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Five Reasons Why Christian Publishers Have Lost Male Readers (Part 2)


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13 minutes ago, Accord64 said:

So, I guess it's time for us to write Amish romance novels. 

 

It may be time to find yourself a big reference book, and on its cover, inscribe the words DON'T PANIC, in large, friendly letters...

 

BTW... while the work I'm referencing may not be the most uplifting, it's the epitome of fiction that will always have a wide male audience. And while we may not want to emulate it entirely, it can teach us a lot about reaching an audience.

 

Edited by Wes B
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15 minutes ago, Accord64 said:

 

Found it...

 

DontPanicBook_1.thumb.jpg.41dbf95a6a0ee4cd2b7ae0fc1f73c87c.jpg

 

But I still hear that distant call to go Amish. 😁

 

I suspect you've mistakenly located The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Amish Community...

 

Now THERE'S a title that might bring both the guys and the ladies in...🤣

Edited by Wes B
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This thread is interesting because I predominantly read non-fiction, and my writing is all non-fiction.

 

BUT I got caught up in NaNo fever and I'm 32,000 words into my first ever novel. Imagine three Christian co-workers are on the wrong side of the country when a civilization-ending nuclear exchange between the U.S. and China takes place. The friends set out to make it across the post-apocalyptic landscape to get back to their families. The main character (the only man in the trio) wrestles with his philosophy and theology of nonviolence as they dodge would-be bandits and attackers, and frantically search for supplies to keep going, on their perilous journey home. 

 

I've tried to be somewhat gritty and realistic without real gore or any bad language, and to have a mix of action and introspection. I'm hopeful that Christian men would be interested in a story like this (I actually have a complete series in mind for it now). After reading this thread, gentlemen, does the description pique your interest at all? Or is SW right and few Christian men would think of picking up any novel?

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1 hour ago, Chris Brown said:

After reading this thread, gentlemen, does the description pique your interest at all? Or is SW right and few Christian men would think of picking up any novel?

 

I wrote and published a post-apocalyptical novel - but my world-ending event was a pandemic. So yes, your description would pique my interest. But I'm also a bit biased. 😁  

 

I also didn't write my novel specifically to a Christian audience. I aimed to a general audience, which has included Christian men. But I expect some won't like it. It's grim and gritty, but not gratuitously so, and most of my characters aren't Christians. They act and talk accordingly. But the message by the end is Christian. 

 

This always loops me back to my writing credo (from CS Lewis): "The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature."  This is why I don't like to write Christian fiction. 

Edited by Accord64
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1 hour ago, Chris Brown said:

This thread is interesting because I predominantly read non-fiction, and my writing is all non-fiction.

 

BUT I got caught up in NaNo fever and I'm 32,000 words into my first ever novel. Imagine three Christian co-workers are on the wrong side of the country when a civilization-ending nuclear exchange between the U.S. and China takes place. The friends set out to make it across the post-apocalyptic landscape to get back to their families. The main character (the only man in the trio) wrestles with his philosophy and theology of nonviolence as they dodge would-be bandits and attackers, and frantically search for supplies to keep going, on their perilous journey home. 

 

I've tried to be somewhat gritty and realistic without real gore or any bad language, and to have a mix of action and introspection. I'm hopeful that Christian men would be interested in a story like this (I actually have a complete series in mind for it now). After reading this thread, gentlemen, does the description pique your interest at all? Or is SW right and few Christian men would think of picking up any novel?

 

I’m not a guy, but that sounds really good! Interested in beta readers?

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42 minutes ago, Zee said:

 

I’m not a guy, but that sounds really good! Interested in beta readers?

Definitely. Email me at chris@childofgracebooks.com

 

It will be a WHILE before I have this to a point where I'll be willing to let anyone else see it though. I barely know what I'm doing writing non-fiction, I have no idea what I'm doing with fiction. 😅

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2 hours ago, Chris Brown said:

The main character (the only man in the trio) wrestles with his philosophy and theology of nonviolence

 

This would be an interesting character journey. I hold this kind of philosophy/theology and have spent a good deal of time thinking about its various implications. In the case of theft for example, having things in a manner that makes theft of them possible presupposes a willingness to guard your having of them: that is, to possess them. I must then be as though I possessed not. Still not sure how to do this fully unfortunately, but one practical application of this would be to make digital copies of the books I write (if I ever finish them) available for free, sell print copies at cost, and hold no copyright to my work.

The hardest questions arise around what the proper approach to the threat of violence towards others is.

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48 minutes ago, Entoman said:

 

This would be an interesting character journey. I hold this kind of philosophy/theology and have spent a good deal of time thinking about its various implications. In the case of theft for example, having things in a manner that makes theft of them possible presupposes a willingness to guard your having of them: that is, to possess them. I must then be as though I possessed not. Still not sure how to do this fully unfortunately, but one practical application of this would be to make digital copies of the books I write (if I ever finish them) available for free, sell print copies at cost, and hold no copyright to my work.

The hardest questions arise around what the proper approach to the threat of violence towards others is.

True Confessions: They say to write what you know, and that main character is, more or less, me. 

 

Thus far I have definitely spent some time on the question of nonviolence and whether it's realistic, especially in a lawless new world. One encounter in particular involves an armed desperado who has, let's say, a particular interest in one of the ladies in the trio. In some ways I'm wrestling with my own philosophy through the character on the page. In my case I'm strongly influenced by Menno Simons, but I feel like I am far from really having a mature philosophy or rule of life on the subject.

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2 hours ago, Chris Brown said:

True Confessions: They say to write what you know, and that main character is, more or less, me. 

 

Thus far I have definitely spent some time on the question of nonviolence and whether it's realistic, especially in a lawless new world. One encounter in particular involves an armed desperado who has, let's say, a particular interest in one of the ladies in the trio. In some ways I'm wrestling with my own philosophy through the character on the page. In my case I'm strongly influenced by Menno Simons, but I feel like I am far from really having a mature philosophy or rule of life on the subject.

 

Understood. I generally align with the anabaptist expression of the reformation as well. 

In the case of using force to protect innocent persons my current operating framework is this: 

1. If sacrificing myself or killing the person threatening the life of another are equally likely to save the person being aggressed upon, I should prefer my own sacrifice over their death.

2. If I know the person being aggressed upon is like minded on the subject of nonviolence, I should not attempt force as a means of intervention on their behalf, even if it would be the most effective means of intervention (self sacrifice would still be an option though).

3. If the person being aggressed upon is not persuaded as I and can be more effectively aided by force than by my sacrifice, I will intervene in that manner on their behalf. Reason: Jesus said that He had but to ask and His Father would send Him 12 legions of angels. The will of the Father was not for Him to ask but He would have supplied the force requested if Jesus had.

4. If I engage an aggressor on behalf of another, I must do so with the same severity I would if the situation were that of one of my own children aggressing against another. I should take no joy in the task and if the situation progresses at any point in a way that enables a possible nonlethal resolution for the aggressor, I should seize that possibility. If the death of the aggressor did transpire, I should not consider it a victory of good over evil. 

 

A thorough expression of non-violent philosophy might be the most advantageous in a lawless society as it would afford one the fewest enemies and the greatest likelihood to make peace with those initially disposed towards treating you violently.

Also, if engaged in a fundamentally self-sacrificial lifestyle (one in which you are more engaged in seeking the wellbeing of others than yourself) people would consider your continued presence to their advantage and have no reason to threaten your existence or deprive you of those things necessary for your survival. They may even supply those things to you in the same way people feed and house service animals (assuming they have no greater motivation than self-interest). 

It isn't until people start making kings of themselves in place of Christ that a nonviolent way of living begins to lose some of its advantages. As man practices kingship, such a station can only exist if people will kill on behalf of their sovereign. A nonviolent person will not do so and may cause those who otherwise would to question whether or not they should. As such a nonviolent person threatens the existence of any king that is not Christ.

Edited by Entoman
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1 hour ago, Entoman said:

 

Understood. I generally align with the anabaptist expression of the reformation as well. 

In the case of using force to protect innocent persons my current operating framework is this: 

1. If sacrificing myself or killing the person threatening the life of another are equally likely to save the person being aggressed upon, I should prefer my own sacrifice over their death.

2. If I know the person being aggressed upon is like minded on the subject of nonviolence, I should not attempt force as a means of intervention on their behalf, even if it would be the most effective means of intervention (self sacrifice would still be an option though).

3. If the person being aggressed upon is not persuaded as I and can be more effectively aided by force than by my sacrifice, I will intervene in that manner on their behalf. Reason: Jesus said that He had but to ask and His Father would send Him 12 legions of angels. The will of the Father was not for Him to ask but He would have supplied the force requested if Jesus had.

4. If I engage an aggressor on behalf of another, I must do so with the same severity I would if the situation were that of one of my own children aggressing against another. I should take no joy in the task and if the situation progresses at any point in a way that enables a possible nonlethal resolution for the aggressor, I should seize that possibility. If the death of the aggressor did transpire, I should not consider it a victory of good over evil. 

 

A thorough expression of non-violent philosophy might be the most advantageous in a lawless society as it would afford one the fewest enemies and the greatest likelihood to make peace with those initially disposed towards treating you violently.

Also, if engaged in a fundamentally self-sacrificial lifestyle (one in which you are more engaged in seeking the wellbeing of others than yourself) people would consider your continued presence to their advantage and have no reason to threaten your existence or deprive you of those things necessary for your survival. They may even supply those things to you in the same way people feed and house service animals (assuming they have no greater motivation than self-interest). 

It isn't until people start making kings of themselves in place of Christ that a nonviolent way of living begins to lose some of its advantages. As man practices kingship, such a station can only exist if people will kill on behalf of their sovereign. A nonviolent person will not do so and may cause those who otherwise would to question whether or not they should. As such a nonviolent person threatens the existence of any king that is not Christ.

I really appreciate you taking the time to express all of that. Your framework shows a lot of consideration and maturity. I am not nearly so far along in my own development yet. 

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14 hours ago, Chris Brown said:

Definitely. Email me at chris@childofgracebooks.com

 

It will be a WHILE before I have this to a point where I'll be willing to let anyone else see it though. I barely know what I'm doing writing non-fiction, I have no idea what I'm doing with fiction. 😅

 

Sounds cool! I’ll send you my email. I’m by no means a pro, but people I’ve beta read for in the past have said it’s been very helpful.

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I'll give an educator's view on the male reader dilemma. 

The development of the brain is gender specific. In very simple terms, a male brain develops math before language and the female brain develops language before math. 

We lump all our children into one classroom.

Therefore, we have a large portion of our females who "hate math" because they were confronted with it before they developed the neurons to deal with it. We have a large portion of males who do not read for the same reason.  

@suspensewriter Please tell us how to write for the men!  Do you have specific tools you could recommend for our kits? 

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48 minutes ago, Nicola said:

 Please tell us how to write for the men! 

Look at the stories men have traditionally embraced. Think of Edgar Rice Burroughs or Alastair MacLean. In the first case, he wrote fast, he focused on quick action, romantic yearning, heroic impulses, exotic locations, honor and self-sacrifice. In the latter, he wrote about good against evil in clear, fast-moving, thrilling scenarios, one man against an apparently overwhelming evil. Both were very successful in their day.

(I note that Amazon is finally offering the Alastair MacLean books on Kindle!)
https://www.amazon.com/Alistair-MacLean/e/B000APAK0A%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

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I think that those are all but played out, Johne.  Today's man's interest lie elsewhere, don't you think? This applies to the young of course, mostly.  They have video games on their minds--virtual reality, movies, you name it.  Theirs is a faster paced life and we'd better get used to it as writers, and adapt our writing to their style of living, unless we just want to write for older men.

 

We've got to ask ourselves what attracts the young.  How do we convert them to readers, how do we get their attention?

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56 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

I think that those are all but played out, Johne.  Today's man's interest lie elsewhere, don't you think? 


I think these writers—and those stories—are evergreen, but today's readers don't know ERB or Alastair MacLean ever existed.

Years ago I had a weird itch and dove into Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, and so forth, and was astounded at how funny and brilliant those stories were, not nearly as dated as you'd expect. I think ERB and Alastair MacLean are now in the same category, brilliant writers who younger readers haven't stumbled onto. (Which is why MacLean's novels appearing on Kindle is so exciting. He's my favorite Thriller author of all time.)

 

So I think the real trick is to create new stories which did what whose novels did—capture the imagination of the man in the present day. JK Rowling found a way to capture her target audience. We have the same opportunity, the same challenge.

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With regards to video games and other mediums of entertainment:

1 hour ago, suspensewriter said:

They have video games on their minds--virtual reality, movies, you name it. 

 

The strength of books compared with these other media is their capacity for story depth and, to a lesser extent, world building.

Unfortunately story depth isn't often a draw for younger men who prefer fast paced action and adventure where video games and movies overshadow books. However the influence of these media is not to the longterm exclusion of books in a person's life. The trend of many games to increasingly attempt deep stories with characters that feel real indicates that those who make videogames are aware that their audience will eventually be or are in the process of maturing. 

The deeper stories popping up in games will keep the games relevant to older male audiences but will not any time soon be able to beat out books in this regard.

The more ambitious angle of approach to target the young male demographic is with world building. 

Many video games do world building effectively on a surface level: the games in the Elder Scrolls or Fallout series for example have a well constructed world and history in terms of its breadth. However, due to the technological limitations we currently have in our games this world building also lacks depth in terms of interactivity. One of these games may have dozens or even hundreds of unique creatures in them, but the only interaction the game gives a player with them is in combat. Anything more than that a player can usually only learn about by reading the game's lore. A book that takes advantage of its ability for a reader to experience interactions with creatures in its world beyond making them differently skinned damage boxes can offer readers types of experiences and adventures that games just aren't effective at delivering. Yet. 

Gamers are also not usually ignorant of the influences books have had on the creation of worlds they have enjoyed experiencing through games.

It is surprising that there haven't been as many games based directly on books. Public domain works like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Treasure Island, or War of the Worlds could easily be converted and in so doing increase interest in younger audiences for the original source material.

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3 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Today's man's interest lie elsewhere, don't you think? This applies to the young of course, mostly.  They have video games on their minds--virtual reality, movies, you name it.  Theirs is a faster paced life and we'd better get used to it as writers, and adapt our writing to their style of living, unless we just want to write for older men.

 

I've never been into video games as much as the younger generations, but we also didn't have nearly the same game quality as they do today. I've recently become fascinated with some YouTube game videos on DCS (Digital Combat Simulator). You basically strap yourself into any modern fighter-jet, choose a combat situation (against AI or another on-line player), location, weapons array, and it's game-on. Well, not really, Not right away.

 

Everything in the simulation is exactly how it is in real life. So if I choose an F-16C block 50, every switch, screen, control lever, etc. is just like the real thing. All flight characteristics are exactly like the real jet. Every switch and dial works just as it does in the real thing.

 

While I've never played myself (only watched), it's a far more immersive experience than any video game of my era. I can see how it can absorb a great deal of time just learning how the jet works, flies, etc. - never mind mastering combat tactics. It's almost like going into actual air force flight training.

 

How can a fiction novel compete with that? Very difficult.

 

Here's a sample of what we are competing with (warning - occasional bad language):
 

 

 

 

    

Edited by Accord64
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Not to offend anyone's sensibilities here, because YouTube sometimes has racy content, but if you think guys are not reading books, I suggest you go to YouTube and look up the following:

 

"Mike's Book Reviews" (30,000+ subscribers)

"Daniel Green" (231,000+ subscribers)

"PewDePie" (108,000,000+ subscribers)

"Brian Lee Durfee" (1,300+ subscribers)

"TheBookchemist" (27,900+ subscribers)

"jessethereader" (402,000+ subscribers)

"Connor O'Brien" (17,400+ subscribers)

"WhatKamilReads" (11,000+ subscribers)

 

And then there are a plethora of MALE readers and reviewers that are below 1K subscriptions.

 

I watch Daniel Green from time to time.  He provides some insights on what younger readers of Science Fiction and Fantasy are looking for in their stories.

 

Oh, and many of these people blend comics, with video games, with books.  Just because they are serious playing video games, doesn't mean they've given up books.  What's happened is that they've given up Christian books.  Or - what no one seems to want to admit - no one is writing books that they want to read.

 

There is a LOT Christianity can offer to everyone; wisdom, reason, salvation, fellowship, and peace.  There is a reason why it spread like wildfire across the face of the earth.  And now, all of a sudden, we're ceding that heritage, to the point of writing off male readers.

 

For those of you who can handle some swearing and rough language, I suggest you look up Doug TenNaple.  He's the creator of Earthworm Jim, is a strong Christian voice, and talks extensively on storytelling, and writing.  In fact, there are a lot of strong Christians in the current comic book scene.  It's a mostly male market.  And they read fiction as well.

 

This isn't a matter that men have walked away from fiction.  They're there.  We just have to go out and reach them.  That definitely won't happen when you just blithely write off that segment of the market.

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50 minutes ago, Jeff Potts said:

What's happened is that they've given up Christian books.  Or - what no one seems to want to admit - no one is writing books that they want to read.

 

That's what I'm talking about, Jeff.  We've got to reach out to whatever the male readers are going to or we'll lose them.  If their going to virtual reality or video games--have you ever seen a Christian writing them?  Seriously.  We've got to wake up and write for what sells, or we'll lose an entire generation.

Edited by suspensewriter
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