Maybe using the word “illegal” is a bit over the top, but at least it grabbed your attention!
Because book publishing can be such a subjective or borderline mysterious field of endeavor, many authors respond to the uncertainty by hanging their hopes for success on something which could best be described as an exception to whatever rules seem to exist. If indeed there are any rules in book publishing.
If this were a sporting event (and all of life relates to sports in some form), the referee would be forced to blow a whistle, stop the action and call a foul or penalty for improper use of an exception.
Agents and publishers often feel light-headed for constant whistleblowing after reading proposals all day.
If you use anything about C.S. Lewis or Charles Dickens to prove why your story is viable and valuable, you will be flagged.
Comparing your manuscript to a once-a-generation bestselling book or author is most often treated by publishing professionals somewhere between humor and delusion.
Basing your writing future on the necessity of a one-in-a-million exception makes little sense. For certain, JK Rowling’s success completely messed up a generation of fantasy writers.
“So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?”
There are less egregious penalties called when an author uses a once-in-a-blue-moon example of a marketing success which worked for one book, making a case for it working again. Oprah selected about a hundred titles for her book club over the years. That’s 100 among millions of books published over the same period.
Oprah’s book club did no favors to those promoting 99.99% of all books which needed to find ways to sell without the mega-endorsement.
Not only are you banking on lightning striking in a certain place or time, but you also want the hopes and dreams of hundreds of thousands of other authors to be placed on hold to make room so your book is targeted for a bolt from the heavens.
I’ll repeat this for new readers of this blog, but there are hundreds of thousands of new books published in the US every year (close to a million if you count self-publishing). Sheer competition for attention is always present and there are few or no guarantees to anything.
You can spend $200,000 in an attempt to buy your way onto a bestseller list and fail dramatically, or be the recipient of an unexpected free endorsement from someone you don’t know, triggering big sales of your book.
Go ahead, try and make this a science.
In the Christian publishing world, we have another set of issues weighing on authors’ minds. And these issues are embedded deep in theology and long-standing Christian belief.
It could be argued only the apostle Paul had the theological credentials to write New Testament text and he needed to be first blinded, humbled by God and sent away for nine years to re-boot his thinking before being allowed to speak and write on behalf of God.
Improper exception – you excuse your lack of theological credentials as similar to those who wrote Scripture, like Peter or Matthew.
Why is this an issue? Because their words are considered God-breathed and once the canon of Scripture was settled, any writing which would add or subtract from it is considered false teaching.
Don’t you find it interesting when you truly feel led by the spirit to write something it is always infused with existing Scripture? Or some new revelation about God is not new at all, but only new to you as your eyes were opened to the truth?
When an author says God led them to write something, it is not as dramatic a statement as you think. The Spirit lives inside a believer so one could assume their words are guided by it.
Every Christian writer submitting to the leading of God is guided by the Spirit within them.
Claiming any special extra-biblical revelation is heresy.
Penalty flag thrown, whistle blown. Illegal claim you are the exception.
While you might think your book and your voice deserves to be treated as an exception in some way, most success in publishing is unexpected and due mostly to things not under your control.
Especially for authors of Christian books.