Story of Christian Best Seller Confirms Neither Secular Nor Religious Publishers Recognize Christian Best Sellers

One million copies sold! Photo: Courtesy of Windblown Media

So why didn't anyone at a big publishing house recognize the best-selling genius of The Shack, William P. Young's million-selling Christian-publishing sensation profiled today in the Times? After all, as in many self-publishing success stories, its author submitted the novel to several secular publishers, but they all turned the book down. And we can understand why! When we were a young assistant wearily digging through slush piles, these were exactly the kinds of submissions we would throw away halfway through the cover letter, grateful for the slam-dunk rejection. Seriously: Some ex-pastor's friend wrote a book, about a guy whose daughter was killed by a serial killer, who then talks to God in the form of a jolly black woman? That's the kind of query SASEs were made for.

So is this yet another story about the crisis in book publishing, because fancy-pants New York publishers are out of touch with what the rest of America likes to read? Nope! Not only were secular publishers wrong about The Shack — so were Christian publishers!

Apparently the book is a little too free and easy with its religion, which led Christian publishers to reject it for being too secular. It's even been condemned by some religious leaders since it became an enormous hit. (Hachette now co-publishes the book with Windblown Media, the original publisher.) Heck, even the New York Times has trouble getting its head around the phenomenon; the original text of its feature today directed readers not to the Website for The Shack but to the Website of Radio Shack. It's since been corrected, but we imagine Radio Shack enjoyed the brief uptick in customers browsing for hand-held digital Bibles.

Christian Novel Is Surprise Best Seller [NYT]