Sunday, May 04, 2008

African American Christian Romance: Where are you?

Today is the last day of the Romance Slam Jam Conference in Chicago and honestly, I really wish I was there. I've been reading African American romance since Angela Benson's "Bands of Gold" was released in 1994. I'm a long time fan of many romance authors - Francis Ray, Gwynne Forester, Beverly Jenkins, Bettye Griffin, Carmen Green, Brenda Jackson and the list really goes on and on, but I have to admit, they'd be signing their old romance titles for me, not the new ones, because I just don't buy very many African American romance novels anymore. As I've grown spiritually, it's all gotten a little to risque for me. That's why I love Christian romance, but for African American readers the titles are released few and far in between.

Romance is hot. In more ways than one. According to the Business of Consumer Publishing 2006, the net revenue from retail sources in the U.S. accounted for $6.31 billion in 2006. Romance sales accounted for $1.37 billion or 21% of the overall sales just behind religious/inspirational sales which accounted for $1.68 billion. According to the Assocation of American Publishers, religious/inspirational sales includes the sale of Bibles. (Thank God, folks are still buying the Bible in droves...there is hope for mankind.) Out of those massive numbers I count more than ten new African American offerings of romance on a monthly basis among mainstream publishers and then there are the countless self-published folks that are putting their work out there.

In those numbers are Christian romance sales and while many don't see how romance and Christian belong in the same sentence, the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) is committed to romance. Of the 6,400 romance titles released every year, more than 6% of them are inspirational/Christian titles. That's over 30 titles a month from Christian publishers. But where are we in that number? There isn't even one title a month released by an African American author. When I think of the 90 or more authors currently at Slam Jam, I wonder if the problem is the CBA's rejection of our stories or "our" not wanting to write about whatever's pure, whatever's noble and whatever is of a good report... I have my theories, but that's a conversation for another day so, I won't go there.

Although rare, CBA African American Christian Romance does exist. In particular this month, I appreciate Barbour Publishing otherwise my dear sister in Christ, Cecelia Dowdy might not have a home for her new novel. Cecelia has a new release in Barbour's Heartsong Presents line. We'll celebrate Cecelia's success and pray that her sales are such that Heartsong expands their catalogue of stories with African American characters, so that we who love "love" without sex can enjoy a good story more than occassionally.

Here's a piece from Cecelia's Blog (http://www.ceceliadowdy.blogspot.com/) and more info about how to get her book:

Thursday, May 01, 2008

My Book Is Out...Officially!!
My book officially went on sale today, May 1, 2008! It's listed on the Heartsong Presents website: heartsongpresents.comThe price is only $2.97 + shipping! Also, if I understand correctly, you can order several books for the same shipping cost! You can always order mulitiple copies for your friends or church members, or, you can order some other Heartsong Presents titles in addition to mine! :-)You can order one of two ways:Simply place a call to the following phone number:(740) 922 7280Tell them you want to order Heartsong Presents title #794 entitled John's Quest.Or, if you prefer, simply print this order form and order my novel:http://www.heartsongpresents.com/download/pdf/order-form.pdfEnjoy! Also, I love hearing from readers! Feel free to let me know if you enjoyed the book!~Cecelia Dowdy~
Great cover for Cecelia and let me add to her plea about buying multiple copies that nursing homes, hospital and prison libraries always need book donations, so please buy more than one and donate.

Happy Reading!

Blessings,

Rhonda

10 comments:

cecelia said...

Wow! I'm floored! Thanks so much for mentioning my Christian romances on your blog! Barbour has agreed to publish two more of my novels, and I'm thankful and blessed for that!

Yasmin said...

Hey sis congrats on blogging.
Please hurry up and add feedburner to your account so that I can subscribe via email or a reader as I don't want to miss anything!
xoxo

Michelle said...

I love your new blog. :)

upwords said...

Thanks so much for blogging about Cecelia! She's been working very hard for a very long time. :)Congrats on your blog too!

blessings,
marilynn

Madison Richards said...

Rhonda,

Love your tagline and your heart for encouraging other writers. Congratulations and I hope you keep writing!

Madison Richards

nedras said...

Hi, Rhonda. I'm Nedra, and I believe I found your link through Dee Stewart's Christian Fiction blog a couple of weeks ago. I was never interested in reading romance novels until I reached my 20s, and then I felt guilty reading them because of my faith.

I'm so thankful I stumbled on a Christian romance novel about seven years ago, because it got me hooked on not just Christian romance, but Christian fiction.

I'm looking forward to reading Issues of the Heart when it comes out. It really makes a BIG difference having books of "good report" to digest, and not having to weed out the impurities of secular fiction. Thank you!

God bless you and your work!

Patricia W. said...

Hi Rhonda!

I'm a member of this chorus! I too wonder where the Christian romance featuring multicultural characters but African-American in particular can be found. Whenever I hear of one, I try to snatch it up.

I'm working on a post about this for Kaye Dacus's blog, where she's been doing a series on romance writing for the last two weeks.

Patricia

LaShaunda said...

Hi Rhonda,

I had the pleasure of attending the slam jam. I had too much fun. I plan on posting some pictures this week, so feel free to stop by the blog to check them out.

My affair with romances began when I was 9 and I jump to the AA romances in 92. When I became saved I went searching for Christian romances and it was hard finding them, which is why I started writing them.

I always love hearing when a new book comes out because it means I still have a chance with mine.

I look forward to reading yours and Cecelia's. I'll be contacting you to help promote your book.

Rhonda McKnight said...

Can't wait to look at your pictures. I'm thinking I'll attend Slam Jam in 2010 since my book comes out in late 2009.

My book is actually women's fiction, not romance, but I plan to write a romance someday.

Thanks for stopping by.

Ty said...

Hey Rhonda,

I wanted to stop by and say hello. Glad to see you are enjoying the blogging scene! Great topics thus far.

Blessings,

Ty