Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Ideas Are Getting Published?

Please bear with me, this is a lengthy post, but I hope you will find it helpful. We talk about the plot and characters and all of that, but the publishing industry runs on the idea for the book, more than anything else, as I hope to show with this post. Below you will find short descriptions of various Christian novels that have either been recently released or have yet to be released. In a highly subjective decision process, I have ordered them with the best at the bottom and (shall we say) the others at the top. For all but the first, I summarized the product description, but the first one reads so much like a soap opera that I wasn’t confident that I could accurately glean the central theme from the product description and I copied what the publisher has provided.


I wasn’t selective in choosing the books, but gathered them from lists, making this list representative of everything Thomas Nelson, Zondervan and Bethany house are publishing in the way of Fiction. Some of these ideas are very good. I don’t know if that translates into the book also being good, since I haven’t read any of the, but the ideas at the bottom of this list are intriguing and signal a potential for a good book.


Another thing I noticed is the similarity of some of these ideas. Read through them and you will notice multiple women living in the past who are battling the gender barriers of their day. We see multiple people looking for other people. We see several people trying to restore relationships.


I would caution you against looking at any of these ideas and thinking, “My idea is better than that, so why can’t I get published?” Take at look at the last idea, which I think is the best one. He only has one book in print and I hadn’t heard of him until today. So, how did he get noticed? If I had to guess, I would say it is because he had a great idea. Not a good idea, mind you, a great idea. Aspiring Authors have to aim for something better than ordinary. Which idea is publishable for an aspiring author in the current Christian market? The one that is sort of like the ones you see here, with relationship problems, people bent on killing each other, affairs of the heart and dead or missing children, but with something thing else. The idea has to be better than Rob Stennett’s, The End is Now. There are only a few ideas here that would make it out of the slush pile if an aspiring author sent it in.


While we’re on the subject, notice what isn’t here. Christian Sci Fi is completely missing. Christian Fantasy is represented by minor examples. Anything Edgy here? I don’t see it. There aren’t many strong male leads either.


With the loss of her first true love, Carolina Adams finds life at the family plantation nearly unbearable. Desperate to escape, she moves to Baltimore to become a nanny to Victoria, a little girl whose mother has died.


After breaking his wedding engagement with Virginia Adams, Carolina's older sister, James Baldwin immerses himself in work for the B&O Railroad, the other passion in his life besides Carolina. But when a shocking business proposal is given to Carolina, James and Carolina seem destined to be apart. Can they dare to dream their aspirations for love might come true?  (A Hope Beyond, Judith Pella & Traci Patterson, Bethany House)


A graduating college senior tries to pick the right guy as she contemplates life after graduation and her relationship with God. (Coming Attractions, Robin Jones Gunn, Zondervan)


A woman moves to a mining town and must choose between two men vying for her affections.(The Rose Legacy, Kristen Heitzmann, Bethany House)


Three women battle gender barriors in the 1870s to have careers. (Timber Ridge Reflections, Tamera Alexander, Bethany House)


Two daughters try to help their parents find peace, shattered by a war that happened forty years earlier. (A Hundred Years of Happiness, Nicole Seitz, Thomas Nelson)


A rising star at a New York ad agency seeks to make amends with a high school sweetheart. (Shades of Blue, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan)


In 1916, a successful female rancher attempts to turn an English aristocrat into a cowboy. (Fit to Be Tied, Robin Lee Hatcher, Zondervan)


When the son of an Amish friend falls deathly ill, a woman must choose between helping a shunned doctor who can save the boy’s life and honoring the beliefs of her friends. (Plain Pursuit, Beth Wiseman, Thomas Nelson)


A search and rescue worker searches for the mother of an abandoned baby she found in the woods. (Cry in the Night, Colleen Coble, Thomas Nelson)


A law clerk working toward the conviction of a self-proclaimed prophet begins to question if she is doing the right thing when some of his prophecies come true. (Higher Hope, Robert Whitlow, Thomas Nelson)


Two cousins, as close as sisters, fight over an inheritance left by their grandfather. (Broadmoor Legacy, Tracie Patterson & Judith Miller, Bethany House)


A Kansas veterinarian tries to help a father and son patch their relationship before the son sells the family farm and moves the family to California. (Snow Melts in Spring, Deborah Vogts, Zondervan)


A newspaper columnist takes on a billionaire bent on world domination. (Deadlock, Robert Liparulo, Thomas Nelson)


A woman must choose between the sense of purpose she finds in working at a women’s shelter and maintaining a stale marriage. (Where Do I Go?, Neta Jackson, Thomas Nelson)


A young man wakes, strapped to a chair and about to die, with no memory of how he got there. (The Last Thing I Remember, Andrew Klavan, Thomas Nelson)


A woman searches for her daughter’s killer, a man with a snake tattoo. (A Slow Burn, Mary E. DeMuth, Zondervan)


A woman has her drug addict son returned to her when he enters rehab, but she may lose him again if she learns the truth about the murder of a drug dealer. (Leaving Yesterday, Kathryn Cushman, Bethany House)


Three women, a reporter, a prosecutor and an FBI agent search for a seventeen year old who disappears while taking her dog for a walk and discover a girl troubled by a relationship with an older man. (Face of Betrayal, Lis Wiehl & April Henry, Thomas Nelson)


A woman loses six months of her memory, but gains the ability to steal memories from others. (Kiss, Ted Dekker & Erin Healy, Thomas Nelson)


The Rapture is coming at 6:11 AM, one week from tomorrow, but only in Goodland, Kansas. A small town prepares for the end of the world that is only a week away. (The End is Now, Rob Stennett, Zondervan)

6 comments :

Lady Glamis said...

Great post, yet again! It's nice to see other ideas out there that have worked. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

You're looking at the wrong publishers. Check out Marcher Lord Press, Sheaf House, and others who publish edgier Christian fic as well as SF and fantasy.

You haven't even scraped the surface yet.

Timothy Fish said...

Anonymous 9:00,

You’re absolutely right, there are many more books that I could have mentioned. You see how long this list is. There isn’t room to list everyone. At best, this list is a poor statistical sample. The fact that there isn’t a strong showing in speculative fiction and edgy fiction isn’t an indication that they don’t exist somewhere, but it does tell us something about the rarity among the three publishers I included.

While I would love to do a comprehensive statistical study of what publishers are accepting, I have neither the time nor the resources to complete such a study. This post was intended to provide a set of premises against which aspiring authors could compare their own premises.

To be honest, I wouldn’t have included either Marcher Lord Press or Sheaf House in this list, even if I had included more publishers, because their operations are too small, showing us the opinion of one person rather than the consensus of a larger group.

Timothy

Anonymous said...

You cannot do a "comprehensive study of what the market is accepting." It changes month to month. You'd be shooting at a wildly bucking target and expecting to hit it.

Tame fiction still sells very well in the Christian market. Edgier fiction is just breaking in and will have to struggle until it finds a stable audience.

Timothy Fish said...

Anonymous 11:51,
You are correct; it does change from month to month. By comprehensive, I meant including all publishers, not including all books. There is no reason to think that a group of people couldn’t accomplish that in a couple of days. But as you noted, it would have to be redone frequently to stay current.

Deb said...

Here's another idea getting published: A preacher who writes SF hides this fact from his congregation. But when he's assigned a new editor -- the love child of an unrepentant ex-hippie -- she challenges him to expose his secret.

ANGEL WITH A RAY GUN, now available from Desert Breeze Publishing, a newer house that's proud to publish good Christian fiction.