Trends in Fiction *updated*
Last weekend I hung out for a bit at the Writing for the Soul Conference. I had conversations with acquisitions editors at several different houses, and here are some things I heard about what’s going on in Christian fiction.
l Editors report seeing a lot of “dark” material lately, not just supernatural angel-and-demon stuff, but violence, murder, drugs, etc. Apparently it’s a trend among writers. However, while there will be a few books published with these themes, it’s not going to be a large percentage. Keep this in mind if you’re writing dark stuff. In general, the majority of purchasers of Christian fiction want to be entertained and encouraged; fewer are attracted to the dark and the scary.
l However, many publishers are looking at suspense. They just don’t want it to be too dark. (Don’t ask me what that means. Remember, everything in this business is subjective.)
l A couple of editors mentioned the proliferation of “issues” in fiction and sometimes it’s too much. For example, a story where a single character is dealing with drug addiction, anorexia, and a Down’s Syndrome child. Generally speaking, we don’t need so many different issues in one novel, especially not in one character.
l Not one editor I spoke with is actively looking for fantasy or sci-fi. Bad news for many of you, I realize. It’s not a big seller in the Christian marketplace. Watch for the winds of change…
l Publishing houses still want romance, both contemporary and historical. Not too schmaltzy and definitely not too steamy… but romance continues to sell.
l There continues to be a strong market for good historicals. While some publishers are experimenting with different time periods and locales, the most popular is still 19th century (particularly post-Civil War) Americana.
l The chick-lit genre (mom-lit, hen-lit, etc.) may have run its course. Established authors are still going strong, but new chick-lit writers aren’t doing as well. I don’t think everyone has really figured out what this means for “humorous” fiction.
l A couple of editors mentioned they’re considering novels in shorter lengths than the traditional 90-100k words. They’ll look at fiction as short as 70k. This could be the start of a new trend. We’ll see.
l Overall, I’d say Christian publishers want fiction that’s encouraging and hopeful and perhaps on the lighter side. (Light meaning not “dark.” And also, light meaning it doesn’t have to be deep and “literary.”) They’re all talking about wanting “core CBA fiction.” Does that mean there’s no place for novels that fall outside this description? Of course not. This is generally speaking, and it can help you understand why certain books are getting contracted and others aren’t.
As always with generalities… take it for what it’s worth! There will always be trends and rules… and there will always be huge successes that defy the trends, break the rules and surprise everyone. Take it into consideration but don’t consider it gospel.
So tell me, how does this stack up with what you’re hearing?