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Balancing the Three “C’s” of Christian Publishing

david-cathcart-headshotDA Cathcart

Any Christian who sets out to write a book will automatically find him or herself struggling to balance three primary concerns, all of which happen to start with the letter “C”: Christ, commerce and content.

In an ideal world, Christ will be at the top, for what higher motive could a Christian writer have than to share the Good News about Jesus with the world?

However, books don’t print themselves, not even in today’s world of digital publishing, so matters of commerce can’t help but factor into the equation. This is true even if the publishing venture is non-profit in nature. Somehow or other, whoever is publishing the book must establish that it will generate a satisfactory return on investment, even if that return is measured in terms other than financial gain.

Finally, with readers becoming more sophisticated than ever, merely having a good message isn’t good enough for most people these days. The quality of the writing, layout and design for Christian books must be on par with the best the world has to offer.

Seeing as all three of these concerns seem equally important, how is the Christian writer supposed to balance them out? It’s like they’re being asked to hit three targets at once with a single arrow, and everyone knows such an undertaking is doomed to fail.

The simple but radical solution? Avoid the temptation to aim at any of the three targets.

This is one thing Christian writers—and many non-Christian writers, for that matter—seem to have forgotten. Writing isn’t about second-guessing yourself, imposing artificial constraints or striving to meet other people’s expectations. That’s nothing but a recipe for writer’s block. Good writing—and good art—is about honestly expressing where you’re at and how you see the world at this particular moment. It’s not about being right; it’s about being authentic.

The interesting thing is, once you remove the burden of “getting it right,” almost immediately, you’ll notice an improvement in the content of your writing, because you’ll feel free to create, explore and play like never before.

Better writing appeals to more readers, which means it’ll be easier for a publisher to justify the cost of publishing your book.

And, finally, what better testimony to Christ can you offer than a work of art that is a beautiful creation in its own right?

Christ, commerce and content. All three are important. But in order to hit these targets, Christian writers need only focus on one other C-word—credibility. Do that, and the other three will take care of themselves.

About the Author

DAVID A. CATHCART has worked as a writer, editor, publisher, journalist, screenwriter, blogger, copyeditor, copywriter, art director, and proofreader for almost 20 years. He has written, co-written and edited over 40 published books, both fiction and non-fiction. He has also written, co-written, and/or directed a dozen films and has shepherded dozens of writers through the editing and publishing process.

David’s areas of specialty include Christian fiction and nonfiction, sci-fi and fantasy, literary fiction, screenplays, creative nonfiction, business writing, how-to/self-help, autobiography and historical fiction. His clients appreciate his extensive knowledge of story structure, his attention to detail, his knowledge and experience of the marketplace and his friendly, honest approach.

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