You have written the book you have always wanted to write, the next step is to get it published. That shouldn’t be so hard with
a Christian publisher, right? Wrong.
When I wrote my book, ‘Don’t Look Back –The Harmful Consequences of Backsliding’, I was clueless to the industry at first. I thought, since it was a Christian book, it would be easy to find a Christian publisher. Surely they must pray about submissions they take, since they are a ‘ministry’.
The truth is, Christian publishers are no different to non-Christian publishers. They are looking for books that will produce a lot of sales and, in order to achieve this, they want authors that are well known within their field. That is why a lot of them – especially the large publishing houses – won’t take on new authors. You will often see the term ‘no unsolicited manuscripts’ or ‘manuscripts must be submitted by a professional literary agent’ under their submissions page, which is basically telling you they won’t just accept anybody.
It would be wrong to see a Christian publisher as a ministry because, in their eyes, they are not; they are a business – no different to the secular publishing houses, except they take books that are Christian-themed. So don’t believe that, because God inspired you to write the book, the publishers will have the same view. They won’t.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom. The publishing industry is changing rapidly, especially with the growth of technology, so more and more publishing houses are being created, especially ebook and independent publishers. There is a greater variety of publishers for authors to submit to, especially new authors.
If you are new to writing and want to break into the industry, I suggest you try a small publishing house first, where you don’t necessarily have to have an agent to submit a manuscript. They are more likely to take on new authors.
Do your research thoroughly concerning the publisher. Take a look on their website for the books they have produced: always make sure the covers are designed to a high standard; whether they have any authors, and what is their royalty percentage. Most importantly, pray about the publishers before submitting your manuscript. Shop around, as not every publisher will be suitable for you.
Be prepared for rejections, and don’t get disheartened if you receive rejection after rejection. As a new author, it can be hard to convince a publisher that you are worth taking on. There are three main features publishers consider when taking on a new author: the first being your marketing skills. They want to know you can sell your book to a worldwide audience, both in the long and the short term.
Secondly, your book must be suited to a worldwide market. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you have to write Christian-based books, or if you do, it cannot be ‘too preachy’, which is the term they use. If you are writing fiction, they prefer allegory-type books – an example of such an author would be CS Lewis.
‘…writing is a career path that you must want to pursue. No publisher wants an author that just wants to write one book. Remember, they are investing time into you, as well as into your book.’
My fiction authors’ books are suited to a worldwide market. Yes, they are Christians, but write books allegorically, without compromising their faith. For me, this type of book is very easy to sell to a Christian and non-Christian publisher, as there are non-Christian publishers that accept faith-based books. If you are writing non-fiction, again it has to be a topic that is suited to a worldwide market, plus you would have to be quite well known within your field. Each publisher has different genres they prefer, so make sure you check them out before you submit to them.
Thirdly, writing is a career path that you must want to pursue. No publisher wants an author that just wants to write one book. Remember, they are investing time into you, as well as into your book.
There you have it: the truth behind the Christian publishing industry. In my next article, I will be discussing the different publishing methods available.
If you do feel inspired by the Lord to write a book, then go for it, remembering to let Him lead and guide you every step of the way.
In her spare time, Vanessa is active in her local church and loves spending time with family. www.theauthorscare.co.uk