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Question: is Christian suspense fiction a genre that’s dying?
Answer: NO! NO! NO! If you think I’m being unclear or wishy-washy, let me add NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!
It is my opinion that the whole mystery/suspense/thriller genre hasn’t even hit the mother-load yet. First, there will always be an interest in fiction that grabs our adrenal glands and gives them a hearty squeeze. (Okay, so I just disgusted myself with that image). Yep, Christians still like a good rush, especially when it’s part of a message that leaves hope in our hearts.
Second, I believe that the Christian market can increase its influence and impact by investing time and money into an intentional effort to attract more male readers to Christian fiction. But do men really read suspense books? YES! Men buy and read a ton of “secular” mystery/suspense/thriller books. And the major reason is because they are purposely targeted. And, sadly, the secular market is glad to cater to the fleshly desires of male readers. And there isn’t the stigma in the secular market that there is in the Christian market. Many men think that Christian fiction is only romance and bonnets. Is that a wrong perception? Yes. Are we doing enough to correct that mistaken idea? I humbly–and with no disrespect intended–submit that we are not.
I admit that I’m not sure what the answers are, but here are a few steps I think Christian writers can take to reach out to more men with the power of Christian fiction:
- We must unapologetically proclaim the quality of Christian m/s/t/ fiction. And when men tell other men, it makes an impression. Even Christian men are largely unaware of the great Christian m/s/t fiction that is available. I’ve talked to men who saw the movie Courageous loved it. It has amazed me how many of those men didn’t know it was based on a book by Randy Alcorn.
- We should intentionally look for opportunities to market Christian m/s/t/ fiction to men we know. This means we will be ready to recommend specific titles to men. The power of word-of-mouth marketing can sway male readers also. Can local writing groups help in this outreach?
- We need to figure out ways to stress the “thrill-ride” aspect of Christian m/s/t fiction. Men are more likely to be open-minded to the idea of adventure than the idea of reading as an escape from real life. Many men see the “escapism” mentality as a confession of weakness. This includes the covers on the books we publish. When we understand how male readers think, we can more effectively market to them.
- Christian writers and publishing houses are going to have to commit themselves to a serious strategy to grow the number of men who read Christian m/s/t fiction AND will need to commit to this strategy for several years.
This is only the tip of the iceberg in talking about this topic. But I really want to know what you think. is this a conversation worth having?