Sandra writes about the “L” word …
September 29, 2009 | Written by admin
After having worked for myself as a freelance writer, and now
agenting, I don't think I could go back to a nine-to-five job working
for someone else. Never say never, but seriously, the freedom I've
enjoyed in both "jobs" far outweigh the benefits I'm missing working
for "the man". Cafeteria food. Overpriced health plans. The opportunity
to practice defensive driving during rush hour.
And, I'd totally miss out on responding to the questions folks ask about an industry I love.
It's my birthday, (and I'm on vacation) so I'm going to allow myself
the indulgence of answering this one often debated question which I
hope stirs up lots of discussion and other questions, from you.
What kind of Christian fiction do you wish you could find more of?
I wish I could find more Christian fiction that tells the story of
redemption and discovery through a focus on character vs. plot.
The trouble with these, though, is that CBA booksellers don't know
how to describe them quickly, which makes them hard to sell. Several
CBA publishers have success with authors who write in what is often
described as a more literary style. But, they have to limit the spots
for these because it often takes years for these authors to build a
following. This makes them hard to find in CBA bookstores,
Take my favorite book – PEACE LIKE A RIVER by Leif Enger. A word-of-mouth book which took a couple years to grow into a
best-seller. It's one of the most "Christian" novels I've ever read,
but I've yet to see it shelved in a CBA store. The most obvious reason
for this is that sales folks who call on CBA stores sell CBA books.
Still … I often wonder what might happen if Christian bookstores
stepped a little outside the lines and stocked non-CBA books. Gasp. I know. It's heresy. Like I said, it's my birthday. Indulge me.
The strength of books like PEACE LIKE A RIVER, TO KILL A
MOCKINGBIRD, EAST OF EDEN, is that the authors carry you away on the
strength of their prose and the breadth and depth of their characters.
But, they are hard books to categorize without using the L word.
Literature. It's an oft ignored category in CBA for a very good reason.
It doesn't sell well.
I know, I know. I sound like a snob. I'm not. I understand the
desire for commercial fiction. And, as an agent, I've learned to
appreciate this desire, and come to understand the enjoyment of reading
more commercial novels. Honestly, I've been pleased to learn that there
are more excellent writers in CBA now than I thought I'd find when I
started agenting two years ago.
And, literary or not, working with authors to help them entertain,
encourage, and make a difference in the lives of their readers is not
just a job. It's a dream job. In fact, it's like it's my birthday –
Hey — while I'm here, I have a favor … I've been racking my brain
to come up with my own birthday blog tradition but so far the best I
can muster is a fruity-drink recipe contest. Obviously, the islands are
getting to me.
Anyone have any suggestions, I'm game!