Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quality + Controversy = Sales

So far this year I've read 80 books, two of which I've marked Favorite: Travelers Rest by Ann Tatlock and My Stubborn Heart (Bethany House Publishers) by Becky Wade. Favorites are those rare books that I will read again. They're the unique novels that seamlessly weave together engaging story, multi-faceted characters, and intelligent prose creating a beautiful literary tapestry that I could view again and again.

I was thrilled to learn that My Stubborn Heart has landed at #18 on the August 2012 CBA Bestseller Fiction List. (Congratulations Becky!!) How exciting to see this debut author's name nestled among those names that have permanent residence on the list: Karen Kingsbury, Ted Dekker, and Francine Rivers.

Her appearance among these bestsellers makes me wonder to what extent controversy  played in propelling those sales. (In my opinion, the controversy was silly. Check out blog posts listed below for more info.) I'm not drawing quality into question here, but rather I'm pondering whether controversy helped draw readers to her book? How many readers picked up this book because they read of the controversy? How many only learned of it because of the controversy.

Personally, I'd love it if my someday-released books would spark a controversy. Just think of the free publicity! But the product I put out has to be quality (as is My Stubborn Heart) or sales will dive as fast as they rise.

What do you think? Is controversy good for Christian fiction? Do you believe it aids or hurts sales?

Blog posts discussing the controversy:



  1. I believe controversy had a part in sales of My Stubborn Heart because of the heat it created in defending and tearing it down. People wanted to see what was "so bad" about it or why it was worth defending.

    However, in my opinion, those who found parts of it "offensive" and "lower standard" exposed their sanctimonious opinions of who Christians should be and what and how they should write to the detriment of Christian fiction. Some of them hadn't read the book but took to selecting four words as their basis for objections and a couple of situations which were hardly consequential or important to the overall redemptive qualities of this romance. Although I don't want to express anything demeaning to the critics of this novel, their comments embarrassed me as a Christian. And will not change or deter the way I write. To my detriment apparently.

    1. Nicole, it would be a very sad day for all of us if critics convinced you to change the way you write. I love your honesty in your blog & in your fiction.

      I think honesty is a huge part of what I liked about My Stubborn Heart. Becky Wade's characters are true-to-life, authentic people. Her book sales (likely given a bump from the controversy, but her quality is what's propelling more sales) have proven that's what the reader wants from fiction.

  2. You're the best, Bren.

    And, yes, Becky's novel was very well written. So often CBA romances are not written well. They're filled with cliched people and phrases. Becky's novel pumped out reality.