Thursday, May 14, 2009

Subject Line: The Business End

(Updated: I changed my mind about addressing posts to KJA for the fun of it. It creates too much distance. So I'm back to jumping into the post.)

I know I'm in the midst of redecorating this place, but it looks much better, so I'm taking a break to ask a few questions. I was going to ask a wallop of a question, but I sensed it wasn't the right time. No, I'm not a Betazoid.

I'm taking a marketing-research course through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers. CBA) The instructors stressed the need for writers to know the market. I know this, of course, but as I read their lessons and responses, dread fizzled in my stomach like a dissolving Alka-Seltzer.

I'm getting the impression authors can't simply have a rudimentary knowledge of the market, they should understand it thoroughly, like my husband understands theological books. Put him in a Christian bookstore and ask him a question about a book or an author. He'll dissect and compare most commentaries, tell you which authors are more Pop-Christianity oriented, and which are more Biblically based. I'm sure he can even give you a good idea of where the author stands theologically. Not just live authors, but those that died long ago. He knows what's selling, and what should be selling but isn't. He knows what's out of print, and what will be reprinted soon. I don't know how many times he's assisted fellow customers in retail stores.

Playing opposing counsel here, is this level of knowledge necessary? Must authors be fully writers and fully marketers? At what point do we say, hey, I'm a storyteller, I know my audience so let me write something for them?

More important, am I the only author asking these questions?

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