What to Consider When Choosing a Christian Book Publisher
The traditional publishing industry is tough, especially for new and emerging writers. With the rise of self-publishing and eBooks, traditional publishers have become even more selective with the projects they take on, making it all that much harder for unknown authors to break out.
Still, don’t despair! Thousands of writers have their books published each year, and the Christian publishing market is thriving. So, if you’ve been turning a Christian-themed story over in your mind, take this as the sign you’ve been waiting for to write it and get it published. That said, where do you start?
Keep in mind that searching for a literary agent is the last step in the writing process. Literary agents are looking for a finished project, so it’s best not to concern yourself with querying one until you have a final, polished draft of your book. Once you’ve finished your manuscript and had it professionally proofread, you’ll want to compile a list of agents and publishers who work within your genre and style.
The Christian book market is highly competitive, and there are countless publishers out there vying for the next great Christian book. If you need some help narrowing down your choices, we offer targeted lists of agents and publishers based on your book’s genre, intended audience, and more.
However, if you’re more interested in doing your own research on the Christian publishing industry, read on.
What Christian publishers look for
First of all, your book should be identifiably Christian since not all religious themes will be doctrinally compatible with Christianity. As with any other publisher, you should double-check their guidelines and make sure you’re following them to the letter so your manuscript isn’t rejected over a technicality.
Some publishers will accept books that are more broadly religious or spiritual, but it’s your job to do the research and find out what types of stories each publisher typically works with. You don’t want to pitch your book to the wrong one and come across as an amateur. That being said, there’s a myriad of themes and genres within Christian writing, and identifying where your book fits in is the first step toward figuring out which publishers you should pitch your manuscript to.
Define your genre
Christian writing is very broad and varied, so you have to focus on your genre or subgenre. Is your book fiction or nonfiction? Is it a romance? Suspense? Sci-fi? Adventure? Coming-of-age? Horror, maybe? There are many ways you can spread your Christian message, and originality can definitely score you points as long as the quality of the writing matches your creativity.
Even if you feel like your book spans multiple genres or subgenres, it is best to focus on one or two main ones. That way, you are forcing yourself to define your book, which will help you narrow down your list of potential agents and publishers.
Define your main themes
You should also consider what your main themes are. Common ones in Christian writing include redemption, fidelity, rebellion, forgiveness, second chances, and, of course, faith. What you have to figure out is the purpose of your own book and what the central message is. Is your story about Christian living or identity? Is it more focused on theology and devotion? Is it aspirational or spiritual? What does it say about the human condition? You should be able to easily answer all these questions before you pitch to agents or publishers since they will ask if it’s not clear from your query package or subsequent conversations. Worse, they can reject your submission outright if it’s not aligned with the kind of work they normally publish.
Thus, before you start on your query letters, it’s a good idea to sit down and make a list of the prominent themes in your writing. You can also have a friend read through your book and tell you what they think the main themes are. Sometimes, all you need is a fresh pair of eyes to examine your manuscript objectively.
Define your demographic
Just like genres and themes, demographics within the Christian community are broad, so your target audience should be well-defined before you submit your book to a publisher. Whether your work is geared toward kids, teens, young adults, seniors, or someone in between—middle-aged women, widowed dads, high school graduates, young parents—there will be multiple Christian publishers who specialize in that specific demographic, and they’re the ones you want to focus your efforts on.
Again, if you’re in doubt about who your specific demographic could be, or if you think your book could appeal to a wide segment of the Christian community, ask a friend to read it and share their thoughts. You want your pitch to be as targeted as possible, so it is necessary to narrow down your demographic.
Having a clear idea of how your book fits into the traditional Christian publishing world is a crucial first step you must take before you approach a publisher. As with any other niche, you need to send an outstanding query letter to potential publishers or agents. We can also help you with this, whether you’re submitting a Christian or a secular book for publication.