Recently, author Mike Dellosso wrote a post called, Perusing the Fiction Aisles. Having three hours to peruse a Christian bookstore, he commented:
“Here’s what I found: Romance and Amish fiction are hot. I don’t mean just popular-hot, I mean scorching-hot, like there’s-no-competition-hot. Yeah, yeah, yeah, nothing new there. Actually, though, I went deeper than that. I counted. I went through two full aisles of Christian fiction and numbered the titles (it was a very slow signing and I had lots of time on my hands).
Here’s the results:
Contemporary Romance/Historical Romance/Amish . . . 180
Romantic Suspense/Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Everything in-between. . . 76
How do you compete with that?”
Now some of you know that a very similar experience with Christian bookstores actually drove me to pick up a laptop and begin writing the kinds of books I loved… the ones that were notably absent from the shelves. At the time, I thought the Christian market just needed more good authors writing speculative fiction.
I could not have been more wrong. I’ve since discovered a whole world of largely indie and small press Christian spec-fic authors whose work is just amazing! BUT you don’t see THOSE books in the Christian bookstores. Why?
Interestingly enough, Amazon just released a new Christian fiction imprint called “Waterfall Press, which will specialize in Christian fiction and nonfiction titles.
In a news release, Amazon said Waterfall’s nonfiction books will “aim to provide spiritual refreshment and inspiration to today’s Christian reader,” and its fiction will include romance, mystery and suspense titles.”
Note what’s missing: Speculative fiction, just as in the Christian bookstores. Again, why?
It cannot be that the whole Christian world despises the supernatural, science fiction, fantasy, horror and what-have-you. If that were so, how did Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti and Left Behind become best-selling household names? For that matter, what about CS Lewis and Tolkien?
I think that the whole thing comes down in large part to a self-fulfilling prophecy. No space is allotted to speculative fiction and therefore there is no demand for it. How can people get an appetite for something they’ve never tasted? They don’t publish this stuff and then they tell us it doesn’t sell and it’s not what the Christian market wants. How would they know? And again how do they explain away the success of non-Amish/non-romance fare like Peretti and Dekker when they finally allot them exposure and publication?
Food for thought.