Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Behind the Bookcover: Insider Tips for Christian Writers

Treasuring Grace is a Christian themed book that was published by Healthy Life Press. Being a first time author makes it hard to break into the writing business and the Christian market, although growing, makes it even harder. We know there are a lot of you in the same boat, with great ideas, inspired story lines, but not really sure where to go with your manuscript or how to take the next step.  
We asked our publisher at Healthy Life Press some questions about breaking into the Christian Publishing business (referred to a CP in the future) and wanted to share his valuable information with you here. We are sure you'll find it fascinating and helpful.  
Q:  What kind of books are CPs looking to add to their catalogs? Fiction? Biographies? Opinion books on controversial or political matters?  What sells? Is there a hole in the market anywhere? Are there books that NEED to be written?
The big CPs, which now are mostly owned by secular conglomerates, have a working list of topics.BUT, for the most part, they will not entertain any proposals that are not brought to them by agents. In addition, they are telling agents that they only want titles from authors who can guarantee significant sales because of their visibility; for example, they have a radio or TV presence. Currently, the number of guaranteed sales that these publishers require are phenomenal - between 20 and 60,000, depending on who you're talking to.
Where once the purpose of these publishers was to publish works that would glorify God and help people, this is no longer the case. And the situation can only get worse.
In my opinion, the only Christian books that "need" to be written are those driven by the passion of the author about some aspect of faith. This is true whether we are referring to nonfiction or fiction. One of the reasons that I founded Healthy Life Press was to help unpublished authors with something substantial to say get their work to press.
Q: How can a new writer prove to a CP that their book has promise and would interest readers and sell?
One can solicit endorsements from celebrities or at least persons with significant credentials in the arena that the book covers. Otherwise, in today's market there is no way to prove ahead of time that a book has promise. In olden times, a book had promise if it has something significant and unique to say. Today, the entire discussion is about economics. Often the final decision regarding a book is made by the sales team. If they cannot show that the book will at least pay its own way - i.e. recoup its publication costs (most do not) then they will not put their own careers on the line for it, regardless.

Q: What kind of research do you recommend a writer do  before they start writing?
A writer should research best practices in relation to his or her topic. By this I mean that the writer should thoroughly research what is out there already, and how his or her book will be so different and superior that a publisher should consider investing a considerable amount of money to get it to market, with all that entails.
A writer should also consider whether self-publishing, either in print or in eBook format, or both, would help them establish their credibility while allowing them to at least get the book to print. This process is far more complicated than it may sound on the surface. There are some companies that specialize in what used to be called "vanity" printing - i.e. we will get your book to print as long as you pay us so much up front and then guarantee that you will buy the first "x" number of books, yourself. Of course, this is their way of covering their own costs, while hoping that one of their authors will actually break into the market in some significant way.
Our own approach with Healthy Life Press ( is collaborative (in that we work together to get the book to market) and cooperative (in that we share the expense of this process and the proceeds from it fairly).
In all these things, as an author/co-author of 19 books published commercially, plus a publisher of almost 30 more, I do not wish to discourage anyone. If you must write, you must write. If you are a writer, you will know what I mean by that. We write because we must. It is our mission, and a fulfillment of our purpose for being here. If, however, you want to write because you want to make money ... forget about it.
David B. Biebel, DMin
Publisher, Healthy Life Press

image by:
Attribution Some rights reserved by HeavenlyCabins


  1. I write for the sake of it. I have no lofty illusions that anyone would pay me money for my sparkling prose. Still it is fun, and I love the community of friends I have discovered who seem to love to do the same thing. Thank you for visiting me and following. I am following you back.


    1. Thanks for stopping by. Writers write because they love to, that is the only reason to do it... so you are definitely on the right track!


Pro LIfe and Healing after Abortion Blog Hop: Join Us