Come True (Harvest House), says, “I’d like [Inspirational fiction] to be perceived as good entertainment rather than another means to preach. I’ve heard people say they avoid Inspirational fiction for that very reason.”
I ask all of my interviewees to imagine their novels in film version. When answering my question about the Inspirational novel industry Mary Ellis, author of Abigail’s New Hope (Harvest House), said, “I would encourage filmmakers to make more wholesome, family-oriented movies. Other than animated films, there are few good movies that aren’t loaded with violence, sex, and/or foul language.” Amen to that, Mary, and we Inspirational novelists could point the filmmakers to plenty of good material to choose from.
As Mary Connealy said, the Inspirational publishing industry is expanding and trying new ways to reach readers. Since every player in this particular market has the same ultimate goal, I like to think some of the above author suggestions might be given consideration. After all, if any wing of the publishing industry has a prayer of succeeding, ours does.
Between the melodrama of ballroom antics and the real drama of political corruption, Rachel and Josh have their hands full. The last thing either of them expects is mutual need and support. But once they stop dancing around the truth, the results are unforgettable.