2/28/07

In Search of the LDS Masterpiece

In my experience, LDS publishers and critics repeatedly ask "when will a mormon author produce an LDS masterpiece" meanwhile, back at the office they're nickel and diming those "run of the mill" mormon authors to death. Is if fair to ask when will LDS publishers begin treating LDS authors like professionals?

The flippant answer is: when LDS authors start submitting professional quality manuscripts and when LDS readers start demanding it.

As rude as that sounds, however, it is also the true answer.

There is a customer base that is demanding LDS literature. There are not enough quality LDS manuscripts being submitted to meet that demand. Publishers fill the gap with "run of the mill" books, which the customers accept. Publishers will increase the quality of their output when they have a greater selection of high quality manuscripts to choose from. No publisher ever says, "I think I'll publish this mediocre manuscript even though I have several really high quality ones here on my desk." They always pick the best from what they have.

It takes a lot more money and effort to take one of these "run of the mill" manuscripts and really polish it until it shines. Unfortunately, an increased investment of money and effort rarely pays off in significantly increased sales.

Let's say that if you spend $200 for editing, you can sell 2,000 books. Or you can spend $1,000 in editing, and sell 3,000 books. The investment just doesn't pay out. Publishers will start putting their money into editing when it becomes cost effective--for example, when that $1,000 corresponds to sales of 10,000 copies.

As long as the customers continue to buy mediocre books at acceptable levels, publishers will continue to accept mediocre manuscripts. And unfortunately, some publishers don't care as much about quality as they should. They crank out really bad books, slap a pretty cover on it so it will sell, and they don't care that it's embarrassingly sub par. Other publishers think they're putting out high quality product, and they're really not.

On the other hand, there are some publishers who are really committed to raising the bar for LDS fiction and fortunately, the industry as a whole is moving in that direction. It's just moving slower than some of us would like.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

That isn't entirely true LDS publisher. The largest LDS publishers which produce most of the LDs words prefer to contract with an author who can turn around a novel in six months--as long as the material is minimally decent, they publish it. Once they invest money in the name of an author they are more likely to ask that author to become prolific rather than professional. They are much more concerned about marketing, cover design and name recognition than they are about quality mansurcripts. They push their authors to submit sub-standard stuff in a short time frame rather than superior work that may require more effort over a longer period of time. There is no patience with a learning curve, no increased demand for technical superiority, no simmering of ideas, no raising of the bar---which many of their authors are cabable of doing, but sadly are not required to do because it is not profitable to have an author take two years on a project. Loss of name recognition or patience with developing an inventive idea into a superior work of literature does not fit their business plan. They are also less likely to accept a superior work in the same genre if it requires a substantial investment in name recognition and two years plus time in the market for their advertising to develop a readership. You can say all you like about superior submissions, but there is equal blame for LDS publishers to share, especially by the littlest big LDS publisher who sadly, invests in nickel and dimers who turn around a novel in six months, rather than an artist who requires a year or more to perfect a manuscript. The blame, my dear LDS publisher, is in part, yours. You really don't want great artist. Your business plan, at least at the bigger LDS publishing houses, is all about prolific not professional.

LDS Publisher said...

Okay, I'll accept that criticism on behalf of the industry. You are right. I admitted to that in the post (see next to last paragraph).

Some publishers are only interested in money and cranking stuff out as fast as they can. But this is also an issue in the national market. Many national publishers want their authors to crank out an annual book.

Perhaps I don't speak for the entire industry when I say high quality writing will win out. It does at my house. I will take a new author with an excellent book over a tired author who is sending me mediocre work. Of course, I try to encourage that great new author to produce on a yearly basis, but I'd rather push back a deadline than sacrifice quality.

My point is, there are two sides to this issue and it's not ALL the publishers' fault. If LDS book buyers refused to buy the crap (sorry, no polite way to phrase that), then publishers would be forced to revisit the quality of their product.

I think that would be a good thing.

Jeff Savage said...

In my opinion the search for the “Mormon Masterpiece” is extremely old and usually promoted by people who think they have written the great work themselves, but publishers don’t appreciate them.

First of all, let’s start with a definition of a “Mormon Masterpiece.” Obviously it must be Literary with a capital L. How could the great Mormon Masterpiece be something like a mystery, a thriller, or—heaven forbid—a romance? Of course it must be difficult to comprehend, because the masses should not be able to appreciate it. And it must push the envelope, meaning it needs to contain language and scenes which would get it kicked out of DB and Seagull stores. Lastly, it must be written by either someone with several letters after their name of someone who has left the church (extra points if they qualify for both.)

The people who push for a masterpiece are not even willing to consider that several have already been published. I believe that OSC’s “Saints” certainly qualifies. I also believe that Lund’s epic series “The Work and the Glory” qualifies. Of course I also think several lesser known books rank high up there as well, but that’s just me.

Realistically though, no one is going to agree on what constitutes a MMP. So let’s move on to the question of the quality of LDS works. I believe the quality of LDS fiction is higher than it has ever been, and that it rivals much of what is published in the national market. This drivel about how publishers don’t care about quality but only name is exactly that. Every year, LDS publisher introduce new and interesting authors. They take a chance on these authors because they believe the quality of writing, story, and voice, are interesting enough to attract new readers.

Only a handful of authors actually publish multiple books in one year and that is because they need to in order to earn a decent wage. Not because the publisher is pushing them to fill the shelves with a glut of books. I have spoken with pretty much every LDS publisher out there and I can tell you for a fact that not one of them would tell an author to write crap in six months rather than taking twelve months to write a superior work. However, I will say an author who takes much more than 12 months to come out a new book risks losing their following in the LDS market just as they do in the national market. (Unless you are a NYT bestseller type author.)

LDS publishers have tried a slew of different book types—SciFi, Fantasy, Literature, Middle grade, YA, Historical. You name it. What have they stuck with? The books you readers actually buy! Only niche publishers, who don’t care about making a profit, are going to publish something because of artistic merit, if it won’t sell. On the other hand, if an author can consistently sell 25k+ copies of an LDS book, they can write just about whatever they want and tell the editor what they can do with their edits. Hmm sounds a lot like the rest of the world.

The last issue about treating LDS publishers like professionals is just ill-informed. You can’t compare an LDS publisher to someone like Random House or Bantam. The dollars are just not the same. And if you compare smaller LDS publishers to the other publishers of their size, you will find they are just about the same in how they work.

In my experience, a typical first or second time author with a smaller LDS publisher (CFI, Granite, Spring Creek, Rosehaven, etc) can expect to sell in the neighborhood of 500-2000 books. A Covenant author can expect to sell in the ballpark of 5,000 books. DB’s numbers can be higher depending on the imprint, name, type of book, and promotion.

So let’s say you are with CFI and you sell 1,000 books. After all their expenses, the publisher clears maybe $5,000? But probably less. Then you get ticked off because they won’t give you a multi-city tour or pay you the money you “deserve.” Of and you don’t understand why they don’t give you more personal attention when you are one of twenty authors they need to have just to clear $100k.

The solution is very simple. Either a: Live with then fact that you are not publishing with one of the big 7 and expect to get your hands dirty for not much money. b: Work your tail off promoting your book and get more attention from your publisher. Or c: Go somewhere else. If your work is that good, you should have no problem getting a big publisher to snatch you up.

I know this sounds kind of cold hearted, but I don’t think enough people really understand that publishing is a business with a bottom line. You might think of yourself as an artist, but the truth of the matter is that you are manufacturing a product for sale. If you want more money, sell more product. Don’t moan that the publisher is mean.

Anonymous said...

Jeff: You're looney. Your thrillers are the MMP waiting to be discovered.

How many years did it take that economics prof. to write Lord of the Rings? That would be literature with a small "l"---something even Legolis would read aloud to the masses. The answer is half a lifetime or 17 years depending on whichever literati historian you talk to.

It isn't the length of time it takes to write a great novel the masses will love--its the fact that every novel requires its own time. And its partially dependent, among other factors, on the author's situation, the author's complex set of always improving skills, her health, his height and grade of learning curve and that nasty little demon called work ethic. Too many factors to name figure into the calculation and that's what drives publishers crazy. Why can't author x (who drives us crazy with her goofy writing habits) be more like author y (who we can always count on for a solid manusript every 9.7 months).

If its true that LDS authors and their fiction have been getting better and better and have achieved a rather good level of competence, nay, professionalism (something I believe to be the case), is it just possible that LDS publishers haven't matured in their author relations department at the same rate that authors have upped their professionalism?

You need look no further than the Covenant contract with its right of first refusal--still no change in their author relations department even after being purchased by Deseret Book. You, Mr. Savage, may have negotiated a sweet non-right of first refusal with Covenant with a seven year claus, but the poor wretches who didn't have a clue about the ruthless business side of publishing are still enslaved by the a publisher who never could get over their narcistic fears of losing authors to Deseret Book. Covenant still has a host of authors with a ball and chain tied around their necks without any emanicaptation proclamation on the horizon. If Covenant is any indication of the professionalism with which LDS publishers treat authors, then the evangelical free press is looking better, if not down right righteous, more and more everyday. I would have to say you're wrong in your analysis. LDS publishers have yet to grow up.

Anonymous said...

What qualifies as a "masterpiece" in the LDS market?

Would a publisher really publish a book by an unknown instead of an author with name recognition if the manuscripts were similar, or even if the ms from the unknown was better? If a publisher has invested in an author, isn't it more likely to publish that author again than to take a chance on an unknown?

Jeff Savage said...

You guys are awesome! Here I wrote the MMP and I didn’t even know it. (uh, huh, right!) A couple of thoughts on the nefarious, notorious, cantankerous, Covenant contract.

First of all, the contract I have today with Covenant is the same one I negotiated before I published my first book. There have been a couple of minor changes, but ROFR is still basically the same. The only thing this contract keeps me from doing is writing an LDS book and selling it to DB. That’s it. Yes it also applies to other LDS publishers. But why would I leave one of the top two for a smaller publisher? If I write a non-LDS book, I can offer it to anyone I want.

Now, I love DB. Sherry has put together an awesome team there. But so has Covenant, and with the way I have been treated, I wouldn’t take my LDS fiction anywhere else anyway. So how are my hands tied? I have never once felt that Covenant kept from doing what I wanted to do.

As far as big name authors (of which I am not one.) Of course a publisher will promote their name authors first. That’s the reason a publisher wants you to stick with them after they invest money and time in you. But at the same time, publishers are always looking for the next big thing. Go browse an LDS bookstore and look at how much fiction has been published by people you’ve never heard of. If your book is only as good as Betty Bigname, you may lose out to her. But if you write a great book, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never published before.

Remember, every author you read had to publish a first book at one time in their career.

Anonymous said...

It's that first book that seems so hard . . .

Darvell Hunt said...

>Remember, every author you read had to publish a first book at one time in their career.

I plan on publishing two second novels instead of a first novel. LOL. (I'm kidding, okay? It's Friday, I can do that.)

Darvell

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I love your writing--even in your posts! Knowledge and humor both. Thank you. No wonder you are successful! I agree with anonymous: you're writing some of those few but wonderful MMPs. Keep it up.

Darvell, I hope your two second novels wind up there, too! And soon!

Anonymous said...

Jeff: Have you lost your patriotic vigor? Has relative financial stability reduced your sensibilites for the founding principles of the economy that has gotten you a comfortable living? Or did you sell your MMP and make it big? I choose option three and that's my final answer with, of course, the following exception.

I apprecaite your anecdotal experiences at Covenant, but they are just that, anecdotal. Personal experience from a single author. And they are far from explaning or examining the experiences of others. Regardless of how amicable your relationship with Covenant, or how dominant they are in the market, they still own the plantation and the human resources that go with their business. Don't you get a little tired, if not outright annoyed, at being considered Covenant property?

What happens if an author has a disagreement over remuneratrion? What if an author gets a better deal somwhere else and the ROFR prevents it? What if another publisher is scared off (and they are) by any author wrapped in the chains of the Covenant ROFR? What happens if an author tries to leave the plantation, but that dar Covenant lawyer threatens to whip them into submission with a ROFR lawsuit? What if an author disagress with the editing of their novel? What if the author has personal differences with the publisher, feels uncomfortable with their business practices or, heaven forbid, management swears at them, coerces them or intimidates them into submitting to their contract without negotiatons? And what about the fear factor? How many timid authors allow the ROFR to keep them from approaching management to negotiate changes to their publishing agreement?

There are myriad of possbilities that would inspire an author to want to leave Covenant. What do you do if they refuse to allow it? Your sunny outlook on the ROFR is like the southern slave holders who provided decent living conditions, food, and a policy that allowed families to remain together until the owners got upset or had a really good offer for the oldest child from the plantation down the road a piece. Plantation owners once argued that no slave would want to risk leaving and end up in the ghettos with poor housing and gleavning the fields by night to put food on the table.

Why would an author want to leave Covenant? Freedom. Its that important. The revolutionary war wasn't fought by businessmen seeking financial stability. And emancipation proclamation wasn't written by a president concerned over the market. You can be the poster child for the Covenant Plantation. I'd rather take my chances and risk standing in a soup line.

Anonymous said...

Why would an author not want to write for Covenant? Their right of first refusal in their contract is opressive, its anti-free market, and it sucks.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Covenant just abolish their ROFR clause? They don't need it anymore. The big bad Deseret Book wolf has been caged. They can let go of their paranoia. Or is control over their authors that hard of a habit to break?

Anonymous said...

Wow. I didn't know Covenant was that terrible of publishing house. Do they really have a right of first refusal clause? Yuck. I'll think twice before submitting to them. Give me freedom before you give me a book deal.

Anonymous said...

What does Deseret Book think of the ROFR clasue at Covenant, especially now that they own the little upstart?

Jeff Savage said...

Anon, thanks for the plug.

Dang, I swore I would never kowtow to the man. All that money must have gone to my head. No, wait it went to college tuition and credit cards.

Let me see if I can state my feelings more clearly.

Do I like the Covenant ROFR clause? Of course not. Who would? What I’d like is a contract that says, “We will pay you lots of money, you don’t have to do any marketing, and you can write whatever you want, whenever you want.”

That being said, this is the real world and that’s not likely to happen. Originally Covenant did not have this clause. But the problem was that they kept losing their best authors to DB. DB has more stores, deeper pockets, and an implied church connection. But how are you going to succeed as a publisher if you keep spending your marketing dollars to build up an author only to have them leave for another publisher?

Note I am not talking about going to a different publisher to do something else here. Nationals are a whole different ballgame and you should NOT have a ROFR clause which applies to national publishers. Covenant did away with that.

Personally I have found Covenant to be very good to work with. I have not wanted to leave—although I would like a better royalty plan if you guys are listening! But it has also been my experience that if you really want to lave Covenant you can. They don’t want authors that don’t want to work with them. But don’t ask to come back down the road.

If you don’t like Covenant’s contract, you have any easy out. Don’t sign with them. Go to any of the other publishers and don’t worry about it. But what I see a lot is people who say, I want to sign with Covenant because they publish a lot of fiction and they do a good job of promoting their authors but then I want to be able to dump them any time we disagree on something. I think that’s pretty weak and it’s certainly not a relationship I’d want to go into.

My hope is that down the road, with the merger of Covenant and DB, we’ll see authors freely moving between DB and Covenant. If that happened, the ROFR clause could go away. It makes sense to me. Of course, just so you know, DB has a ROFR too, at least for your next book.

In the mean time, I guess I’ll just go back to picking cotton.

BTW, if you're not already planning on it, consider coming to the LDSStorymakers Writing Conference.

http://www.ldstorymakers.com/conference.html

I'll be teaching a couple of classes, we'll have LDS publishers there. And I'll be happy to debate this issue in person with you all afternoon. Then we can move onto why I hate SASEs.

Anonymous said...

I've tried to escape. They won't let me go. They won't even return a phone call or an email.

My next book? What exactly would that be? Let My People Go?

The LDS storymakers conference is, sadly, scheduled at the wrong time. I have a ROFR imposed real job---no vacation, no days off, and no benefits. If only I could get a non-Covenant contract with no ROFR and a pay raise to something like, say, .47 cents per copy. I tried to negotiate for a half dollar per book and all I got was forty lashes with a glass imbeded ROFR and a week locked in a cotton gin.

FREEDOM!

Jeff Savage said...

E-mail me offline. jsavage@jeffreysavage.com. I can't imagine you making less than $0.50 per book. I never have. I'd like to hear how hard you tried to get out of your contract.

Anonymous said...

Jeff: Do you think you know who anon is? (that would be me)...

Jeff Savage said...

I have a thought. But no I don't know for sure.

Anonymous said...

Jeff,
I didn't realize LDS publishers would be at the LDStorymakers Conference. Where can we go to find out which publishers will be there? Will we be able to meet them?

And, your outlining class, is that only for published authors since it does say "advanced"?

Thanks.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Huh, my comment didn't come up. Hope this doesn't appear twice.

Anyway, what I was trying to say is that I'll answer this for Jeff, since he hasn't yet.

We don't know for sure which publishers will be there yet. Keep your eyes on http://www.ldstorymakers.com and we'll get the list posted as soon as we know.

Secondly, you do not have to be a published author to attend an advanced class. Essentially, we call it an advanced class because we assume you are ready to tackle some real meat.

Anonymous said...

I have a question. LDS Publisher, I would like to see you post a blog about what, in your opinion, LDS authors can do to increase their quality of writing. I'm whacking my head against the wall to drag the very best of myself onto the page, and yet I still seem to be falling short. What does a publisher look for that they're not finding?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tristi. I'll keep checking the website for the list.

I'm glad there'll be some "meaty" classes. I'm looking forward to the conference.

Rebecca Talley

Josi said...

Think of me as the urchin on the street that comes in after both parties
have called a truce--

But I have a couple comments

First, I know many writers that have their 'masterpiece' they are working on for years and years, but in the meantime they publish other books to keep the name recognition which in a market as small as ours is imperative. Smart move.

Second, Jeff Savage is one of the hardest and smartest working authors I have ever met and has helped me see the publishing industry in a completely
different light. He isn't writing what he considers to be his masterpiece,though they might well be, he is writing what the market wants to read and what his publisher wants to sell--most writers write what they want to write and what they think their publisher SHOULD want to sell. Jeff has taken himself out of the equation and made it about them, not him. He then goes out and markets like crazy. He's in a position that he could easily say he won't do it, he's big enough not to, but he doesn't. He works a signing like you can't believe, he's visual on blogs all over the internet, he presents, he mentors, he takes every opportunity presented to him because he knows
that artistry and talent aside, this is a business and it's about the money.If he made .50 a book, he's simply determine to sell twice as many books. He has adjusted his skill to meet the two aspects of being published that are most important--the publisher and the reader. His attitude is different--hence his success and his acking feet. If more authors were like Jeff we'd all be selling a lot more books and a lot more people would be reading it. Publishing is a buisness, period and until authors realize that
they will continue to be frustrated--Myself included. I really thought getting published would take away the fear of rejection and the worry of whether I was good enough. It's worse than it ever was before. My daughter asked me the other day what my goals were with writing and my only goal is to keep doing what I'm doing but get better at it. She thought htat was awefully anticlamatic.

Also, if you're published with Covenant you meet the jointing requrements of LDStorymakers. We're a group of 50 published authors that have written a book on writing and a book on publishign, put on this conference for 4 years now, do group signings and work hard to help each of us find new readership and improve the quality of their writing. I owe my career to this group and how much I have learned from them. If you're intersted, e-mail me at kilpack@gmail.com I'd be more than happy to tell you more about it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Josi, but it isn't just about the reader and the publisher. And it isn't about masterpieces or 50 cents or putting out prolific material that keeps you visible in the small LDS market.

What if an author simply wants to be free of their publisher, but sadly, they can't leave because of a ROFR which the publisher refuses to alter and refuses to let you go, no matter how nicely or how many times you grovel, beg, plead for mercy and for freedom. Then what? No aching feet, working the crowd at book signings, being "omnipresent" on the web, and marketing the pants off everyone (you go Jeff) fixes that little problem. Thanks for the sermon. It will do wonders for the choir.

Jeff Savage said...

Thanks, Josi. Let me just say that Josi was a tough convert to the idea of hard-core marketing, but she is one of the very best. And it doesn't hurt that her books are awesome.

Anon, if you are who I think you are you have sold many more Covenant books and made more money doing it that I can ever hope to. Have you conisdered giving up the fight to leave and concentrating and writing and selling more books with Covenant? I miss your books and I know many others do as well.

The only reason you are making fifty cents is because your books are now selling at clearance prices.

Sincerely,

A fan

Anonymous said...

Jeff: if you knew the deep waters I've treaded, freedom seems so much better than a paycheck.

Josi said...

la la la la la--just testing my F note

My bro-in-law is an attorney and presented at the LDStorymaker
conference last year on contracts. To prepare for the presentation he reviewed standard contracts from several of the LDSpublishers and compared them to national contracts. He said there were parts of nearly every LDS publisher contract that would difficult, if not illegal, to enforce and yet most authors will sign them anyway because there isn't greener grass and we all want our work out there. If you're that miserable, talk to an attorney and get out, like others have done.
yes, I get that you feel my advice is simplistic and idealistic--maybe it is. Though I've fought my own publisher battles, it's obvious you have a lot more expreince than I do. I wish you the best.

Anonymous said...

Josi: Certainly not simplistic. And not idealistic. Just generalized for consumption by all authors rather than tailored to a specific situation or need. You have a beautiful voice, and an even more beautiful pen. Keep up the writing.

Sariah S. Wilson said...

My understanding of the ROFR clause is that while you would have to give the publisher a chance to say yeah or nay, that *you* wouldn't have to accept their offer and could take your work elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Sariah,

That is the way the more ethical ROFR clauses are supposed to work. Unfortunately, some publishers want first look at everything you write for the next upteen years. Then they may tie it up in committees for a couple of years. If they decide they want it, you're contractually obligated to give it to them, in which case they can take several more years to actually publish it. Even if they reject it, they may try to say that if you submit to someone else and are given an offer, then they have the right to review that offer and match it, in which case you're obligated to give it to them--even if the the other company was willing to do much more in the way of marketing, etc.

If you're doing a series, they may try to lock the entire series down. Then if they don't like vol. 3 or 4 or whatever, they don't have to publish it, but you can't take it to anyone else. So you're sunk.

That is why it is important to get advice from someone with experience in publishing contract law.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so there are a lot of anons on this page (including little old me). We're probably all paranoid about asking questions and talking openly about ROFRs because we're under contract with a conspicuously anti-author ROFR in our contracts and rocking the boat (or even admitting that there is a boat) could get us in who knows what kind of trouble.

Just wondering about the anon response to Sariah S. Wilson. Well said. If you have a ROFR you're sunk in about twenty different ways. There is no simple way out of a ROFR. Being nice doesn't work. Thinking that they will reject the manuscript is goofy. They don't care if it is a coloring book. They simply don't like the idea of you publishing your work elsewhere. So anon who answered Sariah S. Wilson, I appreciate your take on the complexities of this issue. There are issues of intimidation along with a long list of ways the ROFR works against the author and relatively NO ways that the ROFR protects the author. It is completely in favor of the publisher and that really needs to change. The best change would be to be rid of the ROFR for eternity and replace it with, say, some trust and some ethics.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Deseret Book will inject some fairness into this ROFR debate. Give them more time. Three months isn't a lot of time to change years of abuse. Deseret Book will influence the LDS ROFRs for good by getting rid of them. Like anon before me said, "for eternity and replace them with some trust and ethics."

Anonymous said...

Freedom!

Voice of Reason said...

Oh, for crying out loud. I have a hunch that one or more of the anonymous posters here write corny, overly-dramatic sobfests that have more basis is melodrama than intelligence.

Speaking as a Covenant author, and one who has such an ROFR clause:

1: I have yet to ever talk to a lawyer who says that the Covenant ROFR would hold up in court. If you're so desperate for freedom, then just go to court.

2: Getting out of Covenant's contract is not unheard of. Unless you're trying something weird, like trying to publish your already established series with a new publisher, then it's certainly possible.

3:As long as we're speaking freely, the most notable examples of people leaving Covenant all appear to have more to do with inflated egos than with reasonable contract concerns. I'm not saying that authors should be under the thumb of a dictatorial publisher, but thinking you're God's gift to publishing isn't exactly professional either.

Differnt Anon said...

What happened to being grateful to have your work out there at all? to being glad we have a market that reads our stuff since most of the world still thinks we're a cult? I think ROFR makes sense when the publishers are editing, typesetting, printing, binding, doing cover art, advertising and selling your book. I think voice of reason makes a wonderful point--if you're so unhappy leave. Heimerdinger, Stansfield and Nunes did in one way or another. but what is it that one book says "Happiness is a grateful heart?"

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'd love to write something considered a masterpiece just for the sake of writing something so meaningful it touched people's lives. Getting paid to do it would be the icing on the cake, but first and foremost, having someone think about something I've written and enjoy it is what makes me want to write.

Anonymous said...

One of the motivating factors in writing is sharing life-impacting, inspiring, heart-warming, thought provoking, faith promoting stories. What you may not understand is that once you go through that door and become a published author, the demands increase for your time and your talents. It becomes more than an 8 hour a day job. You not only have to produce manuscripts, but you must improve your craft. A violinist at the Utah Symphony doesn't stop training once she is hired by the orchestra. An opera star doesn't stop rehearsals and a writer must continue honing their craft. Add to that the demands of publishing on a regular basis and you have transformed your hobby of sharing imaginative, inventive, faith promoting stories into a demanding, rewarding, time-consuming, deadline based profession with management looking over your shoulder, and a public which demands quality service and products. Along with that profession also comes the need to treat your career with the care with which you would treat your job if you were a doctor, lawyer, buisness professional, football player, policeman, auto worker or hat maker. A certain amount of job flexibility is not only refreshing, it is vital to keeping an author producing at a prolific rate. Some job security issues would certainly be of value. In the LDS publishing world there is no job security, no benefits, no job flexibility. There are, however, the same demands as other careers. It is one of the most demanding jobs with huge risks to an author who may spend a lifetime at work without any of the job security or retirement benefits that many regularly employed Mormons in Utah and Americans around the country take for grated. Stories are nice. Looking after your career is a necessity.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are completely dissatisfied. I feel bad that you seem to have had a bad experience and no longer enjoy it.

I do understand being published, but I'm of the opinion that when writing becomes so unsatisfactory then it's time to consider something else. Writing should never be so unrewarding that the very act of completing a book is so painful. No one has ever entertained the idea that writing, especially for the LDS market, is a goldmine. Don't we write because we love to write? When that's overshadowed by anything else, it's time to stop writing and start doing something else.

If you want to have job security, a 401k, and vacation benefits then you need to find a job that provides those things because writing just won't do that. If you're a talented and popular author and continue to choose to write books, then you'll have to accept what there is and deal with it. It is what it is.

This reminds me of Britney Spears who complains that the media follows her and she has no privacy. Isn't that what she chose? No one held a gun to her head and made her become a celebrity, in fact she worked hard to claim her fame. Now she complains about it.

I'd say, if you don't like the terms of your contract and you're that unhappy then, perhaps, you should choose a different path. Plenty of others will jump at the chance to have what you do.

Just my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

What? I thought we were talking about improving the lot of LDS writers. And you write that? If a few more LDS authors would stick to their guns a little more often and not worry so much about what might happen to their own careers, it may just improve the lot for the next generation of LDS authors. And that, my dear anon, is certainly not writing apathy.

Different Anon said...

So we shouldn't worry about our careers but we SHOULD worry about the authors that come behind us? Interesting career goal--I bet there are all kinds of accountants, attorneys and teachers that make their decisions based on what will be better for the next generation. A writer, writes, an author publishes and in order to have success they use a publisher which demands certain criteria. Most of us have been treated fairly, some of us have gotten a raw deal and it's all good and well to aluristic when you get started, but when you're supporting a family and wondering about retirment and being told what to write and when to write it the whole game shifts...

voice of reason said...

If I may repeat myself: Oh, for crying out loud.

If I am to understand the anonymous poster (two posts above this one) then the egocentric authors who demand higher royalty rates and special priveleges are actually doing so for the benefit of future writers? I had no idea greed and arrogance were so philanthropic. Perhaps I'll storm into my boss's office today and demand a raise and a company car--you know, just to help out the poor guy who replaces me when I retire.