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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Not to complain, but . . .

by Nicole Petrino-Salter

Anyone with a complaint about the CBA or Christian Fiction or . . . please raise your hand.

Okay. There were three of us who raised our hands. We can raise our hands because we’re not officially included in the ranks of the CBA. Oops, two of us just dropped those hands. Mine is still raised because I am the official complainer about Christian Fiction. Why?

This is my primary gripe, and, admittedly, it no doubt applies to all publishing, including craft books and speakers. Are you ready for it? Here goes: "Only the best work gets published." If you can nod your head at that statement, then I submit you haven't read much fiction of any kind or you just got published. That statement is not entirely truthful, and even publishing professionals know it isn't.

Publishing novels is a subjective, trendy, demographically-targeted, genre-centered, type-focused operation. Free-enterprise. Profit-based. As it should be. This entitles each house to make its decisions as to what and who to publish and to establish what it will require from its authors, new and veteran. If a publisher wants to be identified with a certain genre (i.e. romance, historical, thriller), those in charge select authors to best represent it.

It's not unrealistic to assume the editors or publishing boards want specific qualities, and of course none of them desire to publish poor writing or bad stories. And yet, some of them do. I've read them. Time and again. With good blurbs followed by mediocre stories and clichéd writing, there are plenty of novels out there that are certainly not "the best". But perhaps they appeal to a specific demographic, and that demographic antes up and buys the books. Not unlike a few of the NYTimes Bestsellers.

The point being, my complaint isn't about the actual published books, it's regarding the platitudes involved in publishing. "Primetime", "The Best", "Polished", etc. If you read enough novels in any genre, sooner or later, you're going to find "the best" books aren't always the ones that get published. That's just the way it is.  

Nicole Petrino-Salter writes love stories with a passion. She resides in Auburn, Wa., devoted to Jesus Christ, her family, friends, and pets. You can find her here most days.


  1. Thank you for voicing this. I've found this to be true for a long time, especially with Christian Fiction. I've read some poorly written books by well known Christian authors.

    My though is that, as Christians, we should rise above the world's standards. In this case I don't mean morally or ethically, although we should. We should strive to produce the best writing we can, because we have to remember Who we represent.

  2. Whoops, commented and it got lost again! Great post, Nicole, and I know agents are saddened, too, as they watch excellent authors get passed over because what they're writing doesn't fit the trends. I am thankful we live in a day of options for writers and readers, when it's not only the big Christian publishing houses that are reaching readers. As we know, there are good and not-so-good authors in both the traditionally published and indie published world. But one thing we can do is support those stellar authors we do find, by getting the word out on their books, reviewing, and just basically encouraging them to KEEP WRITING!

  3. Joan and Heather: nailed it. And indie publishing is a boon to solid writers anywhere. Like all other authors, strive to put the best effort into what we produce to please the One who gives us the desire and the talent.

  4. You know I'm with you on this, Nicole. And well said, Heather.

    From my perspective as an avid reader, the truth is that the market plays a much larger role in determining what's published than does the quality of the work. For whatever reason, the most gifted authors don't sell well. I'm always saddened when novelists such as Lisa Samson, Athol Dickson, and Mark Bertrand quit writing because they can't come close to making a living on their sales. That's a great loss for the publishing world and for readers.

    1. Good point, Brenda. It is hard work to make a living on writing, no matter which way you go about it!

  5. Anytime we get great writers slipping away from the readers' focus, it's a shame. We've always been in agreement on this subject, Bren.


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