Saturday, February 12, 2005

NYTBL suggests Blacks love books about church scandal more than faith


The Preacher's Son Posted by Hello

Three African American Authors sit on the New York Times Bestseller's List this week. Although my writing cronies applaud this feat, I question its deeper meaning. As I read which books made the list I see a peculiar similiarity, two of the books premise concerns black ministers with dirty secrets.

Now I know scandal sells, but I wonder does christianity do as well?

The African American Christian Fiction Market struggles to have equal footing in its genre. Yesterday I went to one of my local Lifeway Bookstores to observe book placement in the store and I only saw one Christian fiction book written by an African American Author on all the shelves. This month I meet with the manager of the store to ask him about this oversight, to speak with him about the demographics of his store, and give him a list of AA written christian novels that will be released this year.

Yet, as I peruse this New York Times Best Seller's list, I know what he is going to say. "We don't place many books written by African American authors because they don't meet CBA(Christian Booksellers Association) guidelines."

And although both and he and I understand that Carl Weber and Kimberly Roby, both of whom albeit are good writers, are not christian fiction authors, we will debate over a particular publisher of African American christian fiction books that publish novels just as racy as those. And I honestly don't know how to defend that.

Because what this list tells me concurs with the publisher in question's notion that black people don't care as much about faith, but about what go's on at church. Yet, how can christian fiction authors who refuse to sex up/dumb down their books find a place in this market?

Your thoughts...

New York Times Best Seller's List

Hardcover Fiction

Published: February 20, 2005


On List
1 THE BROKER, by John Grisham. (Doubleday, $27.95.) The C.I.A. arranges a presidential pardon for a power broker who may know crucial secrets, laying a trap for the foreign intelligence service that wants him dead. 1 4
2 THE DA VINCI CODE, by Dan Brown. (Doubleday, $24.95.) The murder of a curator at the Louvre leads to a trail of clues found in the work of Leonardo and to the discovery of a centuries-old secret society. 2 99
3 SURVIVOR IN DEATH, by J. D. Robb. (Putnam, $23.95.) In 2059, Lt. Eve Dallas has an eyewitness to the brutal murder of a family: the sole survivor, a 9-year-old girl; by Nora Roberts, writing pseudonymously. 1
4 THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN, by Mitch Albom. (Hyperion, $19.95.) An old man who died while trying to rescue a little girl from danger discovers that all will be explained to him in the afterlife. 3 72
5 STATE OF FEAR, by Michael Crichton. (HarperCollins, $27.95.) Reverse eco-terrorists create natural disasters to convince the public that global warming is real. 5 9
16 *THE BEST-KEPT SECRET, by Kimberla Lawson Roby. (Morrow, $23.95.) The further romantic adventures of the Rev. Curtis Black, who, after two failed marriages, tries hard to be faithful to his latest wife. 1

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Also Selling
17 AFTERBURN, by Zane. (Atria, $24.95.)

32 THE PREACHER'S SON, by Carl Weber. (Dafina, $24.)

You can learn more about African American christian fiction authors at my Christian Writer's Market Series at Suite101.com

3 comments:

princessdominique said...

You bring up a very valid point. As a writer I try not to criticize but yes drama whether it be urban, Christian or mainstream--sells and as readers make their choices and support books with the type of premises that you've mentioned here today, it shuts out writers both Christian and non that write to teach a moral lesson in their books and is often coined by some not "spicy" enough. After all, booksellers are going to push what is selling and will be slower to reorder copies of books that aren't moving as quickly.

Rhonda McKnight Nain said...

Hi Dee,

I think you ask some very interesting questions and I applaud your attempt to get Lifeway to carry AA Christian books. I too was disappointed to find my local Lifeway did not even carry the titles being released by Moody Press who are clearly meeting CBA guidelines.

As I read your article I couldn't help but think to challenge you to remember that as Christians we should not use the barometer of the world to measure our success.

I believe the Lord will bless and annoint what he purposes for me do. As an author who has been challenged to write in this genre I keep before me the word "Seek first the kingdom of the Lord God and all other things will be added." This is his charge to the Christian and this is where I leave it. I trust that he will make room for my gifts. It may not be on the NYTBL but as long as the Lord says "Well done, my good and faithful servant..." the end result will be good enough for me.

We are people of prayer. I pray for the genre. The NYTBL is a part of the world system. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. If we truly want to see the names of Victoria Christopher Murray, Jacquelin Thomas, Vanessa Davis Griggs and Tia McCollars on the NYTBL the best place to make it happen is with quality writing, excellence in managing our writing careers and finally, if not most importantly on our knees. The battle is not ours, it's the Lord.

Love and Peace,

Rhonda

upwords said...

Dee,

I know all this stuff is frustrating, but don't let it mess with you. One of the best books I read this year is unpublished, one of the best books I've written is unpublished. Publishing is part of this, but not all. Sometimes you just got to do the thing and let God take care of the rest. :)

On my knees beside you,
Mary

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