It’s a common thing for me to read fellow Christian authors who write works for Christian publishers to lament the placement of their books.
“My book is just as good as anything in General Market.”
“It’s not fair that we lose sales because we are stuck in the Christian Fiction ghetto!”
“I write to minister to people. That doesn’t happen if my books aren’t in the sections where people go.”
A couple of days ago a Christian fantasy author appealed to his FB audience for ideas on how to get the recent release in their trilogy shelved in General Fantasy. That was honestly the first time in all the years I’ve been witness to these laments that I asked the myself the question “why should they be?”
With a very few exceptions (all of them being authors from Splashdown Books), every book I’ve read from a faith-based publisher feels like that’s where it came from. Even the very best of them (eg. Patrick Carr’s Casting Of Stones) reads like a book that comes from a Christian publisher. Is this a bad thing? No. In fact, I’d be pretty sore if I bought a book from one of my favourite mainstream publishers (Bell Bridge Books) that didn’t have the feel of a book that came from their brand. If I picked up a Tor book that felt like a Harlequin book I’d hit the roof. If I went to Olive Garden and all they had on the menu that day was German food I’d pitch a fit, even though I love German food. So how would I feel if I pulled a book off the Fantasy shelf at Barnes and Noble and ended up reading an evangelical polemic? I’d be not happy.
I know they just want to be broadly marketed when they mention reshelving, but I can’t help feel in some instances that there is also the matter of it being deceptive, of wanting to trick readers into reading something “good for them”. And of course the very idea that your book is a “good for people” type of thing takes a little bit of arrogance.
Anyone who places their book with a faith-driven publisher at this stage of the game knows how it works. You know going into it that there are guidelines about the content. Why can’t you also face the fact that there are retail markets that will be largely closed? It’s just one of the costs of doing business.