2/11/08

What's Lacking in the LDS Market

What kind of a book would you like to see someone write? What's lacking in the LDS market?
What I'd like to see and what will sell well are sometimes two different things.

Personally, I'd like to see more realistic YA that deals with some of the tough things in life from an LDS perspective, offering the youth positive models for dealing with challenges. NOT the pat-Primary answers for things, but reality.

I'd like to see the same thing in adult fiction, like what Josi Kilpack did in Sheep's_Clothing. Tough topic, handled well.

Overall, I'd like to see more of everything—fiction for children, teens, adults, in every genre, but well written and high quality.

17 comments:

Christine Thackeray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela Hallstrom said...

A friend of mine from Segullah mentioned your site, and I was so happy to come here and see all the good you're doing (as well as see my own book, Bound on Earth, mentioned . . . what an unexpected, nice surprise!)

I have a monthly post on Segullah about LDS lit, and we've had some really interesting conversations about "what's missing." Despite the fact that most mainstream publishers spend a lot of time and money on genre fiction--and there's a really great market for that kind of work, and they should serve it--I also think there's a sizable market for LDS fiction that might be a little more complicated or challenging than some of the fare that's currently available.

I'm hoping to be able to tap into the LDS book club phenomenon with my own book. There are so many book clubs out there, but they rarely read fiction with LDS themes or characters. It's tough to get marketing and distribution with smaller publishers like Parables, though. So I appreciate websites like this, and I particularly appreciate you mentioning my book.

I'll be back and visit your site!

Anonymous said...

I hear a lot of talk about the "mindless love stories" that everyone is so tired of, the shallow romances, the conversion stories and all that. I know that people are tired of them, but no one has the courage to say the names of any of these books. Which books are they? I'm tired of hearing about all the horrible books that LDS authors are writing, and no one's backing up that claim.

Anonymous said...

I hear a lot of talk about the "mindless love stories" that everyone is so tired of, the shallow romances, the conversion stories and all that. I know that people are tired of them, but no one has the courage to say the names of any of these books. Which books are they? I'm tired of hearing about all the horrible books that LDS authors are writing, and no one's backing up that claim.

Anonymous said...

My book club read "Hearts in Hiding," by Betsy Brannon Green. It is a romance in which we known nothing about the male and female protagonists except what happens to them--the main characters are flat, and it's entirely plot-driven. All the non-Mormon characters, who are actually more well-developed than the protagonists, become interested in the Church by the end of the book. The writer wasn't content to let them be good non-LDS people. They had to lean towards joining the Church, too--that way we would know they were really good. Also, there was a passage in which (I paraphrase) the female protagonist sees her love interest just out of the shower, with a towel wrapped around his waist. After ogling his physique, she notices that "his tan line shows his commitment to his temple covenants." It was a bizarre juxtaposition of innuendo ogling with a reference to temple covenants thrown in there to make it pure somehow.

The ladies in my book club think like I do, and we all giggled together when I read that passage aloud. I love them.

So there you go. It's a popular book, it came recommended, but it's a specific example of a book that fulfills the bad stuff mentioned about LDS lit.

(Guts enough to give an example, but still gotta remain anonymous.)

Christine Thackeray said...

Ok, after thinking about it all day, I deleted my first comment (yup, that was me.) There are several trite plots and that book mentioned above was probably sadly bizarre in places but there are times when readers just want popcorn entertainment and simple escapism. Other authors reach more deeply and are to be commended but I suppose we shouldn't snub our noses at Brad Pitt because he isn't close to say, Gregory Peck. That's it, I want Atticus Mormonized in fiction- that would work for me.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, I have enough "deep" going on in my own life and I want to read something that will take my mind off the serious problems of the day and just let me enjoy a fun story. Maybe it's complete "fluff" but it lets me escape from the bad stuff for a second.

I like meat and potatoes for dinner, but every once in a while, I like to just eat the dessert!

Anonymous said...

Beauty is in the eye of the reader...

Melanie Goldmund said...

I'd like to see more science fiction. Not necessarily fantasy, but Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica type science fiction with Mormons in the main roles. Optional would be pondering deep philosophical questions such as "If every planet has its own time for a resurrection, and you're born on one planet, but you die across the galaxy on another planet, which resurrection do you take part in?"

Kerry Blair said...

This is a sensitive subject however and wherever it's addressed. I very much wanted to stay out of it, but I just can't. Jane Austen says in one of her masterpieces that if we "petty popular novelists" won't support one another, who will? :) (Please note: I am NOT comparing anybody -- least of all me and Betsy -- to Austen. I am trying to be clever. Badly.)

I too would LOVE an LDS Atticus. Until he comes along, there are fine protagonists out there. Marilyn Brown,David Wooley, Gale Sears, Toni Sorenson Brown, Coke Newell and that guy over there on the right -- Douglas Thayer, whose works I love! -- are among my heroes when it comes to authors of LDS lit. But so is Betsy Brannon Green, if for another reason.

Those of us who want every book we pick up to be To Kill a Mockingbird or War and Peace are in the minority in this market and we might as well face it. I've recommended two of the authors listed above to book groups. The women thought their books were "sad" or "heavy" or "difficult."

Who am I to criticize (or pity) their views? They read the scriptures every day. In fiction they crave entertainment over enlightenment or soul expansion. Thousands and thousands (and thousands) of them plunk down $15 bucks faithfully -- and with joy in their hearts -- each and every time Betsy Green publishes a new book. I love her myself. She neither pretends nor aspires to be anything but a teller of tales -- stories that are safe for Beehives and intended to be taken at face value. She's not trying to be a Faulkner, or even the next Margaret Mitchell. She is is being who she is -- and possibly touching more lives than anybody writing in our market today. (This is assuming that, like me, you consider relief from mundane care for even a few hours a blessing.)

I'd like to see more classicism in our market for the sake of those of us who yearn for it. But in no way do writers like me and Betsy (and all the rest of the "hacks" that can be held up as examples of less-than-superb literary merit) denigrate the market. Alas, we ARE the market right now. As readers change and grow and expand their literary horizons, so will writers. (At least we'll try.)

Guts enough to put my name -- but if everybody hates me now, LDSPublisher has my permission to burn my book rather than awarding it this month. Let me assure you all: it is no prize for lovers of lit!

Kerry Blair said...

This is a sensitive subject however and wherever it's addressed. I very much wanted to stay out of it, but I just can't. Jane Austen says in one of her masterpieces that if we "petty popular novelists" won't support one another, who will? :) (Please note: I am NOT comparing anybody -- least of all me and Betsy -- to Austen. I am trying to be clever. Badly.)

I too would LOVE an LDS Atticus. Until he comes along, there are fine protagonists out there. Marilyn Brown,David Wooley, Gale Sears, Toni Sorenson Brown, Coke Newell and that guy over there on the right -- Douglas Thayer, whose works I love! -- are among my heroes when it comes to authors of LDS lit. But so is Betsy Brannon Green, if for another reason.

Those of us who want every book we pick up to be To Kill a Mockingbird or War and Peace are in the minority in this market and we might as well face it. I've recommended two of the authors listed above to book groups. The women thought their books were "sad" or "heavy" or "difficult."

Who am I to criticize (or pity) their views? They read the scriptures every day. In fiction they crave entertainment over enlightenment or soul expansion. Thousands and thousands (and thousands) of them plunk down $15 bucks faithfully -- and with joy in their hearts -- each and every time Betsy Green publishes a new book. I love her myself. She neither pretends nor aspires to be anything but a teller of tales -- stories that are safe for Beehives and intended to be taken at face value. She's not trying to be a Faulkner, or even the next Margaret Mitchell. She is is being who she is -- and possibly touching more lives than anybody writing in our market today. (This is assuming that, like me, you consider relief from mundane care for even a few hours a blessing.)

I'd like to see more classicism in our market for the sake of those of us who yearn for it. But in no way do writers like me and Betsy (and all the rest of the "hacks" that can be held up as examples of less-than-superb literary merit) denigrate the market. Alas, we ARE the market right now. As readers change and grow and expand their literary horizons, so will writers. (At least we'll try.)

Guts enough to put my name -- but if everybody hates me now, LDSPublisher has my permission to burn my book rather than awarding it this month. Let me assure you all: it is no prize for lovers of lit!

Marcia Mickelson said...

Thanks, Kerry for your comments. I love Betsy's books as well. In fact, it's her books that inspired me to want to pursue my dream of writing. I'm reading her latest right now and am loving it. I enjoy your books as well. There's nothing wrong with enjoying (or writing) a fun story.

Rebecca Talley said...

Kerry, you're my hero :) I love your characters and your books! You've said it much better than I could.

LDS Publisher said...

I have nothing against well-written fluff. I love fluff. I read for a variety of reasons—and escape and entertainment are at the top of the list.

I also like more serious books. By saying I would like to see more of that, I am in no way implying that serious books are all I want to see.

There is huge diversity among LDS fiction readers and there needs to be a regular release of a variety of titles to meet the needs and tastes of all readers.

And if the winner of Kerry's book doesn't want it, they can let me know via e-mail and I'll have her send it to me because (I'm sorry to say) I haven't read that one yet.

Kerry Blair said...

I knew what you meant, LDSP, and I agree. For that matter, I agree with Angela and more than one Anonymous. (What is the plural of anonymous? Anonymi?)

I'm just not sure we're ever wise to hold up an example of what is right or wrong in LDS lit because of the diversity of tastes -- and, frankly, allegiances in such a small market. You're bound to offend somebody. In this case it was me and I apologize for being overly-sensitive in public.

I simply must send you a book, LDSP! Not because I want you to read it, (it's a better negative example than any of Betsy's) but because the intrigue of getting it to you is simply delicious! I've been working it out in my head:

Obviously, I can't send it to you directly because nobody knows who you are. Even if I sent it General Delivery to your hometown, I would be too greatly tempted to hire somebody to stake out the post office.

Therefore, I propose I rent a box at a Ship & Send in Ogden, Utah -- under an alias, of course. Then we persuade Anonymous (sometimes known as Ly) to drive up to retrieve it. He then leaves it amid the tulips on Temple Square. (It's bright pink. It will blend in perfectly.)

Next, Anonymous (sometimes known as Tired of Hearing) picks it up and...you know, this is making my brain hurt. How about I just bury it in the backyard and we call it good? :)

Thanks for the discussion, all. It HAS made me think.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Tired of Hearing would require a plane trip to help in Kery's escapade. Tired of Hearing is not local.

Kerry Blair said...

Ah, a plot hole already! This is precisely why I gave up writing mysteries... :)