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October 2011

Reporter: Jeannie Campbell

Jeannie CampbellJeannie Campbell is a licensed marriage and family therapist and head of clinical services for a non-profit in California. Her day job generates fodder for her writing. Two of her therapeutic romance manuscripts have finaled in ACFWs Genesis Contest. She is The Character Therapist and writes a popular monthly column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and has been featured in many ezines, newspapers, and blogs.

Editor: Janny Butler

Janny ButlerA popular speaker, workshop teacher, and writing coach, Janet W. (Janny) Butler is a Golden Heart winner, author of the “best little book no one’s ever heard of,” ACFW member, and book project editor for the nation’s largest nonprofit Catholic publisher. She blogs at Catholic Writer Chick at Large! and Hoosier Ink. Visit her here.

Spotlight On: Thomas Nelson Fiction

Thomas Nelson logoThomas Nelson is committed to giving readers what they want, how they want it.

Serving a wide spectrum of readers

“We need to be format agnostic,” said Allen Arnold (right), senior vice-president and fiction publisher at Thomas Nelson. “Our job is not to force people to love the smell of ink and print. Our job is to give [readers] freedom to get their content to them in the way they want to read it.”

Allen ArnoldAnd Thomas Nelson does just that. With around 45 titles released every year in a multitude of genres, Thomas Nelson cares about reaching readers with multiple stories told from the common denominator of a Christian worldview.

In an effort to stay fresh and relevant to these readers, Thomas Nelson recently created a survey to poll the most passionate Christian fiction fans. The feedback was overwhelming and they cut off the survey after 5,000 responses.

Survey said…

The majority of responders indicated they want to be entertained.

Readers were asked the main reason they pick up Christian fiction: reading for entertainment, for inspiration, to learn Christian information, or as an evangelistic tool. The majority of responders indicated they want to be entertained.

When asked Thomas Nelson’s thoughts on the idea of escapist fiction, Arnold said it’s a both/and situation. “If I want a sermon, I’ll read nonfiction. If you’re not entertaining, you don’t earn the right for anything else.”

How can I be a part of this?

Arnold offered tips for writers seeking to hone their craft or break into the business:

  • The more in your face the issue is in a manuscript, the more in your face the Christianity should be. Don’t shy away from dealing with the hard issues.
  • Pitches should be honed and crafted into an articulate sentence or two. If he’s confused by your story after 15 minutes, there’s no way he can convince retailers to carry your title.
  • No genre is out. It’s only out until the next person hits big on it.
  • Men rarely read female authors, while women read both. Male authors trying to break in have a bit more of an advantage and more of them are succeeding.
  • Thomas Nelson enjoys working with authors who enjoy the publication process. They try to gauge how flexible a new author is. “If the author says, ‘This is my story—take it or leave it,’ most of the time we leave it,” Arnold said.

For more information from Arnold, subscribe to his new blog, Allen Arnold Writes.

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