Mission Report, April 25–27, Realm Makers Bookstore in Cincinnati

Homeschool families need great Christian-made fantastical novels, and resources to find the best ones.
on Apr 30, 2019 · 2 comments

Realm Makers Bookstore just wrapped an amazing weekend at Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.

As we mentioned last week, guest stars included novelists Gillian Bronte Adams, S. D. Grimm, Kerry Nietz, and Rebecca P. Minor.

I joined the bookstore to feature Lorehaven magazine for two of the three vendor days. As before, we chatted with homeschool parents and kids. We shared free Realm Makers Bookstore bookmarks with many people, and helped many others find great Christian-made novels in fantasy, science fiction, and similar genres.

From left: novelists S. D. Grimm (Children of the Blood Moon series) and Gillian Bronte Adams (The Songkeeper Chronicles series)

Realm Makers co-founder Scott Minor’s report

The Realm Makers Bookstore contains fiction titles for every age and maturity level by Christian authors, both traditionally and self-published.

With this increasing and ever-broadening selection of books, we have attended twenty-seven events over the last eighteen months.

This includes four secular fantasy cons, four book fairs, two comic cons, seven weekends at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, two Christian conferences, one school book fair, and seven homeschool conventions.

Scott Minor (left) helps Christian homeschool parents explore the Realm Makers Bookstore’s offerings of Christian-authored fantasy, sci-fi, and other books for all ages.

I have learned that most preconceived notions I heard about both markets were not true.

We’ve been welcomed by both secular and Christian events. The negative response we get from each market is about equal.

We are meeting Christians who love fantasy in all of these places. We are also selling the same titles to people who are not Christian.

The Christians who I’ve spoken to appreciate all manner of fiction, not just Christian fiction.

That being said, we’ve sold around 1,400 books at the first four homeschool festivals this spring. We sold around 800 books at all the previous eleven events since August 2018 combined.

From left, foreground: author Kerry Nietz, author S. D. Grimm, and Realm Makers co-founder Scott Minor.

Kerry Nietz signs another copy of A Star Curiously Singing.

Kerry Nietz’s report

I found the conference really encouraging for several reasons.

First, even though fantasy rules the speculative market—largely due to J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis—science fiction did well. Not only did I sell books across my list, from Amish Vampires in Space to The Superlative Stream, science fiction books represented a sizable portion of the overall sales.

Second, most of my sales were to underrepresented fiction readers, meaning boys and their dads. We have a large Frayed poster we use, and buyers told me that that was what drew them in. Face it, robots are cool. Both sexes are intrigued by them, but they especially appeal to the Fortnight / Minecraft / Roblox crowd. I love that. Love that I can us my stories, infused by my technical background, to reach an important demographic. (I was able to sell to other demographics too, though. One memorable sale was to a pair of nuns.)

Third, someone I met at a homeschooling conference last year sought me out at this conference to tell me he bought one of my books and liked it. He’s reading the second book in the series now. That’s the goal of the bookstore (and Lorehaven) realized there. Reaching a new reader with books he can enjoy.

Before the bookstore’s Saturday, April 27 opening, Kerry Nietz and I took a chance to survey the mission field at Great Homeschool Conventions in Cincinnati.

E. Stephen Burnett’s report

Once again, I’m led to conclude: the homeschool market is perhaps the leading frontier to find new fans of Christian-made fantastical novels.1

One homeschool mom told us about her historical studies. She was reading books about genocide and domestic segregation. With this material, she planned to share with her children not some kind of “SJW” propaganda, but a balanced perspective on how humans have behaved in history. In short, she was looking for true-life and fictional narratives that would challenge her kids!

Another parent also helped run libraries in a particular area. She believed some of these books would be perfect for their libraries’ collection.

One mother appreciated my and Kerry Nietz’s Lorehaven t-shirts. They sport the magazine’s logo and the tagline Finding Truth in Fantastic Stories | Lorehaven.com. “I’m intrigued by that,” she told us. We provided a free Lorehaven bookmark (see its design here). I also shared the magazine’s mission to help Christian fans: we review the best Christian-made fantasy books, and provide free resources to help fans better explore these stories for the glory of Jesus Christ.

She lit up. And subscribed to the digital magazine for free, of course!

Yes, Christians in homeschool families, who already love fantastical and challenging books, have these big needs.

They need excellent Christian-made fantastical novels.

They also need resources—like Lorehaven with Speculative Faith!—that help us find and explore the best stories for God’s glory.

  1. For another example, read A Homeschool Mom Discovers Realm Makers Bookstore, after the bookstore’s Fort Worth appearance in March.
E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of Lorehaven.com and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.
  1. Amish vampires in space? That is crazy talk, must click now.

What do you think?