Is There a Christian Market for Books?

christian bookstore - FamilyDear Rachelle,

Quick question – is there a Christian market for books? A member of our writing group reacted poorly when I mentioned my WIP may be more appropriate for the Christian market than women’s fiction. A heated “God does not sell” debate ensued, followed by a rousing chorus of “Every Bestseller Needs Sex or Vampires.” (We are an eclectic bunch.) Lots of misconceptions out there – hoping you can help me provide some clarity, at least to our tiny group.


Wondering if God Sells

* * *

Dear Wondering,

christian bookstore - Lifeway

God does indeed sell. I don’t blame your group for not knowing the Christian publishing world exists. But really, it’s kind of like assuming that because you know nothing about NASCAR, it must not exist. *facepalm*

Yes, there’s a thriving Christian market. Either that, or my entire life since 2002 has been a dream and I’m about to wake up. Also, most of my Facebook friends, many of my real-life friends, the publishers I sell to, and my entire literary agency are figments of my imagination.

Assuming that’s not the case, here you go…

The Ultimate Guide to Christian Publishing!

  • Dozens of publishing companies are dedicated to Christian books. Here’s one list. Here’s a list on Wikipedia.
  • There are trade associations. Where the general book market has the ABA and the AAP, the Christian market has the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) and the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association).
  • Incidentally, you’ll often hear the entire Christian publishing and bookselling industry referred to as “CBA” for shorthand.
  • The world at large has Amazon (which contains thousands of Christian books). But the Christian market also has for all your shopping needs.
  • There are bestseller lists dedicated to Christian books, including the ECPA, the CBA, and the lists.
  • You may be familiar with huge writers’ organizations such as RWA, SCBWI, or SFWA. The Christian market has them too: ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and CWG (Christian Writers Guild) along with countless local and regional organizations.
  • There are huge Christian bookstore chains, including Mardel, Family Christian, Lifeway, and others.
  • The Christian market has lots of agents, too. Here’s Michael Hyatt’s list of literary agents who represent Christian authors. Here’s Author Media’s list of Christian agents on Twitter.
  • The Christian Writer’s Market Guide contains over 500 pages of information on the Christian market.
  • Random House has Christian imprints that serve the evangelical market: Waterbrook Press and Multnomah Books.
  • Harper Collins owns two gigantic Christian publishing companies: Zondervan and Thomas Nelson.
  • Simon & Schuster has a Christian imprint that serves the Christian market: Howard Books.
  • Hachette also has Christian imprints: FaithWords, CenterStreet, and Jericho Books.

And contrary to myopic-yet-popular opinion, there are millions of readers who don’t need their books full of sex and vampires. The Christian market fills that need, among other things. (I hasten to add that there are also millions of non-Christian readers who don’t need sex or vampires either.)

christian bookstore - fiction

Check out this USA Today interview with Julie Cantrell, author of Into the Free, a DEBUT novel that is now on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists. It’s a Christian book, published by a Christian publisher (not even one of the publishers owned by the Big 6). That same book is in the top 20 on Amazon’s Literature and Fiction bestseller list. No vampires anywhere in sight.

Now, you tell me. Is there a market for Christian books? Have a great day and let me know how it goes when you enlighten your group. 🙂


* * *

Are you writing for the Christian market? Why or why not?

Do you have questions about the Christian market?

What resources would you add to this list?


Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Christianbooks on July 22, 2015 at 10:46 PM

    Christian literature certainly sells. There is a huge market for many genre’s of Christian books. My audience of fictional Christian books loves my book and reports that they enjoy hundreds of others every year. My 1st quarter of sales proves that there is without doubt a market of Christian books

  2. Natalie on July 30, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    I can’t hide this amazing testimony that took place in my life. A prophet named saibaba helped me to bring back my love who left me while I was six months pregnant and went on a peace keeping mission in new zealand. We both love each other and it was a shock to me and it really broke my heart. I tried to call him and both of his lines were disconnected. I tried to reach him on social networks but he deleted me off of them. I tried to reach his parents and they told me that their son said that he does not love me and does not want to see me and they do not know what is wrong. I cried and cried everyday because I loved him very much. Until I gave birth and the baby was one year old, I could not get my love back. Again, I was confused. I do not know what to do and I also lost my job and I have no money to take care of the baby. I was miserable in life so I cried to my sister and told her my problem and said that she knew of one lord prophet that prayed for her when she could not get pregnant. I contacted him by email and he said he will help me and told me that a revelation came regarding my husband and marriage problem, he will help me fast and pray so my man will come back to me and be mine forever. It was a great surprise to me that everything that he said came to pass. My man came back to me immediately, saying that I should forgive him. I am sending a very big thank you to this prophet. I pray for him to live long and do more of his spiritual work. If you have any kind of problem disturbing you in life, you have to contact this prophet! He can help him through this email;

  3. Stacey Bruno on May 3, 2014 at 5:58 AM

    I never believed in love spells or magic until I met this spell caster once when i went to see my friend in Indian this year on a business summit. I meant a man who’s name is Dr ATILA he is really powerful and could help cast spells to bring back one’s gone, lost, misbehaving lover and magic money spell or spell for a good job or luck spell .I’m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 5 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 3years. I really loved him, but his mother was against us and he had no good paying job. So when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him. At first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. And in 7 days when i returned to Canada, my boyfriend (now husband) called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with his mom and family and he got a new job interview so we should get married. I didn’t believe it cos the spell caster only asked for my name and my boyfriends name and all i wanted him to do. Well we are happily married now and we are expecting our little kid, and my husband also got the new job and our lives became much better. His email is

  4. Jonathan on January 28, 2014 at 9:14 AM
    Max is my brother in law – he is an accomplished Christian author — both fiction, and non-fiction.

  5. Gretchen Goldsmith on January 9, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    Rachelle, I think you might want to add a comment about the link to Wikipedia because it is missing several of the top 20 non-fiction Christian publishers.

    For example, it is missing:
    Barbour #4, Rose Publishing #5, Crossway #11, LifeWay #8, CFM (Standard) #9, and others.

    The ECPA link is better.

    –Gretchen Goldsmith, President, Rose Publishing / Aspire Press

  6. Lady Jennie on December 17, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    Hi Rachelle,

    I have already self-published my Christian memoir (well . . . it’s a coming-to-faith memoir with all of the messy human frailties forgiven and covered over by an Awesome Father). And I’m wondering if you can suggest where I might market such a book for a Christian audience. Most of my blog audience is pretty mixed.

    (It’s here: )

  7. Jennifer J on August 29, 2013 at 6:34 AM is a great E-Book publishing company. It’s worth checking out.

  8. Seraph Stein on July 21, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    I have wondered for a very long while now, what exactly defines a book as Christian? To answer my own question, I visited the Christian Book section at the local book store and was shocked to find all kinds of books I assumed would not be included- suspense and even murder mysteries.
    As a writer of many types of books, but particularly murder mysteries with a “hidden” spiritual message I was thrilled. Perhaps one day I will find my book on that shelf too, right next to The Shack.
    Who say God doesn’t sell? Not me. After all, God’s been inspiring all of us to do all this writing… so why not give over a little of the credit.
    I’d be happy to.
    -In Light and blessing,

    • Gretchen Goldsmith on January 9, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      The overall publishing industry had revenues of $27.2 billion in 2012. The religious publishers (Christian publishing makes up the majority of that segment) make up about 5% of that.

  9. Terrance Leon Austin on March 11, 2013 at 4:10 AM

    @T C Avey..keep writing. I agree with you. Christian fiction edgy, suspense, action, sin and its consequences. Christian fiction should always touch and give hope to the readers. The bible has no profanity, yet it is filled with righteous deeds and evil deeds. I do no hope my christian fiction books will touch people. I know they will. Because in our world, some people look for hope in the midst of a crumbling society. Writing a good christian fiction in my opinion will be truth, but just as interesting as a vampire or romantic story. Example: a story of a unbelieving, abusive husband who is saved in the end. If a writer is honest with himself, that story will likely have some not so pleasant dialogue in it. In the end, you will possibly win readers that have been through such trials or know someone who has.

    • Terrance Leon Austin on March 11, 2013 at 4:12 AM

      Sorry for the typo…I mean, do not hope. Lol..

  10. Jessica-Lyn on January 31, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    I have 7 Books from Joyce Meyer’s site (including a DVD/CD pack), 2 that I got as a gift, and 1 bible. I don’t read these books any more and I thought they should go to someone who will appreciate them and read them. They are used books but they are in amazing condition. The DVD’s/CD’s have never been used or touch so they are in perfect condition. With this package, you will get the following books:
    From Joyce Meyer’s site:
    “Change Your Words, Change Your Life.”
    “Do Yourself a Favor…FORGIVE.”
    A New Way of Living.”
    “The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word”
    “Developing Power Thoughts” (DVD/CD Pack)
    “Walking with God” (This is NOT by Joyce Meyer, but by John Eldredge. It was for sale on her site though.)
    Other books:
    “The Love of God Revealed through Jesus, The Only Begotten Son” by Paul C. Jong
    “A Story Book of Jesus” by Enid Blyton (This is more of a book for children than adults)
    The New Testament Bible (Recovery Version)

    Check it out here:

  11. dora on November 12, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    ‘My name is Dora I am from United States, I was in a relationship with Ben and we loved and cherished ourselves for 3 good years and every thing was going on smoothly but February 14, 2012 a day I can call a lovers day we both had misunderstanding because I answered a call from a guy that is asking me out for a date but I refused, and he told me that the relationship is over and that he is fed up with me and I begged him because I love him so much but he refused me I was so down cast and I felt the world has come to an end for me but my friend told me about a spell caster that helped her sister out in getting her relationship back, a good job and favor in any of her endeavor but at first I was scared but I have to give this man a trial because I love Ben very much and I am not willing to loose him to any woman, so I ordered returning my love spell from this great spell caster that made me a happy woman again to say it all my ex came back to me with much love and a caring heart…i am testifying to this great spell caster ATINGO TEMPLE. if you need his help you can contact him on

  12. […] the pain that had been haunting them before they got to my studio".Article from Ultimate Guide to Solving Menopausal Symptoms Today A guide to assist women going through menopause…recio Promocional !! Este ebook es el resumen de mi carrera de personal trainer y fitness coach. […]

  13. Victoria C. Slotto on March 18, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Great article. My novel, “Winter is Past,” was published in December. (Lucky Bat Books) My publisher has suggested that I should focus on the Christian market. While it has Christian theme, it’s written from a Catholic Christian perspective. Do you (or any of your readers) know if there is a separate market for that? And does the mainstream Christian market acknowledge this as part of their viewpoint? My second novel has even stronger Catholic ties, so I’d appreciate any insight you can give. Just discovered your site and find it most helpful. Thank you. Victoria

  14. Russ on March 15, 2012 at 4:24 AM

    I don’t write christian books myself but I know several writers who do and yes they sell and sell well. A new author writing christina thrillers is Josuha Graham. I predict he’ll be on the times list sooner than later.

  15. Jaime Wright on March 12, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    This is such a great topic! I have several relatives on my “in-law” side that don’t have an active religious or faith background. Since I married into the family, they circulate my extensive Inspirational Fiction library because they love the “clean content”. They tell me over and over how “refreshing that Christian stuff is”. It was so neat to see them exchanging Colleen Coble, Tamara Alexander’s, and Karen Kingsbury’s and now they’re exploring new authors like Jody Hedlund and looking online for them! Definitely a market!

  16. Glynda Lomax on March 10, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    I personally buy Christian books often, and I also just released the Kindle edition of my own book, The Wilderness Companion. In less than 24 hours, I was receiving emails from various points around the world about the effect the book is having as they begin to read it. That is enough evidence for me!

  17. Patti Mallett on March 9, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    Yes, definitely Bookmarking this page! Thanks, Rachelle.

  18. Kathryn Elliott on March 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    Feeds: Family, friends & writing.
    Sucks: Family, friends & writing.


    • Kathryn Elliott on March 9, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      Ooop..sorry, wrong post! (Deadline weeks make my brain mush!)

  19. E. Kaiser on March 9, 2012 at 12:02 AM

    Thanks for posting this! It is very encouraging to see actual statistics for the “non vampires/sex” sort of books.
    And thanks for all the links, I intend to dig through them!
    Have a great day!

  20. Kristin Wallace on March 8, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    I write Christian romance/women’s fiction. I didn’t start out in that direction. I had what was maybe a misconception that it was either Little House on the Prairie or Amish. A young woman in old-fashioned dress staring off calmy into the distance on the cover. Either that or they were very dark & angsty. That was not the kind of book I was writing. My writing journey started in Chick Lit & my heroines were sassy & witty. I use emotion, but I can’t do 300+ pages of angst. I NEED humor. Often my heroines are pretty cynical about religion & God. Some have abandoned their faith. The books I write are hopefully ones that anyone would read. Stories about finding or renewing faith. Forgiveness, healing. But always with a good mix of humor & sass.

  21. Amy Leigh Simpson on March 8, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    It’s crazy to think there wouldn’t be a market for Christian fiction because there is an endless market for God. Weird to put it that way but what I mean to say is since each of us is given a measure of faith, those who don’t know God are searing for some form of truth, love, peace, acceptance, forgivness. This gives Christian fiction a leg up because unlike most mainstream fiction, hope and grace can actually emenate from the pages. The people who need this message the most might not be the first to pick up a CBA novel but at some point they might find picking up a novel less threatening than picking up a Bible or walking into a church.

    Where we might fail in CBA is if we write about characters who don’t stuggle with sin. I have seen this far too many times. As believers, our faith empowers us to follow Christ and ‘go and sin no more’. We fail. Big time. But when we write about characters who are holier than thou with their complete lack of lust, greed, anger, vengence, ect, we paint ourselves in the hypocritical light the world can tend to see us. We all struggle with those things. The difference is, we have the remedy to overcome them.

    Great post today, Rachelle. Wanted to post earlier and join the discussion, but it was one of those days. Kids are exhausting 🙂

  22. Jillian Kent on March 7, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    This is such a refreshing post. I’m glad that, “Wondering if God Sells” was brave enough to ask her question, and that you, Rachelle did such a great job of summing it up. I remember when I first told my crit group that I was changing direction and writing for the Christian market. They thought they knew what that meant but they really didn’t. There is so much variety in the CBA today and it continues to bloom and grow.

    My publisher is Charisma Media; Realms Fiction Line. Here’s the Realms author’s blog if you want to visit.
    You’ll notice the speculative fiction writers on the left and the historical romance writers on the right. I chose to go the Christian route to put a different kind of spin on Regency romance.

  23. Scott A. Shuford on March 7, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    What a GREAT article. Thanks so much for all this solid detail Rachelle. This is a great resource for any published or aspiring author seeking out the Christian market. I’m going to push this out through our social media this week. Blessings!

  24. Kristin Laughtin on March 7, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    There’s a huge market for Christian books, and every major bookstore I’ve ever been in has had a section for them too (yes, even Christian fiction). I would note, though, that whether your book could be one of them probably depends on genre. As I understand it, there’s not too huge a market for Christian science fiction. Given your talk of sex and vampires, though, I’m going to guess you write romance, women’s fiction, or some other popular genre, and there’s definitely a market for Christian versions of those.

  25. Debbie Radcliffe on March 7, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    I know this may sound stupid, but there are no stupid questions right?

    My question refers to whether or not Christian publishers only publish Christian books. What I mean is I have a friend who has written a beautiful love story novel, suitable for any YA or older Christian. The only thing is it is written from a Muslim perspective.

    It gives a lot of insight without being intentional on the way of life for a Muslim couple who fall in love, have a few crisis in their lives, and eventually get married.

    The book does not try to convert anyone, it just talks about everything in a natural way.

    So, all of that to ask if it would be appropriate to query a Christian publisher on this type of book? Thanks for any help you can give on this subject.

  26. Dale Harcombe on March 7, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    Unfortunately the same does not apply in the Australian Christian market. Even our Christian bookshops are too busy promotiong Amish and overseas authors to promote their homegrown authors, which is sad. A Christian publisher here was recently told not to bother with fiction.

  27. Rob on March 7, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    I hate to be a negative Nancy, but aren’t there unfortunate byproducts to such a thriving Christian “industry?”

    Don’t get me wrong, I think a lot of good is done by these businesses, but the idea of people profiting from Christianity makes me uncomfortable. I can’t see first century disciples selling their writings (or music, or nativity scenes, or cross sculptures) for a profit.

    I’m not trying to be judgmental or get up on a high horse, but I think it’s worth noting, especially given the long history of people abusing the faith of others to gain money and/or power.

    Additionally, while I understand the wisdom behind filtering what goes into our bodies, how are we supposed to engage with the culture around us if we only read “Christian” books and they only read secular ones?

    These are things that creates a lot of tension in my own life, so I thought they were worth bringing up.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

    • Cherry Odelberg on March 7, 2012 at 6:13 PM

      Rob, I think that every worker is “worthy of his / her hire.” It would be a shame to say that a writer’s work, pursued with diligence every day, should be available for free because it is Christian.

      First century scribes, musicians etc; while not making a killing at their trade; were provided for in their ministry. Provided food and shelter by those to whom they ministered and those who supported them. We just have a few more middle-man levels and a different currency nowadays.

      • Rob on March 7, 2012 at 7:20 PM

        But I think there’s a difference between “not muzzling the ox while he’s treading out the grain,” and creating a for-profit industry (not that everyone in the Christian book business has struck it rich).

  28. Marji Laine on March 7, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Oh I love your reaction, Rachelle! Ha! And I get the same glazed over look when I confess to being a NASCAR fan as I do when I explain that I’m a Christian writer.

    I might as well have admitted to being a vampire! LOL!

  29. Jarm Del Boccio on March 7, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Thanks for this very informative post! My passion is to make Scripture and History come alive for my readers, but, thanks to the many connections I have, through the web, conferences and the Christian Writer’s Guide you mentioned, I am not worried. I’m going back to check out your links…super! They will spur me on…

  30. sue berg on March 7, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Great article; lots of good information. Yes, there is a Christian “market” — but an author also needs to consider if his/her book has a “message” it wants to get across (lots of books do, whether the author is fully aware of that — you know the character arc — what changes over the course of the story to motivates the character — is a sort of morality lesson, isn’t it?) … that change / morality lesson has an audience. Does the author want to “preach to the choir” (those who already agree with the message) or convert someone new to the idea? It may harder to sell “sweet” books (lacking the gratuitous sex, bad language and paranormal characters) to the the big secular publishers, but it isn’t impossible. However, there is one other issue I recently ran across — a discussion thread at Amazon — where readers complained about “stealth evangelism” of books published by secular publishers but in the description there was no mention of the book containing Christian themes. My response to that was that I had just finished reading “The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing” (by Tarquin Hall) and it included what would be considered a miracle after a character prayed in a Hindu temple — should I complain that I was being evangelized to believe Hinduism? The “message” of the book, therefore its intended audience, then determines whether the book should head to a secular publisher or to a Christian publisher. Well, that’s my two cents. But, yes, there is a huge Christian market for books, especially well-crafted novels.

    About Vampires — I really thought I would never like any of he paranormal books out there but got interested in a couple of series because of the humor in them and one series has a setting I am slightly familiar with. In the first book of the UNDEAD AND … series (a lot too much sex for a Christan market) includes a scene where the new vampire tried=s to die and goes into a church and discovers that it doesn’t kill her (nor “hurt” her) and she encounters the priest or pastor (I forget now whether it was a Catholic church she entered) and he tells her that “God still loves you.” If ever a book could get a message across to a wide audience, this one has potential. Further into the series, I’m still not exactly sure where the author is taking this idea but it has popped up (only a little, though) as far as the 3rd book …

  31. Charles Specht on March 7, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Hopefully people are throwing bouquets at your feet for this one. Great article, Rachelle.

  32. Marla Markman on March 7, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    This was quite an eye-opener. Thank you for all the information. I’m a book editor who seems to be getting more and more clients who have written spiritual books. I have been curious about this genre and the market my authors will find for their books. This answers a lot!

  33. Sue Harrison on March 7, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Thank you, Rachelle, for putting all this information into a concise, easy to access blog post. It’s printed out and going into my “Rachelle” file. I love your ability to educate us!

    INTO THE FREE is an exquisitely written, riveting novel. When author Julie Cantrell requested that people let others know bout the Kindle edition being available “free for a week”, I passed the info on to my FB friends, many of whom down-loaded it. They have nothing but raves. (And I get to be the heroine for letting them know about her book. You can’t beat that!) I really enjoyed her USA Today interview. Thank you for sharing it with us!

    • Julie Cantrell on March 7, 2012 at 6:21 PM

      Thank you, Sue! I have no doubt this book is where it is today because of wonderful folks like you who have given this debut novel a chance…and then shared it with others. I will be eternally grateful for the tremendous support and kindness I have received from readers. Thank you so much.

      • Sue Harrison on March 7, 2012 at 6:50 PM

        You are most welcome, Julie. Thank you so much for a story that swept me away from everyday into beautiful.

  34. TC Avey on March 7, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    I was not aware of all this information, thank you.

    Yes, I am writing for the Christian market, though I truly believe the book is more than capable of being received in the general market as well. It’s edgy and very timely with our current world climate.

  35. Maril Hazlett on March 7, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    OK, I’m not going to stand up for sex and vampires. I’ve never found that genre particularly to my taste, ha ha.

    But to play devil’s advocate for a second (wow, this is fraught): I can see an argument where a vampire plot would make a excellent entry point for faith or inspirational themes in a novel. I’m on shaky ground, obviously, because I don’t read much in this genre, but aren’t vampires running from Christian religion, more or less? They have eternal life, but totally the wrong kind and for all the wrong reasons; they feel/ are portrayed as unclean; religious symbols ward them off; many of them long for release from this horrible existence…? Is there really no way to construct a Christian-friendly story line out of these and similar vampire plot elements? There’s no potential of redemption, forgiveness, or salvation here?

    And on a totally different note, what technical thing am I doing wrong with wordpress – for some reason, I never get these blog comments sent to my email address. If there is still that functionality on Rachelle’s new site (I guess it’s not new anymore). I ask because I’ve had similar problems with other wordpress blogs too, and I’m never sure how to fix it.


    • Josh C. on March 7, 2012 at 2:07 PM

      I think one of the best vampire novels ever written was ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. In it, the vampire Barlow is in a standoff with a crucifix-wielding priest. The vampire challenges the priest to lay the crucifix down and face him on faith alone. When the priest failed to do this, the crucifix lost its power to ward off Barlow. To me, that was a strong statement regarding faith. The priest’s faith wavered at the prospect of being without the crucifix (a la Peter when the wind picked up) and thus the crucifix was no good because his faith was misplaced. I agree, vampires could be a good entry point.

  36. Shelly Goodman Wright on March 7, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    I think we are coming into new a era where ‘Christian’ might actually become the new hot thing. I think about Tebow, the movies Courageous, Facing the Giants, and Soul Surfer–I think of Carrie Underword and recently Kirk Cameron and Chad Baldwin. If ever there was a time for Christian authors to rise to the top, to be bold in their faith, it’s now. I feel it and I’m so excited that I’ll get to have a part to play in all this. My dream? To be a guest speaker at a Women of Faith conference as a fictional Christian writer.
    Can you tell I’m excited? LOL

  37. Donna Pyle on March 7, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    It’s an amazing privilege to write for a Christian market that’s thriving! Since I choose books to read that cause me to think toward God in new ways, that’s what I like to write. I don’t care for graphic novels, but I do like the old school vampire movies. 🙂

  38. HopefulLeigh on March 7, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    I am writing for the Christian market, primarily because my novel centers around end of life issues. Faith, or at least spirituality, is an important component of grief and I knew I could not leave that out and still have a book I believe in. I also wanted to write Christian fiction with characters and problems that I and my friends could relate to. I find that the Christian market is expanding in terms of quality and edgier subject matter and that’s a great thing.

  39. Cindy Huff on March 7, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    I would like to add the option of Christian critique groups the your questioner. I am a member of Word Weavers a Christian critique that originated in Florida and since being purchased by Jerry Jenkin’s Christian Writer’s Guild is expanding with a goal to have chapters in every state. There are lots of Christian writers out there who want encouragement. And there are lots of people who read Christian fiction who are not believers.They enjoy reading stories free of sex and swear words. There are lots of great books in every genre including the supernatural written by Christians who want to bring a faith message to their readers.
    And many of those are on the best seller list. The Left Behind Series is a prime example.
    The value of Christan critique groups is helping Christian writers stay true to His message as we write. The same kinds of helpful information is available in these groups that you would find in secular group. The difference is an encouraging spirit rather than a competitive one.

    • Shelly Goodman Wright on March 7, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      I think that is awesome.

      I belong to a writing group, but I am the ONLY Christian. I have to say though, my group has been beneficial in the fact that I want the book to also appeal to (and not preachy) secular readers. One of my biggest fans is Hindu and although I talk about Jesus numerous times, she still loved the story.

      But I do see a benefit to having a Christian support group. I sometimes have to critique things I’d rather not read, but at the same time, that person is reading my as well. You never know what might help soften someone’s heart to seek out the truth through the fiction. 🙂

  40. Lilliet Garrison on March 7, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Obviously this comment was made by someone who hadn’t done their “due diligence.” If they had, they would not have shown their bias or ignorance regarding a huge market that’s only growing larger. As the times grow increasing difficult, people will be looking for solid answers to their problems. Maybe then they’ll give up the “shallow stuff.” But, then again, maybe not.
    I’m choosing to go the “independent route” and am close to publishing my second book, with one out every 15 or so months. So far it’s working for me.

  41. Douglas Thompson on March 7, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Thank you so much for this post. Recently I attended a “Critical First Chapter” seminar given by author Brenda Hill. She agreed to critique five manuscripts from the crowd (the first two pages only).
    My “Christian fiction” (a police drama set on the coast of Oregon) was chosen first to critique. I was delighted to hear her speak highly of my work. The very manuscript to be reviewed opened with a satanic orgy scene. The two works could not have been more different.
    Having these two works critiqued essentially side by side, on an overhead projector was strange. Equally startling was her glowing praise for the satanic orgy piece as well.
    Now, I realize she was judging the authors skill and not really judging the content, but it still was odd to witness.
    I’ve been under the impression that publishers have been inundated with vampire and paranormal manuscripts and are losing interest in them. Previous to your posting today, I’d been told that the need for Christian fiction continues to grow. Thanks very much for confirming that.

  42. Robin on March 7, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    So glad you chose to enlighten the rest of the writing world of the existence of a powerful Christian literature market. My debut novel is geared toward such an audience, though it might be a bit edgy for some. I don’t mellow out the true-life realities which surround the church today, but face it head-on.

    Thank you!

  43. Jennifer Delamere on March 7, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Thanks for this informative post! I’ll also add that Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette, will start publishing inspirational fiction in its Forever imprint beginning November 2012.

  44. Karen on March 7, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Thanks so much for postig this, Rachelle. If I were to make a comment about my WIP fitting into the Christian market to my critique group I would probably get the same reaction. It’s a mystery writing group and that genre isn’t rife with sex and vampires, yet.

    As a Christian, I know that we are not all one-size-fits-all people. Why should we be that way as readers? Not everybody comes to their faith by the same road. Life experiences have something to do with the books people choose to read. We’re not all Amish, after all.

    That said, I don’t think my writing would fit that market, but I might throw it out there and see what happens.

  45. Josh C. on March 7, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    I can’t say that I write specifically for the Christian market, but I also can’t say my writing will not fit in. I know it wouldn’t fit in the context of the stereotype, but I think Christian fiction has outgrown that. My writing does contain violence, sometimes lots of it, and there is rough language at times. I’ve never written a sex scene because I’ve never come across a situation where a how-to manual or calling it play-by-play advances the plot, in my own writing and as a reader. I read and write a lot of crime and horror fiction, and as a Christian, I think that my writing tends to reflect that worldview, even with the darkest stuff that I read over and question my sanity for having written it 🙂 Doesn’t necessarily mean it will fit in that market, but it doesn’t mean it won’t, either. In my opinion, my stuff would fit best in the mystery section, but my opinion on it may not be as objective as that of others.

  46. Joan Cimyotte on March 7, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    I write from a Christian perspective. Being a sinner like I am, you’re likely to find some impure moments.

  47. Sundi Jo on March 7, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Great Nascar analogy! I wrote my book for the Christian market, yes, but it’s my hope, because God DOES sell, that it will get into the hands of unbelievers as well.

  48. Kelly Combs on March 7, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Yes, Virginia, there is a Christian Fiction market. At least according to the 50 books I’ve purchased on my kindle fire, since I received it for Christmas.

  49. Mike Duran on March 7, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Perhaps if Christian writers and publishers addressed the issues of “sex and vampires,” rather than skirting them, more general market readers would be aware of us.

    • Rachelle Gardner on March 7, 2012 at 11:40 AM

      Hmmm… I really would like to know what you mean by that, Mike!

      • Mike Duran on March 7, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        Rachelle, I’m suggesting that there’s a scrim of safety (see: no sex and vampires) that keeps Christian fiction readers happy, while simultaneously insulating our books from the mainstream. I’m wondering that if we allowed some of our stories to address themes typically viewed as taboo in the Christian market — themes that the average ABA is quite used to — there’d be less ignorance about the Christian fiction market. As it stands, we are a thriving, but isolated, literary island.

        • Timothy Fish on March 9, 2012 at 9:22 AM

          Interesting thought, Mike, but Christian books already address “sex and vampires”. But that doesn’t make them popular. We should think carefully about why “sex and vampires” is popular before trying to follow the trend.

  50. Lori on March 7, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    The first novel I have finished is a Christian romance, pulling in missionary work (in India). I have wondered if I have a chance with it, or if I should just put it on Kindle myself. I’m still polishing it, and will make a decision. I think it would be cool to have it published by a real publisher, but I also do not want to waste my time. I had wondered if there’s a big market for Christian romance. I sure hope so.

    • Giora on March 7, 2012 at 12:06 PM

      Lori, you might wish to check the blog “La Via en Prose” by Merridth Barnes. On January 7, 2012, she posted that she is looking for novels set in India. She moved to publishing, but you might want to contact her. Good luck.

      • Lori on March 7, 2012 at 12:07 PM

        Thank you Gloria!

  51. Giora on March 7, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    I wrote a fiction introducing Christianity to China. Something different than most Christian fiction. Alas, the cold water made me relaize that teh Chrsitian book market isn’t ready yet … or, just to be fair, that my fiction is not good enough. As long as there are hundreds of millions of Christian reader .. there wil always be a vibrant market for Christian books. Readers like to read about people like themselves.

  52. John C. Rich on March 7, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    I can only hope it sells, or else I am writing most of my work just for me. Will a religious book be a big hit or be made into a movie…well “The Trial” by Robert Whitlow sure made a great movie and even better book before that.

  53. Jennifer Major on March 7, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    I am also writing for the Christian fiction market, simply because that’s where I choose to let my brain take vacations from everyday life. I would not want my name attached to anything that would reflect poorly on my King. I write for a newspaper and am fairly restricted in what I can and cannot put in print. But in my WIP, I can expand the parameters and write just about anything as long as it is Biblical. I was profoundly shocked and disappointed last year when I bought a book from a Chrisitan bookstore and had a Big 6 label on it. I was stunned when I began reading it because I ran out of fingers with which to count the f-bombs! Yes, using actual dialogue is important in a memoir, but slap a warning label on it! If the reader is made aware of the nature of the book and has ample warning, then that would be much more acceptable than the shock of reading bad languge. I will not read anything by that “famous” author again. I may sound trite, but I want to write the kind of book that someone can say “here Jesus, you read this”. There are potentially millions of people who may one day read what I wrote, but if there are only eighteen, I still want to be proud of my work. Bad language is all around us and our children, why would we want to add more? I also want to know if Christian market is ready for inter-racial and cross-cultural relationships? I grew up in a mixed culture family and have not once seen anything remotely close to dealing with the issues I had to work through as a Christian. Families like mine are everywhere and it would be nice to see something about our demographic. None of us are African American either, so that narrows the field.

  54. Jim Devitt on March 7, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    If there is a question as to the impact of a Christian market, just look at how many comments have posted in such a short time.

    My debut YA novel, The Card, was not intended to be a strictly Christian novel, but it has been reviewed by many Christian Bloggers and has won much acclaim because it is a fun action adventure without the use of paranormal romance and sex.

  55. Connie Almony on March 7, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    Yes! I’m writing for the Christian market. Not just cause I don’t want to drench the reader in sex and violance, but I feel like if I didn’t include faith, it would be like strapping the heroines hands behind her back and telling her not to use her best weapon. I find general market books so much less satisfying because they do not touch the deepest issue we face as humans–our need for relationship with our Creator.

    This reminds me of the time I saw a cable-TV news anchor interview a Christian band. At the summation of the interview he said he couldn’t believe the band played to sold-out crowds when they never played on the radio. He had no clue that there was this thing called Christian radio!!! Amazing, and yet there are large groups of people who have no idea who these Christian people are, even when they sit next to them at work.

    • Patti Mallett on March 9, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      Love your comments!!

  56. Rachelle Gardner on March 7, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Just in case anyone else is “afraid of the formula” — let’s all admit that many genres of books have a formula. Especially general-market romance. It’s RULED by formula. Suspense thrillers have formulas, many memoirs are successful because they follow a formula. In fact, any book that fits into an established genre has a good chance of following a formula to some extent.

    It’s probably more accurate to say that you don’t enjoy the specific formula that many CBA books follow, rather than to declare your global opposition to formula of any kind.

    • Rowenna on March 7, 2012 at 11:36 AM

      True–yet mainstream fiction has many areas that are not-formula based–that is, mainstream fiction isn’t ruled by a single formula, like the romance formula. I suppose my question is asking less “what’s up with formula” and more “is there room in the Christian market, as there is in the mainstream market, for non-forumulaic as well as formulaic work?” To phrase another way–is CBA truly a genre with its set of genre formulas, or is it a separate sphere of publishing with room for many genre-esque books and many non-formulaic ones as well?

      • Rachelle Gardner on March 7, 2012 at 11:43 AM

        Rowenna, there is definitely room in CBA for non-formula fiction, and it sells. (The book I mentioned by Julie Cantrell is an example.) However, you all need to realize something: whenever a publisher ventures outside of formula, they’re taking a risk. The book has a much bigger chance of tanking, even with great promotion. The readers love their formula fiction, and the readers who BUY lots and lots of books often want the same thing over and over again. (Witness the ongoing popularity of Amish fiction.) It’s the buyers who are driving this. Often, publishers are quite reluctant to publish “yet another formula Christian romance” yet their Sales Director says they MUST — for the bottom line.

  57. Helen W. Mallon on March 7, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    It’s refreshing to hear so many of you talk about wanting to read/write more edgy (i.e. no easy answers) Christian stuff. The Magazine “Relief: A Christian Quarterly” aspires to the same–Really worth Googling. They pub’d a story of mine told from the POV of a man whose brother is a plastic surgeon who brings home a severed hand in a jar. The hand ‘leads’ the Dr. to God, but the brother never comes around…only why is he burying the severed hand at the end of the story?

    I almost had a stroke in the church library when I was still going to bible study. Prominently displayed was a novel by Thomas Kincaid. It’s enough to turn a person Wiccan.

    • Jennifer Major on March 7, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      I laughed right out loud at your “wiccan” comment! Personally, and not that I have anything against them AT ALL, but if one more Amish quilt making beauty falls for one more English(insert name of reason he got lost in Amish country in a blizzard whilst running from the law/mob) I may faint. Are there that many single Amish farm girls left?

      • Helen W. Mallon on March 7, 2012 at 11:04 AM

        No, I believe they’ve all become Wiccans.

        • Maril Hazlett on March 7, 2012 at 1:45 PM

          I laughed so hard at this exchange that I think I broke a rib.

          • Jennifer Major on March 7, 2012 at 2:33 PM

            Do wiccans quilt?

          • Helen W. Mallon on March 7, 2012 at 7:15 PM

            Yes, using human hair for thread.It’s very strong, actually.

  58. Rowenna on March 7, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Several commenters have mentioned the “formula” that seems common in Christian fiction, and honestly–fear of the formula is probably the only thing keeping me from writing explicitly for the Christian market. Yet, many Christian books that have had great success weren’t necessarily formulaic–anyone have any thoughts on how much a Christian novel can diverge from the “norm” and still garner a publisher’s attention–and a readership? Is there room for books that follow a familiar formula and for books that break away?

    PS Great resources linked in the post– thanks, Rachelle!

  59. Ashley Prince on March 7, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    Ted Dekker! Hellooo. He is perhaps my favorite Christian fiction author. He is absolutely brilliant. I have seen many a calling for more Christian books out there.

    My mom is actually writing some novellas that are under that genre. I think this was a wonderful question. And I’m so glad you clarified this.

  60. Ann Bracken on March 7, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    I’ve been told my first book is too Christian for the secular market (my heroine quotes scriptures and prays regularly), but too secular for the Christian market (my hero plays cards, dances, the two are trapped alone on a farm over the winter and have to battle their growing attraction alone). As a result I’m not sure where I fit. My critique group (which ranged in faiths from agnostic to Mormon) said it could go either way.

    My second book will be for the secular market, but I know many elements of faith will be incorporated into it. I don’t think it’s possible to write without sharing my beliefs.

    • Cherry Odelberg on March 7, 2012 at 5:53 PM

      Sounds like a good read. If you find a secular publisher who will take a book with scripture, let me know – I’m in.

      • Ann Bracken on March 7, 2012 at 6:35 PM

        Thanks! First I need to find and agent willing to represent it. Hopefully they’ll know a publisher who realizes most of us walk a line between our spiritual and secular lives every day.

  61. Jeanne T on March 7, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    I may sound naive or sheltered, but I choose to write for the Christian market because that is what I know. It’s what I read for the most part. It is also the market where my stories fit best. My hope is that they will not come across as preachy or “too Christian,” but will be real and encouraging to readers.

  62. Danita Clark Able on March 7, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Perhaps friends of Wondering fall outside of the Christian community? I can’t walk out of a Christian Bookstore (or any other bookstore)without spending a small fortune. Beth Moore, Max Lucado, Francine Rivers, Neta Jackson….all successful Christian authors.

    My situation is different and I would like your insight if you have the time. My friends, study group and writer friends, insist I ‘tame’ my book so that it will fall under a Christian category. I sent a query to a Christian publisher and they responded by saying they were intrested in seeing more if I would remove the language and some of the content. The problem is this: the manuscript is ‘real life’. My life as it was. I’m a Christian, I’ve been a believer since I was a child. For almost 24 years I was married to a man who publicly masqueraded as a Christian. In the privacy of our home and car, he treated our family horribly. He called us names. He was addicted to pornography and adultery. In writing my non-fiction manuscript, I could not leave out the language (most of it anyway…there are some words I refuse to write). The language is not my language, it was my ex-husbands’ language and omitting it from the book would sugar-coat the nightmarish life my children and I were forced to live. I ‘covered’ for my husband for many years…therefore I lived a lie. When I began writing the truth, my healing began. Releasing the burden of secrecy opened my heart to accepting forgiveness for myself and offering it to my ex-husband, and allowed me to move forward with my life.

    Do you have any advice or suggestions on what route I should take when contacting agents and publishers?

    Thank you,

    • Rachelle Gardner on March 7, 2012 at 10:30 AM

      Under no circumstances should you “tame” this book (in my opinion). Given that you actually have no book without writing the truth of your situation, you’ll just have to find a publisher that accepts it, language and all, or self publish it.

      In my experience, CBA publishers don’t really want these “tell all” behind the scenes books about pastors who masquerade as good but secretly abuse others, partake in porn, etc. After all, it could do more to shake people’s faith than build it. So you’re probably looking at a general market book, but out there, nobody may care. (“Those Christians are all hypocrites anyway, so this isn’t news to us.”) You might do well with self-publishing, I don’t know.

      As an agent I’ve had countless opportunities to take on exactly this kind of memoir (there are more of those “bad pastor” stories than people might think)but I’ve always declined for the above reasons.

      • Danita Clark Able on March 7, 2012 at 11:21 AM

        Thank you for responding so quickly, Rachelle. I appreciate your agreement with me regarding keeping the memoir real…I’ve thought about self-publishing and realize I may have to go that route. I’m giving it a few more months.

        To clarify, my ex-spouse wasn’t a pastor, but he was very active in our church and the Christian community.

        Sincere thanks,

      • Cherry Odelberg on March 7, 2012 at 5:50 PM

        Yes, that is the challenge. I think Christians need to know this type of thing is prevalent (as indicated by the number of manuscripts you have seen), but Christians are the ones who refuse to read, and deny it exists. The folks opposed to Christianity are more eager to read something that exposes hypocrites. But, I do not think the non-Christian reader is satisfied when the story ends in redemption or faith of the Christian variety. Likewise, the Evangelical Christian is not satisfied unless the happy ending is theologically and doctrinally “sound.”

  63. David Todd on March 7, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    My magazine articles and non-fiction books (finished and in-progress) are general market. My first novel is Christian, and I hope someday to write more like it. My second novel is general market, but tells a message consistent with Christian conduct. As I considered my two novels, and the ones I have in the planning/dreaming stages, I realized my subject matter is the Virtuous Man. I don’t know how that will play out, but that’s what I’m writing.

    I had a Christian editor tell me once he wanted some edgy stuff, and would tolerate even the “s” word. He may want that; I can’t write it.

  64. Terri Nestel on March 7, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    Rachelle – I sent a sample of Intro the Free to my kindle (samples are one method of keeping track of books I want to read). I noticed the paperback is $10 while the kindle version is only $2. I would love to hear your thoughts on selling books so cheaply on kindle. Good way to ramp up sales and get attention? I worry it is an indicator of self-publish or otherwise poor writing. Would love to hear your thoughts – maybe a future blog post? If you have already written about this I apologize, I am a new reader. 🙂

    • Rachelle Gardner on March 7, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      I think that’s a promotional, limited time price, but I’d have to check into it.

      • Julie Cantrell on March 7, 2012 at 12:59 PM

        Yes, Rachelle, it is a promotional price that was set to last only one week but has been extended due to high sales. It will end this week if I understand correctly, so folks interested in giving Into the Free a shot may want to hurry over to their favorite ebook distributor and take advantage of that special price while it’s available. Thanks so much! j

  65. Lindsay Harrel on March 7, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    Yes, I write for the inspirational market. I think I wouldn’t know how to write a piece of fiction without weaving my faith into it. I also mostly read this genre. But I hope that my books would be so well-written and contain elements that anyone would be interested in, and that they might reach those who wouldn’t normally pick up a “Christian” book.

  66. Wendy Paine Miller on March 7, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Huh, and to think I’ve been living in a dream world this whole time.

    Love the first line beginning with…quick question. 😉

    ~ Wendy

  67. Timothy Fish on March 7, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Many of my books could go either way, but my focus has turned more toward the Christian market. Like others, I’m frustrated that the Christian market tends to be either women’s fiction or it addresses very dark topics. Yet, I find that I have something to say to Christians, so I write for the Christian market. I see nothing wrong with working the plan of salvation into a book, if it is done well, but there is so much more to the Christian life. Salvation is just the starting point and I would love for people to be inspired to press onward after reading one of my books.

  68. Bill May on March 7, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    What would make a novel fall in the “Christian Market” category?

    My WIP was intended for the general public, but since it addresses the sovereignty of God, it seems like it is now considered “Christian Fiction.” Go figure.

  69. Else on March 7, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    (We are an eclectic bunch.)

    I want to congratulate “Wondering” for that. There are far too few eclectic bunches nowadays, and far too much withdrawal into social enclaves of People Just Like Us.

  70. Otin on March 7, 2012 at 7:42 AM

    You could corner the market and write a book about a pastor who was bitten by a vampire. lol

  71. Diane Dean White on March 7, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    I’ve been fortunate to live in or near cities that have always had Christian
    book-stores; and I’ve frequented those places to purchase books that many other stores might not carry. My first favorite Christian author was Eugenia Price and her St. Simons Trilogy; I enjoyed it so much we made a trip with my hubby’s aunt, grandmother and mom to see the sights of the Golden Isles, in the late 70’s, where Price wrote her charming stories about.

    I’m sure it was hard for some writer’s to break into the area of Christian writing; with various publishers, etc., but it is a much needed field. I feel like we’ve got some great writers who through their writing show their love for our Lord and are sharing His love to those who don’t know Him. It’s amazing to see the number of men and women who write in variety of genres sharing God through their words.

  72. Andrea Nell on March 7, 2012 at 3:21 AM

    I’ve been an Christian market reader for 20 plus years and have seen the market develop. I’ve had novels impact my life. When I started writing 15 years ago, the Christian market is the only market I’d consider writing for. I know that Christian publishing is a business just like general market, but in my opinion the Christian market offers more. A well written CBA novel shares a character’s testimony. It offers a glimpse of truth and eternal hope. That’s so much better than sex and vampires!
    Thanks for this post! Its good to see I’m not alone on my CBA soapbox!

  73. P. J. Casselman on March 7, 2012 at 2:49 AM

    I liked your response because it was not conjecture, but based on actual facts. There is a huge Christian market that loves to read.
    I write for the Christian market for a few reasons. First, I cannot use the language necessary to grab the current market’s interest. One page of dialog would sound tame by their standards. Second, I see the world from a Christian’s point of view. God exists, humans sin, and Christ is the only way to salvation. It’s hard to write devoid of what should be my greatest motivation. Third, I am a pastor, so my heart wants to reach out and touch hearts and change lives. Anything else seems mundane.

    I would add some figures on sales of Christian books to the list. (You are much more capable than I of finding these):

    Lord of the Rings- 150 million sold
    The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe- 100 million
    In His Steps- 30 million
    The Purpose Driven Life- 30 million
    The Late, Great Planet Earth- 28 million
    The Gospel According to Peanuts- 10 million
    The “Left Behind” series sold over 65 million

    There are a lot more figures, but the point is clear. Christian books have a large potential audience.
    One would think people would understand this after “Heaven Is for Real” went 55 weeks at number 1 on the NYTBSL.

  74. Angus on March 7, 2012 at 2:33 AM

    Mona, it is the one who is struggling, though pain, through doubt and temptation, who searches for truth, who is the most compelling.
    From Tron (Sam is a metaphor for Jesus), to Terminator, (Sara Connor is a metaphor for the Holy Virgin) we see the very threads of our Christian civilization in popular culture.
    If you feel your work is Christian, market considerations or not, no one can take that away from you.

  75. Rachel Pudelek on March 7, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    My mom prefers Christian novels because she knows she wont stumble across a subject matter too “mature” for her eyes.

    I started out writing for the Christian market, but was told that while the characters, plotting, story, etc. was great, it didn’t fit well in that market. I don’t know if that’s because it’s a sad story or what. So now I’m trying my hand at the general market and hoping to one day re-try the Christian market.

  76. Mona AlvaradoFrazier on March 7, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    This subject has come up several times in my writing group.
    All three of my MS’s have elements of Christian faith via secondary characters. The main character struggles with whether there is a God or has lost their faith. Sometimes there is profane language, but not much, depends on who’s speaking and the settings (2 are YA urban lit).
    Half of the writing group says I’m not writing Christian fiction, the other half says the MS’s could be considered for the Christian market.
    I think I need another post or need to research Christian publishers guidelines before I send out queries.

  77. Angus on March 7, 2012 at 2:02 AM

    If the Christian market is politically and culturally defined by the Republican strictures of US Evangelicism then it’s a merely parochial *definition* of Christian- that may or may not be the entirety of the Christian market in publishing terms. In publishing terms that’s significant…. in theological terms it’s premise is too narrow.
    Christianity itself is obviously much more than that! It can be mystical, subversive, revolutionary. Only this approach will ever serve to not merely get Mit or Rick elected…. but to unite Christian civilization. This “Christian readership,” this American phenomena, itself needs to be educated in Christian historicism. Would they even know about Hilare Belloc’s writings?
    While politically, aspects of my historical fiction would be acceptable to the US ‘Christian fiction market’, for example, my treatment of the Crusades and Islam, the mystery of the Shroud of Turin, and the role of Jews in medieval Palestine, other aspects, such as the stance against male domination- patriarchy and lesbianism of some of my leads- probably would not.
    If my work is Christian, which I think it is, then it is more than the Christian market itself would ever want to hear about. It is rooted in Old Europe, the true faith, but has a special place for America’s divine destiny.
    It’s easy to define the modern Christian readership in the US, but much less easy to define what is Christian. My new project, about a 13th century Jewish intellectual named Rafaela who falls in love with an Arab Christian seer named Layla- and who then finds herself pulled into the radical world of Templar intrigue aims at the broader, more inclusive definition. But it doesn’t seek to neglect Evangelicals. civilization can

    • Angus on March 7, 2012 at 2:12 AM

      Would US Christian publishers have accepted Kazanstakis’ classic of Jesus’ dualistic nature, “The Last Temptation of Christ?”
      If not, they should stop calling themselves Christian- and have a truer moniker, like “US Christian Conservative,” or “American Christian Tradionalists.”
      For me, “The Last Temptation,” is a deeply Christian book.
      Do you see my point?

      • Rachelle Gardner on March 7, 2012 at 10:18 AM

        I agree with you that there are many definitions of “Christian” and it’s not a debate I’ll get into here. When writers are determining where their book “fits,” it’s a business decision that must be made according to whether the book would fit a CBA publisher or not. The question isn’t about the definition of Christianity, it’s about what kinds of books the CBA publishers are successfully able to sell in their market. That market generally tends to fit inside a fairly conservative evangelical definition.

        • Angus on March 7, 2012 at 10:36 AM

          Yes, Rachel, I understand it’s about a market (it always is).
          While there are many definitions of Christian, which you agree with, it seems Christian fiction can only fit one definition- hence the intersection between theology, identity and marketability.

          • Rachelle Gardner on March 7, 2012 at 10:39 AM

            Actually, it’s not true that Christian fiction can only fit one definition. There are still books being published that fit into the tried-and-true, narrower box that used to define Christian, but these days, that’s not the whole of it. On my own list, I have supernatural thrillers, medical suspense, historical romance, Amish, general women’s fiction, contemporary romance, archaeological thriller… there’s a wide variety.

        • TC Avey on March 7, 2012 at 2:09 PM

          Thanks for helping clarify that, though it leaves me wondering which market I should try and get my book published in. While I believe it is Christian, it is edgy and pushes some limits I am not sure Christian reader will like, however there is no denying it is a Christian book.

          Back to plan A: Pray and Trust God.

      • Nathan Perkins on March 7, 2012 at 12:20 PM

        I’m of the opinion that creativity is of God. To say a book is or is not chrisitan seems to only refer to certain aspects of that book.

        When should an author consider promoting their book to a christian agent or market? When would a secular market serve that book and author better?

  78. Theresa on March 7, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    I was librarian at our church for 7 or 8 years and grew weary of Christian fiction at the time which was so predictable for the most part. I would get excited when a new author came out but then disappointed when each book was the same as the first. I could smell the sinners prayer a chapter away. Can we say “formula”? So I gave it up and turned to classic literature.

    Thanks for your great blog. I’ve learned so much over the months I’ve been following you.
    I started writing a few years ago and felt compelled to include elements of faith in my women’s fiction/romance. I just indie-published the first of a trilogy where the two main characters struggle with grief, depression, addiction and loss of their Christian faith that had been important to them. At the end of book 1 they are not all put together faith wise and won’t be until the end of book three. They’re in an environment where the f word is flung freely and I use it, not as freely and hopefully only enough for characterization. My characters make choices from time to time that are not Biblical. I want to show the world it’s a process and Christians aren’t perfect but God is real and he loves us and it’s not the end of the world if we mess up. I would guess by movie standards, it would be a mild R. I know R makes some people cringe and walk away.

    I’m not sure where I fit as a writer. I’m pretty sure I’m not clean enough for Christian publishing, but then again I want everyone to read it and not have it labeled. I might have too much faith in it for others.

    I just finished reading Into the Free. When I saw the publisher I thought, “Oh, no,” but I was wrong. Millie gets to explore her developing relationship with God without labels and dogma. I appreciated that!

    Lastly, I’m liking some of the changes I’ve been noticing in Christian publishing. I believe Christians should write books not only for each other but for people who might be curious about our faith and don’t want to be sermonized to find out about how real people live it out every day.

    • Teressa Ryan on March 7, 2012 at 3:51 AM

      It does appear Christian fiction thus far has mostly been “Christian” books for already “Christian” readers. I see a huge market for Christian writers for what I would call a fringe market writing about real life and how to get from a to z, death to Christ. Maybe there is a genre for that market, not sure. There are those of us who desire to extend our hope, our faith and compassion to a hurting world and that means somehow entering that world with our experiences and stories in terms which that audience would understand and trust long enough for Him to get a hold on their hearts.
      For writers that vehicle would be via the written words of their books by which they would reach into the darkness and help to pull the hurting out. To point the way back home to Christ and His love for us all.
      Just like Jesus experienced, we may find we come into contact with what many consider to be the not so clean things of this world in order that the captive might be set free.
      What a deception we have been living under. Being taught a faith that actually prevents loving those who need our love the most.
      As for Rachelle’s post…vampires aren’t my thing or reading books with a lot of explicit sex but I totally would not mind writing about them if I was led to do so in order to reach an audience He was after.
      BTW…I love current Christian fiction writers. I find comfort, laughter and amazing love from their stories. I just feel there are other audiences which need Christian writers to speak to them with a voice they can hear and understand, hopefully enabling them to reach their hearts.

      • Julie Cantrell on March 7, 2012 at 5:19 AM

        Thanks so much for reading Into the Free. I’ve been overwhelmed by the incredibly powerful reaction from readers across the spectrum and am greatful this story has crossed the great divide in publishing.
        This is one of those books that doesn’t fit into a box. Some people call it Christian fiction, others call it Southern Lit. It’s on tons of different category lists including general fiction, historical fiction, women’s fiction, romantic fiction, young adult fiction, and of course Christian and southern fiction. I think, if anything, this suggests we don’t have to follow a cookie-cutter plan when crafting a book.
        I didn’t write this book thinking at all of any speicific audience or publisher. In fact, I didn’t write it for anyone other than myself at first…so I wasn’t limited by anything that typically hinders that creative flow. I just wanted to see if I could do it. Write a Novel was on my bucket list…and I like to check things off my list (smile).
        I’m honored you and others have given my debut novel a shot, and I’m thrilled folks have been moved by this story enough to share it with others.
        Thanks for your support and for approaching Millie’s tale with an open mind.

        • Cherry Odelberg on March 7, 2012 at 4:18 PM

          Julie, I am intrigued to hear someone say they did not write for a specific audience or genre and that the book fits in many categories. Beyond intrigued. I am encouraged. Please let us know how that works out. I love the idea of blazing new trails that get truth to a wider audience through fiction – not formula or evangelism.

          • Julie Cantrell on March 7, 2012 at 6:16 PM

            Thanks so much, Debbie. So far, so good. This debut novel has exceeded my wildest expectations. It’s landed on both the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Lists, it earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and it’s receiving tremendously powerful reader responses. I’m blown away by the emails I receive from readers every day whose lives have been changed because of this little story. If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks for your interest and support, and I look forward to reading your work! julie

  79. Julie-Ann on March 7, 2012 at 1:33 AM

    Thanks for the insight into the Christian market. I know that there is a big need here in Australia (where I live) as well in the USA and other countries for good Christian novels.

    Currently I am in the planning/researching stages of a book I hope to publish one day. Knowing a little bit more about what publishers expect is a great help.

  80. Joseph Ramirez on March 7, 2012 at 1:30 AM

    I didn’t know about all that – I knew that there was definitely a market for Christian books, but I didn’t know it was so big. Wow. That’s something.

    I DID know, however, that there are lots of people who just want a good story, who don’t want ‘sex and vampires.’ Lots of my friends do – they’re constantly searching for clean books, for something good and decent that makes you feel good after you read it, that makes you look at things in a different and better way.

    Way to go.

    • Rachelle Gardner on March 7, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      Joseph, you’re right, millions of people want clean books. I think many people are myopic in that all they see is the big sex-and-vampire bestsellers, and miss everything else that’s out there.

      • Christine Dorman on March 7, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        Speaking today as a reader rather than a writer, I agree that there certainly are many of us who are thirsting for good stories that don’t have obscene language and graphic sexual content. Despite common belief, clean literature, movies and comedy can be successful, even wildly popular. Look at Bill Cosby. Can a comedian ask to be more successful? And he has done it without using foul language, sexual innuendo or mean jokes. John Branyan (thank you, Rachelle, for introducing me to him) isn’t Mr. Cosby yet, but he is doing fine with his clean humor. Look at the popularity of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Narnia series. Finally, witness the seven zillion Star Wars books that have been published, each one nearly guaranteed to become a New York Times bestseller, and none of which has serious sexual content or swear words (except for the occasional invented expletive). I know that the main topic is the Christian Book market and that I seem to have gone off that topic, but actually, I haven’t. The books and movies that I’ve mentioned not only are clean humor, they also are stories with spiritual themes, especially the bottom line Christian theme of good overcoming evil. The thirst for Christian literature may not be immediately obvious because some people are, as Rachelle says, “myopic”. Some people think that all Christian literature must be about naive church-going do-gooders. Regarding the comment from Wondering’s book group, Rachelle has clearly demonstrated that God does sell. And so does a well-written good story with Christian themes, even if the story isn’t overtly about God and religion.

  81. Tamara on March 7, 2012 at 1:27 AM

    I’m so glad you brought up this topic!

    My WiP is a YA about a chaplain’s son, but he’s forced into Hell to work for a demon. I’m wondering whether I’m going to get a lot of backlash from readers, and if publishers/agents will shy away from it for that very reason. Do you know if agents (in general) are willing to take on a religiously-controversial YA manuscript? Or will I have to query a very specific crowd?

    • D.C. Spell on March 7, 2012 at 1:53 AM

      Tamara, it’s so interesting that you say that because I’ve been wondering about the same thing for my story. The Christian market seems very tricky.

      • Tamara on March 7, 2012 at 2:38 AM

        It’s intimidating, isn’t it?

    • Timothy Fish on March 7, 2012 at 8:55 AM

      Interesting concept and I’ve seen enough similar stories to think some people might enjoy it, but I wouldn’t think this would fit into the Christian market. The primary issue I see is that I don’t know of any mainline Christian denominations in which such a story is conceivably possible. But outside the Christian market there is more freedom to define hell however you want.

    • Rachelle Gardner on March 7, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      Tamara, this is more than I can answer in a quick comment, but here are a couple things you should know. First, there are definitely supernatural and fantasy books in the CBA, and lots of stories with demons. The question will always be whether it fits into a generally accepted evangelical interpretation of scripture. It can’t be “religiously controversial” as in, “refutes the evangelical understanding of scripture.” But it could use poetic license and an imaginative situation to explore issues of faith and theology, and it definitely can include doubts, questioning, and main characters who aren’t Christians and still aren’t at the end of the book. So you see, I have no way of knowing where your story fits.

      CBA is interested is stories that grapple with faith, and if your story shows an honest grappling and a resolution that affirms the evangelical Christian faith, then it could well fit into CBA. However, it sounds like it could also fit into the general market. Make you decision based on the answer to the question, Does it affirm Christian faith or not?

      There are many great supernatural thrillers in the CBA. Check out some books by my clients:
      The Soul Saver by Dineen Miller
      The Resurrection, The Telling, and Winterland by Mike Duran

      • Joe Pote on March 7, 2012 at 10:22 AM

        Dante’s “The Inferno” comes to mind.

        Granted, it’s a classic that would likely not sell well, today. However, it presents a view that most evangelical Christians would dispute, yet through artistic license tells a compelling story that includes some very good discussion points.

        “House” by Frank Perreti and Ted Decker is a recent novel that could fall into a similar category.

        It would be tricky…but not necessarily impossible…

        An author would need to know their audience well, to pull it off, I think…

  82. Beth K. Vogt on March 7, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    My debut novel is being published by Howard Books, Simon and Schuster’s faith line. So, yes, I write for the Christian market. That said, I hope my novel is written in such a way that any reader not interested in sex and vampires might pick it up. Yes, there is faith woven through the story, but I hope it is done in such a way that it doesn’t “stop the conversation,” so to speak.
    On my author page on their website, S&S labeled me an “inspirational” writer — and I’m OK with that designation too.

    • C.L. Dyck on March 7, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      Howard has been a wonderful source for less-usual, deeper and more innovative writing for me as a reader. Athol Dickson and Meredith Efken come to mind. Best wishes with your book, Beth!

      • Beth K. Vogt on March 8, 2012 at 2:38 AM

        Thank you for the encouragement!

  83. Mary Ruth Pursselley on March 7, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    Wondering, you’re not alone out there. I’ve run into a few different people who don’t realize there is a distinct market for Christian fiction. They’re even more surprised to learn that there is a specific market for Christian speculative fiction, which is what I write.
    I’m excited about the way the Christian publishing world seems to be growing. I for one get very tired of people who, when they learn that I’m a Christian, assume I spend my reading time on Amish romance. As if there’s nothing else out there for us to read! Hopefully people out there will start realizing that there’s way more to Christian fiction than that (and that it is, in fact, quite possible for a book to be awesome in spite of a lack of sex and vampires).

  84. Angela Blount on March 7, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    I love your NASCAR analogy! ^_^

    I’ve run into similar misconceptions in my writing groups, though I don’t understand why. The Christian section of our local bookseller is sizable. I was impressed recently to come across Marcher Lord Press and their Christian-oriented speculative fiction emphasis.
    It’s not just devotionals and sweet Amish romances, folks!

    While I don’t think I’d ever cater to the Christian market personally, I do recognize that my faith tends to show up in my work with some frequency. But it’s my understanding that the Christian market has strict guidelines for language, as well as content. And as such, I suspect my use of plain language would be considered too crass for any of my work to be considered. I’ve been told that things like ‘crap’ and even ‘poop’ are no-nos in Christian fiction. I could see certain restrictions giving me pause over character authenticity. So I have a few questions…

    Is there a comprehensive list out there of language that is and isn’t acceptable to the Christian Market? And I can understand that they don’t want to publish outright curse words, but will they accept symbology in substitution? (i.e. #$%!, $&%#@!, or some combination thereof.)

    • Rachelle Gardner on March 7, 2012 at 12:42 AM

      There’s no comprehensive list because it varies widely from publisher to publisher. But really, I think it’s not so much about the language as it’s about not being overly gratuitous in your situations; and it’s also about having a spiritual thread that is integral to the story. We’re not looking for a bunch of people who happen to go to church; we’re looking for real characters with real life and faith struggles. If sometimes that includes a bit of off-color language, some pubs are okay with it, some are will encourage you to find another way to express it.

      • Zan Marie on March 7, 2012 at 2:03 PM

        This is great news, Rachelle. My current WIP centers on a church’s ministry to foster children and the relationship that grows between a retired teacher and an abused foster child. Yes, Christian values are evident, but the reality of abuse in all it’s forms is too.

      • Angela Blount on March 9, 2012 at 12:07 PM

        Thank you so much for the reply, Ms. Gardner!

        It’s nice to hear this from someone in the thick of things. Semi-informed speculation and conjecture is so often more discouraging than actuality. ^_^