What Christian Fiction Readers Want

Do you write and publish Christian fiction? The good news is that Christian fiction is a thriving genre.

Did you know that Christian fiction readers are the most devoted Christian book readers? On average, Christian fiction readers read 10 times more books per year than the average American.

The American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) recently conducted an informal survey via social media of Christian fiction readers regarding their reading habits and wishes. The survey uncovered two major desires readers of Christian fiction possess.

1. Readers want more.

Most readers expressed that their reading habits had grown in recent years. They are reading more books and more widely. These readers want more good Christian fiction titles to enjoy with more genre choices.

2. Readers want meat.

Many survey respondents reported that they wanted to see more “tough topics” addressed in the stories. They want more books that address real needs through compelling story in a realistic, faith-based way.

Another reader survey by Written Word Media (a general market company) looked at what fiction readers really want. That survey found that readers expressed the following two desires.

1. Readers don’t have a strong preference for fiction series versus standalone fiction titles.

The overwhelming majority of survey respondents in the Written Word Media survey reported that they had no preference between series or standalone books. Two of the chief complaints readers had when it came to series were that it is often hard to find all the books in the series and that they dislike books that end with a cliffhanger.

2. The primary reason readers abandon reading a fiction book is because it is boring.

The most common reason given for quitting reading a book was because the reader found it boring. Readers want a plot that keeps moving and keeps them engaged. Other reasons mentioned by readers for abandoning a book were uninteresting characters and overdone descriptions.

If you write fiction, the findings in this survey should not be a surprise. Rather, they should serve as a reminder of what avid fiction readers want. The good news is that you don’t have to write a series to interest readers. Fiction readers are happy to read a standalone book.

The takeaway from these surveys is that Christian fiction fans are hungry for more and higher-quality novels that address real needs with realistic characters presented with a compelling plot. Write to fill this need and your books will be successful.

Related Posts:
Is Christian Fiction Growing or Dying?
The Power of Christian Fiction
The State of Christian Fiction

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The State of Christian Fiction

If you write or publish Christian fiction books, then you should know about the recent survey of Christian fiction readers and the results. Christian Fiction Readers: Worth Pursuing, Worth Keeping, a reader survey conducted through a cooperative effort of CBA, The Parable Group, The Baker Publishing Group, and American Christian Fiction Writers, used an online survey to compile information from around 1,500 Christian fiction readers—largely female readers (over 90% of respondents).

Fiction Reading

The survey found that Christian fiction readers are purchasing more titles today than five years ago, but their buying and reading behaviors have changed. Here are some key findings from the survey:

  • Christian fiction readers read more than the national average and are more frequent book buyers. Nearly 50% of Christian-fiction readers read more than 10 books annually; by comparison, only 36% of American adults read more than 10 books per year, according to a 2014 Pew Research study.
  • The top Christian fiction genres reported by surveyed readers were historical fiction (66%), romance (52%), contemporary (51%), romantic suspense (50%), suspense/thriller/legal thriller (47%), and mystery/espionage (45%), which also reveals that many Christian fiction readers read more than one genre.
  • Trade paperbacks are still the most popular format for readers at 41% despite what some may presume is the age of digital dominance, with 28% of Christian fiction readers responding that they read on ebooks or digital formats.
  • Nearly 50% report purchasing more Christian fiction titles today than five years ago.
  • Almost 50% of Christian fiction ebooks are downloaded for free rather than purchased.
  • The top sales drivers for Christian fiction are the story itself (94%), the desire to keep reading a story in a series (69%), recommendations about a book (68%), and author familiarity (89%).
  • Most Christian fiction readers don’t want their stories to include sex, bad language, or violence.

While the number of respondents to this survey represents a fairly small subset of Christian fiction readers, the findings represent good news for Christian fiction books and those who produce them.

One finding I found interesting was that over two-thirds of respondents reported that one of the top reasons they buy a Christian fiction book is the desire to keep reading a story in a series. If you want to sell more books, take this to heart. To keep readers coming back for more, write and publish series of stories.

Which finding in this survey caught your attention?

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