Still, there are some interesting rumblings in the CBA world.
Last week I wondered out loud if some authors shouldn't consider ABA publishing (basically secular publishers or the general market) for their works, as what they write chafes some readers of CBA fiction.
More importantly by far, novelist Eric Wilson wrote a post entitled, "Is It Time for Christian Fiction to Die?" This has already generated some light, as in the discussion on his Facebook page, and some heat as well. Mike Duran talked about this article at Novel Journey on Monday (see the comments for a little of the heat). Mike references Eric's article again for another post discussing a related issue, "Should Profit Be the Bottom Line for Christian Fiction?" where he asks about the conflict of "ministry" vs. "business."
Of course, there was more discussion out there. My friend Becky Miller initially had a little different take (okay, she calls it a rant). Then she referenced another thoughtful post by novelist Mike Dellosso, who talks about an author following their calling wherever it leads, and trying to avoid some things that can bring frustration (like tracking Amazon sales numbers). What Mike talks about is fleshed out well in Jeff Gerke's Tips for Writers (see #93), where he stresses understanding whether a writer is called to write for the Christian/CBA market for encouragement/challenge/entertainment, or whether they have a missionary vision to reach non-believers (who usually won't be found in a Christian bookstore buying CBA books).
My friend Nicole at Into the Fire will be posting some responses from CBA industry insiders starting next week, and she has already posted some starting thoughts here and here (the last one is about the heartache caused by our culture's use/misuse of sex - very poignant).
Finally, after inundating you with links, Tim George (a frequent reviewer of CBA fiction) chimes in with thoughts similar to Mike, but are worth checking out on their own.
Can I sum up what I've seen so far?
- Eric seems to be crying out for the CBA "industry" (actually a conglomeration of publishers, agents, booksellers, etc and not one specific agency) to be more open for those called to reach the culture for Jesus, rather than singing to the choir.
- He sees a place for "clean" or "safe" fiction for entertainment/encouragement, but doesn't want it to the exclusion of fiction that reaches out and perhaps crosses some boundaries.
- He feels there has been a "narrowing" of what is acceptable in CBA fiction lately.
- There is a running debate behind the scenes on whether CBA fiction should be more "edgy." The definition of edgy is nebulous. Some mean it as detailing real-to-life scenarios. Others ask for CBA fiction to be less restrictive of certain taboos such as non-erotic descriptions of sex or some cussing.
- CBA is a business responding to supply and demand, and the main buyers of the product tend to be middle-aged women who prefer romances, historicals, and/or Amish fiction. The market for suspense, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, etc is a lot smaller.
- Also, the market has been affected by the recession and the new trends of ebooks.
- Responses to Eric's post range from hearty amens, people who accuse him of not being a "team player" or taking a "parting shot" as he leaves the industry, to others who think CBA is broadening, just not as fast as some may want.
- Some like the dialogue and think of the sparks created as "iron sharpening iron," while others suggest we've been down this road before.
- Finally, people are wondering if there isn't room for both "edgy" and "safe" in the CBA. (If we could define what is edgy...)
This is only a small part of the discussion. I'd be interested in other thoughtful posts if anyone knows of any out there. I am excited for dialogue, but we shouldn't forget strategic prayer that those in leadership/influence for CBA publishing as well as the authors know God's calling for them, and pursue it to the best of their abilities, and that He will open doors for it to be used. I am all for being strategic in trying to positively affect culture, but I also realize where my Source comes from. Blessings, all!