Okay, My Turn . . .


Lately, there’s been a lot of chatter on blogs and social media sites about the state of Christian fiction, the placement of Christian fiction in bookstores, the guidelines imposed on authors, how authors can better use their writing to reach that “other” segment of the world that doesn’t peruse the Christian fiction aisle at Borders or walk through the door of a Christian bookstore, and other spin-off topics.

Interesting thoughts offered all around. It seems what set the thing off was a heartfelt article written by Eric Wilson. Facebook users got involved and the conversation really took off. Recently, Mike Duran and Tim George both offered viewpoints and opinions. Becky Miller offered a different one.

For the past few days I’ve thought about this topic (actually, I’ve been thinking about it for the past few years) and wanting to comment but not wanting to jump the gun. I didn’t want to comment for the sake of making myself heard.

Fact is, I know these discussions are important. I KNOW they are. But honestly, I’m weary of them. Sorry if that offends anyone, I really am, but that’s my honest-to-goodness feeling.

Maybe I’m being pessimistic, maybe not, but I’m at the point where I want to stop hollering for change and questioning “the establishment” and just write, do what God has called me to do. (I understand, God has called some to holler for change . . . I don’t think that someone is me).

Here are my thoughts, my writing manifesto, if you will:

I’m tired of worrying about the placement of my books in bookstores. Do I like it that the Christan fiction section is on the opposite side of the store as the other fiction aisles? No! Can I change that? I don’t think so.

I’m tired of worrying about the sales numbers of my books. Am I envious when these Amish fiction books sell 3, 4, 5 times more than mine? Honestly, sometimes. Can I do anything about it? Yes. Write great books that reach readers and do my best to spread the word (that’s ALL I can do).

I’m tired of wishing the CBA was something it isn’t. I chose to write in the CBA because I felt that’s where God was calling me . . . and still do. It was and is my choice.

I’ve felt this way for a long time and still do . . . I don’t think it’s the author’s job to reach lost people and share Christ with them. How can we? Our only contact with them is words on a page? Yes, stories are powerful and can be thought-provoking and challenging and uplifting. That’s what I go for in my own stories. They can even protray Christians in a positive light and point the spotlight at God. But how will they hear unless someone tells them? If our books plainly preach Christ and him crucified, risen, and coming again they won’t make it into the general market where the lost people are, heck, they probably won’t even make it into the CBA. Rather, I feel it is the author’s job to give Christians a tool so they can then take that tool and reach the lost around them with it. To me, that’s evangelistic writing. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe you disagree, that’s fine, but that’s where I am.

I feel for my fellow authors who are discouraged and frustrated. They have a calling and they feel the CBA is not the place to fulfill that calling or that the CBA isn’t doing enough to come along side them in that calling. To them I say press on. Go where God leads you with no regrets. Follow him and see where the journey takes you. And don’t look back.

For now, my place is in the CBA. I know I’ll never strike it rich here. Compared to the whole reading market, the Christian fiction share is rather small and the segment of that readership who like what I write (supernatural suspense) is miniscule. And that’s okay (I need to remind myself every day that it’s okay). I’m where I believe God wants me, writing what I believe he wants me to write. If and when that changes, I’ll go somewhere else and do something else.

Bottom line: The fact that I can write books that people will read is astounding to me, more than I ever dreamed of. The face that I have a publisher who supports me and wants to keep publishing my books just floors me every day. The fact that I’m alive today after battling cancer humbles me. I’ve been given a great gift . . . the opportunity to write books that are getting published and distributed to the masses . . . and I don’t want for one second to take that for granted. I want each book I write to come from my heart, to come from my experiences, to be infused by my faith, and to impact readers in a unique way. The only way that will happen is to follow God’s leading and write the stories he’s given me. I want to work hard to spread the word about my stories so more people will read them and hopefully pass them on to someone else, someone who needs to read them. Above all, I want to honor God with my writing.

That’s me. That’s where I am.

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About mikedellosso

Mike Dellosso is an author of wide-eyed suspense. He writes stories that not only entertain but enlighten.

Posted on July 28, 2010, in Writing Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Wow, did you write this or did I? I think there’s room for everybody at the dinner table, but I absolutely share the sentiment you’ve made in this blog and agree with a lot of your points. You said it much more eloquently and peacefully than I would have (I would have ranted and yelled more, probably, which is why I’ve been reluctant to do my own take on this discussion), so thanks for that 🙂

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  2. Preach it, brother!! When we realize God saves, it sure takes a lot of pressure off!!

    I have a policy with my church libraries that if the book doesn’t get a good review and it’s in salable condition, I’ll take it back. In the last year, lots of them have come back. There are some that I’ve read that I tell them not to buy. What’s with the sex thing???????? If these authors want to write about explicit sex and other edgy content write for the ABA. I can no longer trust that the books I’m selling have a wholesome content.

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  3. And a great place to be, it is, Mike.

    I understand the weariness, but it’ll be interesting to put together all the different responses I’m still gathering for the question I asked you. I’ll post next week starting Wednesday, Mike.

    Doris, “wholesome” doesn’t only mean “family friendly” as in serving the two year old along with Grandpa and Grandma. And I’m not saying this with any disrespect. Some of us have been called to write differently than others. I’m not in favor of explicit or graphic sex in novels, but I do write novels with a sexual content to contrast the world’s view to God’s. That is what I’ve been called to do. And, no, they’re not for young people. They’re written for adults. And they carry a redemptive message: the gospel is there. Clearly.

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  4. I REJOICE with you! Obedience to what God has called you to do…what more can any believer desire!! I hope to be reading Mike Delloso novels for a looooog time!!

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  5. I came over from Becky Miller’s blog.

    I was saved as I read a novel–not a preachy one at all. It was an amazing picture of God’s love. A woman lost her first son a month before he was to be born, because she disobeyed her husband and went out and tried to walk down the icy street. She slipped and fell and lost the baby. Because of her disobedience, her husband’s beloved first son had to die. And the husband never rebuked her. He hugged her, he wept with her, he forgave her. And as I read that, I saw the love of God for his church and I asked God if he could love and forgive me.

    That said, I loved the rest of your post. I think we all should write what God gives us and publish where God leads us.

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    • Sally, that’s wonderful! Praise God!! My point was not to say people CAN’T find Christ through a book (or gospel tract as well), of course they can, we hear about it all the time, but rather to say the vast majority of people are introduced to Christ through another person taking the time to build a relationship with them and share the gospel. Now saying that, I realize God can use anything or anyone to share his good news. I never want to put God in a box! Thank you for sharing that.

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  6. Mike, we share a publisher and I agree with so much that you said. The rest is just reality, but we do what we can humanly — in terms of PR — and leave the rest to God. I have been advised by my literary agent NOT to look at amazon.com numbers for my books. It’ll drive an author wild — or at best make me want to quit writing. But I do think it’s important FOR ME (stressing myself, here)to share Christ and His salvation in my books and it’s amazing how God gets my novels into the hands of lost and searching souls! I respect where you are, though, Mike. I share many of your frustrations and plenty more of your blessings. Write on!

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  7. Absolutely, Andrea. It’s important to share Christ in your writing. Keep pressing on and following where God leads! I’m behind you 100%!

    And thank you for your boldness. We need more writers like you.

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  8. Mike,

    I’m glad you wrote things the way you did. You were able to share your opinion without coming across as snide. Earlier I had something written down here, but when I went to hit Submit the comment went away so now I’m retyping and saying something different.

    When Eric posted the link on Facebook, I was amazed. I wanted to take part in the conversation, but most of the day I had to be out and away from the computer. And then the next day or so I saw Mike Duran’s blog entry and felt I could just respond by having a blog entry since he had posted it more than once and each thread had so many comments. So I posted mine a couple of days later once I had my feelings sorted out into words – http://newauthors.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/eric-wilson-defeated/ – feel free to leave a comment if you want.

    Then, I saw Mike Duran’s other blog he wrote on, which I recognized in my post, then Becky’s blog, and now yours. I don’t know who else has posted about this, but it has definitely poked a nest of gundarks I believe.

    The one thing I think we all need to recognize is that regardless of the feelings those of us who really want to see a breakthrough in Christian publishing for Spec-Fic may have, the entire publishing industry is going through a shift right now with e-book readers, P.O.D. publishers, and other means of getting the book out to the reader. Even “well known” authors in mainstream Spec-Fic are leaving publishers to do it themselves because they see greater income that way then if they had to split it with the publisher. They figure they have to pay for their travel and stuff anyway when going to events and signings, so they just get a bigger cut by self-publishing and pay the same amount as before.

    I know that in my time over the years, I’ve only seen certain CBA bookstores seem to really give a care about spec-fic, and even then, they just stock them, and unless they are already best sellers like Ted Dekker, they usually don’t promote them at all. For example, even though I have heard great things about your books online, Mike, I personally haven’t read one of your books yet, and if I hadn’t just spotted them on the shelf I’d have never known about your books in person. The stores just don’t market Spec-Fic like they do the more “buggy and bonnett” type of fiction.

    For some time now I’ve been working to build an online store (and to have it at a physical location sometime too) called Beyond the Charts where Christians can come and get whatever spec-fic they want, whether it’s “Christian” or mainstream without having to worry about restriction. The intent was to have a more “mainstream” store with books, music, movies, games, and comicbooks as the base items and other stuff on top of that. Right now, the website is down until after the beginning of the year. I launched it last year after working toward it for over a year, and then I had so many problems with the shopping cart, I just had to shut things down until I could get that fixed, and add something else to it that I’m doing. You can feel free to visit the site which has links to the forum and blog for Beyond the Charts – http://www.beyondthecharts.com

    Ultimately, I think we’re going to see change in the publishing industry as a whole, and in the Christian publishing industry specifically, because we’re already seeing the change now. What matters is what the choices we make in this time of change are, and making sure those choices are the right ones.

    Be encouraged,

    David

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    • Great comment, David. Thanks for chiming in. In my experience, bookstores stock books to sell. Ones that sell the best get the most exposure. Others, well, are stocked. Christian publishing is a business and like any business they need to make money. I understand that. A lot of it, too, has to do with the publisher and how much extra they’re willing to pay for the better exposure for their books.

      I think you’re right about seeing a change in the publishing industry as a whole. I think we’ll see more outfits like Marcher Lord Press popping up . . . at least I hope we do. And the whole e-book publishing thing, who knows where that will go.

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      • Mike,

        Thanks for the reply. I see you got three books out according to the covers I see up above and to the right. Only thing I want to know is if they are a series and if so, which one is first? If not a series, then which one do you as the writer think would be good for a first read?

        Be encouraged,

        David

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  9. David, all my novels are stand-alones . . . no series. I’d recommend starting with either SCREAM or my newest, DARLINGTON WOODS. I have a new one coming out in May 2011 and then four more after that every nine months.

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    • Good deal. I like a series well enough, but it sure is nice sometimes to know when you finish a book that it really is the end of the story. I’ll probably pick up Scream sometime soon then. That sounds like a fun read from what I remember seeing on the back cover a few months ago. 🙂

      Be encouraged,

      David

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