Cauliflower Shortage

ACFW Authors and writing, Encouragement, Friends of ACFW, writing 1 Comment

By Mary Lou Cheatham

My family has always enjoyed cooking and eating cauliflower, a delicious and nutritious vegetable. It’s never been unavailable in the grocery store.

Suddenly the cauliflower bin is empty. It is necessary to go from store to store to find it. This year’s popular diets—paleo and low-carb—contain copious amounts of cauliflower cooked in creative ways. One popular method is preparing it as mashed potatoes. It’s delicious used entirely in place of potatoes or along with potatoes. All kinds of dishes have cauliflower. It’s even showing up as the main ingredient in some pizza crusts.

The demand for cauliflower has exceeded the supply.

It’s about presentation.

What does the cauliflower crisis have to do with Christian fiction writers? A friend of mine had thyroid surgery, and I wanted to cook her some cauliflower with potatoes. My regular grocery store was out, and another store had a few heads that were labeled organic but in poor condition. Since I’d already promised to cook it for my friend and didn’t want to disappoint her, I paid four dollars per cauliflower head.

Shopping for the cauliflower brought to my mind that the Christian fiction market is bountifully supplied with well-written, inspirational, and entertaining novels that aren’t selling. The books are available. We’ve produced a bumper crop without developing a market.

The supply of quality Christian novels has exceeded the demand.

It’s about presentation.

Sometimes we aren’t presenting our books well. While we continue to practice our craft and study ways to write better, we fall short by failing to sell as many books as we think we should. We fail to market our books. We don’t have lines of customers waiting in the bookstores. Bestseller ranks remain unattainable. It isn’t that people aren’t reading. Some authors have readers lined up a block down the street.

For Christian authors, writing is a mission, but how can it be accomplished if writers don’t reach readers? Making money may not seem like a worthy goal, but money represents distribution of books to readers.

If I knew the solution to this problem, I’d share it with you. Like many of you, I’m struggling. How can we place the books we write—our treasures, our labors of love—in the hands…not only the hands but before the eyes and inside the ears…of those we wish to reach with what we have to share? How can we touch their souls?

Social media, blogs, newsletters, book signings, readings, talks, soliciting reviews, giveaways, endorsements, seeking agents and publishers—some of these methods seem to work for some of us. For most of us writers, though, nothing seems to work as we hoped.

When we know we have good books, we’re not giving up. We’ll keep attending writing conferences. We’ll try to emulate those who are succeeding. If we’ve written excellent books, we’ll write better books.

Back to the grocery store analogy: beets, collards, and rutabagas are nutritious vegetables. With expertise, cooks can prepare them in ways that are irresistible, but they are not cauliflower. The demand is for cauliflower.

What do readers want? We’ll just have to research the market and discover the answer so our books can sell like cauliflower. We cannot, must not give up on our calling.

It’s about presentation.


Mary Lou Cheatham (Mary Cooke) began her life near Hot Coffee in Mississippi. Now she lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, with her husband, a talking cat, and three chiming antique clocks. Long ago she taught English, and not so long ago she retired from her career as a registered nurse. She loves to write.



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