Friday, May 15, 2009

Smokin' Hot New Trends in the Christian Fiction Market

As promised, our esteemed friend Sally Stuart, compiler of The Christian Writers' Market Guide, is here as a guest blogger today. In one of her Q&A responses, she tells below how to get the attention of an agent and/or editor. We here at NovelMatters remind you of our now-running contest, Audience With an Agent. Six winning entries will be read by Wendy Lawton of Book & Such Literary Agency. Submission details under the "promotions" tab. So get those manuscripts polished until they shine, and listen to the wisdom of Sally Stuart as she tells us what impressions and data she gleaned from the new edition of the Guide which just went to press.....

Question: What are the most significant changes you've seen in this upcoming Christian Writers' Market Guide, as compared to the previous one?

Sally Stuart: It seems that most of the changes this year are somehow connected to the advancement of technology. For years I have stressed the importance of submitting material to an editor by name, but every year it seems like more and more publishers are not naming editors in the guide and are asking that submissions be sent by e-mail to a generic e-mail address, or not even supplying an e-mail address but requiring the use of an online submission form.

Of course, one of the most significant changes is the drop in the number of markets. Although there are 18 new book publishers for 2010, the total number is 384--34 less than last year. There are just under 600 periodicals listed (35 new), but 54 fewer than last year. I am hearing of more publications going out of business every week now.

Question: You have your finger on the pulse of Christian publishing. What's hot in book-length Christian fiction right now?

Sally Stuart: Although Amish books seem to be all the buzz these days, I checked to see which genres increased in interest based on publishers' responses in the topical listings in the next edition. The Teen/YA category actually went up the most with 14 new publishers. The next batch tied at 13 new publishers apiece: biblical, frontier, and novellas. Frontier/romance was up 11; followed by historical, mystery/suspense, and historical/romance up 9. The rest ranged from 1-6. Science fiction was the only one not to gain any, and a new genre this year is cozy mysteries with 24 publishers showing interest.

Question: The Christian book industry, like all book industries right now, is suffering. Are editors willing to take chances on first-time novelists?

Sally Stuart: I think publishers are always on the look-out for the next great novelist. But they want really great fiction. Your best chance for making that agent or editor connection is to attend conferences where there are a lot of them present. That's where they're out there looking.

Question: What's the most important thing you would convey to aspiring Christian novelists?

Sally Stuart: The best thing a novelist can do is work on polishing his/her craft. Strive to be exceptional--to stand out in the crowd. Be sure the book is not only well written but well edited. Publishers these days are short-handed and they want books that will require little or no editing. But if an editor sends the book back for rewrites, do it. I'm amazed at how many authors just ignore those requests and just drop it or try another publisher. If a publisher is willing to invest their time to make you a success, you owe them your best.

Sally E. Stuart
Christian Writers' Market Guide (order the market guide here) (marketing info here)


Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

This is great info, Sally. Thanks for posting with us today. And I love your guide!

Patti Hill said...


Welcome to Novel Matters. Your crow's nest view of what's going on in Christian publishing is a treasure. Thanks for sharing!

I especially appreciate what you say about developing the craft of writing in order to stand out. That's why we came together at Novel Matters. We want to encourage the best for the Master in fiction.

Your market guide is a must-have for all Christian writers, fiction or non fiction.

Thanks for your time, Sally!

Kathleen Popa said...

Thank you for this, Sally. You're the only one out there doing the work you do, and your advice is so helpful in changing times.

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Thank you, Sally, for all the helpful info you provide and this updated report on publishing houses. Pat

Unknown said...

Awesome info Sally! Thanks!!!

Julie Garmon said...

Good to know. Thanks!

Donna J. Shepherd said...

Thanks for all our research and sharing your findings.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sally. Good to know that more people might be knocking on my door for editing.