1. As a self-published author selling between 30-100 books a month, including titles in the Christian Spec Fic genre, I am curious to know why you promote the Clive Staples Award as an avenue to build recognition, when they do not accept self-published works. “Published by a publisher that has no direct affiliation with the author and that pays a royalty. (This does mean self-published works are not currently allowed, not even books self-published through any publishing companies’ services.)” We have our own imprint, Findley Family Video, and a blog with over 2000 followers, and still are not eligible for this award. I guess a better question would be that if you truly believe publishing is changing, why does this post present very little new information that would help authors navigate self-publishing?

    • dmdutcher says:

      I’m not with the CSA, but I can see why they do it. 
      One thing is that being vetted by a traditional press can at least ensure a baseline of quality. Some self-pubs surpass this easily, while some are fine in story and content but struggle with basic editing issues. Some are just bad in technical senses that would never allow them to see print in even a lax publisher. Part of the problem is that too many self-pubs are the latter two options, even if they have a lot of followers through smart marketing.
      Another is that there are some unethical self-pubbers who don’t mind gaming a system or using their fanbases to overwhelm an award. The CSA is important because it is one of the few reader-driven awards for Christian spec fiction out there. It’s a pulse on what the readers like in the genre, and more than other awards is vulnerable to this kind of gaming approach. A trad or small press has a lot to lose if they engage in this, but many self-pubs are “damn the torpedoes!” if it increases their sales from 100 a month to 150.
      So it’s kind of rough. Not sure what the solution is.

    • Mary, I think DM has given you a good take on our thinking when we first conceived the award. But times are changing and so is the award. For example, this year, for the first time, we will have judges choose the winner from the finalists selected by readers. I wish we could keep the award just for readers, but in spite of all our efforts, there were still people trying to game the contest last year.

      A second change came last year when Realm Makers, in combination with Spec Faith, was able to offer a modest cash prize to the winning author. As I see it, when we are able to include self-published books, they should compete against other self-published books, not against traditional publishers who have a greater reach. The fact is, we simply don’t have the resources–man-power or finances–to run what would amount to a second contest.

      One thing people may not be aware of is that everything about CSA is volunteer. None of us organizing, supporting, or running the contest make a dime from it. We hold the contest because we believe in Christian speculative fiction and want to see it receive the widest audience possible.

      We’re hoping the time comes when we can add a division to the award–maybe several. After all, some people would like to see a separate division for children’s books (middle grade and young adult). Still others would like to see divisions based on genre–fantasy, science fiction, and horror/supernatural suspense. We could even make a case for indie press as a separate division. But until we have the resources, it’s all wishes and somedays.


  2. I agree with Mary. We need two things. 
    Most important, places like CBD, Lifeway, and the like need to open up their stores to self-published authors. This will become increasingly true. Even now, in Amazon, we’re lumped with Buddhist, Muslim, Wicca, and all the rest. 
    Two we need a source for vetted Christian speculative fiction. Romance and mysteries are doing quite well, but it’s very difficult to even find Christian speculative fiction.

    • Hi David,
      Can you give examples of what you’d like to see for vetted Christian speculative fiction? From Christian publishers? Reviewed at Spec Faith? liked by your Christian friends at Goodreads? Or something else I’m not seeing?

      • I would like a resource that would list the Christian speculative fiction available—especially resources with DRM-free ePUBs. Kindle’s listings are very unclear about content. It would be good if there was a rating system for the spiritual content like: old testament, catholic, evangelical, full gospel, vague allegory, angels, demons, spiritual warfare, horror, and so on. But I can see where that would be very hard to manage. 
        Right now, I have a difficult time even locating good Christian speculative fiction. Often, by the time I find out about a book, it is 3-5 years old or even more. I just reviewed one today from Bethany that I rated minimal spiritual content—vague allegory. It’s got incredible reviews, but none mention the lack of any truth in spiritual content.
        Many of the Christian speculative works are Old Testament spirituality, at best. Excellent books like Mary’s Baron’s Ring would never be found if I didn’t know her online. I’ve never found that book in a search for speculative fiction.
        I’m not sure what the solution will be or if one will be produced, but it is surely needed.

        • I would like a resource that would list the Christian speculative fiction available

          Perhaps the SpecFaith Library is the solution to this need. 🙂

          • Yes, it’s a start. I’d never found this listing. I guess I can assume that all authors in this list a Christians, right? Nothing about price or where available. No way to buy anything. But it seems like it might be a good start.
            Does it include self-published works. What’s the criteria to get listed?

            • David, there used to be a list over at WhereTheMapEnds, though I don’t know if Jeff Gerke is keeping that site going or not.

              The Spec Faith library does have a link to Amazon, for those who’d like to check a book out there or perhaps wish to buy it online. I don’t see that it would be a problem if the person who submits the book wishes to include a link where it can be purchased, but I don’t head up that section of our site, so I may be speaking out of turn. But if you look in the sidebar next to the book you’re looking at, you’ll see tags that give you some information which can help you determine what type of book it is, and then that link to Amazon. See, for example, this book that came up first on the “newest” list: http://www.lorehaven.com/library/a-draw-of-kings/

              As to whether all the authors are Christians–only God knows, but I think all profess Christ. We aren’t trying to ferret out false teaching, though, or to identify nominal believers.

              We simply want what you said you wanted–a place where readers can find a list of Christian speculative fiction. Since we’ve added reviews, we also are offering readers some way of discerning, through the eyes of the reviewers, what books might be the best.

              And we discuss discernment here. Often! 😀


            • Well, that’s the thing about crowdsourced resources: they require public participation if they’re to be of any use to the public.  If everyone reading this would submit one title to the SpecFaith Library, or review one of its current titles … well, then.  There’d be that many more titles and reviews.  😉

              • That sounds good, however there is one practical issue common to most crowd-sourced resources. They are terrible for discovery. When I come to this site, I have a very difficult time findings anything. I finally guessed you were talking about the link called “Library”, BUT library doesn’t even fit on the menu bar and it’s stuck by itself in the middle of nowhere. 
                When I Open it, I find a completely unorganized endless list—actually 20 different pages of endless list. I’m looking for epic fantasy, but I see no way to search for that. The author or publisher lists are of no use as I know none of the names (and don’t care). What I want is the available Christian epic fantasies, or high fantasies, pr however they’re listed this week. I see Carr’s newest. It’s pretty good, but a real disappointment after the first two. But I’ve read it. So, I want to find similar series. Can see no way to do that. So, it’s back to the jungle of amazon…

              • dmdutcher says:

                I would review for Specfaith, but whenever I commented on books in the library I was the only one, and I don’t want to be the guy who is seen as spamming. I had the same issue with Goodreads, because many times I was the only or first one to actually review a book there. So I moved to reviewing at a stand-alone blog. 
                People are reading these books, and it needs to be more the readers of this blog who review, not just a small group of commenters. 

              • Apparently the BookTags are also difficult to find. Becky mentioned those — they are the best way to cross-reference similar books in the Library. A SpecFaith upgrade/webscape redesign may solve this. Such changes could also make the Library easier to find on the front page.

              • It’s only spam if it’s not germane to the topic at hand, DM. And since the whole point of the SpecFaith Library is to provide Christian spec-fic fans with a platform to engage the material that’s out there, I’d encourage you to go forth and review to your heart’s content. You never know who’ll be grateful to read your responses. Moreover, I think you should consider publishing a review or two through SpecFaith’s Featured Review pipeline, which is open to all and even accepts reviews you might’ve already posted to your own blog. All you need is a thoughtful analysis of over 300 words.

        • Julie D says:

          One reason people might not mention spiritual content in a book is because they don’t want to turn off other potential readers

          • I hear that argument a lot. It seems to me to come dangerously near to bearing false witness. If it is in the content, it’s there. If you trick someone into reading your book,they’ll almost surely be offended…IMHO

  3. Maybe all the Christian spec fic authors can be encouraged to get reviews of their work put on this website, Spec Faith.

  4. Are you saying that someone else has to submit a book or review for inclusion in the library or reviews resource? The author can’t submit it him/herself? And thanks so much for the shout-out about the Baron’s Ring, David! I appreciate it.

    • Hmm, no, we receive submissions for Christian-worldview novels from authors all the time. And yes, self-published novels are included. Over the weekend we put through four more novels that met the submission criteria, including three self-pubbed ones.

    • I think Phyllis is talking specifically about reviews. It really would make our library a lot more user friendly if there were more reviews. I think potential readers want to hear what others have to say. I think it matters if someone who doesn’t like a book that is overt in presenting it’s themes reads a review saying a book was preacher or that the theme was well integrated into the story. Those are very helpful in trying to decide between book A or bookB.

      I also like the tags which help readers see at a glace whether the book is urban fantasy, dystopian, populated with elves or vampires or ghosts or whatnot. The category may be speculative but that’s so broad, we don’t all like every title that fits under that umbrella. So those tags and the book descriptions really help, I think.


  5. Great overview, Becky.  Nice and concise.  I can’t speak from personal experience, as I’m not published myself, but I tend to get the feeling that, in the interest of achieving victimhood-status to excuse a lack of success as you’ve defined it here, many aspiring authors tend to overcomplicate the process.  But in the end, it all seems to come back to craft and marketing, craft and marketing.  Simple, yet maddeningly difficult.

    Regarding craft, I’ll add another self-help resource to those you’ve already mentioned: Writing Excuses.  This weekly podcast, winner of a 2013 Hugo, is basically a free college education in the art and science of spec-fic writing as taught by “successful” industry professionals.  It’s honest, pithy, and crazy-good.  It’s a constant inspiration.

What do you think?