Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Top 10 Things to Get You Excited Again About CF for 2016!!

So, every fall I get the privilege of interviewing editors, agents, authors, and a general variety of people in the industry about what's coming up for the next year. As the title of my current article shows, there is some discouragement being spread about Christian fiction and where it might be heading. This isn't really anything new, but each year the changes building on each other can increase the sense of frustration for writers who are eyeing the market.

I'm here to say, I'm excited about some great things happening for 2016. After looking over surveys of thousands of librarians and speaking to representatives at major and small houses there's some great stuff coming out.

Here's a list of 10 things I'm excited about for 2016 CF and why:

(Oh and P.S. In addition to our very own Amy Simpson recently releasing her first novel with Wild Blue Press, Krista Phillips has a holiday novella release and Pepper Basham will have several novels releasing in 2016 so stay tuned...)

1) The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert: 

I was excited to profile Joubert's title from Thomas Nelson for several reasons. Number 1: I had the scoop that it would be a Target book club pick a few months before it was announced. That placed this book immediately on my radar. It is the first Christian fiction book chosen by a major store to be marketed in such a way. This is an amazing opportunity to get the word out about Christian fiction, IMHO.

Second, the author is South African and it is a translation. This, too, is a first for Thomas Nelson (and I believe for CF altogether).

I know I'm not the only one who longs to see more world fiction published. I love settings besides the United States and Great Britain (although I love me some Laura Frantz and Jody Hedlund, so I do get excited about some of the more traditional locations). I hope this book will open some doors, both by the publicity its receiving and by the fact that it is a translation.

2) The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell:

I love the way Cantrell deals with contemporary topics and here she deals with abuse, a topic that is in the news. The fact that it also deals with the teenage years and an appealing location, New Orleans with its backdrop of spiritual warfare increases the intrigue for me.

3) Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by Lynne Hinton and detective novels

Often we see popular CF authors turn to mainstream houses, but its a treat to also see the reverse as well. I'm also excited to see detective novels and cozies making their way to the market more often as the blurring of the lines between CF and general market is taking place. Lynne Hinton is an author I read as far back as college and I'm excited to see her breaking into this market with fun mysteries.

4) Romantic suspense is a scorching hot genre right now!!

I know some of you should be excited about this because its what you write, like our dear Amy! Bethany House sees Dee Henderson's return to the genre as a central reason why. Other popular authors such as Lynette Eason and Dani Pettrey have been credited with furthering the momentum of rom suspense.

5) Brown Girls Faith line

Librarians spoke out and said it was difficult to meet the need for African American CF found among their patrons. Kensington and other lines have tried in the past with limited success but I'm encouraged by a small press such as Brown Girls Faith. BGF is poised to publish books with AA main characters, as well as Caribbean and Latina fiction. Hopefully, this too will broaden the genre.

6) Small is the new big.

In addition to Brown Girls Faith, several other houses such as Red Bud Press and Enclave increase the breadth of CF. Boutique houses can offer aspiring authors more choices and control and offer a third alternative beyond traditional and indie. For writers hoping to have more feedback over cover and other decisions, small press can be the way to go. It also can offer higher payouts. Pepper has shared her positive experience with boutique here on the blog. Small publishers may also offer mentoring and other help on a more regular basis.

7) Indie CF is coming of age.

Picking up a self-pubbed book once meant doubts about the quality and wondering if you wasted your money on a bargain book for your kindle. No longer. James Scott Bell, Brandilyn Collins, and Julie Lessman are just a few well-known authors dipping their toes into the waters of independent press publishing (and loving it!). Krista has published her own novellas as well. Many writers, such as Collins were able to establish a stable readership with traditional presses and now bring that loyal audience along for the ride. The result can be more money for the author, and less for the reader to shell out (a win-win situation). Authors who have already learned how to play the marketing game enjoy being able to now make all the decisions.

8)...But the demise of print has been greatly exaggerated.

Count me as one who was a frequent Kindle user. Science has shown that we DO read on screen very differently, often at the expense of absorbing content. Non-linear reading (promoted by computer usage) is valuable for skimming and finding central details but our brain actually slows down to read on paper, allowing for more analytical reading to occur more easily. I've noticed the difference in my own reading. As a result I only use my Kindle for those things I want to read quickly, perhaps a mystery or another lighter novel. I, for one, am thrilled to see paper itself is making a comeback. It may take up more space on our shelves, but there is always the library :).

9) The rise of the CBA/ABA author.

Lady Maybe was Julie Klassen's toe-dipper into the ABA market this summer. December's The Painter's Daughter will be published by Bethany House. Authors such as Ted Dekker, James Scott Bell, and Susan Meissner are proving that either/or isn't a necessary choice. Why pick and choose? The changes in CBA lines open up new opportunities for market hopping, if you can brand yourself well.

10) Don't fret, God's got this.

We all know this, but it bears repeating. God's plan for your writing is not dependent on an industry, or a publishing house, or a committee, or even an editor or agent. His plan doesn't start with your publication, rather he wants to use your writing the second you begin putting pen to paper at his guidance. So we don't have to sweat about what the industry is looking for or whether a story will sell. God has a bigger purpose for our stories--as part of his sanctifying process in our lives. The wait, the difficulties, the failures and successes by the world's standards...let him use all of it for His glory in His way and timing.

For more thoughts on CBA releases for 2016, see Library Journal's "Trials & Tribulations" in the November 15th issue.

Julia Reffner lives in central Virginia with her husband, two precocious children and three spoiled ragdoll cats. She enjoys writing for Library Journal magazine, Wonderfully Woven and several other websites.


kaybee said...

Julia, this is so encouraging! I'm excited about all the options available for writers. Two of my friends just published "boutique," one with Pelican and one with Mountain View. It's a brave new world, but when has writing been for the fearful? I also appreciated your salute to print. I got my first Kindle in November and I'll be honest, I only use it for books I can't get any other way. For example, when I win an e-book on a writing blog. Print WILL hold its own, just like vinyl records.
I enjoy your posts.
Kathy Bailey

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Great points, Julia! There are some exciting things happening in CF right now. I agree, print is not out the door. Ebooks have their place, but I still love to hold a great book in my hands. :)

Loved your wrap up here.

Julia M. Reffner said...


Yup, I'm with you there! Like my Kindle but LOVE my bookshelves and what's in them :). Thanks for joining in the conversation here.


Thanks, I agree, I think its an exciting time in CF and there's a lot of good happening even if it can seem like a hard time to "break" into the market.

Terrie Todd said...

Thanks for the good news! My novel is set in Canada, and I was told by an agent that if I wanted to publish in the U.S., I would have to move my setting to the U.S. I'm so thrilled that Waterfall Press if proving him wrong by publishing "The Silver Suitcase" late next month! Also, I LOVE Julie Cantrell's books!!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Wooh-hoo! That's wonderful, Terrie! I am a major Julie Cantrell fan and I love seeing new settings coming out in CBA.