Christian Author Identity
I’ve heard it said that an author’s identity can suffer when she chooses to write different genres. I don’t believe that. If a reader of thrillers isn’t a fan of romance, they simply won’t read a romance written by an author who writes both.If the reader enjoys the authors writing in her genre of choice, she will continue to read that genre written by the author. Who knows, maybe the reader will trust the author enough to pick up a simple romance and to become a fan. In my own list of favorite writers, I admit that I might pick up one series and not another, but there are those readers who prefer the others series instead. The author has two fans of differing genre. That’s a plus in my opinion.
There is another change of author identity that can be harmful to an author, though. Whether the writing is openly evangelical or clean writing without a Christian message that the author feels is safe to read, a bond has been forged between an author and her fans. The reader feels that they can safely recommend a title the author has written even before reading it. The Christian author has presented herself as someone of faith who values her identity as a Christian.
What happens when a reader picks up a book written by the author she believes she can trust, and finds that the author has stepped away from the Christian venue entirely? Scenes are played out that the reader never expected. A reader is taken into a bedroom scene or their eyes fall upon offensive words, even improper innuendo. When this occurs, a Christian author’s identity has come unwound. The reader feels that trust has been broken and that maybe even the author who presented herself as a Christian only did so for monetary reasons.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with writing Christian fiction and making money. The trouble comes when someone who truly wasn’t a Christian or who has walked away from Christian precepts changes identities.
When the identity is changed, the author is bound to lose loyal readership already gained. In some cases, loyalty might have been misplaced. In other cases, it was well-placed for a time. The result either way is a broken bond, and most authors understand the value of bonding with readership and the devastating losses (not only monetarily) that can occur when an author breaches a reader’s trust.
I do wish to clarify that in a perfect world, every publisher of Christian fiction would truly be Christian. That’s not true today. Most large Christian publishers have been purchased by secular companies who keep the Christian imprint because Christian fiction sells. That does not mean that a Christian should not write for that imprint. Christians should be the guards for Christian fiction and make sure that what that publisher presents is suitable for Christian readers. Likewise, a Christian author who writes clean fiction in the secular world should not be chastised. They should be considered missionaries. They are definitely on foreign shores.
I guess the questions every author should ask are 1) what identity do I wish to embrace; 2) why do I wish to embrace it and 3) does the identity that I wish to present glorify God or does it glorify me and in so doing, does it glorify the enemy?
The answers to those questions should be thought of long and hard. A change in the middle of a career can be very hard to overcome, and for a Christian author, the breach of trust gained from a reader hurts more than the author’s reputation.
Fay Lamb (The Tactical Editor) is an author, editor, and writing coach, who loves to work with authors to help them meet their goals.
Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on two Christmas novella projects: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, and the Write Integrity Press romance novella series, which includes A Dozen Apologies, The Love Boat Bachelor, and Unlikely Merger. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.
Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind.
Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads. Anyone interested in learning more about Fay’s freelance editing and her coaching, should contact her at email@example.com.
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