Posted by Bruce Hennigan
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!
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 bookshout.com site, where authors can interact real-time with readers inside of their own book. Another new site called bookjolt.com, 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 http://blog.outlawsalesgroup.com/tag/mike-hyatt/ 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?