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This post was written by Catholics Online member, A.J. Cattapan.
Do you love to read Catholic fiction but just can’t seem to find enough to satisfy your bookish delight?
Or maybe you’re an aspiring author, and you want to contribute to the world of Catholic fiction!
Back in May, Amy Schisler wrote a blog post you will love: “Dear Catholic Author: Get Out There and Write That Novel.” My name is Amy J Cattapan, and as a Catholic novelist and the chairperson for this year’s Catholic Writers Conference Live, I want follow up to Amy’s post, adding my own encouragement for reading and writing Catholic fiction.
Two Big Questions You Have About Catholic Fiction
After reading Amy’s post, you may be left with two big questions:
- Where does one find all this great Catholic fiction that’s out there?
- Where do aspiring Catholic authors get help for bringing their novels to publication?
Let’s start with the first question.
Where Can You Find Great Catholic Fiction?
There are many places to find great Catholic fiction. Unfortunately, they will not be at your local bookstore, even if it’s a Catholic bookstore. The reasons for this are long and complicated.
In simple terms, there are actually far more Catholic novels being written than could fit in your average Catholic bookstore—assuming you’re fortunate enough to even have a brick-and-mortar store in your area. Also, bookstores tend to carry only books that they know will sell—and that means books by big name authors.
So how will you find all these books?
Here is a list of resources you can use:
- Enjoy Pinterest? Check out this Pinterest board full of both Catholic fiction and nonfiction books.
- Want a Catholic version of “Book Bub” with emails about Catholic books on sale? Check out CatholicReads.com.
- Looking for novels for Catholic teens and tweens? Check out CatholicTeenBooks.com.
- Want to see interviews with Catholic authors (of both fiction and nonfiction) who have just released new books? Check out my Cath-Lit Live! show on YouTube.
- Want a Catholic book fair to come to your school or parish? Check out GoodNewsBookFair.com.
- Want to see what books have received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval (which verifies that the book’s content does not go against Church teaching and is professionally edited)? Check out the Seal of Approval List on the Catholic Writers Guild website.
How Can You Write and Publish Great Catholic Fiction?
Regarding the second question: What should an aspiring Catholic author do before seeking publication?
I recommend two things to every aspiring writer:
- Join a professional writing organization so that you can learn both the craft and the business of writing. For example, consider joining the Catholic Writers Guild.
- Attend professional writing conferences, such as the Catholic Writers Conference Live, being held this year July 25-28 2022 in Schaumburg, Illinois (just outside Chicago).
Why are these things important?
I can’t begin to tell you how many writers I’ve met who have gotten themselves into hot water by trying to get their books published without doing at least one of those things first. At the worst, I’ve seen Catholic authors spending literally tens of thousands of dollars paying a “hybrid publisher” (really a vanity publisher in disguise) to publish their book, only to be stuck with a garage full of books they can’t sell.
Sometimes, they’ve ended up self-publishing, which (without a large writing platform and proper advice from experienced self-published authors) often leads to spending tons of time and often a fair amount of money only to sell a couple hundred copies of a book.
And if they went the traditional publishing route without learning the business first, they’ve often signed book contracts without realizing they could have negotiated for a better deal.
By joining a professional writing organization, you can learn from and avoid the mistakes that others have made, setting the course for a smoother and more successful publishing experience for your book.
How about attending live conferences?
One great benefit to attending a live conference is that you often get to pitch your manuscript or nonfiction book proposal to an acquisitions editor at something called a “pitch session.” We’re blessed to have one Catholic literary agent (Joe Durepos of Durepos Literary) and four acquisitions editors coming to our July conference to hear pitches (Ave Maria Press, OSV, Chrism Press, and Pauline Books and Media).
Having the chance to talk about your manuscript (or book idea if you’re writing nonfiction) can be a valuable opportunity to see if your book might be ready for publication.
Also, you get to hang out with all sorts of cool Catholic friends, like Lisa Hendey (founder of CatholicMom.com who will be moderating a panel on traditional publishing), Stephanie Landsem (who writes amazing historical fiction and will be giving a talk on how to grow your newsletter list), Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers (a.k.a. the “Dynamic Deacon”), Allison Gingras from A Seeking Heart Podcast (who will be talking about using social media), and author and lawyer Tony Kolenc (who will cover legal issues for authors).
This is just to name a few!
There’s even an Author Meet and Greet night, where books will be given away for free.
Some of those authors include Tony Kolenc, who will be giving away copies of the newest book in his Harwood Mystery series from Loyola Press and Stephanie Landsem, who will be giving away copies of her historical novels. On this year’s list, we also have Catholic author Irene Hannon, who has written over 60 novels with over a million copies sold!
Join the Catholic Authors Community and Get Connected Today!
Getting connected to other authors is an uplifting and helpful way for aspiring authors to launch themselves into the publishing world.
Make sure you take the opportunity to join the Catholic Writers Guild, and sign up for the Catholic Writers Conference!