Deseret Book Acquires Seagull & Covenant

Just in case you haven't heard yet, Deseret Book acquired Seagull (discount retailer) and Covenant (publisher). They made the announcement this morning.

This was a surprise. I knew they were still "talking," but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would go this way. Well, maybe in my very wildest dreams, but Mr. Kofford has not made it a secret that he enjoys being a competitive pain in DBs side--and so I repeat, this was a surprise.

So now what?

First, I want to say that this is NOT a case of big, bad Deseret Book picking on poor, sweet little Covenant/Seagull. Lew Kofford has enough business savvy that no one is going to walk all over him. This is a wise business move on the part of DB and Kofford seems happy with it. The good news is that DB intends to keep the companies separate and to continue to have Covenant and Seagull function as they have been. That is a better situation than gobbling them up and merging.

But that's the end of the good news. This is a blow to smaller publishers and independent bookstores who are already struggling to compete in a market dominated by a few giants. I wish I could cry "No fair" and accuse them of doing something bad and wrong, but I can't. This is the way business works these days. Wal-Mart does it. Colgate does it. The big NY based publishing conglomerates do it. They purchase smaller houses but let them continue to run themselves.

The fact is, in business, you swim with the big guys or you sink and get eaten. Sometimes the big guy will let you ride on his back rather than eat you up. From a small publisher's point of view, both getting eaten (fast death) or forced to ride the big guy's back are both better options than getting kicked out of the pond and flopping on the banks for awhile, gasping for air, then dying a long, slow torturous death.

And I can't say that if DB approached me tomorrow and made me an offer that I wouldn't sell out. I'd have to think a good long time, but I really don't know what I'd do.

I know many of you want to know how this will effect you--your chances of getting published. For now, it will remain status quo. There will still be two houses/imprints (more actually, because DB has several imprints). They will each specialize in what they are currently specializing in. You will continue to submit to both houses, as you always have and for the same reasons as before. And then we just wait and see.


Time to Vote

It's time to vote on the five Christmas stories submitted to the contest. To see all five stories, click on the label "December 2006 Contest" link at the bottom of this post. Read the stories and vote for your favorites. You can vote for as many stories as you like, but you can only vote for a story once. (Ex: You could vote for #1, #2 and #5, but you can't cast two votes for #3).

For your vote to count, you must post the phrase "I vote for this one" (or something very much like that) so that it's clear you're voting and not just commenting.

I will tally the votes and post the winners after Jan. 1.

Good luck to everyone.


Christmas Story #5

Christmas Lights

Many people had reported seeing a pattern of lights in the sky, with an unusually bright red light on one end. Naturally, most of the adults dismissed this as passing aircraft, although a few were suggesting UFO's. Anyone under ten was convinced it was Santa making test runs. Nine-year-old Amelia had her doubts, but wanted to believe.

The previous night, she had been in her backyard hoping to see the mysterious lights when she heard a sound. She cupped her ears, trying to find the source. It sounded like a faint tinkle of metal. Could it be sleigh bells, ringing from the sky? She heard no more that night but did see the mystical lights for herself.

The next day, Amelia discovered her older brother laughing with a bunch of his friends. When she asked what was so funny, they all tried to look serious.

"It's Guy Stuff; you wouldn't understand," Charlie responded in a lofty tone.

The next evening, she went outside to find Santa. She sat and wrapped herself in a blanket and watched the night sky. She felt a little like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive. She giggled at the thought of Snoopy joining her. She shivered and searched the stars.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a red flash. She turned to look and saw not just one red light, but several! Then some green and blue lights joined them, and there was one red light brighter than the rest.

"Rudolph?," she mouthed almost silently.

She rose walked in the direction of what simply must be Santa's sleigh, until she heard the jingle off to her right. She looked right and then back again at the lights, confused as to how she might hear the sleigh bells over here and see the lights over there.

She cautiously followed the tinkling, still taking nervous glances back at the lights and then heard some different sounds. She approached the tool shed and timidly looked around the corner.

There she saw a mama cat with a belled collar who was giving birth behind the shed. She tried to get a closer look, but the cat hissed. Then, Amelia saw all of the birthing fluid and blood. She shrieked and backed away. As she tried to make sense of what she saw, she noticed that the colored lights seemed to scatter, then wink out.

She silently prayed that her parents would come help, but suddenly her brother Charlie came out of the darkness with his friends. They were all putting something in their pockets, but she didn't have time to wonder what. Charlie asked why she screamed and she pointed at the litter of kittens.

Later, she retold the story to her parents as they all sat around the living room admiring the mama cat and her kittens.

"I went out looking for Santa and I found these wonderful presents instead!"

LDSP Comments: The connection between what the boys are doing and the lights is not clear enough. Were they fireworks? I liked the ending. I think with some work, this might be publishable too.

Christmas Story #4

I Believe in Santa Claus--A True Story

By W. L. Elliott

“I have enough scraps to make dollies for the girls,” I told my husband, after the children had gone to sleep Christmas Eve. “But the boys will just have to understand. They’re old enough.”

“The boys need Christmas, too,” he said quietly. Ten minutes later he came in with scraps of lumber and his knife. While I sewed he started to whittle.

I thought about my children as we sat there in silence. The three boys were quickly becoming young men. Their father, my first husband, died shortly after the youngest boy was born. I’d remarried, learning I was pregnant the day they took my new husband to prison for something he’d done before we met. That made no difference to Bill. As far as he was concerned, the first four were his as much as the two little girls that came after we wed.

I worried how we would feed six children after tomorrow. The Great Depression had left Bill unemployed. He’d desperately looked for work, but everywhere he went there were a hundred others just like him. The only thing left in the pantry were a few cans of beans. When they were gone, I didn’t know what we would do.

At midnight, a loud knock startled us both. Setting my sewing aside, I followed Bill to the door.

“Merry Christmas!” Outside stood a group, led by a man with a white beard, dressed in red.

“I think you have the wrong house,” Bill said.

“Now, Bill,” Santa said with a grin, “We’re right where we’re supposed to be.” They came through the door, each carrying a big box. “Good evening, Luella,” Santa said, “We’ve brought your Christmas feast!”

The boxes were filled to overflowing with groceries, much more than one Christmas dinner. My cupboards were full for the first time in months. Coming out of the kitchen, I found our little tree surrounded with packages, each addressed to one of us.

“Where are the children?” Santa asked.

“They’re asleep,” I answered.

“Well, wake them up!” How could I refuse?

St. Nick shook hands with the boys, calling each by name. Then he turned to the little girls. Shy Charlene clung to my dress and the baby would have nothing to do with him. But five year old Wilma, ever the sensible one, climbed up on his lap.

“Are you really Santa?” she asked.

“Of course, I am!” he answered. “Don’t you believe me? Pull my beard and see for yourself!” She gave it a yank and her dark eyes widened; my little skeptic was convinced.

I noticed a ring on Santa’s finger, intricately carved silver tarnished with age. I studied it, determined that if I ever met this man on the street, I would recognize those who had been so generous.

Sixty years I watched for that ring. I never saw it again, or man that wore it. But the beautiful memory of that fairy tale Christmas never dimmed.

I believe in Santa Claus.

I’ve met him.
LDSP Comments: Good solid story. I would suggest fleshing it out just a bit more, but then I think it would be publishable. I could see something like this in Readers Digest.


Can You Make a Living Writing LDS Fiction?

Hi there again LdSP!

You follow the blogs so I’m sure you’ve already seen
this one. I thought it was an excellent rundown of the different kinds of published authors out there in the big wide world.

So let’s take this info and relate it to the infinitesimal world of LDS publishing.

The way I see it, you have the Jennie Hansens, the Michelle Bells, the Chris Heimerdingers, people like that whom I would assume would be in the # 2 tier. Not criticizing their writing; it’s just that I can’t say (and I’m sure we all know) there aren’t any Pulitzer-Prize winning LDS-themed books out there.

Then you have the little people in the #3 tier like me who are scraping the bottom of the mid-list barrel hoping to find the widow’s mite.

As for #4, I don’t know what to say about the one-hit wonders other than I am working very hard and hoping I won’t be one of them.

I’d love to hear your two cents clinking as they hit the bottom of the think tank!

Merry Christmas!

I wish you a Merry Christmas too--although my comments are going to sound very Scroogey.

Take the income levels hinted at in that post and reduce them down to 1/10th and that's about what you can expect LDS authors in those various tiers to be earning.

Can an LDS fiction author live comfortably off their royalties? Depends on how you define comfortably. There are a few who have enough titles in print selling well that they are making $40,000 plus a year on royalties. But it's a very small group. [And just between the two of us, sometimes I am very surprised to learn who they are because they're not always the best writers.]

It is almost impossible to support yourself (with or without a family) when writing exclusively for any small niche market (including ours)--unless you are able to position yourself as one of the top 10 highly recognizable names in the industry. It's easier for non-fiction writers, but not much.

So, if you want to write LDS fiction AND make a living at writing, you have to branch out and be willing to write in other areas. Write LDS and national. Ghost write or co-author. Write for magazines. Write ad copy or business writing. Do technical manuals or text books. The more you limit your focus, the more you limit your income potential.

Christmas Story #3


I put my gift on the table, smiled hello at the people I recognized and scanned the room. I didn’t see him anywhere.

“Have you see him?” I asked Sharon.

“No,” she said with a shake of her head. “But did you have some of the cake? It’s delicious.”

They had cake already? Did they sing and I missed it? It was his party—every year it was his party. So where was he?

Sharon hailed someone from across the room and I moved toward Ren. “Where is he?” I asked, still peering around bodies, hoping to catch sight of him.

Ren shrugged, “I don’t know,” he said with the same lack of concern Sharon had showed.

“You haven’t seen him?”

“Nope,” he said with a shake of his head. “Did you get me anything?”

“You?” I repeated. Why would I bring a present for Ren?

His shoulders slumped and he walked off muttering. I watched him go, perplexed, then looked around the room again. Maybe I wasn’t at the right place.

Everyone was eating, laughing, talking, enjoying themselves. Was I the only one that noticed his absence?

I saw Cloe on the other side of the room and hurried toward her. Maybe she would know. When she turned to me, I didn’t waste any time.

“Where is he?” I asked. “No one’s seen him.”

“Oh, he’s not here,” she said evenly, stabbing her final bite of cake with her Santa-handled fork.

“But it’s his party,” I said as she put the cake in her mouth. “Why isn’t he here?”

“Well,” she said once she swallowed, blinking her big blue eyes and looking thoughtful. “I don’t think he was invited.”

It was my turn to blink. “Not invited?” I echoed. “Why not?

Cloe shrugged. “Don’t get all bent out of shape. The point it we get to celebrate. In fact, we combined it with Ren’s welcome home party and Lisa’s baby shower. Isn’t that great?”

“Why would you do that?”

“Well, it didn’t seem fair to do all this just for him, yah know—I mean what makes him so special? We wanted everyone to feel included.”

That was the strangest thing I’d ever heard of. “But without him? He’s the one that started all this. What about the gift I brought?”

“Just give it to someone else—Lisa maybe.”

“Lisa?” I said, my frustration showing in my voice. “But He’s the reason I’m here at all.”

“Yeah,” she said with a nod. “I get it. It’s his birthday—and Ren’s welcome home and Lisa’s baby shower.” She put a hand on my arm and leaned in, her tone hinting that I should know all this already. “It’s not about him anymore,” she whispered. “So just have a good time, okay, that’s what this is about—oh and the food and the presents.” She laughed. “But don’t make a big deal about it, okay, we don’t want anyone to get upset. It would totally ruin the party.”

LDSP Comments: Another variation on a theme. I've heard similar stories. I like this one better than #2 because it does have more originality to it. Also, it made me stop, think and re-evaluate my Christmas behavior. That's always a good thing. Still, not original enough for publication.


Complimentary Rejections

[This letter was edited slightly to keep the friend anonymous.]


I'm hoping you can answer a question for me. I have a friend who has written several booklets that are nonfiction on [various] topics. She says she has queried every agent in Writers Market and approached every publisher who does what she writes, and has received nothing but rejections. She's also contacted every LDS publisher there is [...]. She's wondering what to do next. She says the rejections have all been complimentary, so I have to think that her writing must be at least a little bit good, but I'm wondering if maybe her content is just not selling well or what have you. The only thing I can think of would be to have her break her books up into articles and sell them to magazines, which actually might make her better money than royalties. If you say, $300 an article and you'd have to sell 300 books to get that, or more, articles might be the way to go.

At any rate, I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts.

Beulah. :)

Hi Beulah. Good to hear from you again. If your friend has that many rejections on the same project, then something is wrong with either her approach or her concept or possibly the quality of her writing.

I went through my company's logs to see if I could figure out who your friend was, if we had been queried, and why her query/manuscript was rejected. I'm not absolutely certain, but if it's the one I think it is, her query letter was not very compelling. Part of the notes said, "Not sure what exactly this is..."

If the query I'm thinking of is not your friend's, this is still a good time to reinforce what a query letter should do. It needs to clearly indicate what the project is. It needs to clearly summarize or include a short synopsis of the plot. And, very important here, it needs to provide a marketing hook. When I finish reading a good query, I can immediately pigeon-hole it into a marketing slot--I know who would buy it, who would read it, how to classify it, how to differentiate it, and how to sell it. If I have questions in these areas, I'll probably pass. So if you think it might be the query, have your friend submit it to a critique group or to several published authors to get help polishing it up.

The other problem might be the concept. "Booklet" can mean anything from a long greeting card to a small book. Depending on where it falls in that continuum, it might not be something that is selling right now. Booklets go in and out of fashion (kind of like skirt lengths for women). I can't speak for other companies, but right now we're just not in the market for anything less than 150 pages.

I think your magazine article idea is a good one, especially if she can sell it as a serialization or present herself as a regular columnist. I'm not aware of any good paying LDS magazines that are looking for that, but there are a lot of Christian magazines out there. She might also try local magazines or even newspapers. Papers don't pay much, but if she's never published before, that would give her credentials.

Christmas Story #2

A woman walked into the convenience store, obviously from out of town by her clothing and mannerisms. When she put her purchases on the counter, I asked her where she was from.

“Is it so obvious I’m not from here?” she asked.

I just smiled. “What do you think of our city?”

She hesitated for a moment and then shook her head. “No offense, sir, but it’s horrible. I saw people lined up for the soup kitchen across the street, what looked like gang members lounging outside an old church and with the graffiti and obvious poverty . . . ” She shook her head again. “I came to visit my son for the holidays but it just doesn’t feel like Christmas. I’d rather be anywhere but here”

Several minutes later another woman walked into the convenience store, obviously from out of town by her clothing and mannerisms. When she put her purchases on the counter, I asked her where she was from.

“Is it so obvious I’m not from here?” she asked.

I just smiled. “What do you think of our city?”

She hesitated for a moment and then shook her head. “It’s amazing. I saw people lined up for the soup kitchen across the street, with dozens of volunteers inside to serve them. I saw some teenage boys hanging out in front of a church, holding the door open as people came for holiday services. I saw tinsel and Christmas decorations amid the graffiti . . ." She shook her head again. “I came to visit my son for the holidays and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Christmas so starkly before. So many people with so little, and yet the Christmas spirit is so strong. I can’t think of a better place to be for Christmas.”

Several minutes later another woman walked into the convenience store, obviously from out of town by her clothing and mannerisms. When she put her purchases on the counter, I asked her where she was from.

“Is it so obvious I’m not from here?” she asked.

I just smiled. “What do you think of our city?”

She regarded me for a moment. “What do you think of your city?” she asked me in return. “I came to visit my son for the holidays and I just don’t know what to make of this place. What will I find here this Christmas season?”

“Well, ma’am, it depends on what you look for.”

LDSP Comments: This is a variation on a theme. I've heard similar stories before. Even with the Christmas twist, it's not original enough to be published.

Christmas Story #1

By Melanie Goldmund

"My cloak is malfunctioning," Rebekah said, jiggling the controls on her belt. If her personal cloaking device wasn't working, she'd have to break off the patrol and go back to the ship for a new one. Thankfully, her long iridescent robe disappeared. "No, it's good now."

"Keep it that way," Adam ordered.

They approached the huge domes, the only sign of life on this arid planet, and began to stroll around the perimeter. They'd had to make an emergency landing, desperately searching for a source of talipe to repair their ship, and had found the only deposit uncomfortably close to this alien outpost. Now, everybody who wasn't involved with the repairs had been assigned to covertly observe the human-like beings while they waited for instructions from Fleet Headquarters on whether they should approach.

"It's quiet," Rebekah said. "Maybe they're observing the Sabbath Day, too."

"Oh, right, aliens do everything just like we do?" Adam scoffed.

"Look." Rebekah diverted his attention. A window ahead was hung with small lights of all different colours.

"A decoration?" Adam mused. "No, a child's toy."

Feeling bold, Rebekah stopped to stare. On the other side of the window, a child was playing with something on the sill, turning it around to face the outside, and picking up any fallen pieces. It was a kind of three-sided dwelling with a roof suggesting organic grasses, and a star arcing over it. Gently, the child slid animals back into place, and also humans in different kinds of clothing, arranging them around what appeared to be a baby bedded down in a small feeding trough. Rebekah felt a thrill run down her spine.

"Adam," she said slowly. "Adam, a depiction of the birth of the Saviour!"

"Do you have to bring religion into everything?" Adam peered closer. "Looks like some kind of Family Farm playset to me."

"The scriptures say the Saviour was born in a stable, and that looks like a stable," Rebekah countered. "Those four-legged things are definitely animals, and these men with them could be shepherds. And look at these figures on the right. There's something in their hands, and their costumes look much more opulent than what the others are wearing. Wise men from afar, bearing gifts! There's even a star on the roof!"

"Rebekah, these are aliens!" Adam protested. "They don't know anything about your precious Saviour!"

"The Saviour has created worlds without number," Rebekah countered. "Why wouldn't their inhabitants know about Him, if He created them, too?"

"Of all the people on board the ship, I get stuck with a Believer!" Adam growled. "Come on!"

There was a buzzing sound from Rebekah's belt, and her robe flashed into visibility. The child glanced up, and Rebekah caught a glimpse of wide open eyes and mouth. Instinctively, Rebekah jumped away, jabbing at the controls until her cloak faded again.


Inside the dome, the child ran into the next room. "Mom, mom, I saw an angel, looking at our Nativity set, right here on Mars!"

LDSP Comments: I liked this one. I liked the idea of Christmas being celebrated on other planets. Some of the dialog was a little flat (predictable). It needs to be a developed--but I only gave you a few words so it's a pretty good start. Publishable? With a little work.


You're Kidding Me, Right?

Actual conversation after query and partial had been submitted and a full requested.

Author: So you're saying you want to see the entire manuscript with the idea of publishing it in the spring?

Publisher: Yes. I think it would be great to release it in early March so it will be available for conference sales.

Author: Oh, well, I'm not sure I can have it ready by then. I've only written the first three chapters and I just have an outline of the rest of the story. In fact, I'm rethinking the ending so it might take me a while to finish it. I'm really busy right now. Maybe I can have it to you by fall...oh, wait, I'm going to Europe this next summer so fall won't work for me...

Publisher: Never mind. I'm not really interested, after all.


[P.S. This type of post is just one of the reasons why I am anonymous. If you knew I was Edith Editor at XYZ Publishing, I would never be able to tell you about these types of events. But because I'm anonymous, the Author stays anonymous too and can therefore be an example to everyone of what not to do. And to further the anonymity of the Author, this conversation did not happen this week or even this month. I've been saving it so that no one would be able to figure out who the poor clueless author is.]


Submitting During the Holidays

Is December a bad time to submit manuscripts? Or are editors too busy with end of the year stuff? Would they be more or less likely to give a manuscript their full attention during the holidays?

The number one secret to know about editors and publishers is we are people too. We have parties and gift giving and other merry-making to do, just like everyone else. So yes, we say go ahead and submit in December, but chances are it's going to take a little longer for us to get around to reading it. And one good thing about LDS publishers, we're rarely working with an after-office-party hangover. So submit whenever you want with full confidence that when we do (finally) get to your manuscript, it will get our full attention--just as it would during the rest of the year.

[P.S. You've just stumbled upon the REAL reason I'm running a contest in December. I'm hoping your stories will disguise the fact that I'm too busy ho-ho-ho-ing to write serious posts. And speaking of your stories, where are they??]


Starting a Writers Group

You keep suggesting that we should be part of a writers critique group. I found one, but they are 60 miles away. Just how do I go about finding another one that is closer to me? Do you have some guidelines on what makes a good group and how groups should work?

If you can't find a group that fits your needs, consider starting one. You can post info at your local library or on a forum board asking for interested parties in your area. But the BEST way to create a group is to go to a writers conference for your area and mingle. Find other authors who you like, who seem like they would be fun to work with, who have some skill in writing (you can usually find out their skill level by attending the critique workshop offered by the conference, or by the types of questions they ask other people). Then ask if they'd be interested in forming a writers critique group.

As for guidelines, yes, I've got some good ones somewhere at home but I am in the middle of moving and they're probably already packed up. (Yes, I know...moving in December, what was I thinking?!!?) I'll try to remember to find them and post them here after I move, but if you don't see a post by February, someone e-mail and remind me that I promised to do that.

[That hollow thudding sound you're hearing right now is my head, banging against the empty U-Haul...]


Christmas Contest

The holidays are coming up and let's do another contest. I wasn't going to do one until January, but what can I say? If I don't have WAY too much to do, then I feel like I'm not doing anything at all.

Theme: Unpublished HOLIDAY SHORT STORY, 250 to 500 words. (It doesn't have to be new writing. You can send something you wrote years ago, but no previously published stories.)

You can submit as many stories as you like, but send only one story per e-mail. (So if you have four stories, send me four different e-mails.)

Paste entire story into an e-mail and send to me.

SUBMIT it any time between now and December 25th.

I will post all submissions.

VOTE between December 26th and December 31st.

Winner will be announced after New Year's.

Prizes: Reader's Choice and Publisher's Choice, both get their choice of any LDS paperback fiction book in print.

Spread the word!


Contest Creds

Dear LDSpublisher,

I've been thinking about entering some writing contests. I fully understand that these contests, in order to protect their rights to the first-place pieces, often request you withdraw your piece from submission circulation until their winners are announced. For some competitions, that can mean a wait of 6, 7, or 8 months from the time you submit until the announcement date.

While I believe my work is good enough to be entered and noticed, I honestly don't believe I will be the ONE first-place winner in a national contest with hundreds, maybe thousands of entrants. I'd more likely find a living dinosaur grazing peacefully in my backyard! What I'm hoping to do with my entries is garner at least some type of recognition: an encouraging response, a contact with a possible publisher/editor, or maybe an honorable mention or two. Those things look good on cover letters. [They look good to you and to your friends and family, and maybe on a job resume at a PR firm, but agents and publishers mostly ignore this.]

If I do enter these contests, should I continue to submit my pieces through the standard, often slow editorial process during the competition's 'waiting' period? And if that is okay, should I mention to the other publishers that this piece is currently an entrant in The XYZ Writing Competition to be decided on such-and-such a date? What do you recommend?

The first thing you need to do is determine why you want to enter the contest. If it's not to win, why bother? There are faster and easier ways to get encouraging responses and attention, like a writers critique group. There are writer associations that hold annual conferences that often feature critique as part of their event. (Ex: LDS Storymakers)

I, personally, would not remove a piece from submission to enter it into a contest. If it's good enough to garner contest attention, then it will also catch the attention of the publisher--and that's your end goal, right? Why back away from it?

If you have a piece that you're not currently submitting and you want to put it in a contest, that's fine. Make sure the contest is legit--there are judges with credentials (a variety of professional editors, writers, etc.), prizes that are meaningful (cash, publication, etc.) and the entry fee is reasonable (under $100). You can find out about scam contests at Preditors & Editors.

I don't care what contest you're entered in. I don't usually care if you've won. Don't mention that you've entered a contest in your query unless it will affect the agent's/editor's ability to acquire it. And if it will, then don't submit it. If you happen to win a legit contest, you may put that at the end of your query if you feel you must, but quite honestly, the quality of your writing is what is going to sell your piece, not any contest you may have won.


Self-Publishing: Black Mark or Gold Star?

Hello, LDSPublisher!

Hope your holiday was great! [It was, thank you.] I have another question for you.

I've heard conflicting opinions of self-publishing. When I first began seriously considering publishing a novel, I was advised that self publishing was tatamount to professional suicide. And yet, I've also heard of several authors who have made a real go of the do-it-yourself route.

What do you think? As a publisher, is a self-published work on a resume a black mark? Or a gold star? Or something in between? Would you be more apt to publish someone who had a self published book, supposing it sold moderately well, or would you be more inclined to avoid them? What about publishers outside the LDS market - is there a difference of opinion there?

I guess the real gist of the question is: Is this a road that I might look into, or would I be better off staying on the main publishing highway, so to speak?


Here's the thing with self-publishing. If you know what you're doing, or you have good advisors, you can be successful at it. If not, it can be a financial disaster. The majority of self-publishers fall into the disaster category. That is why self-publishing has such a bad reputation.

There is also the bias that if it was any good, a "real" publisher would have picked it up. That's not necessarily the case, but people still believe it.

Self-publishing does not have to be professional suicide or a black mark on your career, but it's not an automatic gold star either. It depends on the quality of the finished product, how many and how fast you sold them, and the method you used to sell them (ex: bookstores, personal appearances, online marketing, etc.).

For self-publishing to count with me, it would need to be professionally created so that I could not tell by looking that it was s.p. -- and I am picky. I'd expect to be able to find something about the book by googling the title. I would need verified sales of over 2,000 in the first year. Outside the LDS market, sales would need to be higher.

This is definitely a road you might want to look into, but you need to be very, very careful. The first step is to find a distributor. Do this before you print anything. If they like your manuscript/idea, they should be willing to help you find professional editors, typesetters, printers, etc. Not all distributors will help you like this, but many of the smaller ones will.

I also recommend a couple of books by Tom and Marilyn Ross, The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing and Jump Start Your Book Sales. Those two are my favorites. Dan Poynter also has some books on self-publishing, but he's sometimes a little unrealistic about how easy it is to do it yourself and how much money you can make from it.

If you're writing for the masses, avoid POD because that usually prices you out of the market. If you have highly specialized info, you can sometimes get away with the PODs. Also, be prepared to do a LOT of marketing. Another book I like is Guerilla Marketing for Writers by Levinson, Larsen and Frishman. They have some good ideas and they try to keep it within a budget.

I know that these are superficial answers. This is a huge subject that can be debated from lots of different angles. There are pros and cons to both traditional and self-publishing. It all depends on what you goals are and the size of financial risk you're able to take. If you have more specific questions, I'm happy to answer them.