Distribution for Self-Publishers

You said that your company distributes books for self-publishers. Can you explain how this works?

First, thank you so much for giving me something else to talk about! When I said I'd talk about contracts, I didn't think far enough ahead to realize that it would mean days upon days of really dry and boring stuff, all on the same topic! I like some variety here.

If, for whatever reason--and there are lots of legit reasons--you have determined to self-publish, you will need a distributor to represent and sell your books to the LDS bookstores. Rarely will a bookstore work directly with an SP. It just costs too much in man-hours, bookkeeping, shipping, etc. Not to mention that there are a lot of poor quality SP items out there and they generally will not sell well.

If you decide to go the SP route, #1 most important rule: Get an agreement with a distributor BEFORE you print your book! They can then help you find editors, typesetters, designers and printers who are reputable and do good work for fair prices. It breaks my heart when someone sends me an SP book, and it's been poorly edited, designed and constructed and I can't take it because I can't sell it. It's even worse when I tell them it needed professional editing, or whatever, and they tell me they paid someone $2,000 to do that already--and it's full of grammatical errors. The distributor can also help you figure your cost/return ratios, help you set a reasonable price, and prevent a whole host of mistakes that SPs often make simply from lack of experience.

(Not all distributors will hold your hand and walk you through this process because it takes a lot of time, and therefore, they will make less money. But many distributors are willing to do this because they know it will make a better product that will sell more copies and hopefully they will get a better return on their time investment on the back end. If a distributor is willing to do this, please, trust them. Listen to their advice. Give them credit for having half a brain and knowing what they are doing. If you don't trust your distributor to guide you, go with a different distributor.)

So anyway, you need to find a distributor as early into the process as you can. When a distributor accepts your book, they then act as your representative with the bookstores--letting them know your book exists, who the customer is, taking and processing orders from the bookstores, shipping, collecting money in your behalf, etc. Their contract should outline what exactly they do, and when and how you will be paid.

The cost for a distributor varies. Some figure it based on the retail price, some on the wholesale. Some lump it all together with the wholesale discount offered to resellers and it is between 55-60% of the retail price of the book. Others will quote it at 25-30% of the wholesale price. (These are approximates and vary between companies, between titles, and depend on the reseller discount, etc. Lots of variables. For example, if they put you in a national chain or on amazon.com, then it might cost you more because the reseller discount is more.)

Some SPs think they can self-distribute for less money than they distributor is asking for. Trust me, you can't. Even if you can get the bookstores to order directly from you, you'll need a way to advertise and market your book, a website, a toll-free number, a merchant account, a garage full of shipping supplies, shipper accounts, and a warm body to fill all those orders. If you're only selling a few copies of your book each week, and you do all the work yourself for free, then maybe you can do it cheaper. But not likely. In fact, highly unlikely.

One other word of caution, if you're using a POD printer, or going with one of the online vanity presses (AuthorHouse, Publish America, etc.) your cost per book is going to be too high for you to sell it through a traditional bookstore at competitive prices, with or without a distributor. To cover all the costs and discounts, you'd have to price your book out of the market. POD is fine if you've got a book with highly specialized information which you plan to sell outside the traditional bookstore (ie: on your own website, at seminars, etc.). But for fiction or generalized non-fiction sold through bookstores, it does not give you the profit margins you need to be successful.

Where in the World Are My Publishing Rights?

There are two basic types of rights covered in your contract: publishing and subsidiary. They should be two separate clauses in your contract.

Publishing rights cover the rights to publish your work in certain formats within a certain geographical area.

It is assumed that the book will be published in a traditional paper and ink, bound format, so this will probably not be spelled out. Your contract might list hardcover, trade or mass market bindings, but generally this is not covered in the rights section. It's just assumed that they have the rights to all of the various paper and ink formats.

Other formats may be listed in this clause, such as e-books and audio books, or they may be listed under subsidiary rights. Either place is fine, but with the increase in popularity of these formats, they will probably be specified somewhere.

The fact that a publisher includes these formats in their rights does not necessarily mean that they will option them. It means that they have the right to option them. If it's very important to you to have an audio format of your book, and your publisher has included that in their rights to be optioned, ask what percentage of the time they exercise this option or what conditions need to be met for them to do that. If chances are minimal that it will happen, you could try to separate that from the contract, allowing you to sell those options to someone else or exercise them yourself. But as a publisher, that might be a deal breaker for me. If I'm publishing the book, and someone else is doing an audio, and the audio is poor quality, that will damage my ability to sell the book. I, personally, will not take paper and ink, unless I also control the audio and e-book rights. So pick your battles. If this one isn't a big deal to you, let it go.

Geographical Area:
Where will the publisher publish your book? There are several variations on geographic rights. These rights should be defined in your contract. I've included the most common terminology on geographic rights.

World Rights: Most publishers will ask for World Rights. This means they have the right to publish your work in every language and in every country in the world. They themselves won't publish your title in all these areas. They will produce an English publication and sell it in the US, Canada, England, Australia and other English speaking countries. Then they will most likely sell the rights to other publishers to print the book in other languages and countries.

If you've got a title with the potential to be a huge seller in multiple countries, your publisher may only publish a U.S. version and sell the rights to publish in other English speaking companies--which include the rights to re-edit, redesign and retitle. (For example, JK Rowling's 1st book is Harry Potter and The Sorceror's Stone here in the US, but it is the Philospher's Stone in England.)

In the LDS market, unless you are a General Authority, this is generally a moot point, as the majority of titles never make it into translation and are never published separately in other countries.

If the publisher has World Rights, you may get a percentage of the sell of those rights or you may get a standard royalty on books sold by these other companies or you may get nothing. If your publisher asks for World Rights, have them spell it out. Just in case.

World English: On a national market, there is more of a distinction between World Rights and World English, but in the LDS market, they're pretty much the same. Even though they say they have World Rights, most publishers only option World English--which is what I described above--an English version that they sell throughout the world.

North American Rights: This is the right to publish and sell in the U.S. and Canada only. Since the LDS market rarely reaches into foreign languages and is very small outside North America, it does you no good to insist on only giving the LDS publisher North American rights. No one else would purchase the other rights separately from these, and your publisher (or distributor) generally already has an account with those few English speaking LDS bookstores in the rest of the world.

U.S. Only: This is the right to publish only in the U.S. Again, in the LDS market, this one does not give you any advantage. The only time you'd want to consider this is if you live in Canada, England or Austrailia and you have a cross-over book (appeals to both LDS and mainstream) that you want to publish and promote heavily in your own country as well as in the LDS market. But if this is the case, you'd be better off selling World Rights to a publisher in your country, and having them resell U.S. only rights to a publisher in the U.S., or even LDS rights to an LDS publisher. (I've never heard of this happening, but I suppose it could.) Or more likely, your publisher would just hire an LDS distributor and have them sell the original publication within this market.

Tomorrow: Subsidiary Rights


Copyright Begins at "It was a dark and stormy night"

You own the copyright to your work. I would guess that most publishers have a clause in their contract that covers this. If they don't, ask them to add it. You want your contract to explicitly state that you own the copyright to your work.

Current copyright law states that copyright goes into effect the moment your work appears in any fixed form. That means you are protected from the time you write your first sentence. It would seem that given this, copyright ownership is a no-brainer, but there are a few legitimate exceptions:
  • a work for hire, where you are writing a book according to the specifications of another person or company. In this case, they, not you, own the copyright.
  • a work where you are the ghost writer for another person, or writing an "as told to" book.
  • a series of books written by multiple authors but published under a pen name or company name. Copyright status varies on this--sometimes the author owns it, sometimes the company that authorizes the series owns it.
  • a work where you write the text, but someone else creates the layout and that layout provides a significant uniqueness for the book (possible examples: student workbook , textbook, cookbooks, puzzle books, etc.) Sometimes in this situation, there will be a shared copyright between the author and the publisher.
Just to be clear, have copyright ownership spelled out in the contract.

And speaking of copyrights, you do not need to plaster a copyright notice across every page of your manuscript submission, nor do you need to mail your MS to yourself. Legitimate publishers do not steal MS ideas. However, if either of these actions makes you feel better, go ahead and have at it, but it's really not necessary.

Also, you do not need to register the copyright on your work until it is published. Often your publisher will do that for you. If they do, it should be in their contract. If it's not, ask them if they will do it or if you should. If they don't, you need to send two copies of the published work (publisher should provide these free of charge), $45 and a completed application to the Library of Congress (click here for details).

For self-publishers: you own the copyright, hands down. Register your work as soon as it comes back from the printer. Copyright is never an issue between you (publisher) and the distributor, so it may or may not be mentioned in the contract. If you're using a vanity press or POD, make sure that in your contract with them, it is spelled out very clearly that YOU own the copyright to YOUR work.


A Contract Covers A Work

A contract covers one individual piece of work. Sometimes it may cover a series of related works, as in a science fiction trilogy or a 7 book historical novelization. This is reasonable.

A contract should never be for a period of time, as in everything a particular author writes within a specified number of years. This is not reasonable.

Nor should a contract be for everything an author writes in a specific genre or market. This is also unreasonable.

The reason a publisher may try include rights to future works in a contract is that new authors don't make much profit for a publisher. As more novels come out, an author gains a broader reader base. Later novels have a better cost/return ratio for the publisher. A publisher is trying to protect their original investment by insuring they can reap the benefits of the broader reader base later on.

Generally, the right to first refusal of the next work (we'll talk more about this in a future post) and good author relations will take care of that. The future is just too uncertain for either party to be locked into a time-based contract. If either party determines that the relationship is just not working for them, they should be able to discontinue it with minimal effort (more on that later too).

However, consider this when, as an established author, you are offered an enticing deal by the competition. Your initial publisher took a chance on you. They risked their capital, and their company to some extent, on you--an unknown. That risk should garner some element of respect and loyalty. If every new author jumped ship to a bigger publisher after they were established, the publishers willing to take those initial risks would soon be out of business.

The reasonableness of a one work contract offered by the publisher needs to be balanced by reasonable consideration when the author becomes popular and other publishers attempt to woo them away in the future.


I decided to talk about contracts because more than any other complaint, I hear disgruntled authors talking about clauses in their current contracts with LDS publishers—clauses that I consider to be unfair, abusive, immoral or predatory. I do not know if these clauses actually exist in black and white; I have not seen them. However, I do know that they exist in the minds and understanding of many authors—authors who to me seem to be very sincere, honest and reasonable people, aside from the fact that they have signed a ridiculously unreasonable contract in the first place. So whether these contracts exist in reality or only in the minds of confused authors, I feel there is a need to discuss basic contract clauses and to expound upon what is and isn’t reasonable.

Contracts can be very complex and confusing. Ideally, they spell out the agreement between two parties so that there are no misunderstandings. They protect both parties from various eventualities. A good contract is fair and reasonable and allows for both parties to succeed within the framework of the agreement.

In reality, most contracts are biased toward the side that creates them. This is not always an intentional act of underhandedness, but rather occurs because the writer of the contract understands most clearly their own needs and vulnerabilities and creates a contract to cover those needs.

There is no such thing as a standard, one size fits all publishing contract. A contract is a place for beginning negotiations. A publisher will ask for everything they “wish” for. An author should have their own “wish” list. Then together, the publisher and author discuss the contract in relation to their own needs and desires, and come to an agreement that satisfies both. Some clauses in a contract are fully negotiable; others are deal breakers. A reasonable publisher will be willing to discuss both, giving up some points when they can and explaining when they can’t.

No reasonable publisher will withdraw a contract simply because you ask for clarification or explanation. Nor should they bully you or put undue pressure on you to sign a contract that you do not fully understand. All reasonable publishers will expect you to show the contract to your attorney and/or financial advisor and will give you time to do that. Generally, thirty days should give you plenty of time to negotiate the fine points and make your decision. Don’t be in such a hurry to be published that you ignore your inner voice and sign an unreasonable contract the very day it is presented.

You may have noticed that I’ve stressed “reasonable” several times. I’ve heard claims of extremely unreasonable contract clauses and behavior by various LDS publishers from many, many authors. Sometimes what they describe is so unreasonable, it’s absurd and I have a hard time believing it’s true. At other times, I feel the author is the one who is being unreasonable.

As I discuss various contract issues, I will try to explain the reasoning behind them from the publisher’s perspective. If you have a different perspective, please chime in via the comments trail. More than once, I have changed my basic contract based upon an open and frank conversation with an author.

My hope is that these discussions will help authors to make fully informed and well-reasoned decisions on contract offers, and that they will prevent some of the unreasonable clauses that I’ve heard about over the years.


That's All Folks

That's the last of the photos of the LDSBA convention. A big thank you to those companies and individuals who augmented my own few measly photos. (I am not much of a photo taker.) I hope this has given you a sense of what the convention was like, although nothing quite does it like being there in person. If you are ever lucky enough to be invited to attend by your publisher, jump at it. It's well worth the trouble to get there.

Lip Notes/Hold to the Rod Designs

This photo also came compliments of Sandra at Rosehaven. She took it because he is looking at one of Rosehaven's new books. But it is also a good shot of the booth itself.

Lipnotes makes lip balm with custom messages on the container. They have over 100 messages--or you can design your own.

Their lip balm with LDS messages are sold under the Hold to the Rod Designs name.

They also have buttons, magnets, and magnetic bookmarks.

Rosehaven Publishing & Mapletree Publishing

These photos and information come compliments of Sandra at Rosehaven.

Mapletree is a national publisher specializing in parenting and homeschooling. They also publish uplifting fiction. Their motto is: "Publishing excellent books that gently promote religious values." They have been part of LDSBA for awhile, but just this year signed Rosehaven as their LDS distributor. That is why they have a shared booth. Between them, they had a three booth space.

Rosehaven both publishes and distributes for self-publishers and small presses. They carry over 100 products, including books, games, music CDs, and art prints. They are probably best known for their LDS Twelve Step Recovery titles, but they also have a variety of inspirational titles, LDS homeschool titles and fiction.


Ringmasters won the award for best use of the theme. Here is a photo of the entire booth:

And this is the reason they won:

If you look really close, you can see that there are glass tubes holding up this display, with live goldfish swimming around in there.

Ringmasters is best known for their CTR rings and other LDS jewelry, but they also carry cards, prints, puzzles, decor, ornaments, decorative plates, throws, and other stuff.

(Photos compliments of an anonymous e-mailer.)


What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Hi. I was wondering what is the best way to find a job in the LDS publishing business.

Well, you can always start your own publishing company, but some people find that more trouble than it's worth.

First, what do you want to do? There are a lot of different job descriptions in a publishing company, from president to management to editor to designer to marketer to janitor, and lots of others in between. I know. I've done them all. The type of job you want to do will determine how you approach the company.

If you're an editor or graphic designer, you'd need to show some credentials or a portfolio. You might also need some specialized training in certain types of software. If you want to scrub the toilets, you just need to wait for the current guy to quit, then offer to do it for a lower wage than your competition.

How do you find out about job openings?

Some of the bigger publishers, such as Deseret Book and Covenant, list job openings on their websites. I'd check that first. Or if there's a specific company you'd like to work for, call them.

Should I just take/mail my resume around? Is it just who you know?

Getting a job in a publishing company is much like getting a job anywhere else. Get an application if you can. Send a resume. If you know someone who can give you a heads up and a good word when a position opens, that always helps.

Does an internship help?

Some companies do internships, some don't. I'd love to have an intern--free slave labor. Just make sure that there's an opportunity to move into a real job at some point. And don't expect to get to do the cool stuff right away. Most interns play gopher or lick envelopes or do basic filing at first.

I expect that resumes come mostly from English majors looking for editing or proofreading jobs. I'm not, and I'm not. Would there be any differences for those of us looking for typesetting or cover design or secretarial jobs?

I do get more resumes from editors than from others, but I certainly see my share from typesetters, graphic artists, marketers, etc. I don't think I've ever gotten one for a secretary. Like any other job, it's a matter of timing. Having the skills the company needs, when they need them, at a price that fits their payroll budget.

A lot of companies outsource their editing, typesetting and cover design work. I have a network of editors and designers that work freelance, as needed. If you're looking in this area, you might want to approach the company as a freelancer first. You'll need to show samples, references or be willing to do your first project cheap to prove you have what it takes.

And just in case you, or any other reader, thinks that working for a publishing company is a good way to get your foot in the door and they'll be more likely to look at your manuscript and publish your book--think again. In my experience, employees of publishing companies are LESS likely to get their books published by the company that employs them because the company doesn't want to be accused of favoritism. I know there's an exception to every rule, but generally, it seems an employee's book must be twice as good to get half the attention.

Thanks for your help. I enjoy reading your blog.

Thank you, and you're welcome.

The Phoenix Has Risen!

I've decided I should never post anything after 9:00 p.m., because that's my preferred bedtime (when children and work let me live according to my own personal bio-rhythms) and my brain has completely turned off by then. I sound down and depressed, when I'm really just tired.

The true story behind yesterday's post is that I've been re-invigorated. LDSBA and the associated events have reminded me of why I made the decision to become an LDS publisher in the first place. The month before convention is always hard and stressful, but the convention itself infuses me with energy which I can live on for months. So no more down and grumpy posts for me.

About this contest idea--so far the vote is exactly split between the four suggestions I made, with most of you voting for two options at a time. C'mon guys, that is just no help at all! If I don't get a tie breaker, I'll just put them in a bowl and pull one out each month. How's that?

Someone asked if I'd be willing to have another publisher/editor do a guest post on this blog. Certainly! Have them e-mail it to me with instructions on whether they want to be anonymous or identified.

I'm wrapping up all the convention posts and photos. I want to finish off this topic this weekend. So if you have anything to add or ask, send it NOW.

Next week I'm going to start a discussion on contracts--what's fair, what's not, what to look for, what's a deal breaker. If you have any contract clauses you'd like to have evaluated, send them to me and I will include them in my discussion.


Post-Convention Brain Death

Been spending this week processing orders and tidying up the loose ends that were left hanging while I prepared for the convention. I'd love to post something witty and entertaining, but to be perfectly honest, my brain is on idle. I can't think of a single thing to say at the moment.

Still trying to round up some of the requested booth photos.

As to the request for a complete list of the 119 vendors with their product and contact info, that is just beyond me. Between the list and the individual photos, I've posted about 35-40 of them. I have the list on paper but the thought of keying all that info in is just too much to contemplate. Sorry.

Time for a New Contest
I want to run another contest in September. Do you want to do a Query contest? Another Pitch contest? A first paragraph contest? A writing prompt contest? Or maybe I should run a contest for contest ideas?? E-mail your suggestions by the end of the month.


Need More Photos

Here are some of the booths that I do not have photos of, but I think you'd be interested in. If any readers know someone in these companies and can get a photo of their booths, please do so and send it to me.

The ones in blue are publishers.

Bargain Shoppe (lots of really cute stuff)

Bonfire Press (a new small press)

Brigham Distributing (one of the bigger distributors)

Cedar Fort's wall of water

Covenant Communications

Creative Memories and/or Finch Family Games (they both do fun idea books)

Eborn Books

FCP Publishing

Gem Smith (jewelry)

Genealogical Publishing/Parables (E.P. Bentley)

Gibbs Smith

(from the front)

Greg Kofford Books

Latter Day Designs (Book of Mormon toys)

Naag Tag (etched glass items, mini missionary tags, nature photos with sound)

Penny Press (make smashed penny art)

Richard Maher

RingMasters (live fish)

Rosehaven/Mapletree (they were in the same booth)

Signature Books

Spring Creek

Walking the Line (self-publisher)



Album of the Year: Joseph, A Nashville Tribute to the Prophet

When they first announced this, I really had to put forth some effort not to roll my eyes. I mean, really--a Nashville tribute to Joseph Smith??

Apparently I am the only Mormon on the planet who had not heard of this album.

It was remarkable.

Dan Truman and his wife were there to accept the award. He was just amazing. She sang "Emma". It was truly touching. The recording on this link is sung by Mindy Gledhill, who sings it on the album.

I am going to buy this one.

New Artist: Jason Deere

Jason Deere wasn't able to be there either. He was off doing musicianly stuff too. But Dan Truman was there to accept in his behalf.

Group: Mormon Tabernacle Choir

I'm sure the MoTabs were more impressed with the Pearl Awards than the LDSBA Listener Choice, but the couple who came to accept in behalf of the choir seemed pretty happy about it.

I think this is their latest album. That makes what? 2,007?

Instrumentalist: Paul Cardall

Paul Cardall won the Listener's Choice Award for Instrumentalist. He played a version of Joseph Smith's First Prayer from Hymns Vol. 1 album. This was my favorite performance of the evening. I love piano music and he was so...word's fail me. Click here and listen. You'll get what I mean.

I'd never heard of him before, but I'm going to my local LDS bookstore later this week, and I plan to buy every single one of his CDs.

There's probably a more "promotional" photo I could use, but this one was beautiful. I couldn't resist.

Male Artist: Kenneth Cope

Male artist was Kenneth Cope. He performed Broken Souls for us. I'd never heard it before. It was very nice.

Female Artist: Jenny Phillips

Female Artist was Jenny Phillips. She wasn't able to be there because she was on her way to somewhere to do a concert.

More Awards: Kirby Heyborne

We also had the Listener's Choice Awards. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of this part of the convention. Wish I did because it was really fun. But for most of them, I can probably find some internet photos.

Master of Ceremonies was Kirby Heyborne. He was hilarious.

Banquet and Awards

On the Thursday evening after the show, there is a huge banquet. There's always some type of fancy buffet where I usually have to ask the server what the food is. I'm not a gourmet eater by any stretch. But even if I don't know what I'm eating, it's always yummy.

After we eat, the outgoing president of the association is recognized and the incoming president and board of directors are introduced. Scholarships are awarded. Scholarship money is collected from donations. Association members, their children, grandchildren and employees can apply for the scholarships. They are selected by an independent group. This year, three $1,000 scholarships were given out.

Then comes the awards ceremony and program. I didn't take notes, so I hope I get this right.

Awards of Excellence
Outstanding Booth Awards:
Lightstone (Liken) Studios

Retail Excellence: (chosen by Wholesalers)
Crowley's Quad in Twin Falls, ID (small bookstore)
Moon's Bookstore in Dallas, TX (large bookstore)

Wholesale Excellence: (chosen by Retailers)
Spring Creek Book Co. (small wholesaler)
Sounds of Zion (large wholesaler)

There were also awards for Outstanding Sideline Product, the Readers' Choice Award and Exceptional Merit Award, but I can't remember who got those. If anyone reading this remembers, let me know.

One Associates

This booth, One Associated, probably caused the biggest buzz at the convention. It's no surprise to anyone that the LDS publishing industry is struggling. Independent bookstores are finding it harder to stock their shelves and make ends meet. And you've certainly heard me rant about the unbelievably small profit margins in a niche market like ours. Many of us have been trying to come up with ways to make the situation better for all involved. This company may have just hit upon a solution.

As I understand it (and I hope I don't misrepresent them here), One Associated is a profit sharing situation where bookstores and vendors work together in a win/win situation. Bookstores give a little on some points. Vendors give a little on other points. And we all profit. It's based upon a point of sale register and software program that automates a huge portion of the ordering and inventory process and creates reports that will help the vendor support the bookstores.

One Associated's booth was set up like a mini-store and they showed how the process would work in a real store. They also had training meetings throughout the day to explain how it all works. And they gave away cool pins, water bottles and squeeze balls. That alone makes them a star in my book.

Seriously, I think this idea has some real potential. It will be interesting to see how it works out.

Maryetta's Fine Porcelain

Maryetta's has lots of little table-top statuary--several pieces with Christ, and others with family situations. Maryetta's has a lot of really popular pieces, like the Young Woman and Christ in Gethesemane. I especially like Love One Another, Ascension and Lullabye.


I've had several requests for a photo of Covenant's booth. I don't have one in any of the photos that have been sent to me so far. I've contacted my friends and they're going through their photos again to try to find one. But if any of you have one, please send it.

Group of Buds

This photo comes compliments of C.S. Bezas:

Hey, this is a picture I took with some of my buddies in front of Rosehaven's booth. I flew out for my new book, "Powerful Tips for Powerful Teachers" and my CD, "A Time for Ana." The publisher is Rosehaven Publishing & Distribution. I just love working with them. Talk about integrity!

(Reading left to right, C.S. Bezas (me), Kenya Transtrum, Janie Van Komen, Lori Nawyn, and Karlene Browning, the owner of Rosehaven .)


Are You Bored Yet?

There were 119 vendors at the convention. I still have several photos to post but I know I don't have a photo of every booth. The ones that I do have are not always flattering. (These are snapshots, not professional photo set-ups.) So if your company/publisher/friend is not represented here, please send a photo of their booth and I'll be happy to post it.

Some of these companies I am very familiar with and others I don't know so well. I've tried to give a fair description of them based upon what I know or what I can glean from the LDSBA magazine. If I've misrepresented anyone, please know that it was out of ignorance and not intent. And that's what the comments section is for. Feel free to give your company/publisher a plug if you want.


Wellspring Publishing (booth on left) publishes and distributes a variety of items. I think their booth actually wrapped around to the other side of the aisle. They have books, coloring books, bookmarks, stickers, calendars, cards, matted prints...just lots of things.

The booth on the right is Stevenson's Genealogy Center. They have every genealogy item that you can think of, and several more that you would not have thought you needed (but, of course, you do)--binders, sheets and forms, how-to books, kits, software. They also publish family histories. Cool.

Sounds of Zion

Sounds of Zion is another of the bigger distributors. They had an 11 booth space that looked like an "L" with a 6 booth square in the front, then a 5 booth strip down one side.

They used to carry mostly CDs and talks on tape, but they have prints and books and other things now too. I've always liked the way they display their products on that slat board display. It's a very crisp and clean presentation.

Organized World

This company used to be called Organized World, but I guess they go by OW Designs now. Either way, they have the cutest scripture totes I've ever seen. I love the ones with the smiley faces--you can see them in pink, yellow, blue and red, just below the light on the right side of their grid display.

One year OW's booth won the award for best decorated booth, according to the theme. I can't remember which year it was or which theme, but they deserved it. Their booth was a cute surf shop this year and they were probably in the running, but got beat out by Ringmasters who had live fish in their booth. (I haven't posted that photo yet.)

Mostly Memories

Mostly Memories has a lot of gift items--scented candles, lotions, cremes, potpourri. They also have calendars with Greg Olsen art and other inspirational things. One year we were just up the row from them and it was so nice and pleasant smelling the entire week.

We R Memory Keepers

We R Memory Keepers is a scrapbook vendor--lots of cool papers, journals, binders, etc.


Lightstone Studios

Lightstone (the Liken the Scriptures people) won the award for best booth at the convention. This booth was totally cool. It was part of the set for the Daniel and the Lions movie coming out soon. Here is the front of it.

Inside they were showing clips from the Daniel movie. They also had some lions that you could have your picture taken with. Here's a photo of one of the lion's going back into their den.

If anyone reading this blog had their photo taken with the lions, send it to me and I'll post it.

During some of the slower times, one of the lions would climb up on that ledge (you can see the edge of it in the far right of the photo) and stretch and growl. It was really a fun booth and a great idea.

Hansen Classics

Every year, Florence Hansen brings a work in progress and sculpts during the show. Last year, she was working on Freedom From Fear.

This year, she brought a piece in progress on Wednesday. Then apparently she was talking to someone at the convention about a new piece she was thinking of doing in honor of our men in the armed forces who gave their lives in combat. So on Thursday, she brought in a different block of clay and her model and got started on it. (This convention is a great source of inspiration for a lot of us.)

This newest piece is of a mother holding a folded flag to her heart, head bent, missing her son. In the photo above, Florence is working on the back of the mother's head. I'm looking forward to seeing this piece. I think it's very timely and will offer some comfort to mourning mothers everywhere.

Florence is such an amazing artist. I love to watch her work. And by the crowd that is usually standing around her, I'm not alone in that. One of the new pieces on display this year was Sleigh Ride! It was beautiful. You can see more of her work on the Hansen Classics website.

HaleStone Distribution (HaleStorm Entertainment)

In my opinion, this was the second most eye-catching booth at the convention. (Lightstone/Liken was #1.) HaleStone distributes the HaleStorm (DB link) movies like The Singles Ward and The R.M. It also distributes for several other related movie and entertainment companies, such as Thompson, Majestic and Hale Yeah!

Thompson has a bunch of family movies, but I can't find a weblink for you. I don't know very much about the other companies either--again, no link. I also don't know why this booth looks so empty in this photo or why there are no workers there. Every time I walked past it during the convention, it was crowded. Maybe this one was taken before the convention opened.

Granite Publishing

Granite Publishing had 6 booth spaces. This is from the side and back. I liked the simplicity of the thatched roofs on their pillars with book cover posters up and down the sides. Also the palm trees. That was cool.

The round tables and chairs that you can see in this photo were where the employees met with the bookstore buyers to take orders. They had their author signings around front. I hope someone sends me a photo of the front of their booth, because this one does not do it justice.

Accent Design

I believe this is Accent Design. They do a lot of the matted prints with quotations. Again, I could not find a direct link to their website, but this one takes you to their stuff on DB.com.

(Perhaps we need to have a class on establishing a web presence at the next Wholesaler's Seminar sponsored by the LDSBA.)

Cherished Moments

Had to make a run to the airport to send some authors home. Saw several other conventioneers catching their planes too. A few are staying through Education Week at BYU. In case you weren't sure, the LDSBA convention is intentionally planned to be the week before Education Week so that those who want to do so can make it to both, instead of having to choose to attend one or the other. Now back to our photos.

This is the Cherished Moments booth. I couldn't find their website, but here is a link to their products on DB.com. They sell some really cute bracelets for Young Women and CTR items.

Just past them you can see Latter-day Inspirations. They sell greeting cards and gift items with an LDS/Christian focus. Their cards are simple and minimalistic. I liked them.

Send Photos

Just a thought. If any other publishers, authors, vendors, bookstores, conventioneers, or whatever happen to read this blog and you have photos you'd like me to post here, please e-mail them to me. Format them for posting on the web before sending. And if you have any commentary to go with the photo, I'll post that too. Just let me know if you want your name, etc. posted with them.

Cedar Fort

This is one end of Cedar Fort's booth. They had a 10 booth space. That round thing above the middle of their booth has all their imprint/company logos on it, riding the top of that blue wave. I think it may have rotated. It was kind of cool, but some of the logos were too small and they were hard to read even when you were right up close. Which is too bad.

Note to CFI: next time, make your logos bigger and bolder.

You can barely see it in this photo--and I'm hoping someone will send me another photo of this booth from inside it--but they had plastic walls around their booth that had cascading water coming down the sides. That was kind of cool.

I think they were really brave to do the water thing. I mean, if one of the tubes or pipes sprung a leak, it would have sprayed all over the conventioneers and ruined a lot of CFI product, and possibly some product in the neighboring booths. However, as far as I know, it worked for them.

(We thought about having water in our booth, but decided against it due to the disaster potential.)

CFI also had these really cute plastic blow-up chairs with polka dots all over them. They looked nice and fun, but they were so low to the ground that I wouldn't have dared try to sit in them. It would have taken a crane to get me back up. I think a lot of people may have felt the same way, because out of the 200 times I walked past them, I never once saw anyone sitting in them.

Overall, I think CFI had an okay booth display, but it wasn't nearly as cool as their jungle themed one last year. That one was ULTRA-COOL! They had camoflage netting all over it. They were one of my favorites last year, but I don't have any photos of it. Sorry.


Here are two random aisles at the show.

Deseret Book Booth

I got some photos! I have several friends who are camera happy and they are going to be e-mailing photos to me over the next few days. I will post them and comment as I get them, so they may be a little disjointed. But then, the convention is a huge cacophony of noise and excitement and people hawking their wares, so the frenetic content of the next few days of posting will actually give you a sense of the feeling of being there. I hope.

Here is a photo of Deseret Book's booth. Since they are the biggest, and since I talked about them a little the other day, I'm posting them first.

This is just from one angle and it's the only one I have so far. It does not do the booth justice. But see the table and chair there on the left side of the photo? That's where the authors sit to do their signings. The bookstores get tickets that allow them to stand in line--sometimes for an hour or more--to meet the specific author and get a signed copy of their new book. There are a limited number of tickets and you have to have one to even stand within spitting distance of this area. Sometimes the line of ticket holders stretches all the way across the front of the booth. There are a couple of other signing nooks at the other corners of the booth. I may have photos of one of these lines coming later.

Also notice the big thingee (that's the technical term) at the top center of the photo. There is a giant reproduction of one of their new titles on each side of that. You can see that from anywhere in the convention hall. It's amazing.


Convention--D Day!

Just have a few minutes this morning.

The convention is held at South Towne Convention Center in Sandy, Utah. It goes from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday; from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, with an LDSBA member business meeting at 9:00 on Friday morning and a fun banquet with awards and entertainment on Thursday night.

We are encouraged to decorate our booths to fit the convention theme. Most do. It's fun to see everyone's take on it all. Here are a few descriptions. I will try to get pictures later, but I've been so busy that I've been forgetting.

Deseret Book Booth
Deseret Book has the biggest booth. It takes up 16 booth spaces, plus one aisle. To help you get an idea, a booth space is 10x10'. That means they had over 1600 square feet. That's bigger than my house! I didn't have a long time to browse their booth, just did a quick pass through. They go very classy with black walls and silver and glass displays and leather couches and chairs for people (read that, "buyers") to lounge in.

The outsides of their booths curve around on each corner to make a little alcove. This is where their authors sit to do their book signings. You can always tell when they have a big name in there doing a signing, because it goes dead on the rest of the floor.

They had Kenneth Cope (I think it was) and John Bytheway signing at the same time and it was dead from about 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday. I had two new authors doing a signing at that time. No one came to see them. It was dissappointing, but I had warned them ahead of time that it can happen. Since we don't have access to any of the other vendors' signing schedules, we make our own and hope for the best. But the authors didn't feel too bad about it. They were so overwhelmed with the experience. And they had a good time chatting with us and visiting other booths to just look at all the stuff. They were really good sports.

The rest of the day we were really busy.

Oops. Just looked at the clock. Got to go. More later.


Convention Countdown--Day "Eeeeeekk!"

Set up day (Tuesday).

It started out as such a lovely day. Got down to the office. Packed the truck in less than 30 minutes. Did a few leisurely office type things (pay bills, filled a few orders, chatted with an ex-employee who dropped in to say hello...). Then we headed off to the South Towne Convention Center in Sandy. Life was good.

We entered the convention hall around 10:00 a.m. It was such a beehive of activity. People bringing in their product, setting up their booths. The air was electric with excitement. And noise. Hammering. Buzz saws. Other miscellaneous bangs and booms.

We found our area and started to set up. Then we realized we'd left a major portion of our display back at the office. Another major part of the booth that was supposed to be available for pick-up early Tuesday morning, wasn't. These two parts had to go in first. None of the other pieces could be put together or set up until these were in place.

So back we went to the office for the one part. Then to the store to find a make-do for the other part. (I said a prayer of thanks that: 1] our office is very close by; not in Maine or Florida or even Manti; and 2] Sam Walton lived during my lifetime.)

We had planned to be done by 2:00 p.m., but didn't have all our pieces together until 3:00 p.m. After that it went fairly smoothly. Sort of.

We were out of there by 4:15 p.m. and went straight from there to one printer to get most of our remaining promo pieces. The receptionist said, "But you picked up all of your catalogs the other day. I don't have anything else left in the computer for you..." Fortunately, the printer was as disorganized as us. The jobs were there and done, just not in the computer.

And I probably shouldn't tell you this, but...lest you think I'm the only rattled, last minute publisher--while I was there at the printers another publisher arrived to get their stuff. And no less that four others were having their stuff still coming off the doc and being collated and folded and stapled and all that jazz. I just love it when I hear that. (Yes, I have an evil streak. Sorry.)

And I'm not the only one with the set-up problems. Another publisher and friend was cooling their heels waiting for product to be delivered to the convention hall. Another had left their backdrop at their office. Others couldn't get their carpet to fit. And all over the place I heard loud and very stressed voices saying things like, "Where is that xyz? I know I packed it!" and "That doesn't fit together right. Where is this piece supposed to go?" and "Where is so-and-so? They were supposed to be here an hour ago."

All that anxiety just makes it sweeter when your booth is done and you can step back and take a look at it and it looks good. But we weren't to that point yet. We had still more stuff to pick up.

So after we get the stuff from one printer, we go pick up stuff at another printer. That was all done and looked beautiful. Check off another thing from the list.

Went to pick up the 60 items from that never-to-be-named store which has employees who work for the devil (grumble, grumble--do I sound like Super Dale? [local joke])...first, "We only have 24 of them." Then we ask, "Is that counting the 22 that were on your shelf yesterday?" No. Duh. So then we were up to 46. "Well, we have some in clear, not frosted..." Desperate, we took those. Now we had 54. "Oh, and here are some black ones..." Took those too. Ended up with 58, which was close enough. So they go to collect them all, and "You're going to kill us. Those frosted ones you wanted aren't frosted after all. They're clear..."

At this point, I don't even care. And I'm in a hurry because, you know, I have a personal life too and I was late for a very important date. Rushed home--smelling like a construction worker. (I mean no offense to construction workers all over the world. I just don't particularly want to smell like one. My husband doesn't really like it when I smell like one either.) Anyway, hurried to get ready. Went to the event. Home around midnght (what was I thinking?!!) Two seconds after I fell asleep the alarm went off and it was CONVENTION DAY!!!

[P.S. I tried to get some photos on set-up day with the booths under construction, but they really turned out dark and you can't see anything. Sorry. Will try to get some during the convention itself.]

[P.P.S. Will report on the actual convention itself this weekend. Too busy to do more right now.]


Convention Countdown--Day "Oh My Gosh!"

What a weekend! What a day! I cannot believe that I have to set up the booth tomorrow and the convention starts on Wednesday. Someone please pinch me and wake me up, so I can realize it's only June and I still have plenty of time!

What? It really is convention week?

Oh dear.

So remember the 60 items we ordered from a particular store who promised they would be here today? We called to see when we could pick them up and (are you sitting down?), they said, and I quote, "You told us to cancel that order."

WHAT?!!? We most definitely did not! So they are scrambling to get the order together for us by tomorrow.

Then I went by the printer's to pick up our promo pieces. They said, and I quote, "Did you send us stuff over the weekend? Because our server went down and we don't have any record of you sending us anything. What was it? A catalog or something?"

I am not making this up. It was actually two catalogs (sent a week ago), three product flyers (sent Friday), and some other miscellaneous aren't-we-a-really-cool-company stuff (sent Saturday).

For those of you attending the convention, I will be the woman curled up in a fetal position in the corner of our booth, mumbling random thoughts and curses upon all the printers of the world.

Actually, that won't be much of an indicator. Earlier today, I was bemoaning my situation to a collegue in another company and their day is going as well as mine. And then another colleague, from still another company, was having a worse day then both of us put together.

Oh well. At least I will have all my new books on display, creatively or otherwise.

Who Do I Send My Submission To?

I have heard that it isn't a good idea to send out a manuscript "cold", that you should always send it to an editor. Is this actually so and how would I go about finding the name(s) of who to send the manuscript to? Just call the publisher and ask? Would be taking up valuable time and simply annoying them, thus decreasing the chances they would actually be interested in my book?

Never send your entire manuscript as your initial submission, unless the publisher/website specifically asks for it. This is a waste of money, time and our natural resources (ie: trees).

Send a query letter first. If you send a query addressed to just "XYZ Publishing" with no other indication of who it should go to, it may bounce around from desk to desk for awhile. Depending upon the size of the company, it may never reach the person who would be most likely to read it with a positive response.

First thing you do is check the publisher's website. Read their submission instructions very carefully. Follow them exactly.

If the website does not contain the name of the editor who accepts submissions for your genre, make a quick call to the company. A receptionist will answer the phone. Be prepared. Say this: "I would like to send a query letter for a [insert genre here]. Who should I address it to?"

The receptionist may ask you a few questions to further narrow down the type of book you are querying, then she/he will say either:
a. Send it to Ms. LDS Publisher; or
b. Send it to the Submissions Dept (or something like that); or
c. Just address it to XYZ Publishing and that will be good enough; or
d. We don't publish in that genre

You might also ask if you should send a summary and/or the first 10 pages of the manuscript with your query.

This conversation will take all of 2 minutes or less. It is not an incovenience or annoying. Answering questions like this is one of the reasons we hired the receptionist to begin with. The only time a call like this is detrimental is if you keep them on the phone for 20 minutes or longer asking questions about things that are already on their website, or are "common knowledge" (like, 'what exactly is a query letter'), or are argumentative ('what do you mean you don't publish fiction? I prayed about this and the spirit told me I should submit to you, so you should not only take my submission, but I know that if you are in tune with the spirit yourself, you will publish it, and if it doesn't sell well, it will be because you are a sinful heathen, and...')

Some companies prefer to get the entire book "cold." This phone call will help you determine that. I personally don't like getting a 500 page MS when I can tell after page 1 that I'm not interested and then it's just a waste of time, paper, money, etc. This is what I like to receive in the initial query:
--a 1 page well-written query letter
--a 1-2 page chapter by chapter summary (2-3 sentences per chapter of what happens)
--the first 10 pages of the novel, starting with chapter 1 (no title page, no acknowledgments or dedication info, no introduction or prologue)

Good luck.


Convention Countdown--Day 4

Put in 11 hours today. Created 16 posters and got them to the printer. That was such a pain. Making the posters wasn't a big deal. I know how to do that, so it only took a few hours. But Kinkos wanted the files to be the exact size that they were to be printed, so that means these were 100--200 MEG files. Each. They wouldn't go over their ftp site. I don't have 16 jump drives. So I had to burn them to CDs and it took almost three hours just to do that. Then I had to drive them down to Kinko's. Hadn't planned on a road trip.

I suppose I should be grateful that I have computers that can create the artwork as fast as they can, rather than complaining about how "slow" they are. But if I didn't whine and complain, I'd be nearly perfect--and I have this huge fear that I might accidentally get translated before I finish my novel, so...

What else did I do? Oh, while the CDs were burning on one computer, I did some work on another computer--catching up on e-mails, cleaning off my desktop, that kind of stuff.

Talked to some authors. Some of them need lots of hand-holding. They're nervous about the convention. I can understand that. I am too. A little. My first year, I was incredibly nervous. I didn't know what to expect. Now I've done it so many times, it should be old hat. But I still have nightmares--like I get there and I've forgotten to bring my entire display. Or none of my authors show up. Or it's a week later and I totally forgot to go.

I think I am just about ready for the convention. I have two more sheets to create, but they should be quick and easy, and I can send them to Kinko's on Monday.

After the trip to Kinkos, I went to Wal-Mart to get the last of the stuff I need for the display--except for the stuff that's on order from that other store, who promises they will be here in time. Also got some trash bags--we're all out at the office and we have overflowing trash bins. I know you probably imagine that we "have people" who take care of things like that. We do. I'm them.

So now I'm done (or done in) for the day. I'm pooped. So I'm turning off the computers and going to bed early. Goodnight.


Stat Counter


Quick question, if you've got a minute. You mentioned the other day that the stats on your blog have gone up since you started talking about LDSBA. How do you access the stats on Blogspot? I've gone through my settings a bazillion times and can't see where to find them for my site.


What does this have to do with writing, you ask? Lots.

Every writer should have a website.

Every website needs a stat counter.

If you don't know what a stat counter is, it's the little box down at the bottom right that at this moment says 904. That is the number of people who have visited this site since I installed the counter in May or June--can't remember when.

Anyway, Blogspot doesn't have stat counters. Or if they do, I don't know where. I got this one at StatCounter.com. I use the freebie, because I'm cheap. Just go to the site and follow the instructions to create one of your own. Then you have to insert it into the template code of your blog or website. I had to mess with it a bit to get it right, but it wasn't too hard. This particular stat counter code gives you a variety of information that I don't know how to interpret. But the part I do understand tells me how many of you hit my site each day, how many pages you looked at while you were there, the average amount of time spent looking at my site and the general area of the world you come from. Kind of cool.

Convention Countdown--Day 5

Finished my catalog and got it off to the printer. (3.25 hours) I was feeling really bad about how behind I was on this project. (Yes, I'm the kind of person who thinks they're late if they're not 10 minutes early, but still...I really am behind this time.) Anyway, I was feeling bad about this, and what an unprofessional reflection this was upon me, when I discovered that one of my colleagues is even further behind on their catalog! I had to choke back a cackle of glee--not over their misfortune, but...well, let's be honest. It was over their misfortune. Misery loves company, what can I say?

Talked with a couple of authors about last minute convention details. Finished our promo pieces--well, actually, I just looked at the finished pieces. My employees had to put them all together. They look pretty cool, even if they are a last minute throw-together. Got a couple of compliments on them from non-employees (aka people who don't have to suck up to keep their jobs). That made me feel better. I always feel like a nerd when I'm trying to create visual displays. Flat surfaces (like paper), I do okay with; but for 3-D objects, I'm about as creative as a rock.

Put together another marketing piece (5 hours). Have to proof it tomorrow morning and send it to the press. Then I only have one more page of show specials to put together. And the posters--all the new book covers. That shouldn't be too hard. (Knock on wood.)

Now I have to go because there's a bowl of ice cream calling my name.


Convention Countdown--Day 6?

I keep getting my day count off. I can't imagine why...

13 hours today. I don't have it all detailed out. I did a lot of e-mailing, a few phone calls. Touched base with some employees to make sure they were all on track with their convention assignments. We needed 60 of a particular item and the store had less than 20. They've promised they'll have the rest in by Monday. Do we believe them?

I lost a distribution contract I was really hoping I'd get. Darn. It was a national product that would come with an existing customer base. We left it on good terms. That's really important. I've had more than one deal come through a year or two down the road after I thought the chance was gone.

That was balanced out by another contract for that really cool product I mentioned awhile back. Yea!

Spent most of the day working on promotional materials--product cards, bookmarks, catalogs and other stuff to give out at the convention.

I have authors starting to arrive from out of town tomorrow. I need to get them to their motels, make sure they have everything they need. I will not be playing tour guide, but still, I want them to be able to see some fun Utah things while they're here.

Also tomorrow I have relatives passing through who want to stop by and visit for an hour or two. And one of my dear, dear friends called and has cleaned out her clothes closet. She's coming down from Salt Lake with several boxes of hand-me-downs---for me. I love it when she cleans out her closets. It's more fun than Christmas. It doesn't matter how busy I am. I'll drop everything for free new clothes. :)

Another author is coming in to stuff that messed up product. Hopefully she can do it in one day. If not, her husband will come down on Saturday to finish the job.

And somewhere in the back of my mind is this nagging feeling that I've forgotten something important. I hate it when that happens. I never know until it's too late whether I really have forgotten something, or it's just a case of nerves.


Convention Countdown--Day 9

Today was Plan the Booth Day. Yesterday I did some looking around and pricing out booth display furniture, getting some ideas. All the display stuff we've used in previous years is totally hammered, so we need to come up with something new.

Today we set up the basic booth layout, arranged the tables and chairs, etc. Then I went to Wal-Mart for a bunch of stuff. Was only able to find some of it. (5.25 hours)

Then I went to one printer to pick up the last of the books and the insert for the one product that was messed up. Sent an employee to another printer to pick up the stuff there. (1.50 hours for me; not sure how long it took her, but I'm sure it was longer. I only had one place to go. She had about 5 places to hit.)

Came home and took a siesta. It's just too darn hot. Now I'm back at work. Still haven't finished all my promotional materials. Working on those as soon as I post this.

Tick-tick-tick. I feel like Capt. Hook.


Queries That Work

Here is a new blog by an author* whose agent just sold her debut novel to Bantam. She posts two successful query letters.

And here is what her agent said about her query.

BTW, I read PubRants daily. You can get a lot of good info from this blog. I highly recommend it.

*Caution--If you go to Sherry Thomas' website, be warned that she writes romance and there are some explicit scenes. I stopped reading as soon as I hit those. My endorsement here is of her sample query letters ONLY.


What Is Wrong with This Query?

This is a test. Below is a query I actually received (with all the particulars changed). If you've been paying attention, you should be able to tell me what's wrong with it.

Dear Manager,

I am an addictions counselor who leads workshops and group sessions with LDS addicts. I am frequently asked how some of the aspects of addiction and recovery correspond with the teachings of the LDS church. Therefore, I have written several essays addressing these issues.

Please let me know if your company would be interested in in helping me with its publication. I have enclosed a Table of Contents so that you may see the concepts and ideas addressed in my book.

Jane Doe

This is followed by a full sized title page.

Then a Table of Contents listing Part I (with 9 chapters), Part II (with 6 chapters), Part III (with 1 chapter), and Part IV (an Appendix with 7 chapters).

Post your comments, telling me where this woman went wrong. Later on this week, I'll post a follow-up.

Convention Countdown--Day 10

What a flurry of pre-convention activity! I've received several phone calls from colleagues today. "What are you doing in your booth?" "Where can I get cheap carpet?" "What do you think about..?"

I love that I can call these people colleagues and friends, and not competitors, as most people would label us. Of course, there is some competitiveness in the industry--there are a few companies that have a very hard-nosed, business-minded, take no prisoners approach to things. Fortunately, I've never found myself on the short end of an interaction with them.

But there are a handful of fun, friendly and supportive publishers that I am pleased to call my friends. I suppose that on some level we compete for the same product, the same authors and titles. But we don't fight. We don't backstab. We just do our business with integrity, make our offers and let the best man (or woman) win.

Sometimes, I get the contract. I like it when that happens. Sometimes I don't. When that happens, I get to re-evaluate my company, our policies and determine where changes need to be made so that I can better fill the needs of my authors and perhaps get the next contract I go after.

Back to convention preparations--

Received two pallets of new product today. That leaves only one more product shipment and then I'll be done. Yea!

There were 12 items on my "Must Do Today" list. I got three of them done. Press proofs for our promo pieces were not ready. Hopefully they will be ready tomorrow. We need to get them put together.

Catching up on e-mails and other messages that came in over the weekend. (1 hour)

Finished the proposal and first draft of the contract for the cool project I'm still negotiating for. Even if we can't work it out so that I am the #1 worldwide distributor for this product, I can still distribute it to the LDS market so it will be in the booth. I sent off an e-mail with all the contracts and spreadsheets attached. We are doing a conference call later this week. (3.25 hours)

Started on the catalog. (2.25 hours)

Took a break to do family things. One kid just got home from camp. One kid leaves for camp tomorrow. Do you know how hard it is to find a modest 1-piece swimsuit, that fits, in the "right" style and colors, this late in the season? Or at any time, for that matter. Ends up we're borrowing a tankini and using a long thick t-shirt as a cover-up. So frustrating.

I still have about 4 hours of work I need to put in tonight. I have a product list spreadsheet that has to be done by tomorrow. And it would be really good if I could at least get the catalog sketched out.


Convention Countdown--Day 11

Stats have jumped on this site since I started the Convention Countdown. Is this topic really that interesting? When I started it, I was letting off steam. The next day, I felt bad about that and was going to delete the post entirely, but--surprise!--there were positive comments about it. So I guess I'll continue the update until I get comments otherwise.

I will not be "working" today or tomorrow because I have some family events that require my physical presence, and at least half my attention. These people who have lived with me during the entire time that I've been a publisher stilll seem to think that summer is for vacations and fun and trips to the water park and theme parks and shopping and all. I tell them, "No, summer is for conventions and publishing. Go watch a video." But they mutinied. And I either have to have fun this weekend or walk the plank. (Actually, they threatened to feed me to the Kraken.)

But back to the convention. Each year, the convention has a theme. This year it's "Riding the Wave into the Future." Here's the convention logo. Isn't it pretty?

We are encouraged to decorate our booths to reflect the theme. They even have prizes for the best decorated booths. We never win. I'm not that creative. I have no idea what we're going to do in our booth yet. That is next week's task. If you have any ideas for something cheap and easy, let me know ASAP.

This year is also the 25th anniversary of the association. What a huge milestone. I love this association. The people who are part of it are very committed to helping the industry grow and succeed. They have a passion for what they do; they're excited about it. I think it's a great vehical for helping vendors and buyers get to know each other on a personal basis. It makes selling and shopping easier for everyone. It also helps small publishers network together, sharing ideas, resources, problem-solving together. It's a wonderful thing. I hope it lasts another 25 years.

(And anyone who says that the association has a hidden political agenda, or that it's run by Deseret Book, or any of that other nonsense needs to go have their meds checked.)


Convention Countdown--Day 12

Someone asked for a breakdown of my day, so here it is:

Paid bills; returned phone calls & e-mails. I've been trying to reach one of my authors for a week now. She isn't returning my phone calls or e-mails. Wondering if she's on vacation; wishing I was. (2 hours)

Went to the printer #1 and did a press check. They told me it was done yesterday (remember, I forgot to go). When I got there it wasn't ready and she said it would be done in an hour. Like I have time to wait around for an hour. So I was grumpy and they got it together in 10 minutes. Looks pretty good. Should be ready by Monday. (1 hour)

Printer #2 called and said there was a problem with my files. Where was the booklet; they could only find the cover. Of course, I'm in the car, not at my office and can't resend the files. They called back. They just looked at page one; didn't realize it was a 24 page document. That was a wasted panic attack. Forced to self-medicate with a candy bar. (15 minutes)

More phone calls; more e-mails. Finally worked up the courage to tell my author the release date is delayed. He wasn't too upset. Worked on promotional pieces for convention; sent them to the printer #1. (3 hours)

Went to printer #2 for the press check. They expect to have this piece done by Tuesday, so we can open packages, insert them and reseal the packages on Wednesday. I say "we" but I really mean the author. While I was there, checked on the progress of a book that I expected to be done last week. It's printed and bound; just needs to be trimmed. (1 hour)

More phone calls; more e-mails. Negotiating for the cool new product; writing a proposal; adjusting the contract; trying to figure out how to make a seamless transition. (Impossible.) Wondering if it's worth the trouble. (6.25 hours)

Total Workday: 13.5 hours.

We're not counting the time spent to create this blog. That's not work, it's fun.

I will be so glad when the convention is over.


Convention Countdown--Day 13

Either my count is off, or I was abducted by aliens and lost a day.

Today I created and sent 4 promo items to press. I created two more, but am waiting for two pieces of artwork and an author's e-mail address before I can send those off. I still need to do my main catalog and order form. I have never been this far behind before. Still trying to figure out how that happened. The alien abduction theory is becoming more credible.

I was supposed to go do a press proof on a book this afternoon. I remembered it at 7:00 p.m. Ooops.

Trying to negotiate a last minute distribution deal for a really cool product. The publisher keeps sending me conflicting information. I would love to have this at the convention, but I don't think we're going to have all the details ironed out in time.

Visited with some colleagues, sharing ideas for new product. That was fun. One of them is passing an author over to me because they don't publish in that genre. I don't either, but I want to. I've recommended other publishers to authors when I am the wrong one for what they're writing. While some companies are very competitive and won't share leads, others are very open and friendly and care more about helping the author get published than preventing the competition from getting ahead.

Total hours worked: 15. One of those colleagues called me a workaholic today. Hah! Only when I have to be. Come September, I'm back to normal work days.

That's Long Enough to Have a Baby!

I've had a manuscript at an LDS house for quite some time. I haven't heard anything on it since November 2005. Would it be acceptable to contact the publisher after the convention and inquire on the status of my manuscript or keep waiting? Since I've already broken the rule of sending this same publisher a second manuscript (wish I'd had your advice before I did that) I don't want to make another mistake, but I'd like to know if my manuscript is still under consideration.

Thank you.

They've had it 9 months? You can grow a baby in that amount of time! No way should a submission review take that long. Yes, give them a couple of weeks to get through the convention, and then call and politely ask the status of your manuscript. You've been patient enough.

Unless their website says their normal submission process takes 9 months (and if it does, rethink submitting to them), anything more than 3 months on a basic query, or 6 months on a full, is a sign that something has gone wrong--either it never made it to them, or it's lost on someone's desk, or your rejection is lost in the mail. And I say rejection, because if they were going to accept, they would probably call you.

In the future, when you submit, make a note of what the publisher says is their usual response time. You can usually find this on their website. Then add 3 weeks. If you haven't heard from them by that date, then by all means, you may call and inquire.


Timing Your Submissions

I've previously said that it didn't really matter when you submitted your manuscripts--and in one sense, that's still true. You can submit whenever you want, but you may not get read in a timely manner. If you want a reasonably fast reply, July and August might not be the best time to submit to LDS publishers, especially the smaller ones.

For example, I'm still accepting submissions and people are still sending them, but those that arrived after the middle of July are still sitting unopened on my desk. And they will continue to sit there until after the convention.

Maybe this is not an issue in the bigger houses, where you have one job description per employee. But in the smaller houses (defined as fewer than 6 employees), everyone is working on last minute convention activities. This is the time we temporarily stop looking for new stuff and concentrate on selling what we have.

So, if you've submitted to any LDS publisher in the past 30 days and haven't gotten a reply, wait at least until September 1st before giving them a nudge.


Convention Countdown--Day 15

Today I made a huge wall chart where I listed everything I need to do before the convention, and then wrote in the number of hours each of the items would take. If I don't eat or sleep for the next two weeks, I still can't do it all.

I delegated some of it. I'd love to delegate even more of it, but the last job I delegated got messed up so bad that it took me longer to fix it then it would have taken had I done it myself.

There are days when I really don't like my job. I have an associate who keeps telling me that she'd make more money being a greeter at Wal-Mart then she makes in publishing. Today, I'm thinking we should go be greeters together.

But you know, I refuse to end my day in a low note. So, good things that happened today:

1. Finally got the bid from the printer on the rush job. The author should have the proofs back to me tomorrow morning. Press tomorrow afternoon.

2. Got that stalled project out of typesetting. It goes to the press tomorrow too, I think.

3. Successfully avoided making that dissapointing phone call to my author. I keep hoping I'll suddenly find myself cloned and one of me can still get the book ready while the other of me does everything else.

4. Added a new link under Writing Tips. Looks good. Go check it out.

5. Didn't get hit by any of the gigantic hail that ravaged south west Provo today. Nothing big blew over onto my house or office. And I didn't get hit by lighting.

6. One of my kids who is off at summer camp just texted me to say goodnight.

That makes it all better. Life is good.