My agent, George Nicholson, has submitted Slider's Son, my latest novel, to Zondervan for publication. It's been there a month now, which is NOT a long time in the publishing world by any standard, but it's long enough to give me pause...
Zondervan is an evangelical press. There's nothing remotely evangelical about Slider's Son. Grant, the protagonist, does go to church, but it's the platform for his questioning a lot of things about Christianity...heaven, afterlife, how God can send someone (even someone Grant hates) to hell. And Grant certainly doesn't resolve these issues in the course of the story.
So I've been thinking about Zondervan a lot. I googled their books, and some of the books had no mention of evangelical or Christian or faith in the description. I wondered if that was just a ploy, or if it was true. I emailed an author of a prominently promoted secular-looking book (socially conscious--story about a bi-racial girl discovering her heritage), and she wrote me back within 24 hours. She gave me her phone number and said to call. So I did, and we talked a long time yesterday. Awesome conversation, and very helpful.
She has turned her character into a three-book series, but chose not to stick with Zondervan for the next two books. No legality since it didn't start out to be a series.
Anyway, at some point a staff person (editor? publicity? I can't remember) asked her about her "faith story." !!! Joan (the author) said she didn't know if it was even legal to ask that, but she answered with "I'm a very spiritual person and my faith is important to me" which satisfied them.
She did feel a vague discomfort with the whole process, even though she had a very positive experience with them as publishers, and they treated her well and promoted her book well. Very interesting.
Next step: talk to George about all this.