I Write Edgy...
This is not going to make me popular with up-and-coming writers. This is going to be harsh, but I think if there is someone out there who will listen, it will help, so I'm going ahead. I think writers who think they're unpublished because their stuff is "too edgy" is nothing more than an excuse. Christian fiction has dealt with everything under the sun: abortion, incest, rape, aliens, affairs, etc. Trust me, you're not unpublished because you're edgy. It's because you haven't told the story powerfully enough yet.
You're unpublished with that manuscript because you're not there yet. Either writing-wise or story-wise. The good news is that you can get there, the bad news is that you need to quit lying to yourself. Story sells. If you have a great and special story, it will sell. Did you see "American Idol" where those two Terrell and Derrell twins were saying how much better than Carrie Underwood (last year's winner) they were? Okay, trust me, they weren't.
And I think a lot of authors don't have a realistic view of their writing and keep telling themselves the lie. When I read a book like "Can You Keep a Secret" by Sophie Kinsella, or "The Thorn Birds" by McCollough, all I can see is my own shortcomings. I want to strive for that kind of storytelling. I know I'm not there. I know what my shortcomings are, and it drives me nuts!!!
But thinking YOU should be published instead of "this crap" and dissing other authors serves only one purpose. It makes you angry, and less focused on the goal. Don't think someone is a good writer? Read someone better than you.
But back to edgy. If you want to see edgy done in a time when the topic was scandalous: Read Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, Anna Karenina by Tolstoy and Madame Bovary by Flaubert. All these books are about rape/incest/affairs/suicide/desolation of family/injustice. And they all do it powerfully without taking us to the gutter.
That is the secret in the CBA. Do it without taking us to the gutter. Don't think of it as a rule -- and what publishing house DOESN'T have rules? Some require two explicit love scenes as a rule. Is that easier for the Christian than not swigging a beer in a scene?
Here's the thing, you can spend your time being angry, or you can get to work. Some say that this doesn't represent the real world. Well, guess what, being a virgin in the "real" world is what a single Christian is asked to do, and that doesn't represent the real world either.
The market will always dictate what is sold. No matter what your business. If America is on the Atkins diet, the desire for Krispy Kremes go down. So when you're pushing publishers to be edgy -- thinking you can change the market, you're not understanding the tenets of capitalism. The Christian marketplace dictates what's in the stores. Not the blue haired old ladies anymore. The average CBA customer is a young mom, 34, with young children. So that's why you're seeing changes in the marketplace, not because someone is "winning" to get more edgy books published.
Did you know that Christian books have significant shelf space in K Mart, Wal Mart, Sam's Club and other box stores? Secular authors would kill for this space. But Christian books are there because America wants to read a story without being assaulted. My advice to you who think your books aren't being published because they're edgy, is really ask an editor, go to a conference and get their attention, as them what is TRULY wrong with the story? I asked once, and it hurt me immensely. But it was true.
There is a brand new fiction author who wrote a book called "Watching the Tree Limbs" about child molestation. Her name is Mary DeMuth and this is her first published novel. Get the book. See what she did to grab editors attention, and ask yourself what yours is missing.
Here's a few of my own rejections, and trust me, this is a small sampling:
"I hate that People magazine crap. Don't know who would find it interesting."
"This is a story that needs to be told. You're just not the one to tell it."
"No." (Scrawled across the page.)
"Doesn't grab me."