Hmm. Ever notice that when life gives you a sucker punch, blogging and blog reading are just not real high on your priority list? Well, if not, I don’t think you’ve really experienced a sucker punch in the game of life. And since this week hasn’t been one of my better weeks, I am living dangerously close to the "ranting" edge.
Yes, I think I will rant. In order to appreciate my tirade, for those of you interested in writing and/or reading Christian fiction (which most of my blog readers are), "Go read this wonderful post by Angie Hunt!"
I think Angie is onto something. There is a lot of prideful behavior being flung around the blogosphere under the guise of "improving" or "challenging" the Christian fiction market. My hope would be that many would take a step back and ask God to show them what is behind their words and feelings. I have greatly admired Mick at YourWritersGroup for the way he withdrew and sought the Lord’s face in regard to his blog and some reactions to it. Not that I always agree or always disagree with Mick (either before or after his "confession"), but boy, I sure recognized a desire to conduct himself and his blog in a godly manner.
I have read several times over the past year a comment that insinuates if an author doesn’t take a certain length of time to write a book (just because some wonderful published author has stated that’s how long it takes her to write one), the books that take less time can’t be very good. Balderdash! It may take one person two or three or four years to write a good book, but he/she shouldn’t think the same thing about others. God doles out gifts in various ways. There are some amazing novels that have been written in a matter of weeks.
Others seem to think if a book can’t be called "literary" then it hasn’t achieved some holier place in publishing. What rot! I have nothing against literary fiction, but a lot of it that I’ve read was an enormous waste of my time. I’ve read too many "literary" novels where the authors are so in love with their own ability to turn a beautiful phrase that they forget that their job is to tell a great story. Other literary novels are so depressing, I want to go curl up in a fetal position and cover my head with my blanky. It would be good to remember, also, that many novels we consider literary today were considered popular pap for the masses when the books were published.
Writing is a great big pond. Let’s not even consider those who write for the much larger ABA for a moment and speak only about CBA authors. There are so many different styles and genres, something to please everyone. There are some bestselling CBA authors whose books I never read because I don’t care for either their writing style or their genre. That doesn’t make them bad or less than. It’s just a matter of taste.
Speaking of which, why do some people try to set themselves up as the potentates of good taste? If they like Author A, must they slam Authors B through Z as not being good — or good enough? It’s sad when this happens outside the Christian family, but must it happen within it, too?
Every year before the CBA convention, a group of about 60 to 70 CBA novelists gather to lift and encourage one another. We come from all different denominations. We are Calvinists and Arminians and all points of doctrine in-between. We are married, widowed, single, divorced. We are parents and childless. We are multi-published, highly successful, and we are struggling with poor sales and no contracts. But in one way we are all the same: We want to write the very best novels we are capable of writing and send them forth to the glory of God.
I’ve read some slams against CBA publishers, that they are too narrow and that’s why certain writers can’t sell a book to them. Thus, the CBA is faulty and in need of overhauling and repairs, needing to be changed so that their fiction will fit. Sorry, but given that only 1% of all novels written each year get published, the problem could be with the manuscript that was submitted rather than with the publisher or with the industry. Plain fact is, even many wonderful manuscripts will never get published because publishers only have so many slots to fill and one manuscript made it and another didn’t.
Guess what? It is exactly like that in the ABA market, too. Every publisher — CBA and ABA — has its target audience. A romance publisher buys romances, and a writer of cozy mysteries or thrillers will waste her time and the publisher’s time submitting to them. Over time, markets change, but that doesn’t mean a publisher is wrong to try to serve its target audience.
If someone writes literary fiction, they should find a publisher looking for literary fiction. If a writer’s fiction contains elements that a certain publisher isn’t interested in, then that writer should go look for a publisher who wants what she writes. It’s the way the business works, and for as much as we love it that writing novels is an "art," publishing is a business. Pure and simple. Publishers want books that people will read. Lots and lots of people will read. If not, they lose money and go out of business.
Okay, rant over. The opinions expressed in the above blog post are the result of a highly-stressed individual. Please take that into consideration.