12/19/06

Can You Make a Living Writing LDS Fiction?

Hi there again LdSP!

You follow the blogs so I’m sure you’ve already seen
this one. I thought it was an excellent rundown of the different kinds of published authors out there in the big wide world.

So let’s take this info and relate it to the infinitesimal world of LDS publishing.

The way I see it, you have the Jennie Hansens, the Michelle Bells, the Chris Heimerdingers, people like that whom I would assume would be in the # 2 tier. Not criticizing their writing; it’s just that I can’t say (and I’m sure we all know) there aren’t any Pulitzer-Prize winning LDS-themed books out there.

Then you have the little people in the #3 tier like me who are scraping the bottom of the mid-list barrel hoping to find the widow’s mite.

As for #4, I don’t know what to say about the one-hit wonders other than I am working very hard and hoping I won’t be one of them.

I’d love to hear your two cents clinking as they hit the bottom of the think tank!

Merry Christmas!


I wish you a Merry Christmas too--although my comments are going to sound very Scroogey.

Take the income levels hinted at in that post and reduce them down to 1/10th and that's about what you can expect LDS authors in those various tiers to be earning.

Can an LDS fiction author live comfortably off their royalties? Depends on how you define comfortably. There are a few who have enough titles in print selling well that they are making $40,000 plus a year on royalties. But it's a very small group. [And just between the two of us, sometimes I am very surprised to learn who they are because they're not always the best writers.]

It is almost impossible to support yourself (with or without a family) when writing exclusively for any small niche market (including ours)--unless you are able to position yourself as one of the top 10 highly recognizable names in the industry. It's easier for non-fiction writers, but not much.

So, if you want to write LDS fiction AND make a living at writing, you have to branch out and be willing to write in other areas. Write LDS and national. Ghost write or co-author. Write for magazines. Write ad copy or business writing. Do technical manuals or text books. The more you limit your focus, the more you limit your income potential.

7 comments:

biboo said...

You said:
"So, if you want to write LDS fiction AND make a living at writing, you have to branch out and be willing to write in other areas. Write LDS and national."

Easier said than done, sweetpea. Especially if you're writing fiction. It's tough to crack the national market.

We're working on it, though. *grin*

biboo

iamtheposterofthequestion said...

Allow me to make a correction. In the sentence, "Not criticizing their writing; it’s just that I can’t say (and I’m sure we all know) there aren’t any Pulitzer-Prize winning LDS-themed books out there," it should say that "I can't say (...) there are any Pulitzer-Prize winning LDS-themed books out there." Hopefully that makes the statement clearer.

Wouldn't it be something if someday we did have a Pulitzer-Prize winning LDS book?

Anonymous said...

"The more you limit your focus, the more you limit your income potential."

BINGO! It couldn't have been said any better.

I love it! Thanks.

josi said...

Tristi Pinkston once put this in a visual for me.
She spread her arms as wide as she could and said, "This is the world."
she took the distance between her hands to about half and said "This is the world that speaks English."
Half again, she said "This is the English speaking world that reads."
She brought her hands until they were about 6 inches apart and said "This is the English speaking & reading world that is LDS."
Half that distance, she said "This is the english speaking LDS world that reads."
Half again (there's about two inches between her hands) she said "This is the English spreaking LDS reading world that reads fiction."
Half again (hands are about 1 inch apart), she said "This is the english speaking LDS reading world that reads MY genre of fiction."
Half again, her hands almost touching, "This is how many will acually pay money to read my book--and those are the ones I get paid for."
That put it in perspective for me :-) She's right on.

Anonymous said...

"...Easier said than done, sweetpea..."

Of course it is, as is everything worth doing--especially in the arts.

I have defined myself as a fiction writer since high school. My dream is to see my title on the NYT best seller list, or as a Newbery winner, or (dream big) in Oprah's book club.

Now, 35 years past high school graduation, I have yet to publish a novel. However, I HAVE made a living by writing. I've been a newspaper columnist, written software user manuals, done ghost writing, written newsletters and marketing materials for a long list of companies, and done many, many boring bread-and-butter writing jobs.

The point is, and I think this is what LDSP is trying to say, while you're trying to get published, you have to pay the bills somehow. You can do that by writing in other areas or by working at the gas-n-go (or whatever). If you do it by writing, you're honing your skills while feeding your family and it all moves you toward your end goal of being a professional, published author in the genre of your choice.

Anonymous said...

What qualifies as Pulitzer-Prize winning literature?

Why isn't there any in the LDS market?

What do we need to do to produce higher quality literature?

janetterallison said...

If you want to be a writer, write because you love it. Every other reason will fail you. Chances are you will never make enough to quit your day job. Even if you do become published, chances are that you won't win the Pulitzer. (This, I suppose, has never bothered Tom Clancy or Nora Roberts.)

Don't try to write the great American novel, or the great American LDS novel which everyone is going to love. They probably won't and your feelings will be hurt and your time wasted. Write the novel you want to write and then even if it never gets published you'll have something that you love. That will be worth it.

Janette Rallison