In my last entry, I responded to about half of those who left comments on my 11/18 post. Here are my thoughts for the rest...
Mary Kay, I hear your frustration with editors and publishers being hesitant to take on a book dealing with deep issues, such as family violence or rape. I've turned some of those books down myself. But not for the reasons you may think. It's not because I, or my publisher, was afraid of the topic. It's that there wasn't anything, either in the treatment or voice, that presented the topic in a new or powerful way. If I'm going to put a book out there to help people facing such horrific things in their lives, I need to offer them something more than what's been said before. I'm not saying your books don't do that, I'm just saying there's a lot more that goes into deciding what we will and won't publish than sticking with the tried and true. I'll explore that more in a future post. You are right, though, that we all need to be talking about the books that have struck a chord within us. In fact, if any of you would like to list such books in the comment section, please do so.
Becky, I hear your concerns, but, to use your words, horrors if you think editors think that's what it's all about.
Kristi, I hear you, but publishing on the whole is faster, more demanding, and harder than ever before. You're right, you do have to earn back in 12 months; 18 at the most. None of us can afford the long-term scenario you posed, especially in light of the advances being demanded nowdays. And so few books earn back...ever. You'd be amazed how much money publishers have to write off EVERY YEAR from unearned advances. More on that later, too.
Jamie, wonderful illustration and reminder.
Pammer, thank you, thank you for this: "as Christian publishers, we have to hold up to intense scrutiny. If we travel too closely to the world, why do we ask to be set apart? To be seen as separate or better? Because in a larger picture Christian fiction is still the new kid on the block and we are held to higher standards to prove ourselves." Absolutely right.
Marci, I could kiss you! Yes, yes, and yes. The retailers have a huge impact. They've been called the "gatekeepers" for a number of good reasons. Mostly, though, they are the ones in the trenches. They see, firsthand, the response of the readers. They hear the accolades; they bear the brunt of the angry reader slamming a book down on the counter and demanding an apology (and a refund). And with so many stores going under, the climate at Christian bookstores is, to
Colleen, absolutely. As Pammer said, as Christians we're held to a higher standard. Not by the readers or retailers, but by the One who assigned us this task, be it writing or publishing. Writers need to express the range of life--the depth of darkness and the heights of light--without using the easy outs of graphic language, sexuality, violence, or preachiness. Publishers need to operate wisely and honorably.
Crystal, excellent points! Especially about these issues sometimes putting publishers and writers at odds with readers. Which is why the responsibility rests so heavy on the editors' shoulders to KNOW those readers and communicate who they are and what they want in a way the others in the house can hear and receive. I studied multiple languages in college (French for 12 years, Spanish for 4, Russian for 1), but none of that prepared me for speaking Sales', Marketing's, and Finance's languages. That's somethine editors need to learn. Well. And I'd encourage writers to learn them as well.
(BTW, Crystal, my hubby is an ISTJ, so I DO know where you're comin' from. And while I'm mostly Golden Retriever, I do think I have a smidge of Siberian in me, so no. I won't keep chasing the ball. In fact, you throw it too much and I'll sit there, looking at you with that, "You
Again, wonderful comments all. Thank you so much for participating in this dialogue. You're helping me learn as we go, and I appreciate that a great deal. In fact, your thoughts and insights have convinced me to take this discussion back to my publishing house to see what they think of it all. So watch for thoughts from sales and marketing in my upcoming blog posts.
Peace to you all today.