Usually, their manuscripts fit into one or two categories.
1.) Clean fiction with little spiritual theme.
2.) Edgy fiction dealing with gritty topics (and perchance has not-usually-Christian-accepted language) yet has a strong spiritual element.
The answer to this question isn't a pat one. If you write in the above two areas, it indeed makes it a little difficult since it doesn't fit "nicely" into the preexisting mold.
I think, though, that it'd help to debunk a few myths I've seen bantered around.
|A friend of mine, Patrick Carr, |
wrote this fabulous "epic fantasy" (2/1/13).
The main character is the town drunk.
It is published by Bethany House, a CBA publisher.
He debunks 3 of the 4 myths I mentioned!
Myth #1: Christian fiction has to be filled with tame conflict that doesn't affect the potential readers sensibilities. i.e.... No sex. No violence. Almost perfect characters.
Krista's Thoughts: That is as far from the truth as could be these days. Christian fiction has morphed into covering pretty much every topic out there. There are books that touch on homosexuality, sex, alcoholism, prostitution, and a range of different levels of violence portrayed.
Now. Some say that Christian fiction has loosened its boundaries TOO much, and others feel there is a long way still to go, but that's a topic for another day.
And it is still important that we don't "condone" sin in our books either. Although there have been a few that I've read that are borderline... but again, separate topic!
Truth: No topic is off limits in Christian fiction (although select publishing houses may still have more stringent guidelines.)
Myth #2: For a book to be "Christian" you need to either a.) beat someone over the head with the Bible or b.) have a fantastic conversion scene.
Krista's Thoughts: Bologna. In fact, I've heard many publishers/professionals say that overt preaching and unrealistic conversion scenes are the death of a manuscripts these days.
Jesus used stories (parables) to tell his message and as writers, He's called us to do the same. It isn't our job to stand on a fictional pulpit and preach, but to pen the words God impresses on our heart and tell the story He's given us, and let the story be the message.
Tacked on religion will only turn people away. Realistic, authentic Christ-loving is much better.
Truth: As a novelist, tell a story. Don't preach.
Myth #3: If you write for the general market, you obviously aren't a Christian.
Krista's thoughts: Go read Matthew 7. That is all.
Truth: They shall know you by your fruits, not your literary association.
Myth #4: If you write for the Christian market, you won't be able to do the great commission and "reach" people for Christ.
Krista's thoughts: I have so many points I could make here. First, yes. Writing for the CBA market gives you an audience of mostly Christians. And I, for one, have a heart for encouraging people in their current walk with Jesus, to challenge them to take that next step in being sold out for Jesus, to not buy into the idea that once you know God, you're good and need nothing else.
I also think there is value in making people smile. Even Christians.
We as Jesus-followers need watered too. Christian fiction has helped ME in numerous way, and I hope that my novels will do the same for others.
Second... I've had a LOT of people who do not profess to know Jesus read my books and either 1.) hate them or 2.) really like them and compliment me on not preaching to them. Our books, CBA or ABA, are seeds. Someone, maybe even just one person, will pick up your book and be like, "UGH! Another Jesus book." But my prayer has always been that God will use that little seed of the words that they read, regardless of how few or how many, to plant a seed of desire or curiosity in their hearts. Or maybe to water a seed that was already planted there before.
Truth: Don't underestimate what God can do, regardless of what association you chose.
So there you have it. No divine answers to that perplexing question. But I pray that as you mull around the answer, that you go into it prayerful and armed with TRUTH, not over-generalizations.
Discussion: Are you targeting the CBA or ABA with your writing? Or are you on the fence? What influenced your decision?