I learned early on that brands really do matter. My Civil War historical fictions for middle grades are published by a well-known Christian publisher that markets a lot of homeschool curriculum. When I first began selling the books at Civil War Reenactments, I noticed how home school families would pick up the book, look at the back cover and get excited when they saw the familiar brand. They bought the books because they trusted that brand. Other families would see the tiny words, Christian fiction, and buy the books for their kids. They often let me know that was what sold them. I learned from the very start how important that trust was.
Now I have other books, other publishers, but my brand is known and trusted for wholesome family reading, nothing edgy, nothing vulgar, stories all ages can enjoy together. Readers trust me, and they entrust my books to their families. I take that trust very seriously. I delete erotic book covers that show up on my facebook as well as off-color jokes because I invite school kids to visit my site.
This is why I’m perplexed when I read online discussions or listen to writers talking about what it means to be a Christian writer, with Christian literature being a genre. It all seems a bit topsy-turvy to me. Can only Christians write moral, clean, unoffensive work? I don’t think so. It takes a person who knows a moral, clean life to write it. I imagine many Jews and many Mormons write Christian Fiction. But I also think Christians should only be able to write moral, clean work. How does a Christian step in and out of those opposite worlds? Why would they want to?
Yet I know Christians who write erotica. Why do Christians who are writers wonder how edgy they can go and say they must use vulgar language in order to be authentic? They can’t tell the story without realistic portrayal pf immorality, they say. Why is this realistic in a Christian’s world?
People who purchase and read “Christian literature” have expectations, whether realistic or not. If Christian literature is going to be your brand, then you need to be in it for your readers. A brand isn’t worth a nickel if it can’t be trusted to be what it says it is. Just because you are a Christian who is a writer or an author, doesn’t mean you write Christian literature. If you don’t, don’t use that brand. You betray the reader. Trust, in any business, is everything.
If you write erotica and vulgar stories, write them well. But, don’t complain about the moral decay of our country. If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem. All Christians need to be part of the solution. Judeo-Christian writers have a unique opportunity; a trusted brand.