March 6, 2015
Deb Brammer, author of 5 fiction books, 1 biography, and 2 Bible study books, mixes her passion for writing with a passion for ministry. Her extensive ministry resources and fiction works reflect more than 35 years of ministry in Taiwan and New Zealand. Deb has written consistently for Christian publication during her entire missions ministry. Join us NEXT WEEK for my interview with Deb Brammer, but for now read how Deb says Janette Oke, 9-11, and social media all have had an impact on Christian Publication over the years. 

Q: How has writing changed in the thirty-five years you’ve been writing?

Deb Brammer's Answer:
I tend to think of this in decades. In the 1980’s I started writing articles for publication on my typewriter. Much of the time I aimed at one article a month. I found a publisher that liked my articles and quickly built a foundation of published articles and stories.

Christian fiction was very limited before 1980, but Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly changed everything. It astonished Christian editors with its unexpected overnight success. Suddenly Christian publishers were hungry for fiction, especially prairie romance. Some were putting out new titles every month. In the rush to publish, quality fiction was mixed with inferior fiction. Readers slowed their buying and some writers got stuck with manuscripts they’d been asked to write, but couldn’t sell. Great opportunities to publish opened up in the early 80’s, but dried up quickly halfway through the decade. Publishers turned to other genres like mysteries and fantasy and writers tried to follow the trends. Manuscripts started flooding the desks of editors.

Moving into the 90’s, most Christian publishers were refusing to consider manuscripts that didn’t come from agents. Now writers were not only concerned about good writing, but marketing their books to agents, who would then try to market them to editors. 
I had written a book in the 80’s that I had had professionally critiqued with favorable comments. I kept revising and submitting the book, without success. Those were the days of printed manuscripts and envelopes and stamps. With each submission I had the long waiting period of sending manuscripts one by one and waiting for replies. In the meantime, I wrote Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World. This kids’ book was easy to write because I was basically living the book on an adult level. BJUP bought it and published it in 1994. I only had to worry about the writing of that book. Publishing and marketing were completely out of my hands. The book sold well, better than any of my other books have. It has now had been printed seven times.

By 2000 we had the internet and writing for publication was changing quickly. The tragedy on 9-11-2001, for reasons I don’t understand, really hit Christian publishers hard. Readers quit buying as much Christian fiction and publishers couldn’t take the risks they had taken before. It became harder even to find an agent who would consider your book. At the same time, it became far easier to self-publish. The stigma of self-publication began to fade as some well-known authors turned to self-publication in order to gain higher royalties. Soon the success of a writer started depending less about his writing ability and more about how well he did social media and marketing.

BJUP published Two Sides of Everything in 2004, and two of my other books in that decade, but I could see they were slowing down, too, in what they would accept, even of my books after they had already published four of them.

Today anyone can publish his own book. Many new authors publish, not because they are ready, but because they can. Vast numbers of writers write one book. Some of these are poorly written, but a few of the author’s friends buy his book and he can say he’s a published author. Self-publication can work well because it pays much higher royalties than traditional publishers and gives control over the book’s content completely to the author. The author doesn’t have to spend years trying to find an agent for his book who then has to market it to a publisher. On the other hand, the author loses the safety net of an editor who helps him hone his work until it becomes good enough to sell. Today’s writer’s job is not finished when he finishes writing the book. Now he has to market the book. He needs a website and a blog and needs to keep up on several forms of social media so readers can find him.

In December of 2010 I first heard Mary Weaver’s story. I felt it was a story that needed to be told. I returned to the States in 2011, wrote a book proposal, and attended a writer’s conference to try to find an interested editor or agent. When I told Mary’s story to people in general I sensed huge interest, but every editor and agent refused to even consider it. They all agreed on two things. The story happened too long ago and Mary wasn’t a celebrity. Sensing God leading us forward, I knew it was time to consider self-publication. Now I’ve self-published Mary’s story, a companion Bible study book, and just recently, my first adult fiction book, a cozy mystery called Broken Windows. Now I’ve joined the ranks of writers who are forced to continually grow in social media and marketing skills. I don’t know where I will go from here, but I’m trying to establish a foundation for selling adult fiction so that I can continue to write well into retirement.

Find out more about Deb Brammer and her works: 
Website and blog - Her blog includes subjects of interest to writers as well as people in ministry.

Join us next week as we hear more from Deb about her journey as a writer.  


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