Friday, October 21, 2005

PANEL: Breaking Into The Christian Market



Mary Griffith, Stacy Hawkins Adams, Jacquelin Thomas, Cheri Paris Edwards

Learn about what it takes to break into the Christian Market.

Post your questions in the comment section.

Please read the previous comments before you post, so we don’t have duplicate questions.

Please address your question to a panel member or all panel members.

Click on the comments link to post a question. Don’t forget your registration #


Elaine said...

I have several years' experience of leading small groups and Bible studies. I don't see much call for Bible studies in Christian publications (they appear to want qualified pastors or staff writers for those).

So my question is: How do I find ideas for ways to write about my knowledge and experience without resorting to Bible studies?

Thanks for your help.

Elaine (Badge 23)

Cheri said...

Hi Elaine,
I am unclear from your question whether you are looking to write fiction, or non-fiction. Either way I think your Bible Study leadership can be an invaluable resource for Christian writing. A past lesson can be the foundation for a story or novel. And, your knowledge of the Word will keep your writing grounded in His truth. In fiction, I believe it is the storytelling technique that identifies one writer from another. As a new author I can testify that it is through writing, writing and more writing that this voice, unique to each of us, reveals itself. So, I encourage to do just that until God gives you more direction. Keep writing in any format you can!

Elaine said...

Hi Cheri (and everyone else in the panel)
I was thinking about non-fiction when I asked the question, but I have recently started to write a novel. I didn't imagine I could use my experiences for a story. Thanks so much for suggesting that. I'm so used to writing Bible studies that it didn't occur to me that I could use what I know for fiction. How exciting! Thank you.

I still enjoy writing non-fiction, though. What I wondered was whether there was some way in which I could write Bible studies for magazines without having to go through Bible college to prove to editors that I know what I'm talking about? Can anyone give me some pointers on how to move forward in this area?

Elaine said...

Ooops! That last questions was by me, Elaine, Badge 23

Cheri said...

Hi Elaine,
Though I'm no expert on this question I'll give it my best shot and hope another will chime in later. Like you, I initially wanted to write non-fiction and found that it is easier for those who are educated or considered expert in a particular field to get published initially. It is my understanding however, that self-publishing is a good alternative for non-fiction writers. Another alternative might be to become part of an anthology and I believe there is a panel here discussing that. Hope this helps...

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just logged in, and noticed that the main link to this panel discussion doesn't work. I got in via "Previous posts".

Anne (badge 171)

Stacy Hawkins Adams said...

Hi Everyone,

I also had to log in by going through the Previous Posts section. I hope everyone who's interested will find this panel and find answers to your questions. I'm Stacy Hawkins Adams, author of the Christian fiction novel "Speak To My Heart." I'm also an inspirational columnist for a daily newspaper. I'm honored to serve as a panelist today and will be checking in occasionally to help answer questions. To chime in on Cheri's response to Elaine's questions, I agree that you can pull nuggets of wisdom or find issues in your Bible studies that mirror issues people face today. Being an expert in a particular field does make it easier to get your foot in the door with freelance writing devotionals or getting a book deal, but the most important things are to make sure that your writing is engaging, that the message you're sharing is sincere and that it makes an impact on your readers. Once you've got the writing down, finding the right market for your work will be a little easier.
Stacy (Badge 32)

Wilma Wall said...

Hi all! I'm Wilma Wall, author of inspirational novels Forbidden and Jade Bracelet. I found it impossible to break into the Christian market until I subscribed to an online manuscript service which deals with both inspirational fiction and nonfiction. That opened the door for me. Even when they don't accept a submission, they give a critique so the writer can edit the material to a higher standard.
Wilma Wall, Badge 06

SORMAG said...

Hi everyone,

I fix the link so hopefully everyone will be able to enter the room.

When I started writing Christian fiction, I wondered did I have enough experience to share with readers. However as I grow as a writer I see my experiences growing too.

Did any of you on the panel feel like you didn't have enough experience to be a Christian writer?

LaShaunda - 00

SORMAG said...

For the panel:

Do you think you need an agent to break into this field?

Or should you try to sell on your own, then get an agent?

LaShaunda - OO

Cheri said...

Hi LaShaunda,
So sorry to hear about your computer. I can relate to your pain. I actually broke mine a few weeks ago and it was a taxing situation for a few weeks. Thanks for the great questions! As far as experience goes, if you are speaking about life experience, at almost 50, I am older than most first-timers, which might give me a year or two more to draw on when writing. As a Christian and as a writer I am 'in process' and probably always will be. Because I'm still growing, I don't feel as though I can speak from a place of expertise in either case. So, I share from where I am, relying on God's unchanging word as the cornerstone for the stories I tell. To answer your second question, Walk Worthy Press takes on unagented writers, so I haven't had to cross that bridge yet.
Hope you have a cup of herbal tea and rest easy tonight! You've done good! It's a great conference! God will work the rest out...
;-) Cheri

SORMAG said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SORMAG said...

Thanks Cheri,

Good advice.

I promised myself this year I wouldn't be on the computer to midnight all this week. Its 11:27 so I'm calling it a night :)

See you all tomorrow.

Thank you for making this a sucessful day. I hope everyone learn something because I sure did.

LaShaunda - 00

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in breaking into the Christian fiction market. Are there taboos for this kind of work. My protaginist is a bad girl gone good, but her early life was pretty chaotic. Is this something I can do in Christian fiction?

Cheri said...

Hi Saundra,
Again I'm answering 'off the cuff', sharing what I think I know (lol). While there are no taboos to what any writer can pen, some Christian publishers may not consider your work, or ask you to make changes to it, so that content meets CBA guidelines. This is because many Christian bookstores will not sell books that fall outside of this association's rules. That said, there are many Christian stories to be told exploring the lives of those who took a longer route in finding salvation. Additionally, many who are 'saved' stumble and fall into situations that are unsavory and these too are stories that deserve telling. So, I think it's most important that you tell the story you desire. As Stacy advised earlier, be sincere, speak from your heart in your writing. I believe that ultimately, whether Christian fiction falls in or outside CBA guidelines will not stop folks from reading the book if the story has merit and is entertaining.

Jacquelin Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elaine said...


I'm just popping back to say thanks to everyone who answered my questions. They've been a great help. I especially like the idea to use things I get from Bible studies as 'issues' for stories.
Thanks again.
Elaine (badge 23)

upwords said...


I'm glad all your questions were answered. Lots of great info here.


As far as whether an agent is needed, that would depend on what you write and what house you're targeting. Steeple Hill (and now the newly acquired Harlequin New Spirit, I suppose) takes unagented manuscripts. In the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) however, most houses do not take unagented submissions. You can get around that through attending a writer's conference and being invited to submit a proposal, however.

There are many other publishers getting into publishing inspirational/Christian fiction, however, so keep your eyes open throughout this conference for places to send your unagented manuscripts. Whatever the case, don't rush into signing with an agent. Try and take your time and see if it's a good fit.

Mary Griffith

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