Sunday, April 29, 2007

Biblical CyberPunk?

Biblical What?

Fiction authors must write with a very specific audience on their frontal lobes. They must write for their niche. I've found the terms Christian science fiction & fantasy and Christian speculative fiction, to be too broad.

I'm tired of the debate surrounding "Christian fiction." One side says you must write subtle or secular, and leave your skill to glorify God. The other side insists Christianity must be included in character and plot. I say, every author's fiction-ministry has a different purpose, voice, style, etc. We're like snowflakes—no two are the same. My fiction purpose is discipleship, not evangelism, so I use the descriptor "Biblical."

Sci-fi invokes visions of spaceships and ray-guns. My own dystopian sci-fi is set only thirty years in the future, and focuses on bionics and cybernetics: the fusion of technology and anatomy. This sub-genre of sci-fi is called cyberpunk, but cyberpunk is, by definition, exclusively anti-religion. I've flirted with using the term faithpunk, but I'm not sure it's meaning would click with readers. So, for lack of a better term, my niche is Biblical cyberpunk.

And, while you're at it, read about his Biblical Cyberpunk novel Flashpoint, coming in Septmber 2007.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Growing Sales for Religious Books!

Writer's Digest ran an article in '06 that predicted a boom in religious books for the next five years. I hoped that boom would include Christian fiction. The following article indicates that Christianity's lost genre (speculative fiction), just might be set to boom. Feast your eyes on this article that appeared in the April 15, 2007 issue of AtlasBooks Advocate:

Religious Books Sell!
By Sarah Bolme

If you have pondered whether your publishing company should enter the realm of religious books, you will be delighted to hear that this category of books is selling well. Religious books were ranked second in sales growth for 2005 (first in sales growth for the year were Education/Curriculum books). Religion book sales, with their nine percent sales increase, are growing faster than overall book sales, which increased around 5% this past year.
Growth for the religion book category is not new. Sales growth has now been the trend for this category for the past few years. Although religious book titles account for about 5% of the total book market according to AAP (American Association of Publishers), sales in this category grew 37% in 2003, 11% in 2004, and about 9% in 2005.

Religion buyers for both Barnes & Noble and Borders Group, Inc. report that their religion sales have increased steadily over the past several years with Borders reporting that its religion sales have increased 36% since 2000. Religion sections in both of these stores continue to grow with the most sales in the Christian Fiction (sales of Christian romance titles have grown 25% a year since 2001) and the Christian Living titles.

Industry veterans have differing views on what has spurred the continued growth of religion category books. Some feel it has been the move from publishing mostly theological material to publishing more books with practical everyday principles. Others claim it is due to the few mass market religion-themed and Christian bestsellers such as the Left Behind Series (which has sold over 40 million copies), The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (has sold over 20 million copies) and Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez (sold over 10 million copies). A number think that it is a new willingness of American people to talk about and incorporate “religion” or “faith” into their everyday lives, a changed spurred by the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Still others think that it is due to the aging of the Baby Boomers, who – confronted with their own mortality – are now considering spiritual issues. A few others feel that the growth is in part due to the fact that mass-market outlets (such as Wal-Mart and Target) now carry religious titles.

As with sales growth in any arena, when there is profit potential, companies jump at the chance. While the religious title category encompasses more than just “Christian” titles, the fact is these titles do make up the majority of this category. Historically, Christian titles have almost exclusively been published by “Christian” publishing houses (Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Multnomah, etc.). With the increase in religion sales, large New York Publishing houses have jumped on the bandwagon and are creating more and more imprints for Christian titles. Simon & Schuster launched Little Simon Inspirations this past February, its first Christian imprint for children; and Random House Children’s Books’ imprint Golden Books recently returned to the Christian market with a new Christian-interest publishing program introducing a dozen new titles this past year.

The good news is religious books are selling. The increase in religion category sales appears to be boosted by more than just the few religious best-seller titles mentioned earlier. A recent report by ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) shows that consumers of Christian books read more and spend more on books than the general population. Another study by the Barna Group showed that nearly half of all Americans have read at least one religious book other than the Bible from cover to cover in the last two years. With an overwhelming majority of the population of the United States reporting a Christian religious affiliation, religion title sales have the potential to continue to grow for years to come. So whether you already publish religious titles or are looking to break into the religion category with a new title this year, there is room in the market for your next project.

***************************************************************************************************************Sarah Bolme is the director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) ( and the owner of Crest Publications ( Sarah’s newest book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, can be found at © 2007