In Search of the Male Reader
- Monday, July 18, 2011
B&H Publishing had a line dedicated to male readers called Fidelis, which has since folded back into the general fiction category. Of its fall fiction line-up, half of the titles B&H Publishing will bring out are geared toward male readers, including Kiloton Threat by William G. Boykin and The Chair by Rubart.
“We still publish fiction for men,” says Gwinn, adding that “even some of our regular fiction writers like Brandilyn Collins' appeal to male audiences.”
An Evolving Market
Yet these experts do see some growth in the male reader of Christian fiction. “There are definitely more male Christian authors writing for men and gaining a strong following of readers and winning awards for their writing. The male reader does have more book options, though they are undoubtedly still limited,” says Germany.
“I think all Christian fiction has evolved over the years. The biggest boon to Christian male readership was probably the Left Behind books, which appealed to both men and women. Ted Dekker’s success seems similar—he’s got as many male readers as he does female,” says MacGregor. “There are a handful of male writers in CBA who seem to appeal to a male readership—Steven James, Joel Rosenberg, Mark Mynheir, Robert Liparulo, Mark Bertrand, Davis Bunn, Brandt Dodson. It's a fairly short list. But 15 years ago, we had almost no one writing to men. So yes, there has been growth.”
B&H Publishing hasn’t forgotten the male audience and markets some of its fiction directly to them with ads in military magazines like Army Times, author signings on military bases and booths at National Rifle Association shows. “We try to target advertising and be at events where men gather,” says Gwinn. The publisher also goes after the secondary market of women in Christian bookstore with signage and bag stuffers and front-of-store promotions. “I think it’s important that we not forget male readers,” she says.
Barbour’s Germany sees e-books as one way publishers could reach more male readers in the future. “I believe the opening doors in e-books will actually give fiction that is targeted to men’s likes more opportunity to reach the readers. Where once the Christian publisher was limited to only reaching the person who was shopping in a brick and mortar Christian bookstore or a Christian book section, now with e-books and technology we can more easily and broadly reach the male reader.”
“I think the struggle in Christian publishing with men’s fiction is what they call Christian men’s fiction is everything that’s not specifically women’s fiction,” concludes Bertrand. “However, the books that appeal to men are there—the struggle is how to signal that to male readers.”
Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and editor, and author of Hired @ Home: The Christian Mother's Guide to Working From Home. She lives in Fairfax, Va., with her husband and four children. Visit her at www.sarahhamaker.com.
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