Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ken Petersen's thoughts on the Future of Fiction

Ken Petersen is one of the most brilliant and strategic visionary leaders in publishing that I have ever met. Previously at Tyndale, Ken had the foresight to acquire the Left Behind series written by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. Now as Publisher for Waterbrook Multnomah - a division of Random House, Ken brings his expertise to that company as well.

When I told him about my new fiction blog, Ken graciously agreed to take the time from his hectic schedule to answer a question that I could post. Here is the Q & A with Ken:

Q: As publisher for Waterbrook Multnomah, what trends do you see continuing, beginning or ending for strategic acquisitions as it pertains to fiction? And is there hope for a first time novelist to be acquired?
A: My answer to your questions about fiction has to be short. But I can say that my sense of things is that after a couple decades of growth CBA fiction has found its level of readership and is likely to stay there. Consequently (the bad news is) that fiction as a category is not likely to grow much more overall. The good news is that it may grow some in specific genres. My theory all along has been that CBA fiction has progressed chronologically through the various genres: Starting with “biblical fiction” in the early 80s to prairie fiction (Jeanette Oke) in the late 80s to romance fiction in the early 90s; then apocalyptic (Left Behind) and contemporary suspense (Dee Henderson) around the same time; recently Amish fiction, some relational romance (Kingsbury), and even futuristic/sci-fi. So the trend continues to be branching Christian themes into new genres. And now the new territory seems to be ”genre fusion”—pairing of romance and suspense, or bringing in vampires to a romance story with a Christian message or application. So some advice might be to look at genres that haven’t yet been tapped or combination of genres and styles that yield a new kind of fiction experience.

As for new and first-time authors, I know that we at WaterBrook still publish first-timers. I think actually it’s easier for an unknown author to break into fiction than non-fiction. More depends on sample chapters of a fiction author’s writing—an unknown, with a great read—can get published no problem…

So, my fellow writers and aspiring novelists, there is hope!

On a personal note, as I was putting the hand grenade to my fifth draft of my first novel and feeling a little discouraged, I found a precious handwritten note from my late mother stuffed in some files. I had just sent her a copy of a non-fiction manuscript that was about to be published. Here is what she wrote: “You write beautifully. Your prose flows smoothly and accurately. You’re honoring God with this gift of writing He has given you. Your writing will now be published! Your future is limitless! I’m very proud of you!” What refreshing words to renew my strength to yet again face another day of re-writes. I want to encourage you, too, dear writer. Don’t be discouraged. Keep clicking those keys and write the story that is in your heart.

Take-away tidbit:
Confession time: I misplaced Ken Petersen’s recipe for his pumpkin cheesecake. I know it’s stacked in a pile somewhere. I will need to ask him for another copy. Meanwhile, I thought it would be appropriate to share one of my mother’s recipes today. Her name was Carolyn Rhea, and she was a wonderful author. Here is an easy dish she would prepare while she was busy trying to meet a deadline for her own books when I was growing up. She had to write on the typewriter!

Potato Surprise

32 oz pkg of hash browns completely thawed
2 cans cream of chicken soup
16 oz size sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Mix and sprinkle Parmesan on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.


  1. My philosophy:

    Dark nights washed by distant rippling trees
    and alien winds covering your eyelids, purifying
    like everything, move on with splendid ease
    leaving us a message: life will never cease
    its sleepy course in vain
    in order to attain
    rebirth, since Death is not and Life is dying.

    The heat around Time's corner waves a scent
    for creedence revival of some virtual vampire
    as deep inside. A force considered spent
    returns from utter non-existence that was meant
    to keep us out of breath -
    Is Life both Life and Death?
    Riddle of the Night! The Day be hot and dire.

    My Poetry Blog


    Adiós, mis vacas! Que pasa en esta temporada de tristeza?
    La soledad se cultiva en las ciudades;
    viva la muerte.
    Uno no debe imaginar que el hombre es bueno.
    El paisaje se despierta en un fiel espejo, pregunte.

    La noche ha porches de la siesta en ruinas con pistacho.
    Débiles enemigos se disipa amigos sin
    valor. La calle es corta.
    Hay falta de coherencia, la esperanza y la fe.
    Todas las puertas evitadas saludan: No pasarán.

    My tentatively spanish poetry blog;


    Typically Swedish Next Door Girls Collection För Your Boyfriend's LAPTOP!


    My Babe Misogyn Wallpapers:

    Feel free to announce your blog on mine.

    - Peter Ingestad, Sweden

  2. Great to hear Ken's perspective. Thanks for sharing it!



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