Posted by: nancyisanders | August 11, 2021

REALITY SHOW: KIDLIT WRITER WRITES FOR BOTH THE CHRISTIAN AND GENERAL MARKET

I love to hike along beautiful mountain trails and paths like this one near Lake Arrowhead in southern California. And I love to journey along the path God has chosen for me as a KidLit writer.

With more than 100 books published over my career, about half of them have been published in the general market and half of them have been published in the Christian market.

I didn’t start out choosing this path, but one day, God opened a door. (Isn’t He good at doing that?) I started out only writing for the Christian market. Sunday school take home papers. Puzzles and crafts for children’s ministry. Retold Bible stories.

But when my kids were elementary age I discovered a line of historic-based craft books that I loved in the general market. I submitted a proposal to the publisher, along with my resume. I received a response back from the publisher. They couldn’t use the idea in my proposal but they noticed in my resume that I wrote Bible-based books. Could I write a book on the history of the Old Testament for kids?

That’s how my book Old Testament Days was born. It was published in the general market with Chicago Review Press. Since then I’ve published a number of nonfiction titles with them including Frederick Douglass for Kids and Jane Austen for Kids. All are still in print!

Around that time I also met a fellow Christian writer who wrote for Scholastic Teaching Resources. She introduced me to her editor and over the next decade or so I wrote 19 books for them, including their bestseller 25 Read and Write Mini-Books That Teach Word Families, a book of reproducible stories for teachers to use to teach little ones how to read.

So I get asked from time to time, “What is it like for a Christian to write for the general market?” First of all, it’s no different than any other job where you work in an environment with people who aren’t Christians themselves. It’s an opportunity to shine the light of Jesus’s love in a hurting and often dark world.

I’ll never forget the time I was teaching at a world-renowned writing conference in the general market. While I was still sitting at my seat, I was introduced to the other staff members in the large room as the person teaching a class on writing for the religious market. Heckling and derogatory comments ensued for several moments. I just waved and smiled. After introductions were finished, however, the editor whom I happened to be sitting next to and had never met before in my life, leaned close and with tears in her eyes asked me to pray for her family member who was ill.

First and foremost, everything I write is from a biblical perspective. At times this has been a little tricky to navigate. One time an editor changed my project to include statements that went against biblical truth. I didn’t see that until the book was in print so there was nothing I could do. Except pray, of course, which opens the door for God to work where my hands were tied.

Another time a publisher worked with my agent to offer me a contract to write a work-for-hire series of chapter books. When I finally received the instructions to write the series, it had key elements that went against biblical truth. I had to turn down the contract offer, even at that late stage of the deal. I simply explained that I also write for the Christian market and can’t take on projects that conflict with those other publishers I work with. My agent was very gracious about the whole process even though she lost that opportunity for a lot of income.

The attitude I’ve taken with my publishers is that I’m up front with them. They can see from my resume that I write for both the Christian and the general market. For some editors in the general market, this is a perk. They want to tap into the Christian audience and garner sales with these customers as well. One of my books for Scholastic was revamped with a second cover and sold to Christian schools and homeschooling families as well as the original book which was carried in public school book fairs. Some of my nonfiction biographies in the general market feature Christian men and women and these books have been marketed in church bookstores as well.

Has God called you to write for both the Christian market AND the general market? Good for you! Be strong and of good courage. You are an ambassador of Christ and for many folks you’re the only “Bible” they are willing to read. Stay strong in the Word and shine forth as His light. Pray often. Ask the Holy Spirit to encourage you, equip you, and empower you. It’s an exciting and rewarding journey to take with eternal impact for God’s kingdom!


Responses

  1. This is what I needed to hear today, Nancy! Thank you for standing up for what is right.

    • So glad this ministered to you today!

  2. Another great post, Nancy! I love your dependence on the Holy Spirit to continue to speak to readers, even when the publisher changed some of your text. 100% spot on! I was dismayed to hear of your experience getting heckled at a large writing conference, but encouraged that you felt God’s presence using you then as well.

    As a public school librarian, I’m convinced all the time that God needs us in these secular communities, because he is at work there! We just need to allow ourselves to be at the right place at the right time as you were. Your story reminded me of when I was on a “Local Success Panel” for both a Christian children’s novel and a general market local history book on Mount Rainier. I decided to explicitly say that the novel was a Christian novel. That led to a conversation with a stranger while standing in line–she invited me to be interviewed about the Mt. Rainier book on her blog, AND she passed on a tip about a new Christian/secular agent she’d just heard about. Fast forward four years, and this past March I signed with that agent!!

    • What an awesome testimony! Isn’t God good?!

  3. Thanks for your encouraging post, Nancy!

    • I’m so glad this encouraged you, Jessica!

  4. Thank you, Nancy. This is encouraging to me. May I post a link on FB? On my website?

    • Oh I’m so glad you are being encouraged! And yes! Please feel free to share any of my posts at any time!

  5. Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration Nancy.

    • You’re welcome. Thank you for joining the journey! I always cherish your comments.

  6. Great post!


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