Thursday, July 26, 2007

Prophetic Message or Great Saleable Product? - Gyapong

There's lots of great advice out there for authors who want to find out how to write query letters and land a publishing contract. There's also lots of great advice on how to make your manuscript a saleable product and how to sell yourself as a brand.

There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, I've benefited a great deal from much of this advice. But three years ago, when a group of us started The Master's Artist, we felt a need to get away from the barrage of material that was focused on sales and marketing.

We wanted to provide a place of encouragement for writers who 1) want to follow Jesus with all their hearts 2) who want to pursue excellence in their art--without worrying about what the sales folks will say. I believe God may be calling some of us to write but postpone our dreams of publication or popularity. Will we still answer the call?

Today over at The Master's Artist I posted a blog tour interview with Mary E. DeMuth who is promoting her latest book Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture.

I believe Mary, like our own Sheila Wray Gregoire and Keith Clemons and N.J. Lindquist to name just a few, (who have all been profiled over at The Master's Artist), is a prophetic voice. And because of that she runs into snags. When she attended the giant Christian retail show in Atlanta recently, she was told some bookstore owners are balking because they reject the word postmodern in the title. Postmodern means relativist and nothing more. In Mary's book, she admits she used to equate postmodernism with poison. But whether we like it or not, our culture is shifting. It's better we know what's going on and prepare our children for it, she writes.

How do you keep on keeping on when you feel like a voice crying in the wilderness, where you are so ahead of the curve that no one wants to put your book in their stores, or accuses you of things that have nothing to do with the message between the covers.

Mary is also a novelist and her beautifully written stories (Watching the Tree Limbs and Wishing on Dandelions) resemble To Kill a Mockingbird more than they do the bestselling Christian Romances on the wall of my local Christian bookstore. Alas, that means they don't easily fall into a definable, brandable commodity. But they are good. They deserve to be read.

The Master's Artist will be undergoing some changes in the near future. Some key people are leaving to pursue other things. That means we have to re-examine our vision and whether what we have been doing for the past three years is still needed. If you want to know more about the vision that has inspired us, Mark Bertrand and Jeanne Damoff have both written wonderful essays on What is a Master's Artist.

If you've never stopped by The Master's about checking us out...and if you like us, tell us whether you see a need for us to carry on.

I hope we can continue---to encourage writers who are called to be prophetic rather than popular, to encourage keeping an eye on God's calling to create art that may or may not make a great product. As I said starting out, nothing wrong with striving to write a saleable manuscript, keeping your audience in mind. But the audience God has in mind may not be born yet. Do we need to think about that?


Hi, I'm Dee said...

Hi, Debra.

Great post at TMA and here.

As you know I write about marketing and promotion at TMA, because that's my background. Like you and the other TMAs I agree that what's most important for TMAs are to create works that edify the Body of Christ and honor our Lord. What we find--what I've read and reviewed--are stories that are cookie cutter copycats of secular bestsellers. We know that inspired Christian art will never be that. My goal is to find opportunities for TMAs to be known in the marketplace. What I've found that works is what I discuss on the blog community.

I hope TMA continues. I'm game to stick around, if I don't cause too much trouble for the group. I think our direction should remain on the path that we have taken. I think to increase blog participation with our readership is that we incorporate some web2.0 features to turn the blog into an organic online community.

Marci said...

Hi Deb. I pop into Master's Artist every now and then and hope it continues. The vision to live for Christ and write as we hear Him direct us is one that needs to continue.
blessings for your heart for Him.

Dorene Meyer said...

Hi Deborah,
I really appreciated your blog post and it comes at one of those times... I won't go into details.
Someone asked me recently if I was going to continue to bang my head against the wall (we had been talking about how my books don't fit into the Christian or the secular market - too edgy for Christian publishers - too religious for secular). I said yes, I will continue to bang my head against the wall - until that wall crumbles to dust around me!
Thank you for your vision at The Master's Artist. Please keep on keeping on!

N. J. Lindquist said...

You know, when I find a wall in front of me, instead of banging my head on it, I've learned to look for a door that's open. Has to be one somewhere, right? Can be scary, though, since we may not know where it's leading. :)

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