7/28/08

Hornet's Nest Update

I opened my LDS Publisher e-mail account this morning and. . . 43?!! Do I really have 43 messages there? In less than 48 hours? Oh. My. Gosh.

It took so long to read them that now I don't have time to do a "real" post today. So blog readers, who have come here looking for a post, read all the comments here and here and here and here.

Then make some more comments of your own.

I do want to make some statements at this point, however.

  • I want to make it clear that Zarahemla Books did not contact me about sponsoring the blog. I contacted them and offered a sponsorship because I'd seen the announcement of the new book and Zarahemla has been a very generous sponsor here in the past, and so I asked if they wanted to sponsor. The commenter that implied that ZB set this whole thing up is off base.

  • I have not read this book yet. I read the promo material on the Zarahemla site. I thought it looked interesting. But I also realized by the cover image and the backliner that it probably would not be a book I wanted to buy and keep forever. So I've scrummaged around and found someone willing to loan me the book. I will be reading it this week. When I'm done, I'll give my opinion of it, both as a reader and as a publisher. I don't usually do this, but I feel I need to weigh in on a personal level, since so many of my blog readers are doing so. (And thank you for that.)

  • Every reader has the right to their opinion. We like and dislike things for so many personal reasons. You cannot argue with taste—good or bad. You can discuss the whys and the wherefores, and I love a good book discussion—especially with people who disagree with me, but since book likes and dislikes are often an emotional reaction, you're probably not going to change anyone's mind.

  • I do not want anyone to go out of business! There are so few of us LDS publishers around, especially small presses that can reach minority tastes, that we need everyone to keep at it. Zarahemla meets a market need, as evidenced by the fact that one of their books won TWO Best Novel awards in 2007.

  • If you are reading a book and you don't like it, STOP READING. Put it down, return it to the library, pass it along to someone else or throw it in the trash. (I've done that before—more than once.)

Oh, looks like I did a real post after all.

10 comments:

Eugene said...

Thank you for the clarification. There's this notion going around that a bunch of suits at Zarahemla Books sat around tenting their fingers like Monty Burns and saying "Excellent."

Granted, having been employed at companies both large and small, I can attest to the fact that on the Internet, nobody knows you're four guys working out of a basement. Not to reveal too much about the man behind the curtain, but Zarahemla Books is one guy and a handful of idealists working for free food and peanuts. The business plan: try to break even.

This problem isn't confined to this genre alone. The stark realities of niche-market publishing everywhere are plainly--though depressingly--laid out here and here. I know people will say: "You should publish this kind of book instead of that kind." It's been done. It's been tried. As the screenwriter William Goldman famously put it: "Nobody knows anything."

He was referring to the fact that no Hollywood expert can vouch for a movie's success before its release. The same goes for books. Anybody who detects a "strategy" here, please think again. And please consider reading the book before opining about it (I look forward to the blog host's thoughts). Or at least read this first.

MoJo said...

I too addressed both the kerfuffle and the idea of "LDS fiction" as its own genre analogous to "inspirational romance" (i.e., Christian/evangelical).

By that, I am not saying that LDS fiction = LDS romance. I'm saying it has clearly defined rules that all publishers of inspirational romance adhere to so as not to stir up a, ah, ahem, hornet's nest amongst readers.

Christopher Bigelow said...

A reasonable approach on all counts, much appreciated.

Joe said...

Seems to me that far much of this discussion is centering around satisfying the tastes of a minority of self-appointed defenders of the faith. Why does anyone think their views reflect that of the actual market?

(Moreover, from what I understand, the number of complainers is highly disproportionate to the number of books that have actually been sold. This seems to be one of those situations where people are being offended because they think they're supposed to be offended. Kind of like the squabbled over The Golden Compass, though I'm sure Eugene and Chris would love the income that came with that controversy.)

Th. said...

.

What income? That movie lost money.

MoJo said...

But Pullman got his option and his percentage basis, so he didn't lose any money at all.

Annette Lyon said...

Good points. I'll be looking forward to your opinion.

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

The movie The Golden Compass has made over $400 million box office world wide. New Line Cinema lost money because they foolishly pre-sold foreign distribution rights (and gave Pullman an outrageous royalty and Kidman an outrageous salary.)

The faux controversy massively increased sales of the books by 500%. (Ironically, had the protesters kept their mouths shut fewer people would have been "subverted"--I say fewer people would have been bored out of their minds, but that's obviously not an opinion shared by Eugene and many of the fans of the books.)

Either way, Pullman and Random House made a boat load of money.

Stephen said...

I'm always amazed that small presses survive.