Dear LDS Publisher,
I don't want to stir up a hornet's nest, but. . . I noticed that Angel Falling Softly is a current sponsor for your blog. I have some real issues with this book and its portrayal of LDS theology. It angers me that it's being billed as an "LDS" book when it clearly would be offensive to most LDS readers. Do you have a problem with this book sponsoring you, since you label yourself as an LDS publisher? How do you feel about this?
Also, I noticed that a couple of books on your LDS Fiction blog have content warning labels, but this book doesn't. Why not? And why do you post books with content warning labels anyway? If the books are antagonistic to LDS teachings, and therefore not really LDS fiction, why not delete them from the blog entirely, especially since you're calling your other blog "LDS Fiction"? It would seem that a book with explicit s*x scenes or promoting behaviors that aren't in line with LDS teachings shouldn't be called LDS fiction.
I don't mean to offend here. Just want to understand.
A hornet's nest? You've got a whole slew of nests here. That's okay. I can handle hornets.
As I see it, the issues you've raised are:
- Books posted on the LDS Fiction blog that not may uphold LDS standards.
- Sponsors of this blog and the LDS Fiction blog that may not uphold LDS standards.
- LDS authors that write books that may not uphold LDS standards.
- Books marketed to LDS readers and promoted as LDS fiction that may not uphold LDS standards.
- Angel Falling Softly, as a specific example of the above.
Did I miss any? Let's separate these issues and deal with them one at a time, starting with today's issue.
Books on the LDS Fiction Blog:
When I started the LDS Fiction blog, my intent was to inform LDS readers of newly published fiction books written by LDS authors. The only conditions I set for books finding a spot on that blog were that 1) they be fiction, 2) they be published (not just e-books), and 3) the authors be LDS. Even though I've personally encountered books by LDS authors that made me uncomfortable, it never crossed my mind that I might need some provision for LDS authors publishing books with highly offensive content on the blog. Silly me.
I have not read every book listed over on the LDS Fiction blog. I haven't even read a majority of them. While I wish I could, I don't have the time or money required to purchase and read every book published by every LDS author in any given year. If someone would like to pay me a salary to do this and provide me with the books, I'd be happy to quit my day job and start a book review blog and give you my completely unbiased and highly educated opinion on each and every one of these books, but until then, I count on you, my blog readers, to help me out.
And you've been great about this. I appreciate that you send me e-mails suggesting titles to add and tell me about LDS authors who publish nationally or who self-publish in small niche markets. I count on your input and I couldn't maintain that blog without it.
I also count on you to comment about these books. Just because someone is LDS does not mean they write books with characters who adhere to or promote LDS standards of living. Nor does it mean they use language (descriptive or dialog) with which the average LDS reader would be comfortable. Not only can we, as fiction readers, help each other find great books by leaving positive comments on the LDS Fiction blog about the books we read, but we also owe it to each other to comment when we find something offensive.
The first time I got an e-mail about a book containing offensive content, I spent some time thinking about how to handle it. I admit that my first knee-jerk reaction was to take the book post down because I don't want to offend. I want to uplift and enlighten and entertain. But then I talked to quite a few people about it—readers, authors and publishers. Is there a line that I, as blog owner, need to define and draw? Where is that line? Is it only for sexually related content? Do I include violence and gritty real-life issues? What about swearing—are certain words okay, but others not? Whose sensibilities do I honor or protect? How many people need to be offended before I take a book off the blog?
After lots of thought and prayer on the matter, I decided that if a book met my original criteria—published fiction by an LDS author, I would give it a place on the blog. However, if I read a book that I think will be offensive to others, or a reader makes a comment or sends an e-mail about offensive material in a book, I will put a warning on the post.
Hopefully, you will put your own warnings on such posts, as this commenter did. Don't just say, "This book was offensive." Tell us in general terms what was offensive, such as, "This book had more swearing than I'm comfortable with."
If we post our honest opinions, feelings, and reactions to the books we're reading, then others who read our comments will be able to make an educated decision about whether or not they want to read the book.
What do you think?
(We'll tackle hornet's nest #2 tomorrow.)