f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Which Way Next? - Gazing Into the Liquid Crystal of Our Future

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

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Which Way Next? - Gazing Into the Liquid Crystal of Our Future

Yesterday I opened a door so we could look in at the clockworks and see a little bit of the machinery which makes the business of publishing chug along. These processes pressure which books we sign, our ability to promote them, and their sales potential in finding the right outlet.

For some it may have sounded pretty bleak.

The fact is, though, that not too long ago hardly ANY Christian fiction was getting into ABA bookstores at all. Now we have one of the quickest growing areas around. More CBA books are finding their way to front tables—where there are no signs, other than “New.” Things are changing.

Few things in life change overnight. The question is one we need our magic 8-ball to answer though: “What’s going to happen in the future?”

Here are some potential replies.

Outlook Good
The expansion of CBA fiction continues. More titles gain general market praise. A sustainable market for a broad range of titles and genes emerges. Cross-over titles appear that find huge success.

Reply Hazy. Try Again

CBA fiction plateaus and simply hovers in this nebulous middle ground. Only a sporadic title or two finds general market success. Christian fiction becomes fully enshrined as a genre.

Very Doubtful
CBA fiction hits a wall. The exodus of readers from Christian bookstores to cheaper venues like Wal-Mart translates into sales for a very narrow list of books, but doesn’t filter down to other titles. Publishers cut back lists and focus on replicating these winners rather than going for broader readership.


My gut says the third is unlikely. Christian fiction is making strides that aren’t likely to be lost in a day. Christian retailing must adjust to changing economics, but they won’t disappear. This is evolution on a economic scale and it’s interesting to see all the adaptations being forced by new pressures.

The question is whether we stop at #2 or achieve what I’d guess is our long range goal, #1. We’ll discuss some dynamics in that quest the rest of the week.

Then next week I promise we’ll get back to writing.