Choosing a Path

When I was little (like eight or nine years old) I loved reading the choose-your-own adventure novels. I read most of the ones my local library had, and I would re-read them after I chose one adventure.

The Connemara, Ireland, 2007
As an adult, I wish it was as easy to choose an adventure as it was in the books, but sometimes life feels like we're wandering around in circles. For writers, especially Christian writers, one of the hardest choices to make is knowing which field to enter. I don't necessarily mean which genre (for fiction writers), but if the stories you write should focus on the Christian market or the mass market.

Sometimes, the novel dictates the field. A story centered on one's relationship with Christ will most likely do better in the Christian market, whereas a story focusing on the emotional well-being of a character might do better in either market.

I'm also learning that certain genres seem to do better in certain fields. Speculative genres like science-fiction and fantasy seem to do better in the secular markets, while romances do better among the Christian markets.

Faith

What should you look for when making a decision? Well, one of the biggest determiners is how much Christianity is in your novel. My book Azure Maris is focused on Christian worldviews, the worship of God, and how big God is. It's targeted to the Christian community because these are questions some Christians ask.

The novels I'm currently working on have very little Christian overtones. There is an underlying Judeo-Christian worldview, but the novels are set in a fantastical world. To that end, they wouldn't do as well in the Christian market.

Taste
Another question to ask is where do you personally feel comfortable? Christian fiction has its own style, a style which may not suit you as the writer. If you tend to read primarily mainstream fiction, chances are you'll write in that style and do better in a mainstream market.

On the other hand, if you read primarily Christian fiction, you'll probably do better there. If in doubt, try reading from the opposite side. If you read primarily Christian historical romances, try finding a mainstream historical romance author; if you read mainstream science-fiction, attempt to read a Christian science-fiction novel. You will have a good idea if you can write in the style.

Storyline
The last question you can ask concerns the storyline. While the Christian market is changing, there still remains taboo subjects. Even if you are a Christian, writing from a Christian worldview about topics Christians should read, it doesn't mean you can publish in the Christian market.

To find if your subject is possibly taboo, look through Christian bookstore websites to see if there are books on your subject. It's also good to see what non-fiction books on your subject are available as well.

Exceptions to the Rule
All in all, there are always exceptions to every rule, and what someone might think would never work could work. The easiest way to discover where your novel might work is to submit. While it may be discouraging to receive constant rejection letters, you will learn where your story fits.

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