The limos v. the ordinary rigs . . .
There is no question that Christian fiction reaches a specific audience. Mixed in with that specific audience are those who want more from the genre. Amidst both groups are the “ordinary rigs” readers. They’ve sampled the offerings of CBA and over time have grown tired of the same old, same old. The little sprints into fantasy and sci-fi, “men’s” novels, and those stories which the limos insist don’t sell in CBA do not reflect a huge resource of readers who shop online or in the Barnes & Noble or Borders stores. They reflect a diminishing number of consumers who go to the “Bible bookstore” to find their reading material.
The limos think they’ve bonded with their audience when in fact they’ve bent and mutilated stories to fit into what they assume their readers want. By so doing they’ve catered to that select number—which is not small within this industry—but in fact is limited. They’ve chosen to address the other varied and inestimable audience as “not a good fit for us”. In other words they’ve ignored them/us.
Almost everyone I spoke to at my local writers’ conference last year wrote fantasy. Fantasy at a Christian writers’ conference! Were they so naïve as to not understand that “it doesn’t sell well” in CBA? Or was it that they believed the great number of fans in all of current literature could support their work?
There is an element of the tried and true readers who do not require anything more than “the same”. Good for them because there’s plenty of it. And they should have it. But make no mistake: they’ve been pegged and accommodated by those who think they know what readers want: a formula with specific plots and ordered writing. The facts probably run closer to this: give them a good story and they could care less how it’s written. That’s why they’re satisfied with formulaic, predictable fiction in their chosen genres.
Isn’t that what all readers want? A good story? Well. Yes and no. A bunch of other readers embrace unique styles, different voices, unusual approaches, meaningful characters covered in depth, to name a few characteristic choices of those shunned readers. I could name the current writers in CBA who offer these things, but what’s the point? The fact that they’re out here offers hope to some that the veil might be tearing. Right?
God, I’m here in this place where you have me. Waiting on you. I’m desperate for you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.