What are some upcoming trends?
It’s tough to say—as soon as you identify a trend, there’s a good chance it’s at its peak. For example, we’ve had a flurry of projects that address Christian-Muslim relations from various angles: interfaith families, Muslim converts to Christianity, and broader examinations of radical Islam as a global threat. But it’s hard to tell whether the ongoing conflict will translate into sustained interested or market fatigue.
One thing I am relatively sure of: as millennials move into positions of influence within the church, we’re going to be publishing more projects that reflect their experiences. This could mean increased calls for inclusiveness in order to attract those who have fallen away from their faith—or a doubling down on traditional values in order to help those who stay in the church define themselves. There’s a lot of wrestling with questions of how to live an authentic faith, both as individuals and as a corporate church. And the up-and-coming writers and thinkers now have grown up steeped in pop culture and the Internet, and that comes through in their writing.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Humor is so easy to do badly and hard to do well, but I would love to see more projects that take the witty, clever tone of so much of the good writing online and marry it to topics of Christian interest. Brant Hansen does this really well in his forthcoming book, Unoffendable. His chapter titles are things like “Idea: Let’s Punch Brant in the Face” and (my favorite) “And Lo, the Kingdom of God Is Like a Terrible Football Team,” so you know right from the table of contents that this is an author with a unique voice—but he’s no slouch when it comes to thought-provoking content either. I would love to see more in this vein.
More generally speaking, we live in such polarized times, where labels and boundaries separate us from each other in ways that I think are really harmful. I’m particularly interested in books that help start a conversation, bridge the gap, look for common ground, or otherwise help unite rather than divide. So I’m on the lookout for books appealing to a broad spectrum of Christian believers—both conservative/evangelical and progressive/mainline—as well as books that help Christians develop true, meaningful relationships with those they tend to view as “other.”
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
There’s no topic that’s off limits if it’s done well. But as a corollary to the previous question, while there will certainly always be a market for them, I’m not personally interested in books that are rallying cries for a certain tribe or perpetuate an us-vs.-them (however you define “us” and “them”) mentality.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The projects that excite me most have a clear premise, a unique perspective, well-crafted prose, and a strong platform. I like to think about these qualities as four legs of a stool: the more legs a project has, the more comfortable I am advocating for it. But I am a reader and writer at heart, so if I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I give a little edge to projects that are exceptionally well-written. If the writing is so compelling that I can’t put it down, I’m willing to wager it’s something other readers are going to want to pick up.
Meaghan Porter is an editor for the W Publishing Group imprint of Thomas Nelson. She has a BA in English from Belmont University and an MA in publishing and writing from Emerson College. She loves tap dancing and the Red Sox and is an Anglophile at heart. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Jared, her daughter, Abigail, and their orange tabby, Hermione. Follow her on Twitter @MeaghanEPorter.