Copycat Submissions

How many "copycat" submissions do you see? Have you ever seen a compelling "copycat" submission?

Do you mean plagiarized? Or simply an idea that's hot?

I've never gotten a plagiarized manuscript.

I've gotten Harry Potter-esque submissions and Twilight-ish submissions. Sometimes they've been good, but not right for my company.

Generally, if a book has hit it big, the trend is over by the time the copycats start showing up.


LDS or National Market?

I love reading your LDS Publisher blog, and have a question I hope you'll consider for the blog.

I'm LDS, and I've written a fluffy romantic comedy. My book has characters who are LDS, who behave in ways that are consistent with LDS values, but the book itself isn't an LDS book. It doesn't use language or terminology that would be confusing for non-LDS readers. I wanted it to appeal to both LDS and non-LDS markets.

My personal blog gets over 100,000 visitors per month, and I also run/own the [another blog] site, which currently gets about 30,000 visitors per month. In other words, I think I've got a good start on creating a platform. I'm getting ready to begin querying agents and publishers and I'm trying to decide whether or not to pursue LDS publishers.

What I want to know is - what do YOU think are the advantages to querying LDS publishers? From what I've read so far, it seems like the market is incredibly small, the royalties are pretty slim, and most LDS authors really struggle financially. Looking at it from a strictly financial perspective, I'm having a hard time figuring out why anyone would write for a strictly LDS market. Can you educate me on the benefits?

Thanks very much for your time, and for all of the insights you provide on the blog.

Oooh, I love questions like this—she butters me up both at the beginning and at the end of her question. I feel so important. :)

Now for the question itself. You've pretty much summed up the downside of the LDS publishing market. The benefits are that you're reaching an audience that "gets" and appreciates the little idiosyncracies of the LDS lifestyle. Also, you won't have a publisher pressuring you to add in language or behavior that is not in line with LDS standards. And some LDS authors just like publishing for the LDS market. They like being a big fish in a small pond. They feel they are contributing to the cause of building up a collection of good works that we, as Latter-day Saints, can be proud of. Those are reasons why you'd want to choose the LDS market.

However, there's also something to be said for creating good, clean fiction that portrays members of the LDS church in a positive manner within the national market. There is a market for that, albeit small. One roadblock you'll hit is that in the minds of many non-LDS readers, Latter-day Saints are still viewed as a cult or non-Christian sect—at their worst, people to fear, at best, a bunch of kooks. Therefore, it's more difficult to sell LDS characters to a national publisher.

More difficult, but not impossible.

If I were you, since your novel does not use LDS terminology or try to convert anyone, I'd submit to the national market first. See what the response is. If you don't get any bites, then start querying the LDS market.

Oh, and way to go, building a following that huge. You know at least some of them will buy you book, no matter where it's published.


Newly Posted LDS Fiction

This week's new titles over on the LDS Fiction blog:

The Hometown Weekly by Bruce Lindsay

Recovering Charles by Jason F. Wright

Epicenter by Sonia O'Brien

Did we miss any? If we did, let me know.

We've also posted the next contest and the winner of last week's contest.

P.S. Authors & Publishers—If you'd like to be a sponsor for this contest, contact me.


Prologues and Epilogues

What do you think of prologues? Epilogues?
Done well, love them. Done poorly, not so much.

Here's my opinion in more detail.


Shelf Life

What is the shelf life of a novel compared to a non-fiction title?
For fiction, you're going to get most of your sales in the first year after release. It will stay on the shelf as long as it continues to sell. Average, however, is 1 to 2 years.

Non-fiction average is about 3 to 5 years.


When Do I Tell Them the Butler Did It?

I've read a lot of blogs and forums where writers say we should tell the agent/editor how the story ends in the query letter. Others say, no, the query is just a teaser. The ending should only be hinted at in the query letter, but the ending needs to be revealed in a synopsis.

Can you shed some light on this subject?

Yes. The query is a short teaser. If it's a murder mystery, you don't need to say that the butler did it in the query letter. You do, however, need to put it in the synopsis.

Some publishers/agents want the query and synopsis submitted at the same time. Others want only the query letter.


Newly Posted LDS Fiction

This week's new titles over on the LDS Fiction blog:

Day of Remembrance by David G. Woolley

The Eyes of a Stranger by Rachel Ann Nunes

The Wyrmling Horde
by David Farland

FarWorld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage

Did we miss any? If we did, let me know.

We've also posted the next contest and the winner of last week's contest. Now that the Summer Book Trek is over, the free book contest is open to everyone again.

P.S. Authors & Publishers—If you'd like to be a sponsor for this contest, contact me.


It's the Economy

I have noticed lately that Deseret Book, or a certain publisher if you prefer, has being raising the list price on their books dramatically, almost to the point of being overpriced. Overall, have prices of LDS books in all genres increased more this year than in the past?
Book prices are increasing because the costs of printing and delivery have increased. But it's not just Deseret Book, or LDS books. It's all over. Have you checked out Barnes and Noble or Borders lately? Their prices are going up too. As is the price of gas, and groceries, and . . .


Should I Keep Querying

I've been pondering the above question for some time now. Actually, I totally intend to keep querying. What I'm really asking is, should I keep querying using the same query letter or revise it - again?

Here's the background. So far, I've sent out 26 queries to agents, via email, using roughly the same query letter, tweaking it slightly at times. So far, I've gotten back 14 rejections, most form letters, but a few seemed like nice personal notes. All were polite, friendly, and encouraging. A couple even asked me to let them see my next project. I'm assuming by that, that they think I can at least write.

So, that leaves 12 unanswered email queries. Some of them are getting close to 3 months old. Most of the responses I have received came within a week.

So, to my question. Should I keep querying, using the same query letter, or consider revising it - again. This last go-round I followed Kristen Nelson's method for "Building the Pitch Paragraph," and think I have a pretty good query letter - not perfect, but I think it's the best I've come up with so far.

What do you suggest?

It's either your query letter or your book topic. Without having read your query, I can't tell you for sure. Read your responses carefully for an indication of why you were rejected. If they're asking you to submit other work, I'm guessing it's the book topic and not the query, however, it doesn't hurt to keep tweaking the query.


Deciphering Deseret Book's Bestseller List

DB picked up my book about a month ago. The first time I found it on the DB bestseller list 2 weeks ago, it was #137. Last weekend it was at #89 and today it was at #39. Maybe it's just a coincidence. I'm not sure how else to track sales. Which brings me to a question: On the DB Bestseller list, do you know how many books have to sell for a book to move up 1 place, 10 places, 100 places?

Deseret Book recently made some changes to their website, making it a little more difficult to determine what place your book is in on the list. You have to hand count it. But the ranking of your book on the list still works in the same way.

The DB list tracks sales in relationship to the other books. If Book A sells two copies, and Book B only sells one copy, then Book A is first on the list and Book B is second on the list.

Go to the site and select the category your book is listed in. (Some books are listed in multiple categories.) There's a light blue bar across the top of the list of books and on the right hand side you can tell it how to sort the books. Default is by Popularity. That's what you want. Then count down to your book to determine what spot on the list it's in.

There's no way to find out exactly how many copies of your book have sold, only how it sold in relation to other books in the same category. There's also no way to find out how many more copies those books above you on the list are selling. The difference between first place and second place could be one copy or 100 copies.


Googling Yourself

I was going to start into an explanation of the LDS book market, what's wrong with it, how to fix it, etc. But that's a big deal—and it's taking some time to pull my thoughts together and get them organized. But I promise, it's coming. Maybe even next week.

So today, I'm going to teach you how to Google yourself. Why is this important? Because it lets you know who's talking about you. You need to know this if you're trying to create buzz about your new book.

Every author needs to set up some Google Alerts. Once your Google Alert is set up, you will get an e-mail every time someone talks about you on the Internet. It's easy to set up and it's FREE. (Love that word.)

Go to the Google Alert page.

You want to set up an alert on your name and the title of your book. Let's say you write under the name Jane Smith Doe. You'd want an alert for Jane Smith Doe, one for Jane S. Doe, and one for Jane Doe. The more common your name, the more alerts you'll get for people that are not you, but deal with it. (And complain to your parents.)

I'd suggest you select Comprehensive as the type of alert. That way it will track websites, blogs, news, etc. I'd also suggest you select Once a Day as your frequency.

Once your alerts are created, you'll start getting emails that list the places on the Internet where people are talking about you. Go read them. This will give you a feel for how you and your book are being perceived in the general public.

Also, if it's a blogger who's talking about you, leave a comment. Thank them for talking about you. Always be pleasant and polite, even if they've said bad things about you. This lets their readers know that you are interested and approachable and a nice person.


Newly Posted LDS Fiction

This week's new titles over on the LDS Fiction blog:

Dark Curse by Christine Feehan

Stones Quest: Redemption of the Curse (vol 3) by LaRene R. Ellis

Meeting Amazing Grace by Gary & Joy Lundberg

Did we miss any? If we did, let me know.

We've also posted the next contest and the winner of last week's contest. Now that the Summer Book Trek is over, the free book contest is open to everyone again.

P.S. Authors & Publishers—If you'd like to be a sponsor for this contest, contact me.

And You Thought I Was Just Being a Slacker!

We had a very mild storm the other night. Just some rain and a little wind. Nothing to even blink an eye at. But something happened during the night and our Internet radio receiver went out. Our Internet fix-it guy still doesn't know exactly what happened but we've been without Internet access for days now. Yesterday, he got it to the point where I could go to one webpage and download maybe two e-mails, and then it would freeze up again. When I left the office yesterday, he was still scratching his head and muttering under his breath.

But he worked some magic last night and today, we're up and running. Yea!

I'm going to sit here and write all of next weeks posts right now and get them up and scheduled with Blogger so that come rain or shine or earthquake or whatever, you'll still get your daily fix of LDSP—unless, of course, Blogger gets swallowed into the depths of the earth or washed out to sea.


My take on Angel Falling Softly

I don't want to stir up the hornet's nest again (start here), but I did promise to give my opinion on Angel Falling Softly by Eugene Woodbury.

First for the issues regarding this book as LDS fiction. As I said before, Mr. Woodbury has the right to write as he wishes. Zarahemla can publish whatever they wish to publish. I'm not going to censor them. If what they write and/or publish is outside LDS interests, then the books won't sell.

We, as readers, play a huge part in molding the future of LDS fiction. Publishing is a business, and as such, it must be profitable. When a book sells well, readers can expect similar books to be published. When a certain type of book does not sell well, you can be sure fewer and fewer of those types of books will be showing up. We cast our vote as to what is good and/or praiseworthy with our checkbooks, every time we purchase or don't purchase a book.

I don't think that Woodbury or Zarahemla intentionally misled readers, trying to sneak a "racy" book over on the LDS audience. They make it clear on the back cover what to expect when they say, "As the two women push against every moral boundary in order to protect their families, the price of redemption will prove higher than either of them could have possibly imagined." The phrase "every moral boundary" seems pretty inclusive.

I do think, however, that some readers will see the Zarahemla name and assume that it won't be "that" bad. The lesson from this is, don't assume anything. Before buying a book, read a few reviews or talk to people who have read it. With the number of LDS bloggers who talk about books, it would be rare to find a newly published LDS fiction title that doesn't have someone blurbing about it.

And here's a good place to plug my other blog. I post the new books there. After you read them, go post a comment. Help your brothers and sisters out, so they'll know what to expect.

Now, about the book itself. I wasn't as upset about it as some readers were. Maybe that's because I was forewarned. The idea of vampires in an LDS neighborhood didn't upset me too much, but I didn't think there was enough backstory and explanation to get comfortable with it, nor was there enough development of the mother's character for us to understand how a previously faithful LDS woman could so quickly jump to vampirism as the cure for her daughter's situation.

I thought the sex scenes, although extremely tame by national standards, were too descriptive. I didn't like the portrayal of Job—I didn't feel it was accurate. However, that is one character's opinion of Job. It would have been nice to see opposing thoughts and views.

I didn't feel that the daughter was doomed. The way Woodbury sets up how vampires are made was very interesting—it's based on a genetic adaptation to a particular virus. For me, that takes it out of the realm of damnation and into the medical. But for this to have been really effective, I think Woodbury should have given us more.

In fact, my biggest complaint about the book is that it needed more: more backstory; more of the relationship between the sisters (there was great potential for exploring the question of how we make choices with the limitations that life gives us; this was mostly ignored); more details on the virus; more explanation of the business takeover; more depth to the mother, more struggle for her; more explanation of why it was necessary to bite the mother before biting the girl; more details on Milada's background. If some of this had been filled in, and some of the intimate descriptions left out, I think fewer people would have had a problem with this book.


Newly Posted LDS Fiction

This week's new titles over on the LDS Fiction blog:

The Apple Trees of Tschlin by G.M. Kearney; illus. Rebecca Miller

The Legend of the Kukui Nut by Robert Brandon Henderson; illus. Mark McKenna

Santa's Secret by Christy Hardman and Phil Porter

The Santa Letters by Stacy Gooch-Anderson

Her Good Name by Josi S. Kilpack

The Sound of Rain by Anita Stansfield

Don't Cry Wolf by Clair M. Poulson

Did we miss any? If we did, let me know.

We've also posted the next contest and the winner of last week's contest. Now that the Summer Book Trek is over, the free book contest is open to everyone again.

P.S. Authors & Publishers—If you'd like to be a sponsor for this contest, contact me.

The Empress' New Groove

I've been a horrible blogger this week. I'd say I was sorry, but I'm too overwhelmed to feel anything but overwhelmedness. There have been some changes with my day-job responsibilities and as with any change, you suddenly realize that you have to adapt far more than you had expected you would. Something had to give, several somethings actually, and posting here was just one of those things that have been temporarily neglected.

I'm hoping next week will be better. I do have questions in the hopper waiting for my answers. I also haven't forgotten that I promised commentary on the LDSBA and industry, as well as my take on Angel Falling Softly (which I have now read).

But, just in case I am still hit and miss while I get into a new work groove, I'm willing to accept guest bloggers. Send posts that have something to do with the writing and/or publishing process.


September 2008 Sponsors

Please take a moment to learn more about our wonderfully generous sponsors.

Room for Two by Abel Keogh

"Sweetie, I'm home." I tried to put as much kindness into my voice as possible. I didn't want to have another argument - at least not right away.



A gunshot echoed from our bedroom, followed by the sound of a bullet casing skipping along a wall.

Everything slowed down.


When a life is destroyed, when guilt says you played a role in its destruction, how do you face the days ahead?

Twenty-six-year-old Abel Keogh chooses to ignore the promptings he receives concerning his wife's mental illness, and now he feels he is to blame for her choices. If only he had listened . . .

At some point in our lives, each of us face devastating afflictions and must eventually cope with loss. Regardless of how it happens, the outcome is still the same—we are left isolated, alone, wondering what we could have done differently, and where we can turn for peace.

This is Abel's story in his own words. His search for peace and the miracle that follows is proof that love and hope can endure, despite the struggles and tragedies that shape each of our lives.

Abel Keogh is the author of the memoir Room for Two. During the day he works as a writer, editor, and political columnist. His previous fiction and poetry has been published in Rough Draft and Metaphor and Strong Verse. He is currently working on his second book—a work of fiction.

Besides writing, Abel enjoys running and lifting weights. Abel and his wife Julianna are the parents of two boys and a girl. He has a bachelor’s degree from Weber State University.

Her Good Name by Josi S. Kilpack

Chrissy is having an identity crisis. As a single woman and convert to the Church, she has always managed to find her place in life—at least until someone else begins using her credit cards, her bank account, and, most important, her name. Now the real Chrissy must prove her innocence against a growing pile of collection notices and unpaid bills. But with no job, no money, a warrant for her arrest, and a closet full of high-heeled shoes, a girl can only get so far.

When Chrissy meets Micah Heet, the other half of a blind date gone bad, the two discover they are facing the same battle and join forces to find the perpetrators. Little do they know that the small semblance of life they have left will be put on the line in the process.

Josi S. Kilpack bwas born and raised in Salt Lake City, the third of nine children, and accounts much of her success to her mother always making oatmeal for breakfast. In 1993 Josi married her high-school sweetheart, Lee Kilpack, and went on to raise her own children in Salt Lake and then Willard Utah where she currently lives. She loves to read and write, is the author of eight novels, the baker of many a delicious confection, and the hobby farmer of a varying number of unfortunate chickens. In her spare time she likes to overwhelm herself a multitude of projects and then complain that she never has any spare time; in this way she is rather masochistic. She also enjoys traveling, cheering on her children, and sleeping in when the occasion presents itself.

Josi is the author of nine novels, including Sheep's_Clothing, winner of the 2007 Whitney Award for Best Mystery/Suspense. She loves to hear from her readers and can be reached at Kilpack@gmail.com

Time and Eternity by E.M. Tippetts

When Alice O’Donnell joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she thought her life could only get better. She hoped to marry her boyfriend, Darren, who had baptized her, and live happily ever after. After all, her prayers had confirmed that a proposal was coming.
But Alice’s faith is tested when her plans are turned upside-down. Her father files for divorce, her company decides to relocate her to another state, and to top it off, Darren starts acting strangely and accuses her of being a “Molly Mormon” — whatever that is.

When Spencer Sharp enters the scene, he seems like a good prospect. He’s attractive, gainfully employed, a returned missionary, and seeking an eternal companion. But something is just . . . missing.

Follow the chaotic but exciting life of Alice as she deals with being a new convert, learns to have faith in the Lord’s plan for her, and comes to know whom she wants to be with for time and eternity.

E. M. Tippetts lives in New Mexico, which is where she grew up. A former attorney, she did her undergraduate degree in philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford University and her law degree at UCLA. She practiced real estate law and estate planning, with a specialty in literary estate planning, but she has always wanted to be a writer and used to get up at 5 A.M. to write before going to work. She joined the Church as an adult shortly before meeting her husband, Trevor.

August 2008 Comment Contest Winners

Here are the winners of the June Comment Contest, randomly selected from comments made during the month of June.

Thanks again to our sponsors. Please take a moment to read their bio info here.


by J. Michael Hunter

Winner: Sandra

Commenting on "Break for LDS Booksellers"

Twilight's Last Gleaming

by L.C. Lewis

Winner: Melanie J.

Commenting on "Break for LDS Booksellers"

FarWorld: Water Keep

by J. Scott Savage

Winner: Rebecca Talley

Commenting on "Break for LDS Booksellers"

To claim your prize, you must e-mail your mailing address to me by Friday, September 5, 2008.

(Unclaimed prizes will be up for grabs on Monday, September 8th.)

Click here to learn how you can win a copy of one of our sponsoring books.