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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In the meantime...

I'll be posting Suspense Technique #4 very soon!

But in the meantime, I have a quandary I'd like to run by readers and retailers. I'm a Christian, and I'm a writer, and my publisher is a Christian Publisher. My mission as a Christian Author is twofold: write good quality fiction and hopefully get my nonChristian readers to start thinking about the big questions of life--question for which IMHO Jesus is the only answer. I wrote The Door Within books so that someone familiar with the Bible would pick up on the allegories, the parallels, and the symbolism. But I wrote it with the intent that ANYONE could simply enjoy the thrilling adventure. Truth is there, but I don't want to be preachy.

So here's the issue: my books go to Christian Bookstores and Secular Bookstores. In a Christian bookstore, The Door Within Series (and presumably Isle of Swords) can be placed in a number of sections and still be found by readers shopping for new books.

BUT, in the secular chains: Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, etc. my books are being shelved and displayed very differently. Borders shelves the books in with regular fiction, but the others put my books in "Religious Fiction" or worse, "Religion." The problem with the latter is that in these giant mainstream stores, the "Religious Fiction" sections tend to be squirreled away into tiny, very non-visible parts of the store. Guess how much traffic these little sections get? Yep. Not much--not compared to the regular fiction sections.

I've spoken to several store managers, and they agreed that it's the publisher who decides how a books should be labeled. The bookstores then shelve the stock according to the publisher prescribed label. So there's the rub: my publisher says where the books go, but I'm concerned that my books will miss half (or more than half) of my mission field.

Any thoughts? Where do you shop? And where do you look first? Or is this much ado about nothing?

36 comments:

everlastingscribe said...

I had trouble finding The Door Within last time I was at B&N because they put it with the ''religious fiction'', but too, I've seen it out on tables when they are featuring ''fantasy'' and it's been cheek by jowl with regular stuff. I'd say, M'lord Batson that because the publisher tags it as ''religious'' that's the main issue. Honestly, that is the problem and also the prejudice your marvelous books face. From what you've shared though, the Door Within serise has always ''belonged'' its' fans. I know that you've got passionate, delightful readers on your team taking friends aside and going ''Hey, wanna a good read? Here try this book, it's one of my favorites" And that is part of the charm of it right now. One day maybe Christ will change the way the book moves, maybe it will get resorted and I'll see it where it belongs in B&N, on the shelf with the other fantasy books. Because after all, it's a rip-snorting good tale, that just happens to have been written by a Christian. ;)

WayneThomasBatson said...

Thanks, Scribe. As always, good insights.

Josh said...

well i can honestly say im glad it was in the Christan section or my cousin would have never found it for me. ^_^ (I got it as a Christmas gift) I went to borders to buy the second and third books and they were surprisingly enough in the teens section along with harry potter. I got the last copy of rise of the wyrm lord. I was exited lol. When i shop at a book store ( borders ) I usually go to the fantasy section, but primarily i look up what book i want on the internet and know what im going for . Because i live about an hour away from the closest book store. unlucky me. ^_^ If it makes you feel any better i have been parading around telling all my friends about The Door Within I figured it would be a good book to get them interested in church per say.

Brett said...

My mom bought the first book of the Door Within when we flew to Georgia. I read the "Adventures are funny things" page and I instantly loved it.
Borders is my all time favorite place. It's my 'guilty pleasure' to sit down with a drink and *lots* of food and just read for hours!!!

everlastingscribe said...

Cool,Josh! Good point about knowing what you are going into the bookstore for, lots of readers are getting more book savy and knowing even the ISBN# when they go in to buy their book. The internet is our friend ;)

Just curious Lord Batson, where exactly is The Door Within shelved in the library?

everlastingscribe said...

LOL also cool Brett, good to know that Borders has it where people can find it! B&N is closer to me here, and I love to prowl the stacks, when I'm not stalking the local library shelves.

WayneThomasBatson said...

Scribe, I've only explored the shelves in a few libraries, but so far, so good. Mainstream, youth or young adult fantasy.

amy said...

I actually found The Door Within Trilogy at the library in the YA/J Fiction section. Not to mention, that our library catalog is completely computerized and available online.

I then ordered the books from Amazon. Neither of these methods are affected by the placement, really.

I've been waiting for a book or series like this to be written. A subtly allegorical tale that will entertain and pose thought-provoking questions about the big things in life. When I found it - I was ecstatic! As a Christian with some non-Christian friends, I have been able to use this as a type of ministry. Even if they don't at first get the allegory, I know they'll at least ponder some of the important questions in life. Everyone would like to feel as if they were "Never Alone."

It does a disservice to those people who don't look in the religious sections - like me. I don't really go to those sections, I never would expect to find this type of fantasy there. I'm sure that something similar exists - don't think I'm writing off the Christian book stores or sections completely. I just tend to look in the fantasy section because that is my favorite genre.

Non-Christians won't get to be exposed to the amazing story or the minsitry if the books aren't properly displayed. They belong in the fantasy section. (If I had my way - they'd be on a table in the middle of the entry, with a huge sign over the top saying, "Read this - It's AWESOME!")

It would just be a shame to have a book that functions in so many versitile ways be hidden in the "Religion" section.

Brett said...

Yup yup. I agree. In Borders the Religon section is tucked away in a corner....next to an array of books that aren't the best things to read. (A book on becoming a Jedi and learning Force in the RELIGON section??!! Come on!!!!)
I found The Door Within in the youth fiction section in my library and fantasy in Borders :)

Josh said...

sadly my library dose not carry the door within seres. and I also agree with amy -"If I had my way - they'd be on a table in the middle of the entry, with a huge sign over the top saying, "Read this - It's AWESOME!"
the enthusiasm is great. lol

amy said...

Yeah - I get all excited about some things, and this involves two important aspects of my life: Christianity and literature.

So how many suspense techniques are there? I couldn't find it in any previous posts, then again, I could've easily missed it.

I really don't want this to be over any time soon - it's too fun to read everyone's entries and force myself to write outside my comfort zone. The company's not bad either...

Josh said...

there are 7 suspense techniques amy it says at the top of the first one. and i agree i love this my writing seems to improve with each technique.

Cecilia said...

Only seven? Aww:-( That's too bad. I'm really enjoying this as well...though maybe there will be more writing techniques to learn after this:-)

Josh said...

yes there is more that just suspense although suspense is a big part of it.

amy said...

I'm sure that after "hooking" us like this, Mr. B will continue to deliver fun and exciting excercises and contests. He always delivers in his stories. :)

How many of you feel thoroughly stretched after these first few techniques?

Josh said...

thoroughly stretched indeed my dear friend amy

everlastingscribe said...

A good kind of stretched, like before a nice long walk ;) I have a feeling this is only the warm-up.

Josh said...

yes a good stretch and i fell the hard stuff is soon to come. Only a feeling but writer intuition lol

amy said...

Me too! Me too!

I had no clue that I could write or be inspired to write such things on command. I'm so excited because it's really broadening my horizons. I'm feeling inspired and encouraged by the entire experience.

Josh said...

yes amy that is what im talking about I have really put some thought into some of my writing and it didn't turn out to bad. and i must give you credit amy you gave me the name Elliot i loved it so i took and l out and used it in one of my posts. I really just cant wait for action (assuming its a suspense technique)

everlastingscribe said...

LOL Amy and Josh, this is why Lord Batson was encouraging any and all writers with like mindsets to get together!

We encourage each other
We grow stronger
We challenge each other
We have FUN


What could be better? ;)

Josh said...

not much my friend not much, well except for maybe reading a good book that is up there with writing them

amy said...

Yep! This is our 'Fellowship of the Pen' - so to speak...

Josh said...

nice one amy lol

Brett said...

Josh, I know this is completely off topic....but you don't mind if I added you to my Windows IM?

Josh said...

um i wouldn't mind but im not quite sure what that is

Josh said...

oooo i now see you can add yahoo messenger people to windows IM so i would be honored if you added me

everlastingscribe said...

Oohho, now I like that Amy. A Fellowship of the Pen. A gathering of Scribes. . . :-D

amy said...

I dub thee a humble and most loyal servant of the One True King, and member of "The Fellowship of the Pen" - Rise and take your place.
*dramatic pause*
All who proclaim it, will enter into our fellowship. Take up thy pen and fight each battle for your King. Thy King's will shall be our highest priority.
Who shall join us? Say aye!

Josh said...

AYE!!!!!
*rises and takes pen*



nice one amy ^_^

everlastingscribe said...

*AYE*

Flourishes pen!


Very Nice Amy! :-D

WayneThomasBatson said...

AYE!! {He brandishes pen, clumsily spatters ink upon himself, but smiles anyway}

Eve Nielsen said...

Perhaps the question is really which audience do you feel called to reach the most. Maybe it's time to branch out. I've pondered this as well-do I go in a secular market or a Christian one. The readers are (generally)different. I guess it boils down to God's leading.
Eve

everlastingscribe said...

Just a random update-I'm at my local county library, enjoying the high speed 'net n' finding out that where I live I can't check out The Door Within, Rise of the Wyrm Lord, or The Final Storm in *ANY* of the libraries. Why? :-D Cos *ALL* copies are checked out, reserved, or in transit from this county into another one.

;) Not bad at all, Lord Batson. Not bad at all.

WayneThomasBatson said...

Thanks for that encouragement, Scribe. I keep praying that kids would read the books and draw nearer to the One True King.

The other night we had a signing/speaking event at Marley Middle. This school is in a low income area, and the school is on a kind of academic probation for low test scores, so they expected a low turnout for the event. God said, "Guess again." There were over a hundred people there, and I sold & signed three cases of books.

God SO rocks!

everlastingscribe said...

You know, you just being willing to show up means the world to readers in a place like that. In a very real way you are saying "You guys have worth and value, enough worth and value that I-the established author-am taking time to come and visit with you." I would know ;) I'm the one that got pegged as ''dumb'' because of a learning disabilty and expectations got dropped for me in school.

When I got to meet Donald J. Soble and he told me he thought it was great that I wanted to be a writer I could hardly believe it! It was a W-O-W moment. Now math didn't get any easier and I still had to learn how to deal with the problem, but on the days the kids were really cruel, I hung onto that memory with both hands.

I'd say, Lord Batson that you did that for some of those kids when you went there, you gave them a W-O-W moment.

Be encouraged, the nets are breaking because of the weight of the catch. ;)