In Case You Were Wondering

Piggybacking on Becky’s poll, here’s a summary of the current top 10 Christian fiction bestsellers compiled by the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) and as of about 2 pm CDT today.
on May 8, 2012 · No comments

"Amish Science Fiction...It's gonna be big."

Piggybacking on Becky’s poll, here’s a summary of the current top 10 Christian fiction bestsellers compiled by the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) and as of about 2 pm CDT today. I’ve annotated them by genre, and each section links to its respective list, if you want to see the full top 20 or so. The CBA list includes one item that’s actually a non-fiction book spinning a theory about Biblical prophecy (the CBA seems to consider it dubious enough to group it with fiction), so I’ve omitted it to avoid comparing apples and oranges.

CBA Bestsellers (oddly, this listing is dated June 2012)

  1. Loving, by Karen Kingsbury (contemporary romance)
  2. The Fiddler, by Beverly Lewis (comtemporary romance, Amish)
  3. The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club, by Wanda E. Brunstetter (contemporary, inspirational, Amish)
  4. Illusion, by Frank Peretti (speculative, supernatural…hmm, interesting…blurb reads more like fantasy)
  5. Leaving, by Karen Kingsbury (contemporary romance)
  6. Longing, by Karen Kingsbury (contemporary romance)
  7. Downfall, by Terri Blackstock (mystery)
  8. Learning, by Karen Kingsbury (contemporary romance)
  9. Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers (historical romance, allegorical)
  10. Courageous, by Randy Alcorn & Alex Kendrick (contemporary, inspirational) Christian Fiction Bestsellers:

  1. Dandelions in a Jelly Jar, by Traci DePree (contemporary, inspirational)
  2. The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant (historical)
  3. True Honor, by Dee Henderson (contemporary romance)
  4. A Can of Peas, by Traci DePree (contemporary, inspirational)
  5. Home to Harmony, by Philip Gully (contemporary, inspirational, humor)
  6. Unafraid: Mary, by Francine Rivers (historical)
  7. The Rescue, by Lori Wick (historical romance)
  8. In This Mountain, by Jan Karon (inspirational)
  9. Birth of an Age, by James BeauSeigneur (speculative, apocalyptic)
  10. A Light in the Window, by Jan Karon (inspirational)

Ted Dekker’s Heaven’s Wager (speculative, supernatural) comes in at #11 on this list

As a spec-fic fan, I find those results a bit depressing, though it’s interesting how different the CBA’s list is from Amazon’s.  How about I take a quick look at Amazon’s science fiction and fantasy bestsellers? That’ll cheer me up. Places 1 through 8 are held by Charlaine Harris and George R.R. Martin, with Ms. Harris’ current Sookie Stackhouse vampire novel, Deadlocked, perched at #1, and various volumes/collections of Mr. Martin’s Game of Thrones series following after. At #9, we have Stephen King’s latest addition to his Dark Tower series, The Wind Through the Keyhole. Rounding out the top 10 is Seth Grahame-Green’s historical mashup, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Killer.

Sigh. Not  helping. I haven’t read any of the books on these lists, with the exception of the first couple of Thrones books. I found them tedious and don’t intend to revisit that series. I saw the movie version of Courageous, but it provided me no incentive to read the book. Birth of an Age is part of something called the Christ Clone Trilogy, and I think I have a drawer full of t-shirts for having been there, done that. The Red Tent has been around for 15 years or so and has garnered quite a bit of critical acclaim. I thumbed through it once and landed in a chapter describing female purification rituals in ancient Caanan.


Moving right along…

My wife’s a Charlaine Harris fan, and I read the first couple of Sookie Stackhouse books in an effort at solidarity, but they’re not exactly my favorite flavor, nor is Beverly Lewis, whom my wife also enjoys. If anybody wants to write an Amish vampire romance, now’s the time. Just saying.

I lost my taste for Peretti after The Visitation, I think because his stories were beginning to seem repetitive. It sounds like he’s taking a different tack with Illusion, so I might try that when I get a chance.

Lincoln vs. vampires? Please. Teddy Roosevelt vs. zombies—That’s entertainment.

Fred was born in Tacoma, Washington, but spent most of his formative years in California, where his parents pastored a couple of small churches. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1983, and spent 24 years in the Air Force as a bomber navigator, flight-test navigator, and military educator. He retired from the Air Force in 2007, and now works as a government contractor in eastern Kansas, providing computer simulation support for Army training.Fred has been married for 25 years to the girl who should have been his high school sweetheart, and has three kids, three dogs, and a mortgage. When he's not writing or reading, he enjoys running, hiking, birdwatching, stargazing, and playing around with computers.Writing has always been a big part of his life, but he kept it mostly private until a few years ago, when it occurred to him that if he was ever going to get published, he needed to get serious about it. Since then, he's written more than twenty short stories that have been published in a variety of print and online magazines, and a novel, The Muse, that debuted in November 2009 from Splashdown Books, which was a finalist for the 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award for book of the year in the speculative genre. Speculative fiction is his first love, but he writes the occasional bit of non-fiction or poetry, just to keep things interesting.
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  1. Ralph says:

    Have you read Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Killer? It is a fun book.

  2. Yes, there is a crying need out there for Amish vampire fiction— even if they are romances (ick!).
    And the TR vs zombies thing? I’d read it.

  3. Galadriel says:

    That is sad. Both of the lists, actually. I have read considerable amounts of Kingsbury, but that was an availibilty thing. And bragging rights for reading them before my mom did. Not that they’re awful…just ….not my favorite. And I got sort of turned off Blackstock when the fourth book in her semi-apocolyptic series had a main character die through entirely preventable causes.

  4. Kessie says:

    About the only positive thing I can see in these lists is the power of series. Look how all these authors get more and more popular every book!
    Also, CBA seems to be holding true to the demographic of middle aged white women doing the buying. I think if we want to change Christian books, we need to change the demographic. How that’s to be done, I have no idea.

    • “the power of series”

      Yep.  And guess what I don’t have much interest in writing.  I don’t even like reading books that are part of a series.  They intimidate me.  It’s like committing to War and Peace.  I barely have time to read one book, let along an entire series.  *sigh*  Why can’t I be like the normal people…

  5. Timothy Stone says:

    I don’t think it’s entirely a case of lack of interest as much as it is of a lack of marketing to tell folks of these books. I have only known of these types of Christian spec books, mostly fantasy in my case, as I’ve seen the sight here, so I’ve known where to look. For those who don’t specifically look, there is very little real marketing, methinks.
    I have read a total of ONE Kingsbury book, Unlocked, for personal reasons due to having had a handicapped brother (who is with Christ now). Then again, I actually LIKE inspirational and romantic (there are few genres I don’t like), so that’s not saying much.
    Sir, are the Charlainne Harris books good? I’ve heard that the author tries to make a comparison between her fictional vampires and homosexuals as supposedly oppressed in real life, and that it lays it on kind of thick. Of course, logically, that is an ABSURD comparison, but I don’t need to have the supposed “need” for moral acceptance of perversion shoved in my face. I ask, because if I’m wrong in what I’ve heard, I’d love know so I can consider reading them.

    • Fred Warren says:

      They were okay, nothing earthshattering, pretty much supernatural murder mysteries with a touch of romance. The stories are set in the Southeastern U.S., and a lot of the locales and cultural references were familiar from the several years we spent living there. There’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor, and overall, they’re fairly lighthearted. I didn’t see any homosexual advocacy in the stories or the interviews I’ve read, though I suppose somebody could draw an analogy there if they tried.
      The HBO TV series derived from the books, True Blood, went very dark and sexually explicit (no surprise for HBO), which isn’t representative of the books as I remember them, but I only read the first two. Ms. Harris has also written a couple of conventional murder mystery series that I’ve not read but my wife enjoys very much.

  6. Fred, these best-seller lists aren’t happy news, but they also aren’t particularly accurate. A few years ago, when the whole system of counting sales was in flux, Brandilyn Collins wrote a couple posts (part 1, part 2, and part 3 for follow-up questions) explaining the issue. BTW, in the first post she explained that the lists were compiled two months ahead of data. So the May list would actually reflect March sales.

    I found this particularly interesting from Brandilyn’s comments:

    So–the bestseller lists certainly don’t show all sales, but neither does any bestseller list out there. Secular lists work in the same way–sales reported from a set number of participating stores. And secular lists never use Christian bookstore data, while the Christian list doesn’t use secular bookstore data. That’s why when you see a Christian book hit a secular bestseller list, that book is really selling, because one of its biggest venues for selling–the Christian bookstores–have no representation at all.

    You also might be interested in the comparison of the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) list with the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishing Association) list — not the same results. Here’s the link to the last one of these Brandilyn published on her blog (she’s left her material up — some great writer resources — but has not blogged since Dec. 2010).

    Neither list, however, show great sales for speculative fiction and there are many, many good books out there that deserve recognition, as the comments to yesterday’s post show us.

    Without a doubt, marketing/promotion is part of the issue — which is why I think it’s important for readers of speculative fiction to be vocal in our support of good books, and not just among ourselves.


    • Fred Warren says:

      Ah, that explains the date on the CBA list.
      Yeah, these are just a snapshot, and a narrow one at that. I was a little surprised that Dekker and Peretti didn’t show up on both lists.  Series accumulate word of mouth and help an author’s name recognition, and TV exposure hasn’t hurt either Game of Thrones or the Charlaine Harris books.
      Though the ECPA and CBA lists aren’t quite the same, most of the same titles appear in both, though the placement is shuffled a bit.

  7. Here is the current ECPA best-seller list for fiction.


  8. Becky, I think you hit on a critical point: marketing. In order to sell, you need visibility. But many of us from small publishers don’t have the budget for lots of marketing. I’ve been blessed to have some free promotions come my way. 

  9. Timothy Stone says:

    Thank you Sir. 🙂
    Maybe we need to do more “marketing” as Christians who write (in your cases) or read (in all our cases) such books. Use word of mouth and that sort of thing.

  10. Oh my gosh…vampire amish romance…you HAVE to do this.  I’m not kidding.  Please oh please!

What do you think?