November 7, 2013 by Jen Cudmore
Sometimes we have to break the rules.
When I first started writing I had no idea there were so many expectations for Christian novels. I found that most publishers had a list of requirements. For example, I was told if I wanted to label my story as a ‘romance’, the protagonist had to be a female, the story had to open with a female in the first scene, and there must be a wedding in the end. These rules confused me because I’d read plenty of inspirational novels that didn’t fit that model.
While I understand that publishers need a way to limit the slush pile, I wonder if requirements such as those are really necessary. To me, they seem a bit old fashioned. Are publishers, even Christian companies, passing over stories that people actually want to read? I say ‘yes!’
But if an author breaks the rules, what are the chances the novel will be considered?
Two years ago I wrote a Viking novel. My agent pitched the book to several Christian companies but none were interested. The problem seemed to be that such content wasn’t marketable – the Christian audience doesn’t want to read about Vikings. I wasn’t so sure this was true.
I was surprised a couple weeks ago when I stumbled upon the release of a Christian Viking novel! God’s Daughter is a fictional story based on the history in the Iceland Sagas and a woman named Gudrid, who was the ward of Eirik the Red and the first documented European woman to birth a child in America. I discovered the author, Heather Day Gilbert, had also approached multiple Christian publishers and although they thought the story well-written, they turned her away because they didn’t believe there was a market for the story. So she chose to self-publish, and so far she’s had an overwhelming positive response from readers. For more about her novel, click here.
Sometimes it’s okay to break the rules because some of them need to be revamped. I believe we’re seeing a shift in Christian publishing to more edgy content that deals with more real life issues, such as emotional infidelity like Heather tackles in her story. To convince publishers to offer such stories, we readers must show them what we want. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Heather and her new book. I just finished the story and found it very inspiring, as well as entertaining and well-written.
And next year, God willing, my own Viking story will be released, the first in a 4 part series (although I am toying with adding 3 more books to make a total of 7). Can’t wait!