Monday, February 7, 2011

Interview with Charlene Patterson, Managing Editor of Fiction for Bethany House Publishers

In order to help readers and potential readers of Christian fiction understand and get to know the different publishing houses of Christian fiction and their purpose and mission, I have requested interviews with the editors and publishers of fiction at many different houses. I am so excited to share these interviews with all of you and I think it will increase our understanding and make our conversations more productive. I hope you find it a valuable resource!

What genres do you publish?

We publish adult fiction in a variety of genres—historical, romance, bonnet, suspense, fantasy, and women’s fiction.

Does your publishing company have a mission statement?

Bethany House Publishers is a division of Baker Publishing Group. The company’s mission statement is “Baker Publishing Group publishes high-quality writings that represent historic Christianity and serve the diverse interests and concerns of evangelical readers.”

Do your books have a strong faith message?

All of our books include a faith message consistent with the tenants of the Christian faith. In some books, the message is strong and overt; in others it is quiet and subtle.

Is profanity ever acceptable in your fiction?

Profanity as in the profane use of God’s name is never acceptable. The use of swearing is considered on a case-by-case basis but is usually discouraged because it means certain accounts won’t buy the book. We believe if a writer is creative enough, he or she can reference swearing without having to use the actual words.

Do you publish books that are considered by the market to be edgy?

It depends on what you consider edgy. Our books will sometimes contain descriptions of violence, depictions of sinful behavior, characters who make poor choices or struggle with controversial issues, etc. We do not have a list of things that can and can’t be included in books.

However, the majority of our books would not be considered edgy. We provide an alternative to what is available in the general market because we believe there are many people who like to read books without being exposed to things such as swearing, sex, and graphic violence.

What is your approach to literary fiction?

As much talk as there is about the Christian market not publishing enough “literary fiction,” no one seems interested in buying it when it is offered. Thus, we seek to publish well-written books that fall into recognizable genres.

Who do you see as your primary audience?

Our books are marketed primarily to Christians because they are sold in Christian bookstores or in the “inspirational” or “religious” fiction section of chain stores and big box stores. Since we publish a variety of fiction, we strive to reach an audience of all ages. However, because we do publish a lot of romance, the majority of our books target female readers.

What are some of the books you have published that readers that epitomize your mission?

All of our books epitomize our mission in some way or we wouldn’t publish them. For information on our current releases, check out or join our Facebook page. We are excited about the breadth and quality offered in our fiction line.

Do you welcome feedback from readers and if so what is the best method for readers to give your their feedback?

Yes, readers write to us and to our authors all the time, and they often provide book reviews on their blogs and at places such as

Check out some of Bethany House's books on their website and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Read the interview with Julie Gwinn, fiction manager of B&H.

If you are the editor or a Christian publisher and have not received my interview questions, please email me at


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