A few conversations among fellow Christian Fiction readers urged me to post this post. 🙂
Whenever someone asks ChristFic readers what we wish to find more of in the genre, or what we think is missing, I hear a good bunch of recurring answers in every conversation.
Many ChristFic readers want books that address more tough, real-life issues. We want flawed, relatable characters and plots with realistic outcomes. Romances that aren’t too fairytale-ish or cookie-cutter. Faith elements that go beyond trite religious platitudes or too-easy fixes. Etc., etc.
I agree with so many readers I hear from–including those who point out that a lot of the different ChristFic books and topics we say we want are, actually, already out there. Written, published, and waiting for us. We just haven’t found them all yet.
And, yes, many of the books we haven’t found or don’t hear as much about are indie: independently published. So they’re not being promoted by mainstream Christian publishers, and most of them aren’t showing up on bookstore shelves along with Christian books from “the big guys.”
On my part, I often say I’d like to see more diversity in Christian Fiction, and it makes me glad when I hear other readers say it as well. At the same time, there are many authors, myself included, who are already writing diverse books, but it can be hard to get our books seen by the right people. Or, in my experience, it seems it can be common for our books to be seen but passed over, even in a forum full of avid ChristFic readers.
I’ve been realizing that “different” books often require something different from us. An author has to step out of the norm and take a chance to write/publish/market something different, and a reader has to step out of the norm and take a chance to find/buy/read something different. If the usual ways we find books haven’t given us the kind of selection we want, we may have to go beyond our usual ways. We may have to tweak our habits.
For me, that means I need to be more watchful as a reader. It’s super easy for me to find mainstream ChristFic books like I’ve always read, especially in Christian bookstores or in the Christian Fiction sections of secular stores. But to find some different ChristFic books, it means I need to visit a different book blog now and then, or a different book group on social media, or take a chance on an author I haven’t previously read or heard of.
When it comes to websites like Facebook and Goodreads, and the blogs and blog topics I follow, it oftentimes means I have to “slow my scroll.” Instead of breezing past that less popular author or otherwise “unknown” book in order to jump to an author or publisher that’s more familiar to me, or to jump to the next big release that everybody’s talking about, I may have to slow down and take a closer look at something that I haven’t seen or heard a lot of buzz about.
And if I read and like a book, I’ve gotta tell somebody! Write a review, let other bookworms know what I’ve found, keep my eyes open for more books by that author, and all that. I do what I can to make “unknown” books more known, so that the authors have a reason to keep writing ’em.
This certainly doesn’t only apply to Christian Fiction. Anyone who wants to find different books may have to do something different, no matter the genre. ChristFic just happens to be a big area of bookish interest for me.
Fiction Finder is a great place to search for Christian Fiction by author or genre, or even by specific issues we face in life. Books from traditional publishers and independent authors alike can be found on the site. (And if you, dear author or publisher, haven’t listed your ChristFic books there, you can register to do so.)
Indie Christian Fiction Search is a good place to check out some indie ChristFic authors. I’d recommend using this site on a desktop computer for the best view/navigation.
I’m a part of a group called Clean Indie Reads. CIR authors specialize in Flinch-Free Fiction in a variety of genres, including ChristFic.
Diversity Between the Pages is a great place to discover and discuss diverse Christian Fiction.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of helpful sites, but if you want to find some different books, start looking in some different places and taking new chances!
(P.S.–Of course, you’re probably not going to be a fan of every new-to-you author or different book you take a chance on. But don’t make the mistake of prejudging all new-to-you authors or books by the one or two you didn’t like, and thus conclude that “taking a chance” didn’t work. Keep searching, and you’re bound to find gems you’ll enjoy.)