Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thoughts on the Bestselling Christian Books of 2008

Yesterday, Michael Hyatt blogged about The Bestselling Christian Books of 2008. It sort of relates to what I’ve been talking about this week, so I thought I’d go ahead and mention a couple of thoughts I had when I saw his list, as sort of a bonus post.

The Disconnect Between Christian Fiction and Non-fiction

In looking at the list, 15 Christian non-fiction books made the list and 1 novel. If you factor in the paperbacks, you can count four more novels. A 5:15 ratio is still a dismal showing for Christian fiction. There are many possible reasons for this, but one thing that I noticed is that the doomsday stuff is missing, with on exception. The books on the non-fiction list appear to be uplifting, as do the five successes in the novels. Now, scan the list of books from yesterday. Many of those books aren’t uplifting at all. Many of them are down right depressing—at least they are when you read the product descriptions. Is there a link?

Non-Fiction is Easier to Sell

Non-fiction is easier to sell than fiction and that might have something to do with the missing novels from the list. For that matter, most of the skilled Christian writers with a platform are writing non-fiction rather than fiction. That in itself could have something to do with why one did better than the other, so don’t go out and write an uplifting Christian novel and expect it to fair much better than the books that are currently being produced.

People are Tired

People can only endure bad news for so long before they must seek escape. Books are one means of escape. If most people are like me, they have grown tired and they don’t want books that just add more bad news on top of what they have already been hearing. I may be wrong about other people, so don’t go changing what you’re writing unless you really want to. But as for my own work, I would like to see it move more toward the uplifting and away from the killing fields that much of Christian fiction appears to be at the moment.

As an added bit of information, Rose Fox of Publisher's Weekly has an article that suggests people are looking to escape through reading in hard times. The article suggests that people either want to escape to a world that is better than what we see around us, or they want to see people in worse circumstances who overcome. I would say that in either case the reader is looking for hope of some kind.

No comments :