What drives publishers today? Amish Vampires?!
When I began flogging my newly finished manuscript “The Excalibur Parchment”, I knew it would be a rough ride. Publishers don’t like “debut” authors today. Particularly if they are unknown. Oh, the odd one makes it—and good for them—but for the bulk of us it is a long, hard, frustrating, debilitating, soul-destroying, manic depressive journey. (Do you get the idea it is tough?) Fair enough. But a harsh reality showed up on the radar. Publishing—particularly in the Christian field—has undergone a sea change. And I am not talking about the technological changes that are impacting the industry. Nor am I talking about the change in media platforms that such technology is bringing about.
Rather, it appears that the major houses have learned from their secular counterparts and from the Hollywood mentality that only one thing matters. Money and profit. It is not enough to have a message any more. It is not enough to create something to entertain, inform, educate or minister. No. Today you have to jump through some new hoops: is the book written by a celebrity, sports personality, politician or megachurch pastor? Or, does it fit under the new flavor-of-the-year type of book we (the publishers) have decided is the “in” thing.
Let me give you an example of the latter type of thinking. My agent told me that the hot thing for publishers these days is Amish romance! A good friend of mine, a Hollywood screenwriter and producer, told me he’d had a conversation with an executive of a major Christian publisher who told him the same thing. The publisher’s rationale was simple. Only middle-aged women read and go into bookstores and that’s what they want ergo that’s all the publisher will produce in the fiction line.I checked it out in bookstores in various parts of the United States and Canada. Sure enough, there were rows and rows of Amish romance novels. Hundreds of them. More Amish romance than I think there are Amish people.
But who’s reading them. I have spoken with hundreds of women—of all ages—who are avid readers. None have read, or want to read, Amish romances. Nor is it confined to Christian publishing. I noted that Danielle Steele, one of the most successful secular romance writers, has produced an Amish romance!
The answer I believe is what drives Hollywood and most of the entertainment industry today. Simply put, it is “monkey see, monkey do!” If one book (or movie or TV show) is successful, we soon find a plethora of copycats. This is why the current movie trend is for comic book characters translated onto the big screen. What a sad commentary on the literary capacity of people today!
It’s all about the bottom line. What will bring in the most money and return on investment for shareholders. Christian stuff is a hot commodity now, particularly in the United States. That’s why secular houses like Random House and Harper Rowe bought major Christian publishers. And why those same publishers seem now more concerned with generating revenue quickly and easily rather than ministry or edification.
Oh, and the real bottom line for the Amish romance trend? I just read that a publisher recently released a new book. “Amish Vampires in Space.” Yep. It’s for real (check it out on Amazon).
So maybe I should have written about Amish Druids falling in love with Aliens who are in fact crime-fighting turtles led by a rat.
What do you think?