9/24/09

New Kids on the Block

Hi, LDSP. I've seen several new publishers lately that are open to LDS books—Valor, WiDo. Do you know anything about them? What do you think about them? What are their chances of surviving against the Deseret Book monopoly?

I can't give you an opinion about new publishers until they actually release a title. I've talked to authors who've signed with both companies, and they seem happy with them. So let's see what they produce.

The chances of surviving in this market depend upon the following:
  1. Funding. Do they have enough to get them through the start-up and into growth?

  2. Niche. Do they have a niche that will support them? What makes them different? What can they offer that the big guys can't or won't? They can either specialize in a genre or area (like doctrinal) or they can offer things to the author that others don't.

  3. Quality. Most authors are going to hit DB and Covenant first. If they reject, they work their way down the list. By the time a mss hits a start-up, there's usually a reason they've been rejected by all the others. Do these new guys have access to good mss? Also, what do they do with them once they get them? Do they have the skills, staff, resources to edit well? Typeset and design well?

  4. Distribution. This is the big one. Can they find a cost-effective avenue to the reader? Can they get into bookstores? Can they do the advertising needed to get their book noticed?
Personally, I hope they're successful. If they are, I might think about putting out a shingle. . .

12 comments:

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

I have a contract with WiDo.

It urks me to think that some people think I only submitted there b/c I was rejected everywhere else.

I DID NOT submit to Deseret Book.

I submitted to Covenant nine months before WiDo. When I contacted them before submitting to WiDo, they said they still had my manuscript in committee. I let them know I was submitting elsewhere. All good.

Within six weeks of submitting to WiDo, they offered me a contract. I very happily contacted Covenant (who was still sitting in committee on my ms) to let them know that I'd accepted a contract. They congratulated me and told me they'd stop discussing my ms.

End of story.

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

I didn't submit to DB, CF or Covenant because I knew that they wouldn't publish the genre I write. However last April I gave an elevator pitch to the President of Valor and she asked to see the MS. I am revising to resubmit to them right now. Just because they are small, doesn't mean they are not as good as the big guns.

Michelle

Anonymous said...

It is definitely difficult for smaller publishers to get your book on the shelves in large LDS bookstores like Deseret Book or Seagull and have your title get any visibility. It is even more difficult and expensive getting it advertised in the flyers put out by those stores. So while you may get published with a smaller publisher, the chances of you selling over 1500 books are small unless your publisher has connections and a marketing budget to get you visible. It's not impossible, but definitely more difficult for smaller publishers to be successful in the LDS market and in this economy.

And Tamara, while you may feel "irked," if your book was in committee it had gone fairly far in the process and I don't think it was a good business decision to pull it out. That being said, I wish you all the luck with your book.

Kristine Princevalle said...

LDSP, an insightful, intelligent post as always. Your list is right on the money with what a new publisher must address in order to be successful. I would also add--be careful to not grow too fast too soon, an early success can be a curse instead of a blessing if it gives a false sense of how great it is all going to be.

Tamara and Michelle- best of luck to you in your endeavors with WiDo and Valor. I have read Tamara's ms and so I know personally how good it is. Tamara, you have nothing to worry about, your book is going to sell.

Anonymous-- it "irks" me when people make mean-spirited, negative comments on blogs.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Anon--you misunderstood what I wrote. I'm not urked that my book was in committee. That was fine. I was urked that people might think I published w/ WiDo b/c I had no other choice.

M. Gray said...

Here's props to WiDo for being an outstanding publisher to work with!!! Check out their website, widopublishing.com--they really do have it together.

Anonymous said...

Also sometimes we seem to forget that all of the big name authors--with successful sales--were rejected numerous times before getting a contract. That didn't mean their book wasn't any good. quite the contrary.

We don't have that option with LDS lit. There's only a handful to try. Just because you get a few rejections doesn't mean your literature is of lesser calibre.

Anonymous said...

Kristine, my comment wasn't mean-spirited or negative at all. I merely pointed out that it is difficult for new publishers and new authors to make a go of it in a small LDS niche market and a lagging economy.

Tamara, I did understand what you were irked about. I was stating what I thought about your decision, but I did put "irked" in quotes partially because you've spelled the word irk wrong. I think it's fine that you've gone with a small publisher, but the road is more difficult because of the issues I stated in my previous comment. That's all I was trying to get across. I sincerely wish you the best.

I wasn't trying to be mean-spirited at all, but I do have some expertise in this area and thought I would give an opinion based on my experience. Unfortunately, it seems that this is a blog for one type of comment only and if anything is posted contrary to the opinion of some, it is deemed negative and mean-spirited. It is disconcerting to me that there is not room for everyone here to express themselves no matter what the viewpoint is, but I will respect that and take my experience, opinions, and viewpoints elsewhere.

Sorry to have irked you. Good luck in all of your publishing endeavors.

Kristine Princevalle said...

Sorry, then-- it appears that I misinterpreted your comment. I apologize. Carry on.

Tristi said...

I enjoyed this post as well, and I have to say, right on the money. It's hard to predict what a new publishing company will be able to accomplish their first year or five years out the door - each starts with a plan and with goals and desires, and then it does take a little time to see if those things are realized. As an employee of Valor Publishing, I know that time will tell, but we are proceeding with careful planning, forward thinking, a highly qualified staff, excellent authors, and with the end goal in mind at all times. I'm excited to see what the next year will bring!

Charlie Moore said...

I published first with PublishAmerica, a non-LDS house. Most people in "the biz" give this company a bad rap because they are quite liberal with first time authors. But, what they charge (for the books they sell) is unrealistic so I won't submit to them again. I have also published electronically several short stories on Amazon Shorts, which many have never heard of. Your own Brandon Sanderson has a short, The Hope of Elantris, there that's consistently in the top 50, usually top 25.

The last ms I finished I pitched to several LDS (themed) publishing houses with no takers. Now I'm approaching the finish line for a new WIP which I hope to begin submitting by year's end. It is obvious that for presence in the market a larger, established house is preferable. Hard to argue against that. However, I think a major benefit of signing with an upstart is their desire to succeed (obviously for their livelihood) and you, as an early author with them, get in on the ground floor of that success. Plus, you'll get more personalized interaction.

Charlie