Finding the Bigger Fishbowl

One of my kids' favorite books is A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer...I'm sure most of you probably know it. It's that story where a little boy buys a fish at the pet store, and despite the shop keeper's warning, feeds the fish too much, and the fish begins to grow and grow and grow. The boy moves the fish from bowl to pitcher to pot to public swimming pool in order to find a place where the monstrosity he's created can fit. There are illustrations all through this book of a fish that doesn't even have enough room to turn around in whatever container he's occupying. He shifts from oblivious to shocked to dejected.

Authors in the Christian publishing world, in terms of marketing, seem to have this "big fish, little bowl" scenario working against them. Not in the sense that we've outgrown Christian publishing with our writing prowess and sheer market massiveness, but just that there's simply not enough water in Christian publishing in which to swim and find readers. (And let's face it, critics. We need those too, if we're going to grow.I'm of the opinion that the quarters are too close for us to be critics within our own little pond--but that's a whole 'nuther topic.) We keep bumping into the same 250 like-minded fish, with only the rare book reaching outside those circles.


I sincerely believe, as I poise to get Valor's Worth release-ready, that I need to make ways to get out of the little fishbowl in terms of marketing. My social media contacts are all writers, with only a handful of non-writing fans sprinkled in. They do their part in encouraging and commiserating. But they can only buy so many books. And when a dozen or more of your friends have books coming out any given year, I know I have to pick and choose. Social media (I include Facebook, Twitter, and blogs in all this) is great for communication.  But...

It stinks for sales.

Marketing is going to have to be my all-consuming load to bear in the coming months. And I'm going to need to do something different than I've done so far, because I know what that nets, and it's not enough. I need to find ways to stand in front of people who like what I like AND...(wait for it...)

Aren't writers.

I have a few ideas how I want to try to do this, and a lot of them are tied up in the Faith and Fantasy Alliance, if I can withstand the outlay of time and money that will demand. If I'm going to be published with indie publishers, at least for the time being, I need to do frightening, outside-the-fishbowl things in terms of selling books. Why? Because I know for certain there are Christians out there who have no idea Christian fantasy exists. Several of my close friends from back in my gaming days are people of faith as well as avid readers of fantasy, and they have never heard of anyone who writes fantasy for even the so-called juggernauts of Christian publishing. We, as a community of writers, are failing to find the vast majority of those who could be our readers.

Like another PD Eastman children's classic, I need to forge out into the world outside my warm nest and ask
of everyone, "Are you my reader?" I will likely come across more than a few cats and a "snort" or two, but in the end, forging outside of the realm of readers I have thought to court so far, I will find those readers I have missed by working inside the nest, or the fishbowl, or whatever other confining analogy you'd like to use.

Comments

  1. I can so relate! And I love this: "...there's simply not enough water in Christian publishing in which to swim and find readers." So true. I also agree that "the quarters are too close for us to be critics within out own little pond." Great points. And yes, forging our way out of the fishbowl is the only way to find more readers. I'm working on that too, bit by bit.

    Also--I think you ought to do a drawing with that dog and the bird holding out a book and the words "Are you my reader?" :)

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  2. Thanks for the words of affirmation, Kat! Here's hoping that we all can make the inroads we need into a larger group of readers and eliminate this ghetto mentality that seems to dominate Christian speculative fiction.

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  3. I know there's a lot of Christian reader who have no idea there's such a thing as Christian fantasy...

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