by Allen Arnold
Senior Vice-President, Fiction
Thomas Nelson, Inc.
We live in an industry with instant access to data. Numbers sorted in endless graphs, grids and pivot tables to tell if a novel, an author, a genre or the entire Christian Fiction category is rising or falling.
And the numbers change constantly. The cycle starts to feel like a dog chasing his tail.
Don’t get me wrong, numbers are necessary. They measure where we’ve been…as well as the wisdom of a deal. They serve a purpose.
But numbers can numb you if we look to them to determine what to write next – or to determine the value of your calling as a writer.
Because while numbers measure the past…they are woefully inadequate about shedding light on what tomorrow’s surprise bestseller – or next year’s hot genre – will be. Does the God who created everything really call writers to churn out Christian versions of the latest general market bestsellers?
More important, numbers are not an indicator of God’s calling on your life.
I believe God calls people to be writers – and then breathes life into their stories. If you’ve been called to write Christian Fiction, then write the stories that He gives you. Don’t chase the hot trend of the moment…and don’t obsess over your Amazon ranking or units sold. Really. Don’t.
Keep your eyes on Him…and treat your story as an offering to God. If it sells well, that’s a bonus. If it never sees the light of day, perhaps God simply wanted to share that time with you to draw you closer to Him. Write as long as He gives you new stories. For some authors – that may be a single novel. For others, it may be thirty novels. Don’t write because you need the next advance. Write because He is giving you more stories.
Anchor your identity in God. Remember He gave you the gift of story. Your identity is in Him. Not the most recent bestseller list.
Pursue holiness and wholeness by spending more time with Him and His Word than in a fictionalized world. Really.
This may sound odd coming from a former Christian Fiction Publisher. But as I near the end of my 20+ years in the industry (and head to the mountains of Colorado for ministry), I’m more convinced than ever that the eternal value of a story only happens when God calls a writer and the writer responds by hungering after God more than hungering for success.
Do that and you’ll savor your calling in a way that mere numbers and rankings can never measure.
Allen Arnold loves great stories, passionate conversations and authentic living. As Senior Vice-President and Fiction Publisher at Thomas Nelson, he spends his days acquiring, reading and publishing world class adult and young adult fiction written from a Christian worldview.
A veteran of the publishing industry since joining Thomas Nelson in 1992, he initially oversaw marketing and branding campaigns of many best-selling Christian authors, utilizing skills learned while working for some of the world’s largest advertising agencies. Tapped to launch the Fiction division in 2003, his publishing program is filled with New York Times, ECPA, and CBA bestsellers, representing every genre from romance to fantasy, historical to suspense.
Allen’s favorite way to spend the day is with his family – preferably with a C.S. Lewis book or Superman comic close at hand.