Newly Posted LDS Fiction

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

Reunion by Allyson Braithwaite Condie

The Clone Elite by Steven L. Kent

Grace by Richard Paul Evans

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.


Why Bother?

G'day LdsPublisher

I have a question, but I really wasn't going to ask it, because it may be more of a personal issue than anything else. But, on your recent post, you asked for more questions, so here i am. Do with it as you wish.

The publishing world seems to have already been a difficult wall to break through. Now, considering the increasingly unhelpful markets, I can only imagine the idea of publishing (for a first time fictional author) even more so impossible. So, my question is, unless you've got those magic ties and favors to roll in, why bother?

I hope that didn't seem too over-dramatic, but it's a serious thought on my mind.

Why bother? Because despite the pain in the neck it can be to get published, having your words in print is one of the most wonderful things in the world.

All publishers, even the unhelpful ones, are looking for new authors. Most publishing houses have several slots in their schedule specifically reserved for new authors. If you have a burning desire to write and to publish, go for it. Keep trying.


Finding Readers

I have a YA fantasy that I am almost ready to give to readers. I have a few readers. One is published in a different genre and the other two are avid readers. My problem is that they are all related to me so I'm sure their opinion isn't unbiased. How do I find readers that are familiar with my genre and aren't related to me?
Best way is a writers group.

Or my readers could volunteer in the comments section.


Write Before You Query

I have some good ideas for books and I'm ready to start querying agents. Just curious if you can tell me about how long after an agent accepts me will I have to write the book?
Are you talking fiction? Fiction books need to be finished BEFORE you start querying agents. Or publishers. You need to write it. Then have some readers go through it—not family or close friends, but discriminating readers who know something about what's selling today. Make changes based on your readers' suggestions. When your book is as perfect as you can get it, then you're ready to start querying.

If you're talking non-fiction, if it's your first book, I'd suggest you be fairly close to done before querying. If you have a platform, do a lot of public speaking on your topic and are generally known as an expert in the field, you might be able to get by with an outline and the first few chapters when you query. But plan to be able to finish the book in 3 to 6 months—the sooner the better.

P.S. I'm out of questions. Please send more.


Uhm, Did You Get My E-mail?

I'm not working with an LDS publisher. I've submitted to a small national publisher. But I'm hoping you can help me anyway. This publisher likes things via e-mail, not snail mail. (Thanks for telling me to check their website for preferences.) Anyway, I sent a query and after two weeks, I got an answer back. They wanted the first two chapters. So I sent them. No problem there.

The problem is that the day after I sent the chapters, I realized I was having some e-mailing issues. I had two friends tell me they hadn't gotten my e-mails. As far as I can tell, the e-mail with the chapters went through but what if it didn't? Do I send an e-mail asking if they got the chapters? Or just assume they did and wait? And if I wait, and they didn't get the e-mail, then will they think I'm not interested in them anymore?
You do the same thing you do when you send a package in the mail. You assume they got it because 99.9% of the time, they will.

Do they give you an expected turn-around time with partials? If so, wait that amount of time. If they don't, then give them 30 days. If you don't hear anything from them by then, send an e-mail.


Newly Posted LDS Fiction

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

Promises to Keep: Diane's Story by Dean Hughes

The Indigo King by James A. Owen

Above and Beyond by Betsy Brannon Green

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.


Submitting Illustrations

This might seem strange to you, or may not. I'm an illustrator (mostly children's) however I have done stuff for the Ensign mag. and such. But I was wondering (I came across your blog) if you worked with anyone in the LDS publishing field who works in the children's book area. I'm wanting to send my portfolio for possible consideration for illustrating and I'm really not having any luck finding any publisher contact info anywhere.

I've had questions on illustrating before, so this isn't strange.

Read my ansers here and here .

Go to the bookstore and find out who publishes illustrated children's books. Then check their websites for guidelines on submissions. If you can't find any (and you probably won't), call or e-mail and ask for their guidelines for submitting illustrations.


Big Publisher vs Small Publisher

I'm receiving pressure from several writing friends to submit to two different publishers. What is your opinion regarding submissions in the LDS Market for a first time author? Do you think they should start out with the top LDS publishers, or try for some of the smaller publishers, and what do you see as the benefits or disadvantages of each?

First off, submitting to the "top" publisher and working your way down the popularity list is not the smartest way to work. Look first for a good match with your book. The "top" publisher may not publish your type of book and to submit to them would be a waste of your time and money, and theirs.

Visit DB and/or Seagull—in person or on line. Find books that are on the shelf/site that are similar to yours—similar in genre, topic, etc. Make a list of those publishers. Then go to their websites and carefully read their submission guidelines, which usually include what types of books they're looking for.

You're also looking for whether they accept multiple submissions or if they require an exclusive. If they require exclusives, plan on your mss being in their hands for up to 6 months. This makes is a very slow process.

Once you've got your list of publishers that are a good match for what you've written, talk to any authors you know who publish with them. See if you can get them to give you their honest opinion on things like how easy the editors are to work with, the amount of time it takes to get from acceptance to store shelf, how much publicity and marketing they do. If you find an author who just raves about their publisher, you might consider putting that company at the top of your list.

Bigger publisher. Advantages—they have more money to promote/market your book; they generally accept a higher number of mss in a year; they have name brand recognition so your book will probably sell better. Disadvantages—you're one of many authors they're working with; if another book explodes, they'll concentrate on them and your book may be neglected if it's not selling as well.

Smaller publisher. Advantages—you generally get more personal interaction with the editor/publisher; they need your book to sell so they'll focus on it. Disadvantages—they don't have the budget or the connections of the big guys. No signing tours or other perks.

Here's some info from Evil Editor. Click this link:
Large Press, Small Press, Short Press, Tall Press
Then copy and paste the title in his search box.


Serials are Serious Business

Can a solo book be sold to a publisher more easily if it can be spun into a series?

In my opinion, yes. It's much easier to sell a second and a third book by the same author than it is to sell the first book by a new author. Series books ride the coattails of their predecessors and require less work to get them into the stores.

However, don't send a fully outline of an entire series with the submission of your first book. Query the first book, then add one sentence at the end of the letter along the lines of, "I have ideas for serializing these characters."


Newly Posted LDS Fiction

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

Easterfield by Anna Jones Buttimore

The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Royal Target by Traci Hunter Abramson

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.


Do I Have to Write Before I Speak?

I'm a fairly successful blogger. (Around 1200 hits a day, during the week--less on weekends. Apparently I attract people who should be working.) Anyway, what my true dream is, is to be on the LDS speaker's circuit. I realize I can't get a job visiting Stake Conferences (and truly, who would want to?). I'm not a religion professor, so the whole know your religion stuff is out of reach for me. But, women's conferences, youth conferences, that Deseret Book sponsored "Time out for Women" thing. I want to do that.

I'm actually a good speaker. And once upon a time, I was a professional trainer, so I know I'm good in front of a crowd. Give me a clip on microphone and I'm ready to go. But, I think I need to publish a book to get noticed. (Somehow I doubt even an Ensign article will do what it takes.) Do you think this is true? Deseret Book isn't going to have me on their speaker tour unless I publish with them, so in order to fill my dream, do I have to 1. write a book and 2. get Deseret Book to publish it? Is there another way?
If there isn't another way, is it best to write a doctrinal book, humorous "women's issue" book, sappy "women's issue" book, or fiction?

I realize this is probably a funny question to ask a publisher, but I figured you'd have greater insight than I do on this issue. I suppose you love for your authors to do this type of thing because it sells books.

This is funny. Well, not funny ha-ha, but unusual. It's the exact opposite of most people I talk to on a regular basis, who write a book and then want into the speaking circuit as a way to promote their book.

I'm not sure I can fully answer this question, so readers, please chime in. This is what I know. It is difficult to get into the LDS speaking circuit, particularly the BYU women's conferences. There is an application process. You have to send a video. And it can take years. It's easier to get in to the BYU-Idaho conference, and once there, you have a stepping stone to BYU in Provo.

Time Out for Women is one giant commercial for Deseret Book and their products. That's not to demean it or say it isn't useful or helpful to those that attend. From all I've heard, it's a wonderful event and enjoyed by all. But you do have to have a DB book or product.

You don't need a book to speak at youth conferences or enrichment nights. What you need are a few people to give you a start, do a fabulous job and then word will spread. It's easiest to do this if you have a timely topic to discuss that would be of interest to these groups—literacy, last days, finances, etc.

The reason authors have an easier time breaking in to the speaking circuit is because their book sets them up as an "authority" in their subject area. It's a credential. You can get your credentials in other ways—like through a successful blog. But you need to find someone who will get you started, and I'm not sure how to do that.

If you do decide to write, what you write depends on what you want to speak about. If you want to speak on doctrinal issues, write a doctrinal book. If you want to speak on women's issues, write a book about that.

Readers? Are any of you popular LDS speakers? What advice do you have?


E-Books, Again

Lots of good input on my question from yesterday. I really appreciate it.

Let's use coloring books as an example, because they're close to what we're looking at, although some will be more workbook style, or crosswords, or word searches or whatever. Ideally, we'd produce locked pdf files, where people can't change anything in the file. We'd want our customer to be able to download it and print it from their computer. Also, we have no problem with a customer printing multiple copies for their own children, or for their Primary class. What we don't want is for the Stake Primary president to buy it, then print copies for every teacher in every ward in the stake. We also don't want individuals to buy one copy, then e-mail it to all their siblings, aunts, cousins, neighbors, etc.

Now. My personal belief is that if people want to cheat and want to "steal" copies, they're going to find some way to do it. Even if they buy a printed book, they can always take it down to Kinko's and print a million copies on the self-serve machines and no one is the wiser. Also, I believe that most people are honest and when you explain about copyright and what is and isn't allowed, they will follow that. Especially if they're LDS.

But, one of our authors is refusing to let us do it unless we can somehow make sure that their book can't be easily stolen. They feel that because it's so much easier to e-mail a file than it is to physically photocopy it, that they'll lose control over their product which they've worked very hard to create.

Comments? Ideas? Suggestions? Thoughts? Feelings?


Looking for a New Best Friend

I've been answering questions on this blog for 2 1/2 years now. Can you believe that? I ought to throw a party or something. Instead, I'm throwing a question out to you and hoping upon hope that one or more of you will have an answer for me.

I've been a little swamped lately. Have you ever noticed that just when your job becomes do-able, and you're feeling like you've hit your stride, the boss comes by and throws something at you that is so above and beyond your current skill set that suddenly you're drowning?

That wasn't the question. Keep reading.

We have some game/workbook type products that we're considering but we want to make them available via electronic download, as well as the traditional printed format. So my task is to find a way to create and deliver the e-files that will allow them to be printable and retain their formatting, like a pdf file, but that can't be e-mailed or transferred between computers. Oh, and it needs to be something that I can learn to do in-house.

Any ideas?


Newly Posted LDS Fiction

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

Leven Thumps and the Wrath of Ezra by Obert Skye

Night's Master by Amanda Ashley

Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel by N.C. Allen

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.


The Value of a Sequel

I’ve been told that having a sequel to a book will help boost the sales of the first book. Is this true? And if so, how much of an increase should I expect?

This is one of those areas that we can't exactly quantify. Sometimes a sequel boosts sales of the first book, sometimes book two doesn't even sell as much as book one. Depends.

Let's say 100 people buy your first book. (I know, you'd rather I say 1,000,000 bought your first book, but I really don't want to type all those zeroes.) They read it and like it and tell their friends. The friends plan to buy book one but never get around to it. After a while they forget about it and they never buy the book. End of story. End of sales.

Until the sequel comes along. Those same 100 people who bought book one, and liked it, all go buy book two. (This isn't reality, but pretend it is.) They read it and like it and tell their friends. Some of these friends are ones they hadn't told about book one. Some of them are the same ones they told before. Some of their new friends go buy the books, and the old friends go, "Oh, yeh. I was gonna' get book one and I forgot." So about half of the old friends go out and buy both book one AND book two. The other half plan to, but never do. And some of the new friends go buy both books too.

Then volume three comes out and the original 100 people who bought the books, plus fifty of their old friends, plus a handful of their new friends all go out and buy book three. They read it and like it and this time, they make fun of their friends who haven't read it yet—old and new. Peer pressure builds and now an additional 300 people go out and buy all three books.

So. If the first book is good, then yes, sequels help add more to their sales. If the books aren't so good, you'll see everything in the reverse, with fewer people purchasing each new book in the series, until eventually the publisher decides it's not worth his/her time and money.

But that would never happen to YOU because YOUR book is going to be wonderful, right?


Light-handed Editing in LDS Novels

Thanks so much for all the great work you do on the LDS Publisher blog. I really enjoy reading it. [You're welcome.]
I'm an aspiring LDS fiction author. I've been studying a lot about writing and have attended several writing conferences. It's kind of ruined reading for me. When I read, I see so many mistakes, it's distracting.
My question is this: Why are established LDS authors not held to the same standards as those of us who are trying to break into this business? I've been reading [Amy Author's] newest book. I see so many mistakes she makes. On one page I counted 14 unnecessary "that's" she could have left out. There are POV problems all over the place, and lots of other things which I've learned and been taught are incorrect.
I look forward to your insight.

Yes, well. You're never going to find a perfect book. Not even ones that I've edited and/or published are error free. (Gasp! I know. I've burst your bubble and shattered your high opinion of me. Sorry.) However, light-handed editing has been one of my issues with LDS publishing, even before I became a publisher. Twenty years ago, I did book reviews for a local paper and I hated reviewing LDS novels for that very reason. The basic plot might have been good, but the writing was so poor you couldn't get through the story. That is part of the reason LDS fiction has gotten a bad rap.

Things have improved since then. I read a new LDS fiction release last week (not published by my company) that had almost no errors in it. It was great. The quality of editing varies between publishers. IMHO, some companies are nearly always weak in that area, while others are usually strong. However, even the strongest sometimes put out weakly edited books.

Why? Because once an author is established, it's harder to force editing upon them. They argue with you over every little thing. Plus, you know their book will sell based on the strength of their name, and the publisher wants to get it out fast, so they sometimes cut corners in this area. (This happens in the national market too. I can think of several authors whose writing have declined as they've gotten more popular.)

So, to answer your question, why were there so many mistakes in the book you mentioned? Because someone got lazy—either the author (who can't really edit out the "that's"--that is what editors are for), or the editor.

Other posts that touch on the topic of editing can be found here, and here, and here. And here's one from an author's perspective.


Submission Opportunity

Dear LDS Publisher:

I was referred to you by Laura Craner and wonder if you might help me promote something that I think is a worthwhile enterprise, especially in light of your site's interest in Mormon culture. My proposal is as follows (an invitation originally posted on A Motley Vision just yesterday):

Call for Submissions

Sensing a lack of critical (as in the literary sense) approaches to Stephenie Meyer, her work, and their cultural connections in the general Twilight discourse, I've put together (with Laura Craner's editing help and William Morris' technical assistance) an online, open access literary journal in an effort to bridge that gap. It's called Reading Until Dawn: Critical Essays on Stephenie Meyer.

Knowing that there are people out there who can bring critical insight and textually supported readings to this conversation, we're extending an invitation for critical essays to be published in the first issue, "The Persistence of Stephenie Meyer". Whether you consider yourself academic or amateur, you can submit as many essays as you want.

What We're Looking For

We're looking for well-written essays that thoughtfully explore the Twilight novels and their reception and that contribute critical dimensions to our understanding of Meyer's work and her place in contemporary American, world, and even, since Meyer has been so open about her Mormon-ness, Latter-day Saint culture and literature. Contributors need not be LDS or be major fans (or detractors) of Meyer's work. We're simply looking for submissions that say something interesting about the novels.

Submissions, Issue Close Date, and Contact Info

If you're interested in contributing (or know someone who might be), please refer to this Introduction to catch scent of our rationale and submit your essays (of between 2,500 and 5,000 words, in Microsoft Word, RTF, or WordPerfect format, and according to MLA bibliographic guidelines) according the procedures laid out here. Please include a brief bio statement to be published with your essay.

The essays for the first issue will be published as they're accepted and the first issue will be closed on January 15, 2009.

Any questions can be directed to me (Tyler) here.

Thanks for your consideration.



Newly Posted LDS Fiction

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

The Highway Man of Tanglewood by Marcia Lynn McClure

Bethlehem's Star by Bevan Olsen

The Ruby by Jennie Hansen

The Elf and the Magic Windows by Ted Hindmarsh

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.



1) If you receive a submission without an SASE, will you find a way to contact an author if you are not interested in the manuscript?

2) Should authors always include an SASE?

3) Does including an SASE make you think the author doesn't think very highly of his work?

1) Not usually. If the author gives me their e-mail address, I will reject them via e-mail. I do not make rejection phone calls. I do not send rejection letters on my own dime, unless I want to encourage the author.

2) If the publisher's submission guidelines say to include an SASE, then include it.

3) Heck, no! It makes me think they're willing to follow directions.

Overall, on the SASE issue, I'm all for everyone—publishers, agents, authors—to get with the 21st century and do submissions and rejections via e-mail. It saves everyone time, money and trees.


October 2008 Sponsors

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

The Journey by Jewel Adams

The war between good and evil is as old as time itself– so is the absolute truth that each choice is accompanied by a consequence. Ciran is about to be faced with both. Two roads lie ahead. Only one leads home. Which will she choose?

Ciran is a young woman from the land of Krisandor. She must leave this land, as must everyone born there, to go on a journey to discover who they are and if they can earn their way back to Krisandor. To guide her, she has words of wisdom written on a scroll and is told to read it everyday. During her jouney, Crian discovers that her choices have consequences and some of these consequences could prevent her from returning to her beloved Krisandor.

J. (Jewel) Adams was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. Her hard childhood spurred her imagination and later on those imaginings fueled her love for writing. She moved to Utah in 1989 and started writing seriously a few years later.

Jewel is a wife and the mother of eight children. When she is not home schooling her children or writing, she loves to curl up with a box of chocolates and read, her favorite books being romance and fantasy novels. She frequently speak to youth and adult audiences. She has a great love for the youth and because of her own painful childhood, she is always anxiously engaged in helping them to understand how marvelous and special they are. She also loves doing signings and meeting new people. Jewel and her family live in West Point, Utah. She loves hearing from her fans. You can write to J. Adams at: jewela at netzero dot net. Visit Jewels Blog at jewelsbestgems.blogspot.com

All's Fair by Julie Coulter Bellon

Political campaign expert Kristen Shepherd excels at staying cool under pressure, but this time she’s in over her head. After leaving her high-profile fiancĂ© at the altar, she uncovers the shocking truth about the man she nearly married—truth that could ruin her life. With the press on her tail, the only person she can trust is Ryan Jameson, her political opponent and former boyfriend.

Army doctor and LDS convert Brandon Shepherd shares his sister Kristen’s talent for keeping a level head, and his newfound faith gives him steady strength during times of turmoil. But when he and fellow doctor Rachel Fields are seized as Iraqi prisoners of war, he faces a crisis of personal integrity that may cost him his life.

In this gripping tale of unlikely heroes and unexpected romance, two siblings must risk everything for freedom. And in the heat and sand of enemy territory, they discover that all’s fair in love, even if not in war.

Julie Bellon and her husband Brian are the parents of seven children. Julie's greatest joy is being a mother and spending time with her family. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education—English teaching, and she currently teaches a journalism course for BYU Continuing Education. When she's not busy being a mom, teaching, serving in the community or writing, you will find her browsing through bookstores to add to her book collection, at the library borrowing books, or reading the treasures she's found.

The Ruby by Jennie Hansen

Charlie Mae is sick of fetching things for her brothers and father, and for getting yelled at over things that aren’t her fault, while her brothers get to do whatever they want. She doesn’t blame Ma for leaving.

Determined to escape her house for at least one night of adventure, Charlie Mae sneaks into Nauvoo behind her brothers. But she discovers a lot more than she bargained for, including the dark cruelty inside her father’s heart and a mysterious red stone. Oddly, she feels a kind of peace when she holds the stone. It almost seems to be an assurance that she isn’t alone—that somewhere, someone is watching over her.

When Charlie Mae meets Spencer—a boy her age—and his grandmother, she is astonished at their kindness. She should have guessed they were Mormons. Pa had been lying all that time when he had said that Mormons were wicked. Pa was the wicked one—he and her brothers burned houses and shot people. She didn’t want to live with thieves and liars and cook their meals anymore. She would leave this place someday and find a better life—no matter what the cost.

Jennie Hansen graduated from Ricks College in Idaho, then Westminster College in Utah. She has been a freelance magazine writer, newspaper reporter, editor, and librarian. Her published novels fall in several genre categories including romantic suspense, historical, and westerns.

She was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and has lived in Idaho, Montana, and Utah. She has received numerous first and second place writing awards from the Utah and National Federation of Press Women and was the 1997 third place winner of the URWA Heart of the West Writers Contest.

Jennie has been active in community affairs. In addition to ward and stake responsibilities in the LDS church, she served a term on the Kearns Town Council, two terms on the Salt Palace Advisory Board, and was a delegate to the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services. Jennie and her husband, Boyd, live in Salt Lake County. Their five children are all married and have provided them with ten grandchildren. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, gardening, and camping.

Click here for details on sponsoring this LDSP blog.

September 2008 Comment Contest Winners

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

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

Room for Two

by Abel Keogh

Winner: Becky

Commenting on "Deciphering Deseret Book's Bestseller List"

Her Good Name

by Josi S. Kilpack

Winner: Janet Burningham

Commenting on "LDS or National Market"

Time and Eternity

by E.M. Tippetts

Winner: Annette Lyon

Commenting on "LDS or National Market"

To claim your prize, you must e-mail your mailing address to me by Tuesday, October 7, 2008.

(Unclaimed prizes will be up for grabs on Wednesday, October 8th.)

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