1. Becky says:

    I tend to shy away from anything labeled “self-published”. The stigma of “self-published” equaling “sub-standard” is still firmly fixed in my mind. It’s going to take a lot of high quality self-published books to change that. However, I am excited about self-publishing putting pressure on the CBA to loosen up a bit.

    • R. L. Copple says:

      Well, I should have made clearer what I meant by low quality. After all, there are plenty of low quality books published by traditional publishers if by low quality you mean poorly edited, plots that don’t work well, or break writer rules all over the place. That type of stuff you’ll find in both camps.


      What you won’t find in traditionally published books is a book like Moon People, which is why I gave it as an example. Each page filled with typos, grammar errors, punctuation errors, and bad writing such as to make it nearly impossible to follow the story. I think it is this kind of book that people think about when they think low quality. But then any self-published book that has any errors gets lumped in with books like Moon People, even though you could easily find books of similar quality selling under a traditional publisher’s imprint.


      In large part due to a growing number of traditionally published authors moving to self-publishing, and a big percent who do get their work edited and professionally formatted, and the best seller lists now regularly containing a good number of self-published books, there is a lot of quality stories being self-published. The only problem is there is nothing stopping a person who doesn’t care from publishing their first draft, mistakes an all. Unfortunately, some do. But that fact doesn’t negate all those self-published authors who do care and take the time to put out a quality product. I don’t think you can paint all self-published books in one color anymore than you can say all blacks are (whatever).


      What I do think is true is some of this hasn’t hit Christian books as much as its happening in the general market, being it is always a few years behind the general market it seems. So the number of quality self-published books won’t be as high as you’re getting in the general market. Another factor in that is the propensity for Christian authors to feel their message is so important, that they ignore quality issues in storytelling.


      That said, you can find good Christian self-published books out there. I don’t know what that percentage is, but it can’t be zero or close to it. As that grows like it is in the general market, and they start getting on the radar screen of readers like they are in the general market, and competing head-to-head with traditionally published books, and winning like they are in the general market, you’ll see the same perception shifts in the Christian market as is happening in the general. It just hasn’t hit us yet. When it does, expect to see the traditional Christian publishers struggle to deal with the shifts as general market ones are doing right now.


      But my overall belief is that this will be good for readers of Christian books, especially speculative fiction books who have had a history of struggling to get a foot hold through traditional publishers, primarily because traditional Christian publishers have trouble reaching the spec-fic market since that market doesn’t tend to visit Christian bookstores.


      The shift to online book retailing is the primary factor in allowing such publishers to venture into more genres that don’t sell in Christian bookstores. Yet it is non-traditional publishers like Marcher Lord Press, now Enclave, that has proven that the primarily online retail of Christian spec-fic has a viable market and is the reason you’re seeing a growing number of CBA spec-fic in the last few years.


      More options, even if some of those options include Moon People quality, is a good thing for readers overall, because it also means more quality books available for readers than what traditional publishers could hope to produce.


  2. J. S. Bailey says:

    Originally I had wanted to be traditionally published (who doesn’t?), but after much consideration I’ve decided to self-publish my third novel. Restrictions imposed by “Christian” publishers seem to stifle creativity, and when one is self-published there aren’t any restrictions for the author to worry about.

    Recently I’ve stopped marketing my books as “Christian fiction” even though the characters may discuss God and grapple with moral issues. I’ve decided I will market them to Christians who read fiction instead of to readers of Christian fiction. Does that make sense?

    • R. L. Copple says:

      Yes, in a way it makes sense if you define Christian fiction as synonymous with the CBA market through bookstores. Christians read a lot of general market fiction. Those are the ones you’re targeting.


  3. Julie D says:

    I wonder how much of the ebook trend is cross-pollinated with fanfiction trends.  While fanfiction is not generally considered “literature” and is not usually sold due to copyright concerns, several sites and applications exist for downloading fanfics to e-readers, some with more accurate formatting than others.

    In fact, I have more fanfics on my kindle than published books, even if Kindle’s free classics are included.

  4. Great post!

    I set out to write New York market-worthy fiction from a Christian worldview. While I had interest from the CBA, my characters do not come to faith or use faith to overcome their obstacles so I had to go ABA and was happy to sign with an independent press that totally gets it. So it IS possible to publish “Christian fiction” traditionally. My debut scifi comes out in November.

What do you think?