The Christian Author vs. the Christian Book (by Katie Clark)

I was once asked for a blog Q & A, “Do you consider yourself a Christian author or a writer of Christian books?”

Honestly, I was confused. Was there a difference? I had to do a little digging, but I learned there was.

Writer of Christian Books: an author who writes books specifically geared for the Christian market, whose characters are Christians by the end of the book.

Christian Author: an author who professes Christ but focuses on writing a good story in general, without necessarily putting any Christian message into the book.

In the blog post, I responded that I consider myself both. I write novels for the Christian market, but I also write children’s books for the general market. Through this I realized there was more to the debate than meets the eye. There are certain stigmas, expectations, and dilemmas that come with whichever category you fall into. However, it’s important to know which category you’re in. How else will you know how to market your books?

The Stigma:

No matter which category you find yourself in, there is a stigma from the other side that says you’re wrong. Are you a Christian writer who writes for the secular market? Some Christian writers might comment on how you’re not spreading Christ’s message, being too worldly, or promoting ungodliness.

Are you a Christian writer who writes for the Christian market? Some who write for the general market could accuse you of writing fluff with fake characters. After all, who doesn’t smoke, cuss, drink, or get divorced?

The Expectations:

No matter which category you find yourself in, there are expectations from fellow Christians to put a salvation message into your book. If it’s not a salvation message, it should be another overt Christian moral or value. One author I know recently expressed frustration because Christian readers were complaining she hadn’t given a salvation message in her book. Fellow Christians just expected she’d do it.

The Dilemma:Enslaved banenr

Christians writing for other Christians typically face the dilemma of finding readers outside their own Christian circles. At a recent library book signing event, I dealt with the uncomfortable situation of getting snubbed for writing Christian speculative fiction. The library was hosting one hundred authors, and the place was packed. Tables lined every available space, with authors happily hawking their wares. Many of them were Christian authors. Many of them were speculative fiction authors. I was the only one whose book fit both categories.

One of the customers walked through, browsing books. He stopped at my table and picked up Vanquished, book one in my dystopian trilogy. “This looks really good,” he said. We talked for a few minutes before his eye caught my publisher’s logo at the bottom of the back cover. His face fell. “Oh,” he said. “This is Christian fiction?”

I smiled and confirmed it, and he quickly returned the book to the stack and went on his way.

As Christians, we recognize that not everyone out in the world wants to hear a Christian message. This man’s behavior wasn’t shocking—it was typical. However, even within the realm of writing for other Christians, speculative fiction writers can feel ostracized. Compared to other genres in Christian fiction, a spec fic author might feel there are less opportunities to excel in the business.

The Plan:

If you’re wondering how knowing your category can help you, you’ve come to the right place. How can you give yourself an edge in the business?

  • Identify your intended audience. If you’re writing a book without any overt Christian message or characters you are probably writing for the general market. If you’re writing Christian books with Christian characters and a definite Christ-centered message you are probably writing for the Christian market.
  • Choose the appropriate publisher for your manuscript based on your intended audience. If you’ve determined you’re writing for the general market should you be subbing to Christian publishers? If you’ve determined you’re writing Christian fiction should you be subbing to publishers within the general market?

 

Knowing your category can show you which publishers to study, which books to emulate, and which editors to sub to. You wouldn’t send a fantasy to Love Inspired. You wouldn’t send a romance manuscript to a children’s publisher. Don’t worry about the stigmas, expectations, or dilemmas of being in one category or another. Figure out which category you’re in, learn what those readers like, and write it. Keep in mind! These guideline are just as relevant for the self-publishing author. Knowing which readers you’re going after allows you to identify the readership for your work and narrow down your marketing efforts.

 

Now it’s your turn!

Which category do you see yourself in?

 

DSC_8889About the Author:

KATIE CLARK writes young adult speculative fiction, including her dystopian Enslaved Series, made up of Vanquished, Deliverance, and Redeemer. Her other works include multiple children’s books with Capstone Press, Bearport Publishing, and more. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Enter for Your Chance to Be in a Short Story Anthology

Announcing the ESCAPE Short Story Contest

In Partnership with Brimstone Fiction, the Speculative imprint for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Call us crazy, but yes, there’s another scholarship contest coming up for the 2015 Realm Makers conference. Thanks to our friends at Brimstone Fiction, we will be offering an amazing opportunity for you short story writers. The purpose of this contest is to fundraise for the Realm Makers scholarship fund.

The theme of this short story contest is ESCAPE

What we’re looking for:Brimstone anthology graphic

  • Your short story can be about anything as long as it is Speculative Fiction and contains the theme Escape (make it obvious).
  • An original, previously unpublished (in any form) 500-5000 word short story. Stories should be complete with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Stories should be unique, thought-provoking, and reflective of a Christian worldview without being preachy or overbearing. They should have complex characters and a compelling author’s voice. Appeal to both the general and Christian markets is a plus.
  • No graphic violence or sex.

Continue reading

“The First 500″ Scholarship Contest

Tosca Lee at Realm Makers 2014Thanks to the generous contribution of Tosca Lee, the keynote speaker for the 2014 Realm makers conference, we are excited to announce the first of several scholarship opportunities available to prospective Realm Makers:2015 attendees. Are you dying to come to the conference in August, but sure financial circumstances in your life will prevent you from affording registration and housing? Then this scholarship opportunity might just be your chance. Continue reading

The Million Dollar Question: What Does Realm Makers: 2015 COST?

RM Date and LocationThankfully, it’s substantially less than a million dollars.

 

Each year, I will admit, I agonize over the registration cost component of the Realm Makers conference. Finding that sweet spot between providing the best faculty anywhere, making the conference price-competitive with other events like it, and offering this great content at an affordable rate is one part calculations, three parts stepping out in faith. I am confident that this year, you won’t find a better group of teachers of topics relevant to the speculative fiction writer, and hence, a better value in any other conference.

So, down to the nitty-gritty. The pricing structure for Realm Makers: 2015

Conference registration will open May 1st, 2015

If you register… Before June 1 Between June 2nd and July 1st Between July 2nd and July 24th (late registration)
Your registration price is… $299 $349 $399

 

Housing*

The University of Missouri St Louis offers accommodations in their dorms for a very affordable rate of just $25 per person per night. You will have a bedroom with a single bed to yourself that shares a bath with three other “suite mates.”

Meals*

During the conference day, we include light snacks and beverages during the breaks, lunches in the conference center on Friday and Saturday, and dinner on Friday (the much-anticipated, costumes-encouraged awards dinner)

If you are a breakfast eater, you can elect to take advantage of the University’s meal program to purchase breakfasts at the price of $6.86 each, which includes a buffet of hot selections, as well as pastries, cereal, and other continental breakfast items

Dinner on Saturday will also be available through the University, if you so choose, and will cost $8.85

*University housing and meals not provided in the conference center can be elected when registration opens in May. These services are managed by the university housing coordinator and will involve separate paperwork and payments from your conference registration.

 

So there you have it. We hope this analysis helps you plan for August to join us. Keep an eye out for future news, because soon, we’ll also be posting information on how to apply for several scholarships that will be available this year to help defray the cost of registration.

See you in St. Louis!

Announcing the Keynote Speaker and Preliminary Faculty for Realm Makers: 2015

It’s been an exciting couple of months here “backstage” at Realm Makers, where our planning committee has been busy at work combing the field of possible faculty for the 2015 conference. It is with barely-contained excitement that we introduce to you a selection of faculty members we have on board.

Keynote Speaker Robert Liparulo sets the stageRobert Liparulo

We are thrilled to have Mr Liparulo opening and closing the Realm Makers conference with what we are sure will be inspiring and challenging thoughts for lovers of speculative fiction.

Former journalist Robert Liparulo is the best-selling author of the thrillers Comes a Horseman, Germ, Deadfall, Deadlock, and The 13th Tribe, as well as The Dreamhouse Kings, an action-adventure series for young adults. He is currently working on the sequel to The 13th Tribe, as well as writing an original screenplay with director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive.)

When not writing, he loves to read, watch (and analyze) movies, scuba dive, swim, hike, and travel. He lives in Monument, Colorado, with his family.

New for 2015: Continuing Sessions

In addition Evangeline Denmark and Donita Paulto our usual 50 minute elective courses that we’ve had the first two years of Realm Makers, this year we are adding three tracks of continuing sessions: one on world building, one on self-editing, and one on marketing. So there’s something for every stage of your writing journey.

In the world building track, we’re excited to offer you an opportunity to learn from a team of teachers whose names might sound familiar. Worldbuilding will be taught by award winning Christian fantasy and romance author Donita K Paul and her daughter Evangeline Denmark, who specializes in SteampunkDavid_Farland.

For the editing track, we welcome acclaimed author and teacher David Farland to the Realm Makers faculty. To date, David is the author of 50 books, and many have spent time on the New York Times Bestseller list. His authorial range includes science fiction and fantasy, in anything from picture books to novels for adults.

Some of you may know him better under the name Dave Wolverton, the byline you’ll find on his science fiction work, including the well-known Star Wars novel The Courtship of Princess Leia.

David is the coordinating judge in the Writer’s of the Future contest, the author of his Daily Kick in the Pants, a web newsletter/resource for writers, and has taught a long list of authors who have rocketed to the top of their genres, including Stephenie Meyer and Brandon Sanderson.

Elective Teachers-an awesome pile of experts:

We’ll be fleshing out the information available on each of these teachers and their classes as we develop the details, but for now, here is a brief sampling of some of the amazing talent we have joining us on elective faculty in 2015

Jill Williamson, author Subjects TBD
Kirk DouPonce, Designer,Dog Eared Design Cover art/working with an artist
Steve Laube-owner, Enclave Publishing, The Steve Laube Agency Subjects TBD
Rowena Kuo, editor at Brimstone Fiction, a speculative imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas Subjects TBD
LB Graham, author Keeping the magic in Christian Speculative Fiction
Mike Duran, author The Theology of Horror, The Christian Crossover Novelist
Morgan Busse, author Subjects TBD
Amanda Luedeke, agent, MacGregor Literary Subjects TBD


elective teacher lineup
We will also be adding a few names to this list going forward, but since the details with those teachers are still in development, we didn’t want to shout them out prematurely.

That being said, it is at this time that we must announce that Realm Makers:2015 is closed to teaching proposals. We apologize that our schedule can’t fit everyone who wants to teach each year, but time and space are still factors that limit even speculative fiction authors. We may be looking to fill a few panelist spots as we firm up the conference content, but those spaces will be populated by invitation.

We hope you’re as excited as we are about the faculty members on this list. Coming soon, look for more faculty names to be confirmed, and details on a short story contest, where the grand prize is a free registration to the conference.

Be a Financial Partner–Make Awesomeness a Reality

We're not guaranteeing you'll get to swordfight a vampire, but you never know

We’re not guaranteeing you’ll get to swordfight a vampire, but you never know

As the Realm Makers conference heads into its third year, we are deeply grateful for the way we are seeing this endeavor touch the lives of writers who love both the Lord and creating fantastic fiction. Over and over, we’ve seen our conference attendees and the members of our social media communities express their excitement as they now have a place to call home, where asking “What if …” is celebrated and embraced. The Realm Makers vision has created a tight-knit community of passionate fantasy and science-fiction leaders.

Our conference goal is to expand what we offer our attendees without placing an undue registration cost burden on those who would join us in St Louis. But top-notch faculty comes at a justifiable price. In order to have the most influential names in speculative fiction at the lecterns this year, Realm Makers needs to raise significant funds outside of direct earnings from conference registrations.

The good news is, conference funding from the previous year was sufficient to carry us through the initial deposits, insurance, and background costs of getting started for 2015, but there is a growing budget on the horizon. Many of you have made contributions in previous years. Would you consider coming alongside us once again?  Read on for this year’s contribution levels… Continue reading

Realm Makers:2015-The dates are set

It’s hard to believe a couple of months have already gone by since the 2014 Realm Makers conference–and although this blog has been quiet, those of us behind the scenes have been anything but idle. Planning for the 2015 conference is well underway.

The ever-gregarious Ben Wolf has been hard at work making faculty connections for the 2015 conference so that we can have an All-Star lineup teaching. It’s too soon to start naming names, but once we have our keynote speaker determined, rest assured that announcement will go out to all of you. Tosca Lee will be a tough act to follow, but I think we have some options in the works that will equally impress.

Speaking of dates, in case you’re not a follower on our Facebook page, here’s the teaser announcement about the 2015 date and location:

Save the Date Card_Realm Makers 2015Some of you are probably wondering WHERE in St Louis? While we’ve blocked out the dates with the venue, I have not yet put down the deposit, so as soon as that’s done and the dotted lines have signatures, we’ll announce the location as well. But for the moment, block off your calendars, folks. You won’t want to miss next year’s conference.