Posted On October 25, 2010 by Print This Post

Inspirational Romance – Hot? Not?

RU Crew, we’re not done with our romance sub-genre series yet so be sure to check back in November for Chick Lit/Upmarket and December for Women’s Fiction with Romantic Elements. Today, we’re delighted to host Visiting Professor Allie Pleiter, author of multiple Steeple Hill Press books. Allie is here to chat with us about the inspirational romance and has been generous enough to offer a signed copy of her book, Mission of Hope, to one lucky commenter! So what does the Inspy market look like right now and what does it take to be successful in this sub-genre? Read on to find out!

Welcome, Allie!

Kelsey: Allie, What’s your opinion of the state of inspirational romance today?

Allie:  This is actually a very exciting time for inspirational romance.  It’s one of the strongest markets out there right now.  The spectrum of books in print has broadened and deepened into sub-genres and diverse publishing houses, and readership is definitely growing.

Kelsey: How do you think this sub-genre has changed in the last five years?

Allie:  If you think about what happened in Christian music about twenty years ago, the same thing is happening in inspirational fiction now.  There’s not just the staple mainstream romances anymore; we’ve got mysteries, suspense, young adult, speculative, and just about every other type of story you can imagine.  As an author, this means I can stretch myself in a variety of directions.  For example, I’ve written first person chick-lit, novella, classic category romance, women’s trade fiction, and historical in several time periods–all within the same publishing house.  The diversity of what’s out there broadens our reader base because there’s something to suit everyone’s taste.  And you’re just as likely to find these books in all kinds of traditional retail outlets, not just the “Christian book store.”

Kelsey: What advice do you have for writers who want to break into this sub-genre? Any trends writers should avoid or embrace?

Allie:  Number one:  Don’t fake it just because this is a strong market.  If faith isn’t part of how you view the world, this isn’t where you should be querying.  It must be authentic.  Having said that, don’t think that because what you write is outside the mainstream, there’s no place for you at this table.  A wide variety of publishers and styles are out there now.  Professional organizations like American Christian Fiction Writers (acfw.com) can give you access and information–utilize them.  Like any publishing endeavor, quality is what gets you in the door.  A good story well told is the single dominant factor in your success.   And, because we believe in a God of amazing possibilities, we believe lots of things are possible for new talented writers no matter what a statistician would tell you about the odds against you!

Kelsey: Do you have any insight on “inspirational romance friendly” agents and publishers?

Allie:  There are agents who deal solely with faith-based publishers and those who work both the secular and Christian markets.  There are publishers who have inspirational lines within a secular parent company, and companies that only work in faith-based fiction (and non fiction).  It’s best to take some time and think about what your goals are as a writer.  Do you want to write only inspirational?  Or do you see your career spanning both markets?  The answer to those questions–and they are highly personal answers–will drive your choice of agent and prospective publisher.

Kelsey: What do you love about writing inspirational romance and what do readers tell you they love about your books?

Allie:  I love being able to be so personal about my characters’ lives.  They run to prayer when I would.  They experience doubt when any woman of faith would be doubting.  I think I might feel as if something were missing if I were writing about a life where faith wasn’t a part.  And faith in inherently a transformational business–what could be more emotional and dramatic than that?  Readers tell me they like my quirky take on life, my humor, the unusual premises and characters I dream up even in recognizable settings like the small Kentucky town where my 5-book “Kentucky Corners” series was set.  I’m always happy when someone writes me saying they didn’t realize they’d picked up “one of those God books” but were delighted to be touched (and not bludgeoned as they expected) by the faith inside.  Someone said to me recently, “You’re just as bubbly as your books!” and that was a lovely compliment to receive.  I do write deeply emotional stories–my most recent historical MISSION OF HOPE is set in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake, which is hardly a cheerful setting–but they have a hopeful lightness to them that I think many readers crave.

Kelsey: What do you think it takes to be a multi-published author of inspirational romances?

Allie:  Hmm…a lot of coffee and even more chocolate.  Seriously, you need to think of yourself as an entrepreneur.  I was self-employed most of my adult life before I became a writer, and those skills serve me well.  Yes, it’s art, but it’s art on a deadline, so you’d best learn how to deliver quality product on time. Authors are no longer just artists, we’re much closer to a small business; promotion, development, networking, and sales all come into play as much as the actual banging out of pages on the keyboard.  You need know which balls you can keep in the air while you write, and which it would be smarter to outsource.  I’m often at writers conferences teaching my infamous “Chunky Method” of time management for writers because I think those planning and task management skills need to be mastered as much as elements of craft.

Kelsey: What are your predictions for inspirational romance in the next one to three years?

Allie:  Allie Pleiter will write the break-out novel of her career?  Seriously, I think we’ll continue to see the strong growth even in these difficult times (maybe because of these difficult times, actually).  The digital revolution will change the face of all publishing–not just inspirational–in ways we don’t yet imagine but will open us up to new audiences that haven’t looked to reading for entertainment before.  It’s going to be a bit of a wild ride for all writers in the next few years.  I heard someone say that we’re moving from “writers of books” to “crafters of content.”  Whether that frightens or excites you, it’s important to remember that story is still story.  It’s only the story-telling mode that is in flux, not the value of story.  I read standard books, listen to audiobooks, and read e-books as well.   That mode diversification is happening in the inspirational market just like in all other markets.  As for a distinction in inspirationals, well, any person of faith will tell you that God is ultimately in control, so I’m more curious to see how it unfolds than worried.  I’m ready to see what new adaptations will be asked of me to continue my role as His storyteller.

***

RU Crew, now it’s your chance to ask Allie questions about inspirational romance and her books!

Do not miss debut author Laurie London’s post tomorrow. She has talked with numerous writers about their revision processes, but best of all, Laurie will share her first book cover! And take it from me, that hero is hawt!

Allie’s Bio:

An avid knitter, coffee junkie, and devoted chocoholic, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction.  The enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie spends her days writing books, buying yarn, and finding new ways to avoid housework.  Allie hails from Connecticut, moved to the midwest to attend Northwestern University, and currently lives outside Chicago, Illinois.  The “dare from a friend” to begin writing has produced two parenting books, twelve novels, and various national speaking engagements on faith, women’s issues, and writing.  Visit her website at www.alliepleiter.com or her knitting blog at www.DestiKNITions.blogspot.com.

Mission of Hope – No one knows who he is or where he’s from.  But witnesses throughout San Francisco report a masked man in black is bringing supplies–and badly needed hope–to homeless earthquake survivors. Some believe that the city’s gallant rescuer is a gentleman of wealth.  But others whisper that he is a working class man with courage as great as his faith. And rumor has it that one of the city’s most spirited society belles is helping him against her family’s wishes.  What can be confirmed is that the masked messenger will need more than a miracle to escape those on his trail–and win the woman risking everything to save him…

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Discussion

19 Responses to “Inspirational Romance – Hot? Not?”

  1. Hi Allie,

    Thank you so much for being here today. I’ve heard you speak before about some of the rules of inspiration. Could you give us a handful of “don’ts” in inspirational romance?

    Thanks,
    Tracey

    Posted by TraceyDevlyn | October 25, 2010, 5:30 am
  2. Thanks for having me! A few don’ts:
    1) Don’t just insert faith into a story. It needs to progress naturally just as the hero and heroine’s goals and conflicts do.
    2) Be substantive but don’t preach. Let your characters’ lives do the witnessing. Readers don’t want to be hit over the head with your message, but they also want something significant to take away from the story
    3) Don’t forget to match the physical and sexual tension in your story with the guidelines of your target publisher. They vary from line to line, but as you’d expect, they definitely fall on the “sweeter” side.
    Looking forward to the day’s dialogue.
    —Allie

    Posted by alliepleiter | October 25, 2010, 7:54 am
  3. Hi Allie. Thank you for being here today. Would you please tell us a little more about your “Chunky Method” of time management? I think I need it. Whatever it is! ;-)

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | October 25, 2010, 8:38 am
  4. Hi Allie,

    Thanks for a great post. I’m an aspiring inspirational writer and I really enjoyed reading it.

    Sally

    Posted by Sally Bayless | October 25, 2010, 8:49 am
  5. The Chunky Method helps writers calculate how many words they craft in a comfortable session and then wield that to meet a deadline. We all have a “chunk” that we produce without too much effort…our natural writing speed. There are things you can do to improve it, to plan how to best maximize it, and to grow.

    Posted by alliepleiter | October 25, 2010, 9:02 am
  6. Thanks for posting with us today Allie!

    Do you think because of the difficult times we’re having (economics, recession, etc) that more people are turning to Inspirationals?

    Thanks!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | October 25, 2010, 9:46 am
    • Carrie-
      I do think inspirations become an especially strong market in challenging times. We’re looking for things to lift us up, to restore hope and remind us of life’s good things. I get a lot of letters from readers who thank me for distracting them and comforting them through a difficult time. That’s very satisfying for me, both as an author and a woman of faith. It’s been a growing market for quite a while, but it certainly has grown that much faster because of the world’s current chaos.

      Posted by alliepleiter | October 25, 2010, 1:30 pm
  7. Allie –

    Thanks so much for chatting with us about the inspirational romance market! Is there room in this market for non-Christian faith-based books?

    We’re so glad you’re here with us at RU!
    Kelsey

    Posted by KelseyBrowning | October 25, 2010, 10:49 am
    • Kelsey-
      That’s a very good question. I don’t think the market is there yet, but it will be interesting to see if the diversity extends outside the Christian faith. I think a manuscript would be a very challenging sell at the present moment because so many of the houses who have inspirational lines are tied to Christianity. The market may look quite different in five or ten years.

      Posted by alliepleiter | October 25, 2010, 1:32 pm
  8. Allie: Thanks for the great info. How often do inspirational romances have a protagonist who doesn’t really believe? I’m thinking of the show “Bones” – Dr. Brennan is the scientist and doesn’t really believe but Booth does, he’s a faithful man. They disagree but they respect each other and neither is going to change their opinion. Would that premise be acceptable in an inspirational?

    Thanks!
    Robin

    Posted by Robin Covington | October 25, 2010, 10:51 am
    • Robin-
      In terms of romance, yes, both the hero and heroine need to come to faith (or be already at a place of faith) by the end of the book. They don’t need to start there, however. As a matter of fact, my favorite “conversion” character shares your last name! Matthew Covington in Masked by Moonlight comes to faith during the book but doesn’t start there. Personally, I find the conversion experience a tremendously difficult thing to write well. It’s hard to make the moment large enough, life-changing enough, yet so extremely personal. I’m especially proud of the scene where Matthew discovers his faith in Masked by Moonlight. The heroine, Georgia Waterhouse is a woman of faith throughout the story. I’ve also written lapsed Christians who return to faith such as in Bluegrass Courtship, and a women’s fiction about a mother coming to faith for the first time in Bad Heiress Day. There’s plenty of room for a wide variety of relationships here while still staying within the Biblical mandate that believers “yoke themselves” to other believers. Having said that, just to have a hero seem come to faith so he can get the girl isn’t something readers will swallow. We want assurances that guy has had a real awakening to faith, not just using the church as courtship tactic.

      Posted by alliepleiter | October 25, 2010, 1:41 pm
  9. Allie, thanks for the insights into this market. I think it’s great the way it’s expanded in the past few years and I always enjoy characters who show that dimension to their lives.

    Posted by Keena Kincaid | October 25, 2010, 2:37 pm
  10. Sorry I look a little “grey” in my profile pic…can’t figure out how to change that, but I’ll keep working at it….

    Posted by alliepleiter | October 25, 2010, 3:11 pm
  11. Allie –

    Thanks so much for chatting with RU and our readers about inspirational romance!

    Happy writing!
    Kelsey

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | October 25, 2010, 9:31 pm
  12. I wanted to comment on this when it posted but for some reason I couldn’t get the comment box to show up on any RU posts for about a week. I’m just glad it’s fixed now.

    I’m excited about inspirational romance. It’s definitely growing and there are so many really good writers. I think the Christian market is a little slow to jump on to the digital publishing bandwagon. Ebooks are certainly being released but I don’t see a whole lot of authors running out to self-publish their novels in Kindle format. As a rule, it’s a fairly conservative group of people so I guess the approach to the publishing industry is conservative too.

    My only complaint continues to be the dearth of novels featuring a multicultural and particularly African-American cast of characters within the inspirational publishing market. The majority of these books, still inspirational in nature and many of them well-written, come from secular publishers who seem more willing to take a chance on this sub-segment of the market.

    Posted by PatriciaW | November 4, 2010, 10:08 am
  13. Is there a sub-genre somewhere between mainstream and inspirational? Like for stories that don’t have any sexual content, but romance is the main plot and religious views may or may not come into play, but are sub-plot/background issues?

    Posted by Beth | March 29, 2012, 2:52 pm

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