Sordid Pasts

This is a little embarrassing. Thank you for letting us be anonymous. I have previously published some stories where the main characters' behaviors are--uh--not quite up to LDS standards. It was a long time ago and I sort of regret it now, but what's done is done. I haven't written anything in several years, but I now have an LDS story that I'd like to submit to an LDS publisher. Will my sordid past come back to haunt me?
Hmmm. That's a question I can't answer without more details, so all I can give you is a "Maybe; maybe not. "

It depends on several factors:
  • How sordid was your past? Or rather, your stories?

  • How widely read were your stories?

  • Did you publish under a pen name?

  • How likely are LDS readers to recognize you?

  • What is your current story? Is it squeaky clean or edgy?

There are some publishers who most likely would not have a big problem with that. There are others who would not even look at your new manuscript if your previous ones were in the realm of erotica or graphic violence. For most, however, I think it would largely depend on the quality and content of your new manuscript.

At some point in the submission process, BEFORE YOU SIGN A CONTRACT, you're going to have to let your potential publisher know about previous publications. If your books were truly sordid, your publisher is going to need to have a plan in place to counter any possible repercussions--this could be anything from using a pen name to referencing a conversion in your bio.

I recommend dealing with it right up front in your initial query by listing your previously published titles. Then make sure that query and/or synopsis shines so brightly that they'll have to read your manuscript.

1 comment:

Tristi Pinkston said...

Terri Blackstock, one of my favorite authors, used to write steamy romances. Then she had a change of heart and decided to write Christian fiction instead, and she's had a really good career doing that. I think it can be done.

I really like the idea of a pen name, though -- and talking it over openly with the publisher. But I think you can totally make it work.