Thursday, August 09, 2007

Fiction is "Making its Mark"

Following the large amount of attention paid to novels and their authors during ICRS, the August issue of Christian Retailing ran an article calling fiction the "new chapter in Christian publishing."

One of the firsts this year was Karen Kingsbury's winning of ECPA's Christian Book of the Year Award--the first time a novel has won. The article also mentioned the dessert reception honoring the Left Behind series, which has sold more than 65 million books. The last book in this series has now been written.

Donna Kehoe, who spearheads the Christy Awards, told CR, "It's hard to stay on top of the volution of Christian fiction." The Christy Awards banquet this year had the largest attendance it's ever had.

I have to agree with Donna. Every year I see so many changes. Donna noted the emergence of new genres such as young adult and the "lits." The lits have been around a few years now, but in the past year seems to me the young adult category has really expanded.

In addition, more Christian novels are now expanding into film. The Redemption of Sarah Cain, by Beverly Lewis, has been made into a movie, which premiered at ICRS. (Fox Faith people were quite prominent at ICRS, hosting a booth and making the rounds to talk to various authors.) Ted Dekker's Three and Francine Rivers' The Last Sin Eater have been made into film. The CR article also reports that the Weinstein Company announced plans to enter the faith film market, starting by production of Joyce Meyer's The Penny (co-written with Deborah Bedford), and Max Lucado's The Christmas Candle.

Also at ICRS HarperCollins debuted its new fiction line, Avon Inspire, with a garden patio breakfast honoring its authors, including Tracey Bateman and Linda Windsor. Most publishers had booth signings for their fiction authors, and many held receptions/breakfasts/lunches for their novelists, including Zondervan, Baker, and Waterbrook Multnomah. Still others chose to have their authors sign at the Personality Party (yes, that event) rather than in their booths. These included Nelson, Harvest House, Crossway and Barbour, among others.

In short, as the article reports, fiction made its mark on this year's convention.

Historically, CBA has always been a nonfiction-driven market, with those books outselling fiction. But in the last number of years, that hasn't always been true. Note this month's bestseller list to see something interesting. Out of the 20 books on the list, the first thirteen also appear on the Top Fifty list, which mixes nonfiction and fiction. (The numbers in parentheses for each book shows its placing on the Top Fifty list.) That's a big percentage of bestselling novels to make that major list.

No question about it, Christian fiction continues to expand, not only in content and genre, but in the bottom line--sales. Waytago, novelists and publishers!

This week's blog tour: And if I Die, by John Aubrey Anderson.

Crimson Eve

Coral Moon

Violet Dawn


Richard Mabry said...

Encouraging words, indeed. Unfortunately, for those of us knocking at the door of publication, associated with this continued rise in popularity of Christian fiction is a tendency of the houses that publish it to go with established, "name" authors. Understandable, since these writers have proven talent and have garnered a following. Still, with the right combination of talent and circumstances, it is possible for a "newbie" to get that coveted contract.

Tina Helmuth said...

I hope so, Richard. :o)

Brandilyn, thanks for an interesting article. I'm grateful to see Christian fiction expanding and getting the recognition it deserves.