There are two publishing markets: the CBA (Christian market) and ABA (secular market). So which one should we take?
This has been a question I’ve been wrestling with for awhile now. As Christians who write, should we write for Christians, or for those who don’t believe? As it is with music, writers can also be placed under labels, and that poses a problem. No atheist is going to purposely read a Christian novel, and some Christians aren’t going to read a secular novel. So what audience do we leave out? Or do we write for both?
Every novelist is called to a specific audience. Christian and secular, but also in what genre they feel led to write. For myself it’s suspense/thriller, and I write the stories I feel led to write within that genre parameter. Romance or straight up horror fiction will feel awkward and wrong to me because it’s not my calling, though I instill elements of both within my stories.
So then there really isn’t a set label to put yourself under. Each is called to write for a different audience, you just have to know what calling that is. To do that you need to seek God before even placing a single word on the page. You MUST know your audience. Every writer will tell you that.
But it’s easier said than done. No one can just place themselves under a label, though we can all call ourselves other wise. The secular market isn’t going to accept explicitly Christian novels, and the Christian market isn’t going to accept novels that are absent of anything Christian. With that said, the secular market will allow some spiritual themes (as seen in some horror classics) so it’s possible to evangelise to the non-believing audience through the secular market.
In the end there is no set way to answer this, but I think a good example is Jesus Himself. His parables extended, not only to His disciples and followers, but also to those who didn’t think so highly of Him. He told stories for both crowds. The novel I’m editing, while explicitly Christian, is written towards both mainstream and Christian audiences, and once published, I hope it reaches both.
Overall the best advice I can give is to simply write. Don’t try to force God into the story, and don’t try to force Him out. Write what you feel led to and allow the Holy Spirit to have His way. It will come out as genuine and passionate, and that’s the kind of story everyone will enjoy, or at the very least, respect.