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No Supernatural Elements, Thank You!

That seems to be the sentiment from traditional publishers. We welcome thrillers. But, NO supernatural elements.

I want to thank Mike Dellosso for a kind email response to my last post. He has an awesome new book out. You should definitely buy it. Right now! Don’t wait!fearlesscover

Mike was asking about Christian speculative fiction and its future. I mentioned that I had attended the first Platform Conference in February, 2013 and mentioned some comments from Michael Hyatt.

I revisited my notes from that conference and I wanted to expand on some of Michael’s ideas. These ideas, of course, are part of Platform University (I strongly recommend joining if you have any kind of blog or website) and his own personal site which features one of the best blogs for authors out there and one of the best podcasts for authors of any kind.

At the Platform conference, there was a great deal of discussion of “tribes”. In his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt discusses how as authors, we garner the interest of readers who are attracted to our genre. We may start out with a few readers who like our work. They begin to follow our website, twitter feed, Facebook page, or blog. This is what Michael calls our “home base”.

Once these followers begin to come back to our social media on a regular basis, they become a tribe. And, our goal is to keep our tribe interested, happy, and to give them more to consume. As we move away from our “home base” through interaction with other sites, commenting, reposting, etc. our tribe begins to grow and enlarge.

The tribe of Christian speculative fiction is growing. And, it is growing quickly. But, that interest and growth doesn’t necessarily translate into book sales. It reveals a growing interest in the supernatural that is reflected in the current glut of zombie, vampire, and werewolf television shows and movies. It reflects a growing fascination with the fantasy we see in such shows as Game of Thrones. If reflects a growing obsession with science fiction as seen in the huge number of science fiction movies just this summer and the success of super hero movies (and in the case of Arrow, television shows).

Interest in speculative fiction is huge right now. Michael has commented on this aspect of fiction in the past. But, there is a disconnect from the secular readership embracing spec fic and the success of Christian spec fic. Why? The reasons are paramount and the subject, no doubt, of a future post.


Michael shared these encouraging words in the first session of the 2012 American Christian Fiction Writers conference on  why ‘today is the best time to be a writer.’


1 — It is easier than ever to do the writing. The tools have never been easier to access, from conferences and books about writing to specific software for writers and other technology.


2– It is easier than ever to do market research. Google made it possible. Facebook and twitter have made it personal. Authors can research their characters and scenes with a few key strokes. Understanding the target audience for a book has never been easier with tools on the internet. ‘Group-think’ is facilitated by creative groups engaging each other through social media and writing circles. Authors can engage readers directly like never before. Authors have the tools to figure out what their platform is, and to build a tribe around it.


3 — It is easier than ever to get into print. Traditional publishing is no longer the only option. Self publishing is viable. It is not necessarily the best option for everyone, but it can be a great option for some. Traditional publishing is far from dead, and if traditional publishers learn to ‘lean into the changes’ being brought by the self publishing phenomenon, it can be an exciting place to be. Traditional publishers need to ask: What do these tools and this model make possible? What are the new opportunities? How can I find new readers in more places?


4 — It is easier than ever to build a tribe. Authors can engage their fans directly. There are new tools like the recently launched site, where authors can interact real-time with readers inside of their own book. Another new site called, allows readers to read whole books for free online, and interact with authors. These are part of a new concept called social reading, and literally, an author’s book becomes a platform.


5 —  It is easier than ever to build a business around your content. After all, it is great to write for writing sake, but most authors would like to earn some income from their writing too. Websites and blogs help you build your platform, engage readers, offer free content, and sell books. A small book business can be a sustainable business.


(Thanks to for the above summary! Check out the site for more info on Michael’s comments.)


So, the question for those of us who love speculative fiction is: How do we turn our sub-genre into a successful genre? How do we overcome the obstacles out there that stand between the desire of our culture to consume spec fic and the awareness that these good stories are already there just waiting for them to pick up the book?


What do you think?



I haven’t blogged in almost a week because I have been learning how to be a better blogger. I just completed my attendance to the very first PLATFORM Conference with Michael Hyatt and Ken Davis. The conference was held in Nashville at the Sound Kitchen. And, it was an incredible experience. My father once told me “I may be thirsty but I don’t want to drink from a fire hydrant.” Well, I feel like I’ve been trying to drink from a fire hydrant. It will take me a couple of weeks minimum to process what I have learned. But, there are some wonderful concepts that emerged during the week.


1 — Know Your Audience. Over and over, each speaker emphasized that writing a blog, starting a business, building your brand; whatever it is you plan is only worth pursuing if it CHANGES SOMEONE’S LIFE! This was so refreshing to me. The goal is not to make money. The goal is not to have thousands and thousands come to your site. If your goal is to make people’s lives better, then all of this will follow. First, care about something and then find those people who care about the same thing.


2 — Tribes! Another word for this is community. There are many of us out there who share a passion; a cause; a love; an interest. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could connect around some central “home base”? This is another key principle of building an effective platform. Find and identify your “tribe”. Match their passion for something and then make that something the center of your endeavor


3– Don’t Sacrifice Your Life for Your Tribe! Each and every speaker from Michael down the line emphasized the same principle. Your family comes before your business. As Michael said, “God first, my wife second, my family third, and then I’ll consider my platform.” Thank you, Michael. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world wide web but loses his soul?


4 — God is at work. I was one of the fortunate attendees to sit at the “Master Level” table. The first person I met was Jonathan Howe with LifeWay working with social media. LifeWay is the umbrella organization over B&H Publishing, the publisher of “Conquering Depression”. This book and its upcoming update are why I went to the PLATFORM conference. And, right off the bat, I met the man who is most intimate with LifeWay’s social media. You see, in the back of our book on depression are tear out cards called LifeFilters. In our update, we want to convert these cards to smartphone applications. When I told this to Jonathan, he immediately showed me other apps created by LifeWay and I was instantly excited! It was a divine appointment.

Later on, I met other people, some of who suffered from depression. Their stories were moving and powerful and they agreed to allow me to contact them in the future for possible testimonials.

Also, I was able to sit by Michael Hyatt and show him the old book. I told him about our plans and he was extremely supportive. And, a bonus was a years subscription to PLATFORM University, an online membership service through which I can get support and help during the next year as we build our own platform for Conquering Depression.


5 — My Chronicles of Jonathan Steel WILL continue. I received incredible support for the book series. As I search for a new publisher and consider the possibility of co-publishing versus self-publishing, I will continue to write and edit the fourth and fifth books. Jonathan Steel lives!!!


In the coming weeks, I will be working with my co-author, Mark Sutton, on building a new platform for Conquering Depression and restructuring the platform for the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel.

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