Keeping the C in CBA

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

This post is an updated post based on one I wrote four years ago. New situations have come and gone, and I think this blog can serve as a good reminder for all of us in the Christian publishing world. We are to be a light to the world, so we should be modeling Jesus’s teachings in our words and actions.Β  Let’s all work to keep that C in CBA (Christian Booksellers Association).

“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind.

Has he ever spoken and failed to act?

Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” Numbers 23:19 (NLT).

Let’s all remember to try to be like God when it comes to contracts. His word is good. You never have to doubt his promises. That’s how we as Christians should strive to act as well. Yes, we are human and will make mistakes and will fail due to life circumstances, but let’s stop using our humanity to excuse our actions.

I have heard recently of a few Christian authors who have paid very little attention to what they’ve agreed to in their contracts. Failing to turn in books by deadline. Failing to do the promised publicity that helped get them contracted in the first place. Failing to write a quality project. And so many other scenarios. In doing this they have created a lot of strife for the publishing houses they’re contracted with and for their agents as well. Their actions have damaged reputations and relationships and have wasted time, money, and resources.

I’ve also heard stories about some Christian publishing houses that purposefully ignored contracts and went ahead with publishing ebooks they didn’t have rights to. And some Christian publishing houses have refused to honor the return of rights paragraphsΒ  in the contracts, creating huge ordeals over something that should be very simple.

I’ve heard of Christian agents who pretend that multiple publishers are interested in a project to ratchet up the price. Or who advise clients to break previous commitments when they receive contract offers that conflict with previous agreements that won’t pay as much money.

Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days,

keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:12-14 (NIV).

There’s also a lot of badmouthing going on in Christian publishing. Writers with conflicting views on Christianity are battling it out on social media. Authors, agents, and publishing houses are trying to talk down the competition to make themselves look good. If we were all to work our hardest, with God as our focus, I am sure He would take care of our every need, and we wouldn’t ever have to fall into the “bully” trap.

Situations like these should not exist in Christian publishing. We can’t change the way other people work, and we can’t change that we are faulty humans, but I hope all of you will join me in working hard to honor God through the work we do.

Are you with me?

33 Responses

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  1. Count me in! And, should I ever make it to a contract, I sincerely hope that my enthusiasm doesn’t skip right over the fine print. I write non-fiction; I promise to remember that the contract is also non-fiction.

    May the words of our books and our actions in the marketplace be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.

  2. Beautiful, Rachel. I know this is a little off topic, but this is something that really bothers me. I read a really sweet Christian romance recently. I went to Amazon to see her reviews. Mostly all 5 star. I looked at the probably one 3 star she received. The lady who reviewed the book said she didn’t realize the book would be a Christian romance and that is why she gave the low rating. She clearly had other views. Why did the lady even bother? Why would she lower this sweet author’s ratings because she simply misunderstood? I spewed over that. I guess it’s the price Christian authors pay for being the C in CBA. But it’s a bit disheartening.

    • Shelli, unfortunately, that happens more than you think. Hopefully, readers will realize one three-star rating amidst a sea of five stars indicates an obvious bias.

    • Shelli, I see that pretty often! I read a book and I think it’s awesome. I leave a review and notice a handful of 3- or 1-star reviews. And though I know that not every book is for everyone, I’ll think, “How could someone NOT like this book?!” πŸ™‚ In many cases, it’s exactly as you said: The reader gave the book a low rating because they “didn’t realize it was Christian.” Drives me crazy! πŸ™‚

    • Yeah. You know, after I commented, I thought … I imagine some Christians are the same when they read worldly material … expecting there to be morals where there are no rules. Something to think on.

      • Very true! A year or so ago, I resolved not to rate books that I didn’t enjoy based on their anti-Christian or unbiblical views because I kind of had the same thought. πŸ™‚

      • Though I should add that that pertains only to reviews and ratings on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. If I feel compelled to review a non-Christian book for my blog, I always give my honest thoughts about it there. πŸ™‚

    • Rachel Kent says:

      Some people just have it out for Christians. And she probably got the book for free. I’ve seen this happen a lot!

  3. Kristen Joy Wilks says:

    I’m with you Rachel. Lord, help me not to lose sight of who I am in You, just because of a success that you granted. We are more than writers and businesspersons we are wives and husbands, we are mothers and fathers, we are members of our churches and our communities and our public and private schools. And we are children of an almighty God. Let us be all this and more, with grace and humility and a heart that recalls how we were nothing before HE came and rescued us from ourselves.

    • Sheila King says:

      Amen, Kristen! And Shelli and Shirlee! There is nothing that the world offers that is worth trading for our integrity in Jesus.
      We fail in this every day to some extent, but mostly through inattention. To break a contract is not inattention.

      Shirlee – lately the Lord has been proding me to start writing about “My Rock and My Redeemer” – interesting that you should use that phrase!

  4. I love your heart, Rachel! Thank you for being a woman of integrity.

  5. A lot of Christians seem to want to create a dichotomy between their inner and outer lives; Christians at heart, but worldly in business and society. And they misuse Scripture to do it, things like “be gentle as doves and wise as serpents”.

    Hot on the inside, cold on the outside, and that sort of averages out to lukewarm.

    And we know where THAT temperature leads.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      Yep. I’ve seen that too and I’m sure I’m guilty at times, too.

      Praying that God sparks a fire in all of us that burns brightly in all aspects of our lives.

  6. Great points, Rachel. We should all remember that integrity should be at the core of who we are. And as far as social media goes, YES we need to treat others with love and respect, even if their views are totally different than ours. There is too too much ugly happening on social media.

  7. Lori Benton says:

    I tend to stay buried in my work and am not aware of these conflicts by firsthand knowledge. I appreciate the Books & Such team making me aware that such things are happening, even though it’s not pleasant to hear about it. Something to guard against in my own fallible heart.

  8. I’m with you, Rachel! Wonderful, wonderful conclusion to perplexing situations. How did you get inside my head? I truly don’t understand so many things that people do. Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, the author of our faith.

  9. Jill Kemerer says:

    Such a powerful post today, Rachel. We need to honor our word, and we also need to build each other up! That’s part of our ministry. It’s easy to get focused on ourselves, but we’re on a world stage. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Great reminder, Rachel. Thank you!

    I was wondering about this yesterday when I read about a Christian bookstore chain declaring bankruptcy. Apparently, many Christian publishers will not be compensated for the books sent to their stores. It sounds like a legal mess to me, and what makes it worse is that it pits Christian business against one another. So hard.

    As you said, we need to be sure we’re all “…working hard to honor God through the work we do.”

    • Rachel Kent says:

      Yep, we can’t know all of the details of and motivations behind these business dealings–God does though.

      If we focus on working hard to honor God it will make a difference!

  11. Carol says:

    What a timely post for me today. With my agent, I’m working through the difficult legal-eze in my first contract right now. It helps to remember that, sadly, others have failed to live up to their commitments in the past, and a publishing house is trying their best to protect themselves from such negative experiences going forward. Just as I don’t have any experience with them, they don’t have any experience with me. I trust I’ll add to the number of Christian authors who do act with professionalism and integrity – doing what I say I’ll do. I can only hope the other parties involved do the same.

  12. It’s nice to read a blog that speaks the truth about a problem that we in the Christian writing industry need to confront and change. You are like a lone voice in the wilderness. By calling our attention to cases of impropriety in Christian publishing/authoring practices, you help us address the issue in a proactive way. Some of us are trusting individuals who expect to be treated well by the Christian publishing/publisher sector. Our naivete can get us in trouble. One of those wake-up calls. Thank you for the reminder that there is a need, and Scriptural mandate, to adhere to a “higher” calling even if others do not. Unfortunately, it seems that money more than message drives Christian business. I appreciate this word of caution and honesty.

  13. Amen, Rachel.

  14. Bonnie Doran says:

    I agree with you, Rachel. We Christians of all people should act above board in our dealings. I’m aware of an instance in which an agent was sued and another in which a ghost writer came close to it. Even if we were wronged, I don’t believe this action is justified.

    Another area in which Christians need to show grace is with those dreaded one- and two-star reviews. It’s tempting to lash out. Several authors have posted on the ACFW loop that they use low scores as a learning experience because often the reviewer make some good points about the novel.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  15. I’m with you, Rachel. You’re absolutely right. I always do my best to keep my side of the bargain and be professional and Christian in my dealings. If we want to keep the industry honest and comfortable to work with, we’ll have to be that way.

  16. Robin Bayne says:

    Great article!
    Very good points. And as for review–not only do I see books rated poorly for being Christian, but also for formatting problems in an ebook or a page missing from a paperback. Very disheartening.