Storymakers: Lisa Mangum, Deseret Book Editor

Notes from the 2008 LDStorymakers Conference

Workshop: Making the Leap
Presenter: Lisa Mangum, Workshop on Friday
Submitted by: Shy Submitter

Five things you can't control:
1. It's a business. We look for what's going to make money. Buying a book in the store is an emotional decision. Buying a manuscript to publish is a business decision.

2. Number of manuscripts submitted in a given year. Deseret Book receives 1500 manuscripts in one year. Of those, 30 are published. [I think this was fiction books?] DB produces 150 products a year, which includes all books, audio, music and paperback reprints.

3. Number of available slots for new authors. DB always has some slots reserved for new authors, but the number varies. In 2006, they published 60 books; 11 were from first time authors.

4. Other manuscripts submitted that are similar to yours. They don't want to publish two books in the same year that will compete with each other. Don't write to a trend. They accept 1 to 2 years out, so by the time a trend is identified, it's over. Be the first of what's coming next.

5. Her mood. It's easier to reject a book when the editor is having a bad day. Sending chocolate won't help. She'll eat the chocolate, but it doesn't change her decision.

Five things you can control:
1. Do your homework. Answer these six questions before submitting: a) Am I in the right slush pile? b) Who is going to buy this? Young girls, women, children? c) How is your book different? Know what's on the market and how your book is different/better. d) What are people buying? Talk to librarians, check best seller lists, etc. e) What is your marketing plan? What special outlets do you have? f) Have I let five honest people give me feedback? People who love you don't count.

2. Follow posted submission guidelines. Please! Make the envelope easy to open. If you want your manuscript returned, send a big enough envelope.

3. Write a killer cover letter. This is your most important page. This is a business letter. Difference between query and cover letter—query is "I'm writing XYZ. Are you interested?"; cover is longer with more detail, informative. Including some proposed back cover copy is fine. 80 to 85% of the titles are changed, but DO put a title on it.

4. Showcase your talent. Include your writing credentials, writing organizations you belong to (like SCBWI), what you've written even if it's not published, show us you have more than one book in you, that we can get a book a year out of you.

5. Deal with your rejection letters. Any type of personalized comment on a rejection letter is good. They only detail what's wrong if it was a close call. Keep writing, keep working because you can't imagine not doing it. "Don't worry. Don't hurry. Don't stop."

Other miscellaneous things:
It takes about two years from acceptance to published book.
They respond in 10 to 12 weeks; you may call or e-mail after 12 weeks.
If you've done significant rewrites, you may resubmit.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for the great information. I really appreciate you taking the time to share. Is it proper blog etiquette to ask a question here? If not forgive me. I looked at the submission guidelines for Deseret Book. They say you can submit a query or a manuscript. If you've written a children's picture book, do you need to submit a query or a cover letter? If so, any suggestions for a first time author as to good templates or examples?

Anonymous said...

Boy do I feel sheepish. I asked the question above and then noticed that Lisa Mangum, to whom I addressed my question, is not the one who submitted the blog. Oops! Does anyone know the answer to my question. DB doesn't mention a cover letter in their submission guidelines. Do I still send one?

Rebecca Talley said...

For a children's picture book, send the entire manuscript with a cover letter. Do not send illustrations. If they accept your manuscript, they will assign an illustrator (there are exceptions to this, but this is generally how it's done). In your cover letter, give a short synopsis of your book, including word count and intended audience. No need to tell them if you haven't been published. Do include any professional memberships like SCBWI and an SASE for their reply. You can research effective queries/cover letters on the internet. The difference between a query and a cover letter is that in a query you're asking if they'd be interested in reading your manuscript, but in a cover letter you're giving a short introduction to the work you've submitted. Keep your cover letter to a page.

Have people read over your manuscript (and your cover letter)before you send it in and make sure it's your very best work. LDS publishers don't tend to publish many picture books so you may want to expand your search, unless your PB is LDS specific.

Good luck. It can be a long process, but people have PBs accepted all the time and yours could be the next one. Never give up.

LDS_Publisher said...

Thanks, Rebecca, for answering the question. I 100% agree.

The only thing I would add is that PB manuscripts have a little different formatting than regular manuscripts. They are also 32 pages, which includes the title page, etc. Go to your local library or do some googling and find examples of PB mss formats.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Rebecca and LDS Publisher so much for the great info.

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. Also, forgive my ignorance, but does mss stand for manuscripts? I'm a computer geek and live in an acronym world as far as technology is concerned, but I'm not up on all the publishing acronyms yet.

Thanks again.

Kellie said...

Thank you for putting all these notes up from the conference. I went to Cleveland last week and left my luggage there. Unfortunately, all my notes from the conference were in my luggage and so I am referring to your blog for what I can't remember on my own!

LDS_Publisher said...

Yes, "mss" means manuscript.

Anonymous said...

In the guidelines, it states that a query letter should be enclosed with the manuscript, but in this blog, Mrs. Mangum talks about a cover letter. Which should I use?

Tom said...

Yesterday I was looking at Deseret Book's publishing guide web page, and today it is gone.

Searching Deseretbook.com doesn't seem to lead to any manuscript submission guidelines as well.

When you Google "Deseret Book Manuscript Submission," Google lists links to the page which was here yesterday but gone today.

Does this mean Deseret Book doesn't accept manuscripts in this manner anymore?

Tom said...

I found the answer to my question.

If anyone else is looking for Deseret Book's manuscript submission guidelines, that page has been moved to here: