SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Christian Manuscript Submissions

Discussion started on

jbooth,

Thanks for bringing this thread up again. I totally forgot about this. The update on my situation is that virtually all secular pubs have rejected my ms however it is still out with Zondervan and I also heard that they are looking for that crossover appeal so we'll see.

It is disheartening but I still say don't give up.

Good luck to all of us.

-L
#31 - May 10, 2008, 05:24 AM
Unsinkable
A Bond Broken
Cassi da Conch

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region northtexas

This may be a long shot, but do you think Zondervan's new plan means they will still require the use of the Christian first reader service?  I hope not!

I hope not too! I've never used the writing service because it struck me wrong. I had one friend use it, and she had a poor experience, but she also is (or was) a one-book writer.

I've heard nothing positive about what's going on over in the Christian children's fiction market. They (and other Christian publishers) are spending money chasing the magna trend (growing MG-YA market), but I don't know if they are seeing the numbers. Doing my research I've read snarky comments about the Christian publishers and the Christian product (children's MG/YA books). Things do not seem to be going well. I hope I've misunderstood or the reporting is wrong.

That said, I hope writeaway is the exception to all of this bad news and will report good things for her ms and Zondervan soon!  :smile


#32 - May 16, 2008, 02:11 PM
bridgettebooth.com
twitter.com/Bridgette_Booth

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region wisconsin
I've heard nothing positive about what's going on over in the Christian children's fiction market. They (and other Christian publishers) are spending money chasing the magna trend (growing MG-YA market), but I don't know if they are seeing the numbers. Doing my research I've read snarky comments about the Christian publishers and the Christian product (children's MG/YA books). Things do not seem to be going well. I hope I've misunderstood or the reporting is wrong.

That said, I hope writeaway is the exception to all of this bad news and will report good things for her ms and Zondervan soon!  :smile

writeaway, I hope all of this works out perfectly for you!  :yup

But I'm afraid jbooth has heard right, and this really has been the case for over ten years, as my agent and I discussed often. I think the two main weaknesses are that the CBA market is always chasing trends -- never the head, always the tail -- and that they've never succeeded in getting the general quality up, even though back in the 70s and 80s several houses set that as their goal. The CBA simply has more success with nonfiction, and to some degree adult fiction. With children's, the more successful categories seem to be curriculum and multimedia hits such as Veggie Tales.
#33 - May 17, 2008, 12:54 PM
Adventures of Jenna V. Series
Caroline Grade Mysteries
The Journey of Emilie
Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet
www.marciahoehne.com

With children's, the more successful categories seem to be curriculum and multimedia hits such as Veggie Tales.

Oooooh, I can't resist!  I'm going to pitch a series called "Carbo Tales," featuring Natalie the Breadstick and Marge the steaming Bowl of Oatmeal! 

(You may now return to your regularly scheduled thread.  :) )
#34 - May 18, 2008, 05:39 PM
« Last Edit: May 18, 2008, 05:42 PM by carrots »

FYI, CBA rejected Veggie Tales. They had to produce it themselves with investors...goes to show what creativity can do in the marketplace...
#35 - May 18, 2008, 08:54 PM
PBU
http://wwwpamcalvert.blogspot.com/p/picture-book-university.html

Brianna Bright Ballerina Knight series

Princess Peepers
Multiplying Menace

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region wisconsin
FYI, CBA rejected Veggie Tales. They had to produce it themselves with investors...goes to show what creativity can do in the marketplace...

And that if there's money in it, it will end up on the CBA shelves for sure. All the better if somebody else took the financial risk.
#36 - May 19, 2008, 04:59 AM
Adventures of Jenna V. Series
Caroline Grade Mysteries
The Journey of Emilie
Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet
www.marciahoehne.com

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region northtexas
Oooooh, I can't resist!  I'm going to pitch a series called "Carbo Tales," featuring Natalie the Breadstick and Marge the steaming Bowl of Oatmeal! 

Ummm I love that! Lots of dancing fettucine and singing bread sticks (a la Olive Garden). This could work. . .  :applause :dr

#37 - May 19, 2008, 05:54 AM
bridgettebooth.com
twitter.com/Bridgette_Booth

RyanBruner

Guest
I'm very frustrated with the Christian fiction market, both children's and adult.  Aside from the "following the trend" problem, just the basic philosophy many of the Christian publishers have strikes me as odd.

First, some require there to be an element of evangelism to take place in their books.  Not that I'm opposed to that.  But the problem is, the Christian publishers will only sell their books in the Christian bookstores, or in sections in mainstream bookstores that only Christians are looking at to begin with.  As such, what point is there in the evangelism angle?  They are evangelizing those who are already Christians!  Preaching to the choir, as it were.  Which makes the whole evangelism requirement rather pointless.

Second, Christian publishers tend not to want gritty or raw topics handled, forgetting that this is a pained, sinful world where people make mistakes. And while people CAN make mistakes in the Christian books, they are only allowed to make "approved" mistakes.  Nothing too terrible, unless it is an unrepentant character OR is a character who ultimately becomes the object of evangelism.  But, what about the average Christian out there who ALSO makes mistakes?  The same "masks" that people wear at church must be worn in books, because, heaven forbid, we might actually have a character/church member who, for example, swears.  Or how about the Christian (character) who has doubts? Many publishers just won't allow that.

Third, a great majority of Christian fiction I've read is, quite frankly, second-rate.  It is predictable and unimaginative. 

If a Christian writer wants to influence the world, I think they should be targeting the SECULAR market.  Write a book that a secular readership wants to read that, in some fashion, reflects the gospel message...even if only in a subtle way. 
#38 - May 19, 2008, 06:57 AM

Here's a recent post by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary (they don't rep children's or Pb's) that addresses this topic:

http://chipmacgregor.typepad.com/main/2008/05/a-fresh-look.html

#39 - May 19, 2008, 07:17 AM
http://stephanielreed.com

"If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Mark 9:23

Write a book that a secular readership wants to read that, in some fashion, reflects the gospel message...even if only in a subtle way. 

I think this describes why VeggieTales is such a powerful evangelism tool.  I only have network television, so I was elated (and shocked!) to see NBC carrying Big Idea stuff (VT and 3-2-1 Penguins) in their Saturday morning line-up. 
#40 - May 19, 2008, 09:28 AM

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region northtexas
Third, a great majority of Christian fiction I've read is, quite frankly, second-rate.  It is predictable and unimaginative. 

If a Christian writer wants to influence the world, I think they should be targeting the SECULAR market.  Write a book that a secular readership wants to read that, in some fashion, reflects the gospel message...even if only in a subtle way. 

Three years ago I went to a Christian conference where a small publisher addressed this problem. He said repeatedly that the quality of the writing AND editing had to improve, and other Christian publishers were serious about selecting meaty manuscripts that dealt with real problems.  I don't have a good enough grasp on the Christian market to know if any of this talk has turned into action or not. Reading the posts from those of you who are well-acquainted with the market, makes me think not.  :stuck

A few weeks ago,  I picked up a YA book that is part of a sub-genre I don't normally read. The book I picked up had won an award from a special interest group and was written, I believe, to persuade Christians to think differently about that specific issue and/or to argue against certain Christian beliefs.  Anyway, I read 1/3 of the book and had to put it down. I didn't stop reading because the content angered me or anything; I put it down because the writing was awful! Preachy, shrill, stereotypical one-dimensional characters, a boring plot line to name just a few problems. Frankly, it read like many of the traditional-Christian books I had attempted to read. (I know there are quality books in the Christian children's market.)

Essentially, what I learned is that when the author has a Point to make instead of a Story to tell, the book is terrible.
#41 - May 19, 2008, 10:15 AM
bridgettebooth.com
twitter.com/Bridgette_Booth


But, what about the average Christian out there who ALSO makes mistakes?  The same "masks" that people wear at church must be worn in books, because, heaven forbid, we might actually have a character/church member who, for example, swears.  Or how about the Christian (character) who has doubts? Many publishers just won't allow that.

If a Christian writer wants to influence the world, I think they should be targeting the SECULAR market.  Write a book that a secular readership wants to read that, in some fashion, reflects the gospel message...even if only in a subtle way. 

I have to say I TOTALLY agree with this. I have struggled with the Christian principles for years and even continued to do so. If I have issues now as an adult, I'm sure younger adults have this same issues.
 
My YA novel deals with this directly. Yes, my mc doesn't always use the best language, she's boy crazy and she cheats on tests w/o hesitation but the story created deals with the struggle and was meant to do that. That struggle was tough for me then so I KNOW it's tough now.

As of date, my novel is out with a larger Christian pub and I'm not sure it's going to be picked up so we'll see. (It has already been rejected by a few secular pubs.) It was created for the secular market but according to my agent, pubs may want to steer clear of its content. :ohno

-L
#42 - May 19, 2008, 10:38 AM
Unsinkable
A Bond Broken
Cassi da Conch

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region northtexas
As of date, my novel is out with a larger Christian pub and I'm not sure it's going to be picked up so we'll see. (It has already been rejected by a few secular pubs.) It was created for the secular market but according to my agent, pubs may want to steer clear of its content. :ohno

Why? What "wrong" with your content? Your mc sounds delightfully real!
#43 - May 19, 2008, 01:40 PM
bridgettebooth.com
twitter.com/Bridgette_Booth

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jbooth. You're not a publisher by chance?  :paper The issue I was forewarned about was that even before my agent subbed to secular pubs, she said that the religious aspect of it may turn some of those pubs off. That may be the reason for some of those pesky rejs.

Then I was also told that b/c it was created w/a secular audience in mind, it may not be religious enough for those Christian pubs. So here in limboland I sit and wait. I may have mispoken when I said content. I meant more along the lines of the religious aspect.

-L
#44 - May 19, 2008, 02:00 PM
Unsinkable
A Bond Broken
Cassi da Conch

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region wisconsin
I'm very frustrated with the Christian fiction market, both children's and adult.  Aside from the "following the trend" problem, just the basic philosophy many of the Christian publishers have strikes me as odd.

First, some require there to be an element of evangelism to take place in their books.  Not that I'm opposed to that.  But the problem is, the Christian publishers will only sell their books in the Christian bookstores, or in sections in mainstream bookstores that only Christians are looking at to begin with.  As such, what point is there in the evangelism angle?  They are evangelizing those who are already Christians!  Preaching to the choir, as it were.  Which makes the whole evangelism requirement rather pointless.

Second, Christian publishers tend not to want gritty or raw topics handled, forgetting that this is a pained, sinful world where people make mistakes. And while people CAN make mistakes in the Christian books, they are only allowed to make "approved" mistakes.  Nothing too terrible, unless it is an unrepentant character OR is a character who ultimately becomes the object of evangelism.  But, what about the average Christian out there who ALSO makes mistakes?  The same "masks" that people wear at church must be worn in books, because, heaven forbid, we might actually have a character/church member who, for example, swears.  Or how about the Christian (character) who has doubts? Many publishers just won't allow that.

Third, a great majority of Christian fiction I've read is, quite frankly, second-rate.  It is predictable and unimaginative. 

If a Christian writer wants to influence the world, I think they should be targeting the SECULAR market.  Write a book that a secular readership wants to read that, in some fashion, reflects the gospel message...even if only in a subtle way. 

Ryan, I agree with you a million percent.

The issue I was forewarned about was that even before my agent subbed to secular pubs, she said that the religious aspect of it may turn some of those pubs off. That may be the reason for some of those pesky rejs.

Then I was also told that b/c it was created w/a secular audience in mind, it may not be religious enough for those Christian pubs. So here in limboland I sit and wait.

Yes, there is a huge divide between ABA and CBA, right along this line, and, so far anyway, woe to the ms. that falls into it. I hope you'll find the right house, writeaway. Eerdmans is one that's striking more of a balance these days.
#45 - May 19, 2008, 06:26 PM
Adventures of Jenna V. Series
Caroline Grade Mysteries
The Journey of Emilie
Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet
www.marciahoehne.com

joy jungle

Guest
i would have to agree with alot of those who wrote before me. there just isnt much out there for the christian, children, fiction writer. I have a book just sitting, sitting, sitting, waiting to get out there into children's arms, but no, i'm stuck doing tedious research trying to find a company that will even work with me!
http://adventuresinjoyjungle.com/

keep it up, dont get snagged by fake companies, do the research, and i hope for the best for ya!

-kelly
#46 - August 30, 2008, 03:50 PM

Whitepines

Guest
You know, we have a huge number of inspirational fiction books for adults in our library system and the library systems in the surrounding counties and they are extremely popular. I have to think that any mom reading an inspirational book would be excited to pick one out for her child, too. We do have several inspirational kids' series, but when you read them and contrast them to the adult fiction, they're kind of stuck in a time warp, are a bit preachy and aren't very popular. Of course, they also aren't in their own section. I think I'll ask if we can do a display of inspirational fiction for kids and see what happens.

I think the publishers need to take a risk and look for childrens and YA books that deal with today's issues from a Christian viewpoint instead of sticking characters in a time warp. If adult inspirational books can deal with murder and violence, why can't kids' books deal with homelessness, divorced parents and other issues? I get so frustrated with the selection, because I know there are good Christian children's writers sitting there with manuscripts that are timely and relevant that they can't get published because the publisher wants another story about a girl from a Christian family who wants to hang out with the popular kids, realizes they are mean and ends the story thanking God that she isn't popular after all. (I think I read ten different books with this plot when I was a teen. Sure, popularity is an issue, but it isn't the only one!)

The other thing is that I think the support would be there for a good Christian kids' publisher who is willing to do book fairs and fundraising efforts. Our local church school had a secular book fair and the publisher sent one young adult title and a stack of picture books to replace titles we didn't want to sell. There was virtually nothing on the shelves. Maybe a group of Christian children's writers should band together and start their own publishing/book fair company...
#47 - September 02, 2008, 03:27 PM

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region wisconsin
You know, we have a huge number of inspirational fiction books for adults in our library system and the library systems in the surrounding counties and they are extremely popular. I have to think that any mom reading an inspirational book would be excited to pick one out for her child, too. We do have several inspirational kids' series, but when you read them and contrast them to the adult fiction, they're kind of stuck in a time warp, are a bit preachy and aren't very popular. Of course, they also aren't in their own section. I think I'll ask if we can do a display of inspirational fiction for kids and see what happens.

Most successful Christian kids' series are by the CBA's adult fiction writers. Think Jerry Jenkins and Frank Peretti. Moms and Grandmas will pick these up for the kids because they enjoy the adult books. This is also why the picture books are by Beverly Lewis, Jan Karon and Max Lucado. That many (not all) of these books are not well written doesn't matter (neither is much of the adult fiction, but most adults will settle for plot sans swearing, never mind good writing); they sell because of the names.

I think the publishers need to take a risk and look for childrens and YA books that deal with today's issues from a Christian viewpoint instead of sticking characters in a time warp. If adult inspirational books can deal with murder and violence, why can't kids' books deal with homelessness, divorced parents and other issues? I get so frustrated with the selection, because I know there are good Christian children's writers sitting there with manuscripts that are timely and relevant that they can't get published because the publisher wants another story about a girl from a Christian family who wants to hang out with the popular kids, realizes they are mean and ends the story thanking God that she isn't popular after all. (I think I read ten different books with this plot when I was a teen. Sure, popularity is an issue, but it isn't the only one!)

Christian publishers don't take risks. I wrote for a big-name one that cooked up a "daring" kids' series in the 90s. It flopped and the editor lost her job. At another house, I was told point-blank that I couldn't deal with homelessness, "rough" characters, or controversial adoption issues. They wanted light stories on issues such as cheating. My personal belief is that one reason most of these books were historical at first is that tougher issues could be dealt with in the non-modern setting. They also would not break any new ground; if something made it in the mainstream (Babysitters' Club, for example), they would knock out a quickly written, poorly edited "Christian alternative" (the deadlines in Christian series fiction can be brutal). Well, an imitation never equals the original. The Christian children's publishing industry is now a shadow of what it was in the 90s, because they can't and won't compete with mainstream quality. I've moved on -- but so have they. It takes an agent to get into reputable Christian houses these days, and so very few of them will touch kids' books. No money in it. For anybody. Well, unless you make a big splash on somebody else's dime; then they want to carry your stuff. Or you've already entered the industry through successful adult fiction.
#48 - September 03, 2008, 06:37 AM
Adventures of Jenna V. Series
Caroline Grade Mysteries
The Journey of Emilie
Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet
www.marciahoehne.com

The Christian children's publishing industry is now a shadow of what it was in the 90s, because they can't and won't compete with mainstream quality.

Pretty broad generalization.  Also the part about quickly written and poorly edited. 
#49 - September 03, 2008, 07:51 AM
http://stephanielreed.com

"If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Mark 9:23

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region wisconsin
Pretty broad generalization.  Also the part about quickly written and poorly edited. 

I was in that industry in the 90s. My agent and I agreed it was in trouble then, and it's all but faded away compared to the heyday of MG series it enjoyed then. And I have specifics in mind that demonstrate "quickly written and poorly edited," but I'm not going to give names and titles. And my intention truly isn't to bash, so I don't want to go on and on about this. But I feel for newer Christian children's writers who have such hope about entering the CBA. It's just that I think it's time we told it like it is.
#50 - September 03, 2008, 04:00 PM
Adventures of Jenna V. Series
Caroline Grade Mysteries
The Journey of Emilie
Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet
www.marciahoehne.com

Jeannine Norris

Guest
Great thread.  I'm a newbie to the boards....adding my two cents.   Some trade publishers have added their own Christian imprints  -  opening doors for manuscripts that have cross-over appeal.  I had trouble finding an agent to sell my "Christian" book.  Fortunately, I met my editor at a SCBWI conference and she recognized its market appeal.  My book is released the end of this month with HarperCollins Blessings.    Thought I would "shout out" some words of encouragement in a tough industry.  Believe in your book, write with passion, and hopefully opportunity will come knocking....
#51 - September 23, 2008, 06:22 AM

ShireWriter

Guest
Thanks Jeannine Norris for your last statement! My PB is a Christian book, and I just read this entire thread. Trying not to doubt.
#52 - September 23, 2008, 06:45 AM


 Thought I would "shout out" some words of encouragement in a tough industry.  Believe in your book, write with passion, and hopefully opportunity will come knocking....



Welcome to the boards, Jeannine, and thank you for your encouragement.   I really needed to hear that today.

And congratulations on your upcoming release!!!!!  Be sure to let us know when it hits the shelves!!!!!

 :yay

#53 - September 23, 2008, 10:41 AM

Hi all.

Jeannine's in my critique group, and I see she didn't let you know her book is out. Well, I will. Her book is out.  :yay

It is "Tonight You Are My Baby" and it's a Christmas PB. It has beatiful pictures and I absolutely love the refrain in her poem. Because it's a Christmas book, it may fall into a different category than some of you are thinking about writing. A specific holiday picture book is probably more marketable than a general, non-holiday picture book or novel. Novels in particular would be difficult, for all the reasons mentioned above.

Go Jeannine!  :cheerleader

Joan
#54 - November 26, 2008, 12:10 PM

 :thankyou, Joan!  Methinks some holiday manuscripts ought to be on my to-do list....
and CONGRATULATIONS, Jeannine!!!!  I can't wait to get my hands on your book!!

 :cheerleader
#55 - November 26, 2008, 05:19 PM

Caroline

Guest
Congratulations Jeannine!! :yay
#56 - December 01, 2008, 04:58 PM

pixydust

Guest
Belated welcome and CONGRATZ!!!

I'm just piping in to high five Ryan. I took a leap and left my CBA agent a year ago and am now diving into the ABA. There are some authors doing well in CBA/YA but all are tween and Jr type novels. I write for teens. I may as well be writing for Martians the way the CBA publishers see it. "Teens don't read anymore," they say. Man, are they out of touch. Anyway, a new journey is beginning, and I'm just writing what I want now. It's awesome, and refreshing. It just sucks to be back at square one agian. But at least now I'm having fun and not worrying that my MC says, "H-E-double-hockey-sticks" or kicks a guys butt.  :duel
#57 - March 01, 2009, 12:14 AM

big daddies

Guest
I'm very frustrated with the Christian fiction market, both children's and adult.  Aside from the "following the trend" problem, just the basic philosophy many of the Christian publishers have strikes me as odd.

First, some require there to be an element of evangelism to take place in their books.  Not that I'm opposed to that.  But the problem is, the Christian publishers will only sell their books in the Christian bookstores, or in sections in mainstream bookstores that only Christians are looking at to begin with.  As such, what point is there in the evangelism angle?  They are evangelizing those who are already Christians!  Preaching to the choir, as it were.  Which makes the whole evangelism requirement rather pointless.

Second, Christian publishers tend not to want gritty or raw topics handled, forgetting that this is a pained, sinful world where people make mistakes. And while people CAN make mistakes in the Christian books, they are only allowed to make "approved" mistakes.  Nothing too terrible, unless it is an unrepentant character OR is a character who ultimately becomes the object of evangelism.  But, what about the average Christian out there who ALSO makes mistakes?  The same "masks" that people wear at church must be worn in books, because, heaven forbid, we might actually have a character/church member who, for example, swears.  Or how about the Christian (character) who has doubts? Many publishers just won't allow that.

Third, a great majority of Christian fiction I've read is, quite frankly, second-rate.  It is predictable and unimaginative. 

If a Christian writer wants to influence the world, I think they should be targeting the SECULAR market.  Write a book that a secular readership wants to read that, in some fashion, reflects the gospel message...even if only in a subtle way. 

Ryan, well said.  I was not too sure what was happening, but I sent several queries out and came to the same conclusion.  What I decided was, I would continue to write and let the market come to me, meaning, keep focused on what I do best, believing a change would come, soon.  LOL. While frustrating, funny how my focus got that much tighter.  :yup
And surely there are other markets opening up.  Most houses while working to stay "true" see the change in the marketplace and don't know how to get there.  I believe by staying focused on writing, the market will push back and determine (somewhat) what happens.  Maybe I am naive, but sa-la-ve! :grrr

I actually have been sub'ing to other houses and getting nice feedback on submissions which are focused on attributes of Christianity, like love, than holding up Jesus, who by the way, needs no holding up.  He stands pretty good on his own. :ha Or banging the evangelical drum.

Then I wake up from dreaming, say my prayers, and thank GOD for keeping me writing what I do.  Maybe I'll change, maybe not..........
#58 - March 01, 2009, 03:14 AM

sally_apokedak

Guest
I have nothing to say about the topic but I wanted to wave at Pixy and say, "I'm glad to see you out and about!"

Do you remember telling me to come over to the blue board, long ago? I finally made myself comment last week. This is a great board! So much useful info here.

Hope all is well with you, Pixy.

#59 - March 01, 2009, 12:58 PM

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.