It's a truism in publishing that sex sells. What's unusual in Christian publishing is not that sex sells, but that even books telling people not to have sex sell. And increasingly, these include transparent Christian books about the "darker" side of sex: pornography addiction and infidelity.
With a first print run of 75,000, musician Rebecca St. James's fall devotional, Pure, promises to help young women with the struggle to remain virgins until marriage (FaithWords, Sept.) The Grammy Award—winning singer/songwriter has publicly vowed to remain chaste herself and uses her platform to promote this value for other Christian singles. "Purity, as we prefer to call chastity, has been a consistent theme throughout Rebecca's recording career," says associate publisher Harry Helm. "The books currently being written on purity are by young people themselves, giving a more relevant, real and candid perspective than perhaps was available before." St. James, who is 30, will promote the devotional on her concert tour, talking about it from the stage and also featuring it on her MySpace page, which boasts 100,000 "friends."
At Moody, the success of two chastity authors has led to their collaboration on a new book. Nancy Leigh DeMoss's 2001 title Lies Women Believe has sold 830,000 copies for the press and is now in its 18th printing, while Dannah Gresh's And the Bride Wore White (also 2001) has sold 225,000 copies and is in its fourth printing. Now DeMoss and Gresh are collaborating on Lies Young Women Believe, due out in February with a 45,000-copy initial print run. The new book takes many of the ideas from the original Lies Women Believe and translates them for a younger audience.
Finally, chastity gets a plug this season from an unlikely source: an academic study on collegiate sexuality from Oxford University Press. Editor Theo Calderara says that for Sex and the Soul (Apr.) author Donna Freitas conducted research and interviews at public, evangelical and Catholic colleges and universities across the country. "The most amazing thing was how deeply candid students were about their sexual experiences," Calderara says. "These students want guidance. They want religion to speak to their existence as sexual beings, but they're not getting that from anywhere."
Sometimes it takes a celebrity to bring greater awareness to a difficult political or social issue. In the Christian world, Zondervan author Kay Warren—wife of megachurch pastor and Purpose-Driven Life author Rick Warren—is hard at work increasing evangelical Christians' awareness of international AIDS. In Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes to God (Zondervan, Dec., 2007), Warren describes how her life changed several years ago when she accepted what she felt was God's call to speak out for those with HIV/AIDS. Dudley Delffs, v-p and publisher of trade books, says that Warren's book has gotten excellent television attention out of the gate on Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, ABC Nightline, as well as print coverage in Newsweek and Christianity Today. This month (Feb.), Warren appears in an introductory segment for the film Beat the Drum when it is shown at over 1,000 churches across America, and in a closing segment speaks about the book and her work for AIDS awareness.
If Warren is a celebrity in the evangelical Christian market, then U2 front man Bono is a celebrity writ large. In May 2007, Thomas Nelson released Bono's gift book On the Move, merging the text of a speech the singer gave at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2006 with some of his own photos from trips to Africa and an innovative graphic design. Thomas Nelson senior v-p and group publisher David Moberg says the book had a 50,000-copy laydown and was on the New York Times bestseller list in May and June.
Sexual Integrity for Men
As reported in PW in 2005, one of the growing trends in the Christian marketplace has been a greater transparency about sex-related problems such as pornography addiction, sexual abuse and infidelity. Almost all of these books are directed toward men, with the occasional nod toward women, who are most often portrayed as victims of men's sexual perfidy. One such book for women is The Healing Choice: How to Move Beyond Betrayal by Brenda Stoker and Susan Allen. "I acquired The Healing Choice because it deals with the fallout of sexual addiction in the most honest, practical, and up-to-date way I've seen in a book of this nature," says Mick Silva, editor at WaterBrook. The book, which will have a first-print run in the 25,000-copy range, aims to "help the huge number of women whose lives are impacted by a husband's infidelity, whether that betrayal comes through porn, affairs, or full-blown sex addiction."
Books for men on sexual addictions have become more specific and niche oriented. Stephen Arterburn, author of the phenomenally successful Every Man's Battle series (2.5 million copies in print), teams up this winter with Sam Gallucci to offer Road Warrior: How to Keep Your Faith, Relationships, and Integrity When Away from Home. The book targets the Christian male business traveler who encounters sexual temptations on the road—including hotel movie porn, readily available prostitutes or affairs with female colleagues (WaterBrook, Feb.).
Men's books on sexual integrity are often surprisingly autobiographical. In Confessions of a Good Christian Guy: The Secrets Men Keep and the Grace That Saves Them, Tom Davis introduces himself: a leadership consultant for Fortune 500 companies, a husband and father of six, a churchgoing Christian. And, oh, yeah: he has also slept with "countless women, snorted cocaine, stolen cash from people, and spent time in jail." And those things all happened after he became a Christian. The book, which released in January from Thomas Nelson, features the stories of many other real Christian men who are in the process of overcoming addictions. So, too, with Conquering Pornography by Dr. Dennis Frederick (Winepress, 2007) and the forthcoming Porn Nation: Conquering America's #1 Addiction by Michael Leahy (Moody, May). Moody publicity manager Janis Backing says the book will have a first-print run of 35,000 copies and the press will simultaneously release 20,000 copies of a student edition and 20,000 copies of a companion study guide.