Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
Here at Books & Such, we represent many different kinds of books, but we specialize in books for the Christian market. Almost all agents specialize—some represent mostly romance. Some specialize in mystery, thriller and suspense. Some agents specialize in healthcare and self-help titles. Specialization allows agents to become experts in their genre or category, staying on top of trends and requirements.
So, we specialize in books appropriate for the Christian market, or books that express a Christian worldview. This way, we can be “experts” at what’s going on in the Christian sector of the publishing business.
What makes a book “Christian”?
Sometimes it’s not so easy to define what makes a book fit into the Christian section of the market. At the most basic level, the book is written through a Christian worldview, a way of looking at the world filtered through the truths taught in the Bible. It assumes a sovereign God who created everything and everyone; it assumes we are answerable to God for our thoughts, words and actions; it assumes we have need of salvation and redemption and that it comes only through the person of Jesus Christ.
In Christian fiction, some books overtly express elements of Christianity in the story, integrating things like prayer, conversion, church. Other books don’t include overt references to Christianity but they are clearly written from a Christian worldview, adhering to Biblical principles and usually expressing some aspect of redemption, God’s unconditional love, or honest grappling with faith.
Christian fiction can have non-Christian elements, but they can’t be without consequence or some kind of opinion that comes through in the prose. If your story features exotic dancers (read: strippers), it can’t glorify their lifestyle or make it look like it’s a value-neutral activity. In general, you want your story populated with real people who struggle with real life issues; and you also want to reflect an effort for believers to live in ways that glorify God.
Of course, this can get sticky when you get down to details. Can a Christian character get a tattoo? Get a divorce? Can the believers in your story go out for drinks? It will always depend on how you handle that element of the story—and on what your publisher thinks. Your Christian readers will definitely have opinions!
Christian non-fiction is usually overt in its use of Biblical principles to teach a particular subject. For example, I’ve received quite a few queries about leadership books. The Bible contains numerous teachings that apply to leadership, so for us to represent a leadership book, it would need to contain specific Biblical tenets. When we consider a memoir, it’s usually a person’s faith journey and their wrestling with the spiritual side of life, perhaps in relation to another life issue such as an illness or an addiction.
What do you think? How would YOU define a book that fits the Christian market?