I am regularly asked what Christian publishers are looking for, and I do my best to boil it down to a few practical observations since those asking are authors who look around at the publishing world and see moving targets everywhere.
I’ve regretted using the oft-used response, “I know it when I see it.” It helps no one.
Still, publishing is a subjective pursuit. And those involved in it regularly feed their intuition, combining comments from readers, publishing staffers, Christian leaders, societal and industry trends, and, of course, a good portion of experience into a decision-making process difficult to explain in a few helpful words.
2024 will be a crazy year–from a general election in the US to all the other unexpected things that pop up out of nowhere to affect our plans and lives.
From a publishing standpoint, 2024 is over. Everyone is trying to figure out what the world will want and need in 2025 and 2026, after all of the political and life events of 2024 have passed by like so much water in a river.
Books are big messages that live for a long time. Or at least that’s the hope. Things that would best be left to an article about something urgent don’t fit in the book model.
So, what am I looking for this year?
Since most of my connections are with publishers of Christian-themed books, I need to start there to give an idea of what I look for in a client.
I look for authors of nonfiction works, mainly for adults but will consider nonfiction for younger groups once in a while. I will also expand to consider compelling content for children.
I do not consider authors of fiction. Other agents are far better than I for that area.
Overall, I need to view the world through the eyes of publishers, so I ask questions of potential clients that are consistent with publisher requirements. Other than compelling writing, here are three other things I am looking for in authors:
- Credibility: Theology books by respected theologians, apologetics books by respected apologists, history books by historians, etc. Even if you are an excellent writer, you need to have the credentials accompanying whatever you create.
- Focus: Few authors navigate a wide variety of categories successfully, and they are usually successful in one before trying the other. You need to start somewhere. Pick a lane.
- Marketing: Great writing still counts, but you won’t get far without a good start on personal marketing. The lack of an author platform will be a problem down the line, so get started now if you haven’t already.
Finally, I like writers who are writing consistently, working on the craft, or are working writers. The book they propose to me is not the only thing they have to show, and they are continually honing their skills.
Mostly, I want to see authors published well; and that takes work and time for everyone involved.