Though I haven't written fiction for the last year or so, I love being immersed in books and it is exciting to see all the directions Christian fiction is going even at a time that many find discouraging. It is true that the number of acquisitions is getting smaller, houses are closing down, all things that can be depressing. But there's a lot to be hopeful for in the direction of Christian fiction.
1) Blurring of the mainstream/Christian lines can bring new opportunities for acquisition and marketing.
No secret that the Big Six becoming the Big Five and several Christian houses either closing or losing their fiction lines have made publishing news in the past few years. The good side of this is...new opportunities with mainstream houses.
This year I was thrilled to receive lists (albeit smaller ones) from publishers in the ABA world. For instance, Susan Meissner, winner of multiple awards in the CBA realm is publishing Secrets of a Charmed World with Penguin. Ted Dekker's books have long flitted between both markets showing suspense fans will clamor for a book with supernatural elements.
Stacie Henrie is a newer author whose World War I novels Hope Rising and Hope Remembered release from Grand Central's Forever imprint. Henrie's novels are marketed to romance readers who read on both sides of the house with their inspirational messages and clean content.
Takeaway: Interest in hope-filled stories continues to be strong even at mainstream houses.
2) Small may be the new "big" when it comes to publishing.
Secant and Rosebud are two smaller publishers that I contacted. Rosebud was developed by several traditionally published authors with Lacy Williams as the managing editor. They use a print-on-demand model. Secant is an indie publisher based in the Southeast. Smaller size doesn't always mean limited options. Little houses might be willing to go places the larger houses won't and could provide a middle ground between self-publishing and the Big Five.
Takeaway: Don't overlook the idea of starting out small.
3) Christian media is improving and may provide new opportunities.
Christian movies were once thought of as a bit of a joke, but with newer movies like The Vow and Nicholas Cage's version of Left Behind the image is beginning to change. (I know Christian movies still have a long way to go, but at least this genre is growing).
Chris Fabry's The Song and Rene Gutteridge's Old Fashioned are both examples of book/movie combinations that will be released this winter. Even media versions that don't fully follow the biblical texts, think Noah and Exodus are bringing new popularity to Christian-themed fiction. For instance, The Shadow of the Mountain: Exodus by Cliff Graham is poised to meet the interests of the audience of the upcoming film.
Takeaway: Consider how Christian media can provide a possible audience for your novel as you market to possible publishers.
4) Christian fiction is getting less and less shy about tackling the tough subjects.
Christian fiction has long left the realm of mere bonnet fiction, but is becoming more and more bold with the years. News events, whether abuse in the clergy, domestic violence or suicide are being tackled in Christian fiction. Mercy's Rain by Cindy Sproles tackles misconduct in the clergy and in the wake of Robin William's shocking death The Boy Who Loved Rain releases this upcoming winter.
It is encouraging to see Christians become more engaging in the culture with a realization that our children will learn about these topics either from us or from the world. Rather than a complete sheltering, Christian fiction is often providing a faith-filled context from which to view the world.
Takeaway: The very issue God is speaking to your heart just may be the story you need to write.
5) Its all still about a love of story.
In spite of the challenges of marketing and social media, its still all about story. Bottom line a good story with a uniqueness to it and intense plot twists can overcome challenges in this brave new world of publishing.
Takeaway: Tell YOUR story.
Comments: I'd be curious to hear what books you are excited about that will be releasing in 2015 and why.