I wish you could see me now. One of my sons has decided, as of five minutes ago, that he could probably ponytail my hair. My hair was technically already in a ponytail, so he pulled it out. And some major tugging. And pulling. And pain commenced. I asked him, “Are you almost done?!?!?!?” To which he replied, “You’re just gonna have to be brave.”
It was a fitting statement for the entire reason I set out to write a blog post tonight. I just got back from a great conference that I attend every year, American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. It’s been a tough year for Christian fiction. If you read Christian Fiction, you might want to run over to your nearest bookstore or online reader and support your favorite authors, and find some new ones to love while you’re there. These gals and guys have had a hard year. There are numerous houses that have closed their doors to fiction in the Christian market. I just bought a turkey mug from Wal-Mart that has a big ‘ole turkey on the front that says “The struggle is real.” And at conference, the struggle for fiction writers was not only real, it was palpable.
But, in spite of the bad news, I felt there was an energy at this conference that hasn’t been there before. I’m not sure if it was just in my agent appointments or if other editors and agents felt it too. There were readers there, not just writers. They made themselves known. These same avid readers, many of them young people, were also there pitching some really genius ideas. And they were young. These were the “millennials” that the CBA has failed to capture and convert to CBA fiction buyers. But, they were there and it was exciting. Most of the ones I met were there to pitch Young Adult novels, which is extremely challenging to sell in the CBA. But, what struck me the most was the bravery of the people that pitched to me. Bravery to pitch their writing, to explain their complex plots, and tell me boldly why I should sign them. Their ideas were great, they were professional, and their courage was refreshing.
Bravery is contagious. And I hope it begins to catch on amongst Christian fiction writers over the next year. Publishing needs/wants go in cycles. Maybe CBA fiction is down right now, but I really believe there is a shift on the horizon. I see the struggle clearly, but I think we can figure this out. Will you do something for me? Will you stick with your fiction no matter what you see on the horizon? Will you trust God with the stories and characters that live in your head—that beg you to give them life on paper? And last, but not least, writers, will you be brave? Sometimes we must believe in what we cannot yet see. There may be a little tugging on the horizon, possibly even a little pain as we re-group as an industry, but I believe that the best is yet to come for writers of Christian fiction.
P.S. Please join me in October as I teach “31 Ways to Snag an Agent.” Please sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out on anything.