f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: A Built in Audience

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

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A Built in Audience

One of the most pleasant successes we’ve had here at Bethany House is with a book called The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser. This is a coming-of-age story set in the Civil Rights-era south and is named after an actual historical landmark outside Atlanta called The Swan House.

CBA was held in Atlanta the year the book launched and we were able to not only set up signings at the convention but arranged a book party at the Swan House itself. The thing was a smash and soon the book was appearing not on Christian bestseller lists but on the Southeast list of Book Sense, which tracks sales at independent book stores. Eventually the book sold so well one month that it made the Book Sense 76 nationally. Now a few years after publication it continues to find a welcome audience in the south east, particularly in the Atlanta-region.

Now, this goes against all of our grand artistic feelings about inspiration, but such a setting is something to keep in mind when you write your novels. A landmark like The Swan House has a built in audience that Musser’s book tapped into directly. As the article below mentioned, it’s not easy to gain attention for your book and so any little opening helps.

This can be true of setting. It can be true, in some sense, of character. Beverly Lewis’ Amish novels have captured a large audience because of the fascination with the sect. (One warning: don’t count on denominational loyalty however. That’s not proven to be the case. It’s only the outlier sects—the snake-handlers and Puritans—who are interesting enough.)

Are their niches out there that you can explore and employ in your writing? This may be more marketing driven than you may be comfortable with but it’s an idea worth pondering.