1. I believe the only hope for Christian fantasy to sell well comes from marketing it as secular fantasy. Until some significant cultural norms are finally destroyed once and for all (maybe 20 years from now).

    But yes, I am purchasing and reading Christian fantasy. Even though I’m a slow reader with limited reading time.

  2. Another potential question is whether Christians actually do desire Christian fiction but don’t like the particular Christian fiction books that are out on the market. Years ago, the answer would have probably been yes, but as time goes on and more Christian fiction becomes available, the answer is probably starting to become ‘no, there is quite a bit of good Christian fiction out now’.

    Honestly, though, just because a book wins an award doesn’t keep it from being an ‘unknown’. In many ways it’s more likely to be a decent book, but there are still a lot of individual readers that probably won’t like it. The overall quality of the book may be decent, but that doesn’t mean the writing style, plot, etc. is going to hit home for nearly everyone. So a reader might feel like it’s an unknown in the sense that they personally may not like it.

    But some of this is a matter of whether or not bookstores know these books exist, too. And where are they made available? If Ingram is where a lot of bookstores purchase books from, not having books available through Ingram reduces a book’s chances of being sold in actual stores and thus getting noticed more. I’m thinking about using Blurb books because not only do they have their own online store, but they distribute print books to both Amazon and Ingram.

    I do want to read and buy a lot of Christian books, but time and finances do work against me a bit on that one. I do try and keep an eye out for books to add to Christmas wishlists and whatnot, though. Also, I was in a Barnes and Noble recently, and as usual their Christian Fiction section is pathetically small, so with a lot of mainstream stores like that it’s a vicious cycle of ‘we don’t carry Christian fiction because not enough people buy it, but few people buy it because there isn’t a good selection’

  3. Lauren Beauchamp says:

    I think a lot of us are mostly broke and busy, make it hard to invest time or money into finding authors and trying new books. When I was just working part time, I used to get a lot of free Kindle books — some of them were terrible, but some were actually really good, and I would purchase sequels on sale.

    Now my lunch break is my reading time, and I really don’t want to stare at a screen. So I mostly read library books. I will search out my favorite authors, but I’m less likely to try something new at this stage in my life. I was persuaded to buy the mermaid series by Catherine Jones Payne after her article was featured here. Really glad I did!

    And if I could find out what name Anne Elisabeth Stengl is writing under now, I would buy those books in a hearbeat. Her Goldstone Wood series won many awards, but she didn’t sell enough to keep writing and supporting her family.

    • Yeah, I think she said she didn’t think her newer (darker) stories would be accepted by her existing reader base. But I would have been really interested to at least look into her newer stuff. I understand her decision, but feel slightly disappointed and curious.

    • The announcement is still up on the Goldstone site. I nosed around the internet a little to see if I could find her books, but nothing. I don’t know if she was planning to market to a traditional press or put them out herself. It is frustrating, because I agree that she’s a talented writer.

  4. Sarah Parks says:

    Over the past 4 years i’ve purchased about 15 Christian speculative books, most mentioned on SpecFaith, and read (or at least started to read) all of them. At best, i found them enjoyable but not memorable, and at worst they bored me to death, with nonsensical plots and bland characters i did not care about. Not one of them would rank in my top 10 or even 20 of books i’ve read, though one or two might make my bottom 20. I would love to see more Christians succeeding as authors of speculative fiction, but it’s hard to invest time and money in a direction that has disappointed me over and over again.

    • Travis Perry says:

      This of course makes me curious as to what your top 10 or 20 books are. I think if I saw those, I’d be able to recommend a Christian writer you might like better than the ones you mentioned.

      But I do think there’s a fair level of mediocrity among Christian books–though I’ve read some authors I’d say were genuinely good (though truly great? not so much).

      • LadyArin says:

        An abbreviated list, arranged alphabetically by author’s name because trying to assign value judgments is a never-ending exercise in futility:
        1 Watership Down – Richard Adams
        2 Shardik – Richard Adams
        3 Jane Austen novels
        4 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
        5 Most Agatha Christie mysteries
        6 Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke
        7 The Hunger Games trilogy – Suzanne Collins
        8 The Kite Runner – Khaled Housseini
        9 A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Housseini
        10 Howl’s Moving Castle – Dianna Wynne Jones
        11 Most things by C.S. Lewis
        12 The Visitation – Frank Peretti
        13 The Oath – Frank Peretti
        14 Going Postal – Terry Pratchett
        15 Thud! – Terry Pratchett
        16 Pretty much everything by Brandon Sanderson
        17 I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
        18 Pretty much everything by Tolkien
        19 First 3 Queen’s Thief books by Megan Whalen Turner
        20 The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

      • In fairness, there’s a fair level of mediocrity among general market books, too. The really outstanding writers, Christian or no, ate not a dime a dozen.


        • Sarah Parks says:

          Never said (or meant to imply) all general market books were better. There’s plenty of those on my bottom 20, too. But even without a comparison to general market fiction, the ratio of Christian books i liked to ones i did not is discouraging, especially when the best ones rank as “tolerable time-waster” and the worst as “that was awful”. It does not encourage me to pick up another Christian speculative fiction book, no matter how well-reviewed or awarded.

  5. Kathleen J Eavenson says:

    I have long been a reader of science fiction/fantasy/speculative fiction. In answer to Becky’s question, yes, I do buy books (in Kindle format and as my retiree budget allows) In fact, counting the list of non-fiction titles I’m also interested in, I have QUITE a long list of Kindle samples I hope to fully purchase someday!!

    And, as a retired public librarian whose duties sometimes included book selection/purchase, may I remind everybody that there’s a LOT of stuff published (in other genres, for example) that is just ‘meh.’ Yes, even the stuff that makes it into the big bestseller lists! Name recognition and big PR $$$ can accomplish a lot. Most of the (published &/or aspiring) authors who participate here are all too aware of this.

    • So true! Thanks for adding that note. There’s also the fact that not every book is for every person. For example, some of Sarah Parks’ list above would not be on any list of mine. The classics, yes (though if she’d picked the other Brontë sister, I would have said, Not for me) and some of the more contemporaries. But not all. Honestly, I haven’t read a contemporary book that I can grab hold of and say, Oh, my, this is the best book I’ve ever read! But I’ve read a lot of good ones. Enjoyable ones. Some that made me cry or think deeply. Some that I try to remember and can’t. Just today saw a sale for a book in a series, and I thought, did I read that book? I remember the series, but that particular book, not at all. I put a lot of stock in recommendations, especially from sources that I know have tastes similar to mine. So I think talking about books is really, really good.


  6. I just stumbled across this blog–I love spec fiction, whether it’s fantasy (my fav), supernatural suspense, (second fav) or sci-fi…I’ve even read a paranormal romance (Christian, believe it or not) that I loved. I appreciate the discussion here and I’m going to follow this blog. Rebecca, I believe we met at the SoCal conference?

    I hope this is ok to post? It’s not my book but one I read and loved and that is winning awards. “The Awakened” A book Book by Richard Spillman–is free through Sept. 7th on Kindle and the audio book just came out. I love the narrator. I’m including a link to the first 15 min so you can check out the narrator and story. It’s a supernatural, international suspense/thriller with very strong reviews…some saying they compare his writing and the story to Peretti. https://youtu.be/TzWuAO9K4x0 via @YouTube

    I LOVED this book! Here’s the link to Amazon for the ebook or print in case you’re interested. https://amzn.to/2ZwKKCx You also get a 60% reduction in price on the audio book if you get it at the same time as the free ebook!! And book two, The Ascension, just released, and it’s only $2.99 during this same time period, then it goes up.

    I’m like some here who said you don’t have much time to sit and read. I rarely do, so I listen to audio books when I’m driving, doing yard work, housework, etc. I’d LOVE recommendations on good fantasy in audio if anyone has any? I even started a Christian/clean audio group on FB, hoping to find recommendations and stir discussion, as I couldn’t find a group like that already in existence.

    I look forward to reading more that’s posted here and I’m glad I found you!

What do you think?