Writers, especially those of you just beginning your journeys, and especially those who have chosen to take your journey into the speculative realms of Christian fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, etc.), I'm sure you're painfully aware that the Christian publishing market doesn't seem to have much room for us these days.
I can't count the number of times I and one or more of my writing friends have lamented to each other that "No one seems to be publishing the kind of things we write!". It's true that the speculative genres, while growing slowly and by very small increments, are not exactly big in the Christian publishing industry right now. It's not the publishers' faults. What logical reason is there for them to spend money publishing something that only a tiny minority of people are reading?
Unfortunately, that problem is just the tip of the iceberg. In the midst of a national economic crisis, the publishing industry as a whole--Christian and secular--is facing tough times. Financial risks have gotten riskier, and no one wants to take them. Sadly, rookie writers and speculative genres are financial risks.
So what are we to do, up-and-coming writers of speculative fiction? Shall we hunker down and wait for the current crisis to blow over, hoping to emerge on the other side to find the industry more willing to gamble on us? Shall we commit that great literary sacrilege and change what we write to follow the market trends? I say: "Not on your life!"
Literary agent Rachelle Gardner has a great post up on her blog today, from guest blogger Marcus Brotherton. As well as being entertaining and humorous, his post is extremely encouraging and inspiring. Read it! He proposes that writers help the publishing industry they depend on by buying one hardback book a month in 2011. The figures he has come up with illustrating the impact this would have on the market are astounding.
But I would like to take his theory a little further than that. Writers of Christian Speculative fiction, let's take the initiative and be the change we want to see in the Christian publishing market. Let's be the ones waiting at the bookstore for the release of that new fantasy book; let's be the ones standing in line at that Christian sci-fi author's book signing; let's be the ones making speculative fiction and its authors not quite such a big risk for publishers.
It won't happen overnight, and our efforts alone won't turn the massive USS Christian Fiction around. But we can be the start, the leaders, the pebbles bouncing down the mountainside gathering speed and followers until--hopefully--they become a landslide.
What are your thoughts on the market for Christian speculative fiction and what we can do to influence it?