Carole Whang Schutter
Dee Stewart

A literary journalist and publicist since 2003, Dee Stewart's writings have appeared in Precious Times, Romantic Times, Spirit Led Woman Magazines and on The Master's Artist Blog. She is also the owner of DeeGospel PR (,) Christian entertainment PR boutique located in Atlanta, GA. Visit her Christian Fiction Blog, which turned 6 years old in July at Her debut novel "A Good Excuse to Be Bad (Kensington/Dafina) releases Summer 2011. Talk to her in real-time on Twitter at @deegospel.

How to Publish Outside the Proverbial Box

This summer I have been blessed to feature women’s voices in Christian fiction. Last month I shared four women authors who have inspired us by telling American history through their eyes. This month I want to step into the future.

With the digitization of publishing and the changing formatting of book creation, the publishing industry is evolving, changing at a rate so fast the industry still hasn’t caught up. ABA publishers are purchasing CBA houses. Marquee authors are losing book deals or changing houses, while other authors, especially women authors, are riding these shifts like a soft ripple on a lake.

Rhonda McKnight

Rhonda McKnight is one of those authors. Not only is she one of my write-or-die chicks, but she is a prolific author and now publisher, who has graciously allowed me to pick her brain for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. McKnight is a published novelist under Urban Christian Books but also is a co-publisher with 3 Sisters Books. This summer both her latest novel and 3 Sisters first novella releases.

Rhonda, since you are involved in so much right now. Let’s start with your latest book release, An Inconvenient Friend (August, Urban Christian/Kensington). Why the title?

An Inconvenient FriendAn unlikely friendship develops between two of the main characters, Samaria Jacobs and Angelina Preston. It’s inconvenient for Samaria because her plan was to get to know Angelina so she could steal her husband. It’s inconvenient for Angelina because Samaria is the woman whom the church people frown upon—too much makeup, too tight clothing, and too short. She’s the type most women would prefer to see leave.

What is this story about?

An Inconvenient Friend is the story of two broken women who are fighting over a man. They both don’t know it. The wife, Angelina, desires to restore a marriage that has been torn apart by tragedy. Samaria is just a home-wreckin’, man stealer. Gregory Preston is in the middle of it all, and he’s being greedy.

What spiritual takeaway does this book have?

Interesting question. I think I’ll let the readers decide. I took away the message of redemption for the one lost sheep out of the hundred that the Shepherd wants to come home.

How can you incorporate a summer sizzle novel into a faith-based story?

Well, I learned recently at the Faith and Fiction Retreat’s panel about the Anatomy of a Bestseller, which featured best sellers Kimberla Lawson Roby and ReShonda Tate Billingsley: Tell the story you want to tell, but be strategic about it. As for my novel, I lucked out on it. I started writing and it started sizzling on its own.

Is this story universal for readers who are not African American? If so, how?

I think so. The themes of love, forgiveness, and redemption are common to us all. I think the long ago lessons about sisterhood among women are being lost in our “I gotta get mine!” culture. We need to be reminded that we are our sister’s keeper.

Why is infidelity in our current society becoming the norm?

Another interesting question. I don’t know. LOL. Seriously, in my opinion it’s the boob tube and all the promiscuity on television that is permeating our culture.

What is God trying to say to us?

Through my book? Love one another, forgive one another, talk to one another. Work at marriage.

A Woman's RevengeLet’s talk about A Woman’s Revenge. Why a novella?

Sherri Lewis, Tiffany Warren, and I wanted to publish a project together, but a 600-page book would not sell well. We wanted to cross promote our work in a big way, beyond Website links and the exchanging of postcards or word of mouth to our readers. We thought what better way to introduce our readers to each of us than to write a book together. None of us had ever written a novella length story, so we decided to give it a try.

Tell us about this story.

A Woman’s Revenge is a collection of three stories about three women who put three plans into motion to get revenge against someone who has hurt them. My story, “A Piece of Revenge,” is about a woman whose husband has run off with a small fortune that belonged to her and her plan to get her money back. She’s riding shotgun. Tiffany and Sherri’s stories are different but along the same lines. All three are quite humorous, which makes it a great summer read.

What can women readers gain from this story?

I hope some people will see themselves. Perhaps not holding a gun but trying to get even. We never really get even. We just move ourselves farther away from God, and He is the only one who can really bring us peace when we’ve been hurt.

Tell me about the genesis of 3 Sisters Books.

It’s a long, super-spiritual story, but let me just say that Sherri, Tiffany, and I met in the spirit at the Faith and Fiction Retreat in Destin, Florida, two years ago. We all felt God telling us to connect with one another, to brand our work together as a cross-promotion strategy to reach a larger readership.

Why is it important for authors to find more ways to leverage their readership? To take more ownership of their brands?

3 Sisters BooksThe market is flooded with offerings, and book sales are down because of the economy. Hence, readers have more to choose from, but they’re buying fewer books, as are libraries.

As for their brands, I think authors have to take ownership of their brands because no one else will. The publishing house packages and distributes, so the author has to figure out who he or she is in the bookstore and on social media. Who is their reader and how do they reach them? I don’t think anyone who can’t or won’t figure that out will be published for long. Not with a traditional house, anyway, because gone are the days of bookstores buying the entire catalogue from a publishing house, and with those days went the big marketing budgets.

What haven’t I asked that you would like to say?

You haven’t asked me what my favorite pick is for the summer: Holy Rollers by ReShonda Tate Billingsley. I received an advance copy for my blog. I loved it!

PR Tip: Use social media to track book sales by adding Feedjit, an Amazon Associate account, or Google Analytics stats to your online tours or marketing blitz.