Monday, July 28, 2008

A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Amish Please

It’s day one at the Oregon Christian Writers’ conference, and we’re already worn out. I say “we,” because Danny’s here running around, running sound and pretty much anything with wires. It's great fun because we're equally tired, and equally loopy.

I love the conferences because it's like summer camp for writers. Most of us are slightly odd ducks, so you get a group of us together making bad writing-related puns and exchanging rejection stories.

There is much conversation over what editors are looking for. Most of us want to know what those elusive editors are looking for, even though I think, subconsciously, we just want them to be looking for us. We don't want to conform to what they're looking for.

The big topic this year is over the Amish: everyone wants Amish. Those of us who write contemporary fiction lament over the fact that what we write just isn't selling. It's hard to remember sometimes that even Christian publishing is a business. Publishers want to acquire books that will sell. Nobody wants unsold books to be recycled into toilet paper. Nobody wants to be responsible for producing a book that will run a deficit.

The publishing industry is not unlike Hollywood; if they find something that sells, they'll make a lot of us. And while that may irritate the creative at heart, we do have to realize it's good business practice.

The question creatives have to ask themselves is, "how creative am I?" Are we creative enough to write salable books? Are we capable of crafting stories that follow the trends, in order to avoid a toilet paper future?

Will the Amish trend blow over? You bet your buggy. Will it blow over before new Amish acquisitions are released? Yeah, probably. Which is why it's important to write stories that supercede trend. Stories that may involve quilting and buggies but also tell a solid story in an unexpected way.

I know for me, Plain Jane will not be the only book I write. There will be more. And it won't be all Amish all the time. Next year, there will be a new "Amish."

Aliens, probably. But we'll see.


  1. As an aspiring writer (though I think you're aspiring much more) I can agree that there is a major challenge in finding that balance between writing the story you feel and know and writing a story that will sell. We can't all be Frank Peretti and Max Barry. We're not all lucky enough to have a great story in our hearts that also appeals to the hearts of others- and we're even less likely to have that same story appeal to the hearts of LOTS of people willing to pay for a book.
    That being said, talent, persistence, and a willingness to explore your boundaries tends to be rewarded.

  2. Hi Hillary. Good post. Made me smile. That's good.

    It was great to see you at the conference. Can't wait to read your book.

    Love ya,



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