f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: "This Is a Man’s Man’s Man’s World…"

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Monday, January 26, 2004

"This Is a Man’s Man’s Man’s World…"

Yeah right, James Brown, go tell that to a male CBA fiction reader. What you can’t find one? Ah, now you’re beginning to see the quandary.

In what can only be the most perplexing of paradoxes for feminists, CBA Fiction is absolutely dominated by commercially successful female authors writing books supporting and reinforcing what can only be considered conservative biblical views of gender roles. While men certainly have had their successes on the end times/spiritual warfare end of the spectrum (Peretti, LaHaye/Jenkins, and now Dekker) your bread-and-butter CBA novel is a “gentle read” in which earthly love, more often than not, is sought and found by the main heroine.

If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you’ll see that this tightens the genre even further. Now, not only are we writing content geared toward reaching, primarily, a conservative evangelical audience, but we want to reach only 50% of that audience. Parts of me want to set up a study (like they do on Wild America) in which we tranquilize, radio collar, release with a pound of French Roast for their pain, and then track any woman who buys a historical romance novel at a Christian bookstore. I think with enough darts and collars we could account for 70% of the books out there.

That our target audience is so narrow leads to some worrying propositions (and many of which are often studied in Wild America). What’s our gene pool? Are we too homogenous? Is the population growing? Evolving? It seems just good sense to try and widen our market not only to include men but to include women and men who don’t shop at Christian bookstores. To get them, we need the right bait.

Some suggest that bait should be Christian books written especially for men. This might take the form of a Tom Clancy-ish novel with a spiritual edge or a techno-thriller that goes heavy on the tech and thrills and light on the kissy-face. That’s certainly an answer, but I have some issues with that solution. We’ll look at my reservations tomorrow.

My suggestion: books that ignore gender as a prerequisite for reading. Those titles, we’ll look at on Wednesday.

Finally, I want to give thanks to Alan Oathout for suggesting this topic. It’s an important and relevant point and I’m glad he pointed it out. Also, my apologies to any women—and men, I guess—who may be a bit weirded out by all the “treating as wildlife” references I’ve made in this entry. I spent a lot of time this weekend reading about cougar management in Colorado and my head apparently is still there. Plus, you’d be surprised how many similarities there are between marketing demographics and wildlife population surveys. (Ever hear of RFID?)