f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Changing Course…Slightly

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

Monday, February 14, 2005

Changing Course…Slightly

After four days I think it’s time to cut my losses with this whole taxonomy thing. Dragging on for four more days simply isn’t worth it…for you or for me. So we’ll call it quits on this topic.

Except not. Because, like it or not, classification of books is part of our lives as writers and readers. It affects how we find books to read, how we sell our book, how our book is then sold, and the how eventually other readers will, theoretically, find our words.

The question before us is: “How should ‘Christian’ be used in classifying fiction?”

I’ll tell you how it is in the market today:

‘Christian’ is an adjective used to define NOT the content of the book itself but instead, the theoretical audience/market for the book.

The ABA sales representative for CBA publishers pitches their books not to the fiction buyer of B&N or Borders, but to a specially-trained “Religion Book Buyer” instead. Later when the books are shipped, the major chains take the books and put them on their shelves in their Religion section, usually on special shelves marked “Inspirational” or “Christian” Fiction.

The proposed market for those books, then, is seen to be as specific as the market for “Romance” or “Fantasy/Sci-Fi” or “Mystery” or any other genre that has its own special group of shelves.

What’s interesting, too, is that because the customer who shops in the Christian fiction at B&N is seen, generally, as the same customer who would shop at a CBA bookstore, the Religious Book Buyer takes their lead from what sells well in CBA. So the argument that this CBA book will appeal to general market readers falls pretty much on deaf ears…because bookstores assume general market readers aren’t going to look for books on the Christian fiction shelves.

So here’s the thing at this moment in time within the greater publishing industry….

Right or wrong, if you publish a novel with a CBA publisher your work is “Christian fiction” and you are a “Christian fiction writer.”

But that can’t be the end of the story, can it? We’ll talk more about this upcoming.