The afternoon Art & Soul session includes a very interesting session about the Christian Fiction industry.

The Publishing Panel consisted of:
John Wilson, Books & Culture: moderator
Lil Copan, Paraclete Press
David Long, Bethany House Publishers
Jon Pott, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company


There were a series of questions posted by John Wilson, the moderator, with some interesting answers. Below are some of the highlights.

Trends in Publishing

John Wilson:

Is there a particular trend going on in publishing?

Jon Pott:

The CBA market is the fastest growing market segment.

David Long:

We’re seeing a large blurring of what a CBA book is these days. There used to be a very specific notion of what Christian Fiction was — very clean, no language — due to the increasing popularity of Christian fiction books, a lot of those lines are beginning to grey and blur. Many new books have very little [overt] Christian content.

Paraclete Press to Resume Fiction Novel Contest

Last year Paraclete Press hosted a literary fiction award at the Calvin festival for full-length novels. Leif Enger was the judge. Paraclete Press acquired rights to the winner and 3 of the finalists. Lil Copan announced that they plan to make this an ongoing, bi-annual event.

Themes Publishers See Too Much

John Wilson:

Is there [a type of fiction] that if you see another example of you’ll vomit….

David Long:

Chick Lit. Everything we see [in Chick Lit] is just cliché. The cookie cutter effect.

The other one [is] Left Behind.

John Wilson on Dan Brown:

You think, “Oh God it can’t get any worse than this”, and then you see the imitation book!


Lil Copan:

Dan Brown clones. Books on grief.

Jon Pott:

I’m starting to develop an allergy to Celtic spirituality.

On Ecumenical Trends

Lil Copan said:

Lot of people interested in the intersection of faith and literary fiction. In liturgical press, Catholic & Episcopal, lot’s of richness and history there for the literary fiction marketplace.

John Wilson:

[noting the recent death of Pope John Paul II]

There is far more crossing of barriers between different streams of Christian traditions.

Jon Pott:

Eerdman’s comes out of Dutch Calvinist tradition. There is more dialog between Orthodox and Protestants than there once was.

Lil Copan:

We’ve been purposeful in our ecumenical approach. We publish books by Orthodox, Presbyterians, and Mennonites. Frederica Mathewes-Green is as an example. A lot of people are interested in what another tradition has to say about spiritual silence.

Jon Pott:

We’re seeing a recovery of the earliest Christian writings, such as The Desert Fathers.