Thursday, October 1, 2009

Survey Says...

Okay readers, bloggers, friends, countrymen...I need your help!
Some of you may know that I am the Director/Moderator for the Beyond the Borders group, within American Christian Fiction Writers. BTB consists of those of us who belong to ACFW but happen to live outside of the United States. Most of us are not American.
Lately, we've been having a discussion (passionate at times!) about the strange phenomenon that books with a foreign setting are a very difficult sell within the Christian market. Many of us have written stories that take place in different countries, and have yet to place them with a publisher. It would seem that the majority of readers who buy Christian fiction only want to read about stories that take place on American soil.
What gives?
We know that it's possible for authors to write (and sell) books that take place in foreign lands, but most of the time these are well-known authors and not such a risk to the publisher. We also know it comes down to numbers, and the publisher will not take a chance on a new author if they don't think the book will do well. They have the facts and figures we're not privvy to obviously, so it would seem that right now there is no market for the kind of books we're writing.
But I think what I'm struggling to understand is the fact that Americans only want to read stories about Americans, in America. Really? Is this true? If so, why?
I grew up in Bermuda in a heavily British-influenced society. My reading was as varied as possible. I read British authors, American authors, stories that took place all over the world, and I loved them! Still do.
I have to wonder if there is an untapped market out there. Perhaps there are folks who wouldn't set foot in a Christian bookstore because they do want something different, and it's not there. Yet.
I wonder if someone were to create a website dedicated to giving a taste of what we 'foreigners' can write about, how would it do? Would you read the stories and give honest feedback?
So I'm curious and I want to hear from you and everyone you can possibly pass this information along to. Tell us what you're reading and why, and whether you would buy a book that had a foreign setting. If not, why not?
Let the games begin!
(This is cross-posted on my blog CatherineWestBlog).


Eileen Astels Watson said...

I like foreign settings, since I'm foreign, I guess that's expected, though. It'll be interesting to hear what Americans have to say here.

TLH said...

I'm a pretty full-blooded American and I love Christian fiction, particularly religious fantasy (Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker). But, I have been pretty disappointed that few of them venture outside the U.S. With regular fantasy, if the story doesn't take place in a foreign country, it's a foreign PLANET. I love reading about new places almost as much as I love visiting them!

If there were such a site, I would be a frequent visitor!!


Angie Ledbetter said...

The setting doesn't matter to me as much as the plot and characters. Reading Lee Smith's Last Girls right now.

Jan Cline said...

As a new author just finishing her first novel - an historical foreign genre - this could be distressing! At any rate - I love reading about other countries and cultures. I have traveled to Europe and the history is so rich there, how could anyone be satisfied with only reading about our short country's life - current or historical? I love the USA, but for reading enjoyment, give me the world!

Tamika: said...

I care more about the plot, conflict, and characters. Where ever they are in the world is alright with me.

I am currently reading, "The Time Traveler's Wife." Wonderful!

Blessings to you...

Patti said...

I love books that are set in foreign lands. Plus it's all about the story for me and not necessarily the setting.

Laura in Texas said...

I love books with foreign settings. Part of the fun of reading is getting to "experience" a different world than the one I live in. I wish there were more of them out there in Christian fiction.

Jill said...

My manuscript was actually turned down by a publisher because of the foreign setting. She liked it, but said it was hard to sell in today's market. Yet most of the people I talk to enjoy a foreign setting. Go figure.