Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How to Spot a Christian Fiction Book

One thing I notice from time to time is that a blogger will get a book to review and not realize that it's a Christian fiction book. They might mention in their review that they wish the blurb had said something about the book being Christian fiction. For awhile, Christian fiction books were sold primarily in Christian bookstores. (now you can find them in lots of different places) So it was quite unnecessary for the book to say, oh hey, I'm Christian fiction! Now that you can find Christian fiction at Barnes & Noble, Sam's Club, and offered on LibraryThing Early Reviewers you might feel that you will get tricked into reading Christian fiction. Or on the flip side, you may want to actively seek out Christian fiction but are unsure of how to know if a book is Christian fiction or not.

There is a way to tell! It's as simple as being familiar with the publishing houses and imprints that publish for the Christian marketplace. So, in an effort to help you all out, I'm going to list the major ones here with a wee bit of commentary.

Thomas Nelson Thomas Nelson used to have imprints, but everything is published under the Thomas Nelson umbrella these days, making things simple. Thomas Nelson has published great authors like Lisa Samson, Nicole Seitz, and Ted Dekker.

Baker Publishing Group
Baker Publishing Group has two divisions that publish fiction the popular Bethany House and Revell. Bethany House is very popular for historical fiction and Revell publishes Julie Lessman. :)

Tyndale House Publishers
From the name it should be obvious, but you never know.

Barbour Publishing Mostly romance with lots of anthologies. They also publish the category line Heartsong Presents. And the recently deceased Heartsong Presents Mysteries (which I really liked)

Steeple Hill, Love Inspired (Suspense and Historical)
This is Harelequin's Christian line. The Steeple Hill books are generally women's fiction, unless they have the little coffee cup and say Steeple Hill Cafe...then they are chick lit. Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense, and Love Inspired Historical are the category romances you might be able to find at Wal-mart and Target.

Waterbrook/Multonmah is the Christian line of books from Random House. I remember hearing this imprint was going to be folded into others under some sort of reorganization, so I'm not exactly sure how they plan to handle letting you know the books are Christian in the future. Anyone?

Howard Books is the Christian line from Simon and Schuster. Admittedly, I'm not as familiar with Howard Books as I'd like to be, but should be receiving some books for review for blog tours soon.

FaithWords is the inspirational line from Hachette Book Group. I suspect a lot of book bloggers have read FaithWords before since Hachette does such a great job of reaching out to book bloggers!

Zondervan Zondervan is a division of Harper Collins and published the fabulous Sushi series by Camy Tang.

Avon Inspire is an imprint of Harper Collins as well, publishing inspirational romances including Lori Copeland, Kristin Billerbeck, and Lyn Cote.

B&H Fiction publishes a really wide variety as well...and some pretty fantastic stuff. I've thought their stuff was a little edgier for Christian fiction, which you know I enjoy!

Moody Publishers published one of my favorite Christian fiction books, My Hands Came Away Red. Fantastic read.

David C. Cook (or Cook)
This one always cracks me up because I think primarily of the Sunday School material I used to teach. But now they have some pretty awesome fiction.

Harvest House Publishers
Also publish a variety including Lori Wick, BJ Hoff, and Linore Rose Burkard


Navpress has published the Hollywood Nobody series, Sharon Hinck, Tosca Lee, and more.

Whitaker House
Home of Sharlene MacLaren

Some others you might come across: Kregel Publications, Sheaf House, Summerside Press, and the forthcoming fiction from Abingdon Press. There are a few other small presses I've missed. Feel free to let me know what they are in comments.

Does this help?



Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

That's more publishers than I realized.

Deborah said...

oh 3 more houses, Guideposts (Tales from Grace Chapel Inn, Home to Heather Creek serieses), NavPress (Sharon Hinck's The Restorer series, Tosca Lee's books, Erynn Mangum's Lauren Halbrook series), Harvest House (home to Lori Wick and Mindy Starns Clark)

Deborah said...

a quick comment about people feeling tricked into reading Christian fiction. i can understand if it is a preachy novel that literally has tons of sermons in the book. but what i don't get is when someone finishes a book, has enjoyed it and THEN afterwards finds out it's a Christian fiction novel and they stop liking it. what does it matter?? if you liked the book, you like it, it shouldn't matter if it was Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, romance, mystery, historical, erotica, etc.
it just feels like Christian fiction is the only genre that has to have this "so called disclaimer" so as not to offend people. i don't see other genres having this. it just seems like it's like a "Beware" tag to stay away or "read with caution" more than a "heads up" to me.

Anonymous said...

Hah, I didn't know Tyndale was Christian until I won an ER book from them, which we talked about before! Thanks for the list. I'm not going to avoid these houses of course, but it's definitely nicer to go in with the information.

Anonymous said...

Bethany House seems to have pretty subtle works. Granted, the two books of theirs I read were by the same author, Nancy Moser. I wouldn't have guessed that they were Christian Fiction if I hadn't seen that the rest of her books are, after finishing the first one.

Anonymous said...

After reading Ruby Among Us, I had to ask the author if she considered her book Christian Fiction, because honestly I had no idea! Thanks for the info! I admit, that I'm not very familiar with publishers or the types of books they print.

Gay said...

Perhaps a stupid question, but what makess a book Christian lit? Or maybe conversely, what won't you find in a Christian lit book?

Rita T. said...

I love Christian fiction and don't see why this is a problem. If someone is thinking of reviewing a book and they're concerned that it might conflict with their beliefs, it is their responsibility to do a simple check with the publisher to find out if this would be the case.

To answer Gay, what you won't find in Christian fiction is - filth.

Anonymous said...

This is a request for ideas.

As my friends know, I am working to change the world (aren't we all!) and my chosen vehicle is a novel called Jesus Swept and a bumper sticker (Do good. Be nice. Have fun.).

On the novel front, I was surprised last month to discover that the Library Journal had classified my somewhat irreverent story as Christian fiction. Actually, surprised is an understatement. I was floored. Here's what they wrote.


Fresh prose and an offbeat style make this an appealing tale, although it is not traditional CBA fiction. Jesus Swept includes some rough language that may offend more conservative readers, but it might appeal to more adventurous patrons who enjoyed last year's Saving Erasmus by Steven Cleaver. Recommended for public libraries.


Does anyone have any experience with thinking through this issue? Do you know of books that are categorized as Christian ... but seem to fall far outside that description? Any insight would be welcome.


James at jamesprotzman dot com

Becky said...

I choose to look at this post--or the premise behind this post--positively. There are plenty of readers out there who want to read Christian books and/or clean (no smut) fiction...and they may be at the bookstore OR at the library and wanting an easy way to spot books to read.

While it is true that you could look at it negatively--a way for some out there to say, ways to avoid Christian fiction so I'm not accidentally tainted by reading it. Theoretically I'm not sure how I feel about labels at all. You're right, Deborah, other types of books aren't labeled 'in case of offending' others. I can see the convenience of it, but I can also see why there could be some problems with it. In some ways, a book is a book is a book. Labeling books can be tricky in and of itself because it naturally works to limit the audience even if that is not the intention.

Anonymous said...

Good, now I'll know which publishers to avoid (most of the time). Bring on those filthy books! Thanks, Amy.

I'm still available to help with BBAW. Do you need me?

S. Krishna said...

Thanks for this! I'm one of those people who tends to not want to read Christian fiction so I appreciate this list.

Anonymous said...

LOL so out of all the fantastic Zondervan authors, you list me! Thanks, Amy!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Amy! I love that you write WHITAKER HOUSE: Home of Sharlene MacLaren. **grins**

You listed so many wonderful houses. Thanks for the helpful input.

As for someone's earlier question about what makes a book Christian lit, I for one, don't like the phrase "Christian Fiction". To a non-believer, it's a stumper. Truly. I've received some strange looks from people who don't know what I'm talking about when I say I write Christian fiction. Thus, I've started saying, "I write romantic fiction with an inspirational Christian message." For some reason, they seem to "get" that right away.

Have a wonderful rest-of-the-week, dear friends!


Tina said...

Hi Amy, Thanks for the great breakdown - but I STAND by my comment on my blog where I said that the words "christian fiction" should clearly be indicated on the front or back covers......

Molly said...

I am a little late in commenting - I found this post by way of Bermuda Onion's "Weekly Round Up." I really like the comment that Deborah made, "if you liked the book, you like it, it shouldn't matter if it was Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, romance, mystery, historical, erotica, etc." I totally agree 100%. And what is more --- I think that Christians should use this same criteria. I teach at a small private school and I get infuriated when well-meaning Christian parents try to censor what we read in the classroom because it is NOT Christian lit. If the book is well-written with great characterization and theme development --- then we, as Christians, can read said book with our Christian worldview and still learn from it. Sometimes I feel as though I am trying to fight a losing battle, however.

Anonymous said...

how timely...i just recently took a book out from my library (based on the COVER art!) and was all "la la la, reading, reading" when these christly references started popping up. to be honest, it was annoyingly preachy and the story was pretty bad too. and so i did something i rarely do: i didn't finish the book.

Alyce said...

Thanks for such a detailed post! I used to work at a Christian publishing company (Harvest House) and though I knew about most of these companies, there were some that I was unfamiliar with.

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