Should We Label Christian Fiction?
There has been a controversy brewing underground for awhile now, ever since publishers started promoting books by offering a limited-time free download. Many of the Christian publishers have done these promotions, but whenever Christian novels are promoted on Amazon as free downloads, many people download them without realizing they’re Christian. They start reading and when they realize it’s “Christian” they become enraged. They feel like they were hoodwinked somehow. And then they leave 1-star, angry reviews on Amazon. Here are some Amazon comments on a recent Christian novel that was free for a limited time:
“When you read the review for this book, no mention is made of the Christian nature of the book. This is misleading.”
“I resent the absence of the Christian fiction label. ”
“This book is not a [genre]. It is a Christian morality tale.”
“Why is it that authors of Christian fiction often hide that fact in the descriptions? I am simply irritated when I buy a book based on a secular description only to find that the predominant thread throughout the book is Christian proselytizing.”
“It is an excuse to promote a Christian agenda. When a book is Christian Fiction it should be promoted as such.”
These responses are leading people to ask whether Christian fiction needs to be clearly labeled as such, maybe in the “Book Description” on the Amazon page.
I know a lot of Christians think it’s a real shame that people are responding this way. But I have to say, I’m not surprised. To understand what I mean, just imagine if the tables were turned. You are a Christian and you download a free book (or worse, pay good money for a book), which you then discover contains a storyline that strongly promotes the Muslim faith, clearly saying Islam is the one true faith and without it, you’re doomed. I imagine you’d be upset. You’d feel disrespected as a reader. You’d feel tricked into buying something that goes against what you believe; you may even worry that simply reading it was dangerous for you.
I think this is a classic “Do unto others…” moment. I see no reason to disrespect people of other faiths (or no faith) by refusing to label Christian fiction as “Christian.”
In fact, I’d go so far as to recommend that if you write Christian fiction and your publisher is about to do an Amazon “free” promotion, you make sure somebody contacts Amazon to edit the book description so that it makes clear it’s Christian. If you do this, you can probably avoid most of those angry 1-star reviews.
What do you think? Should Christian fiction be clearly described as such in the book description? Why or why not?