(Christian) Romance

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One of the most daunting thing for a fictional writer trying to break into the publishing world, in my opinion, is the selection of a genre. There are sooo many choices, especially if you’re self-publishing. You can broadly choose a genre, like fantasy, or mystery, or romance. And then you start whittling your genre down to focus on your book.

That all sounds well and good. For a newbie, however, it becomes a daunting task. Under fantasy is it dungeons and dragons or sci-fi? As a mystery, is there a recurring theme?

But I think the hardest generic genre is romance. It’s all encompassing whenever you have a relationship between a boy and a girl or a woman and a man or these days two women or two men. The setting determines the type of romance … western, Amish, historical, etc.

If you’re poking around Amazon books, you can readily find the romance section, open it up and discover 28 sub-genres ranging from action & adventure romances to western romances. But you won’t find Christian romance. The closest you’ll come is inspirational, with five very broad categories — Amish, contemporary, historical, mystery & suspense, and western & frontier.

I know it’s all about analytics. Those SEOs (search engine optimization) drive the analytics. Unfortunately, they make or break a book. It doesn’t matter how good or how bad it is, without the proper SEOs it will languish in the back room of the virtual bookstore. No one will find it. The conundrum has spawned a cottage industry where people who don’t read your book determine the right promotional words to drive potential readers your way. Of course, they charge, often more than the average indie author could ever recoup. Many traditional publishing houses employ SEOs in their package but remember, there are tradeoffs between going traditional and self publishing.

Sorry. That was a digression. Where I was going with this whole notion of Christian romance. It is a minefield. There are an estimated 43,000 or so Christian denominations worldwide tracing their roots to nine branches from the one early root. That’s 43,000 or interpretations on the code of Christianity. What is acceptable as Christian romance is debatable ranging from squeaky clean with no naughty words and, Lord forbid, moments of intimacy {I sometimes wonder if these Christians ever read the bible} to dealing with real life issues in a sometimes ugly presentation to show reconciliation.

Take my book My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through as an example. I have had reviewers in their Christian charity and mindset, let me know how disappointed they were. One said she couldn’t beyond the language. I went back to see what I had missed. There were about seven or eight instances of off color verbiage and I think the worst was “bullshit.” Another complained the pre-marital sex was problematic, completely overlooking the fact it was the reaction to the pre-marital sex — by both partners — that set in motion the very clean love story that followed. Questioning God and turning her back on Him after tragedy was another no no for another reader. She was young so I felt she never witnessed grief first hand.

The overwhelming response, however, has been positive, especially from pastors who have witnessed the sometimes ugly side of life with the parishioners. They saw God’s hand in the lives of the characters. So did many others.

Most Christian writers don’t want to preach to the choir. They want their words to resonate with all who read it. Unfortunately, most of the time they do.

That was my goal as well. I wanted the book to reach the soul not by preaching a story, but showing a story — a story that includes the message God loves you whether you realize it or not.

In that sense, My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through is not a Christian romance. It is a love story … Sam’s memoir like story of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration … and God’s persistent presence in Sam’s life through the skeptical times, the good times, and the bad times.

The challenge has been {and this is a challenge all writers face} getting the book into the right hands. In today’s world, as soon as you identify the book as a “Christian” or “Christian themed” novel, you lose a good chunk of potential readers, ironically the ones who might not only enjoy the novel but at least subliminally hear the message.

The prayer is always to let the words speak to the Truth.

My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through might not make page 1 on Amazon’s must read list. It may still be trying to make it’s way in the world. I certainly don’t expect to get rich. But if I can open just one reader’s heart to listen for God’s prompting, I would be the richest man on earth. And I’ll have a new friend in heaven.

If you’ve read the book, I would love your critique, as a comment or a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. If you haven’t read the book, I hope you will consider doing so. Just follow the link or get a hold of me. It is available as a paperback, e-book on Kindle, and now as an audiobook on Audible. The “Christian” is there but it is silent. It’s all about the message.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: I’m scared of failure all the time, but I’m not scared enough to stop trying. — Ronda Rousey

 

 

 

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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3 Responses to (Christian) Romance

  1. TamrahJo says:

    I do not peruse ‘romance titles’ Christian or otherwise, but, sigh, the link to buy the paperback is now on my ‘purchase when able to’ list – for one simple reason – I have, myself, been amazed at the amount of vivid sex, rape and violence of humanity against humanity displayed in oh, so many creative works – – I have friends who won’t read a story, watch a movie, etc., if there is cursing in it, but will subject themselves to the worst kind of imagery based on …again…historically known, documented, horror film style examples of our ‘inhumanity to one another’ and so for me, using the word “bullshit” is so far, for me personally, down the spectrum of ‘what I’ll expose myself to and what, in the end, it actually does to my soul, I have a hard time understanding such feedback – – on any level – language, sex, violence, torture, etc., to me, takes two forms in creative works world – one is for shock, awe and trying to emotionally dig into our less than stellar selves – the other option? Such things are related because they educate, they inform, they explore the options and give examples for us to get carried up in the story to ‘virtually’ (if you will) connect and think about, “Oh! Goodness! What would I do if I were in that characters shoes? – Would I make the same choices? Would I see the other options? Would I give into the easy route?” – – I have a very beloved and respected friend, he watches historical and war movies that are rated R for violence, bloodshed, dark muderous intent, but won’t watching anything over PG title because of ‘language’ – I don’t get his take – he doesn’t get mine – but we still recommend various movies and works to each other – despite it, while we also acknowledge our very different perspectives regarding what we each choose to enter the open gateway into our minds & souls – he is one of my dearest, most trusted, connections – for other reasons, but mostly, for this front, right here – 🙂

    • Thanks for the feedback. The point I was trying to make was genres are limiting in general, but especially in the Christian themed sub genre where the battle within the sub genre is so stark. For example, the book is part romance in the sense of a personal love story, part fictional memoir, part adventure, and part message. I love the book is on your when able purchase list (it is free with Kindle Unlimited and I have a free code for the audiobook). I would love to hear your take.

      • TamrahJo says:

        Will do – and I didn’t make clear, overall, over the many years – (I think, since 2011/12?) when I started following various reports and how-tos, etc., on ‘marketing your book on Amazon” to me, the algorithms, categories, etc., STILL don’t fully encompass what browsers or “show me what I want based on past prefs” settings/activity do justice to many who have works out there – for reading – – but I’ve given up on algorithms – chat bots, etc., until such time as I see improvement, overall – cuz for me, personally? They fail, over and over and over to recommend or get me to what I am looking for, like, etc., on many fronts – tech support, answers to questions, music, books, advertisements I’m shown, etc., despite my good faith attempt to play ‘their game’ on my likes, preferences, viewed, purchased, etc. And Amazon runs off algorithms, categories, etc., so, to me, overall, one is playing a…perhaps not totally rigged game, but in an arena in which those who ‘code’ the algorithms still don’t really get it – and the toddlers of Algorithm, AI world are in their true infancy given what the stated goals/promises are and what the delivery/actual benefits are, – – IMO

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