Religion Update Feature
Eight industry veterans discuss what’s hot and
what’s not in Christian fiction
Conducted by Jana Riess
In 2014, sales of Christian fiction were down 15% over the previous year, and several houses have either cut back or eliminated their fiction acquisitions. So that’s the bad news. The good news is that in some corners, faith-based fiction continues to
thrive. To find out what’s trending,
what’s waning, and where the new
opportunities are, we spoke with eight
Christina Boys, senior editor, Faith-Words, a division of Hachette Book
Daisy Hutton, v-p and publisher,
fiction, HarperCollins Christian
Tina James, executive editor, Love
Inspired, a division of Harlequin
David Lewis, executive v-p of sales and
marketing, Baker Publishing Group
Shannon Marchese, senior editor,
WaterBrook Multnomah, a division of
Ami McConnell, v-p and editor-in-chief, Howard Books, a division of Simon
Annie Tipton, senior acquisitions editor, Barbour Books
Karen Watson, associate publisher of
What is hot in Christian fiction
Watson, Tyndale: Romantic suspense
seems to be a strong, growing genre.
Romance has always been a big genre in
the CBA [Christian Booksellers Associa-
tion], and one of the advantages in
broadest program in terms of number of
authors in that category. We launched a
brand-new Amish writer into the mar-
ketplace, Kelly Irvin. It’s a good sign to
see that there’s still room in that market
to launch new authors.
Tipton, Barbour: Wanda Brunstetter
continues to be our #1 fiction author, and
Amish fiction is our #1 category. In the
past five or six years, there were a lot of
authors who tried to get in on the game
because it was a hot subject. But the
authors who are going to stand the test
of time are the Wanda Brunstetters and
Beverly Lewises. We are trying to position Olivia Newport in that line, and
she’s unique because she’s writing historical Amish fiction. Most Amish fiction is set in the contemporary time.
What trends are you seeing in
Marchese, WaterBrook: We’re seeing
more titles that are WWII, or that are in
the Revolutionary time period, or colonial.
Lewis, Baker: We’re introducing one
new Regency romance and one Edwardian. People are really connecting with
that whole English nobility world—
thank you, Downton Abbey!
McConnell, Howard: There’s a trend of
novelists bringing to light the forgotten
women of history. For instance, Deanne
Gist’s Tiffany Girls (May) features the
women who made Louis Comfort Tiffany’s stained-glass chapel for the 1893
Chicago World’s Fair.
Tipton, Barbour: In the past nine to 12
romantic suspense is that you have female
leads in a more empowered position.
Characters aren’t just teachers or nurses
anymore. They are solving crises.
Boys, Faith Words: Biblical fiction has
been a longtime subcategory of Christian
fiction, but, with the continued focus of
Hollywood on biblical movies in theaters
and on television, I think we may see a
resurgence in that genre.
James, Love Inspired: Interest in
romantic suspense continues to grow. In
fact, in May 2014 the Love Inspired Suspense line expanded from four to six
books a month.
What’s happening with Amish
Lewis, Baker: Amish fiction for us is
still very significant, but it has declined
since the advent of so many new writers
in the category. Beverly Lewis’s sales are
down double digits from what they were
in the past, but she is still our bestselling
author. Amish fiction is not as strong as
a digital read as it is as a print read. In
2014, between all of our writers in
Amish fiction, we sold over 400,000
units in print and 150,000 in digital.
Marchese, WaterBrook: We’ve stayed
consistent with Amish fiction, just publishing Cindy Woodsmall. I’ve heard
some folks refer to the changes in the
Amish fiction market in dramatic terms,
and I think that’s unfair, because there
are still better-than-average sales in that
Hutton, HCCP: Amish fiction is holding strong for us. We have probably the