Salt Lake Writers Group

Do you know of any LDS writer groups in the Salt Lake Valley area? I would very much like to have other people to meet with to critique my work, and I'd like to provide the same service for others.

If you're interested, talk about it in the comments section.


Submitting to Deseret Book

I was reading your blog regarding publishing, very insightful. [I love it when people think I'm insightful.]

I have a short children's story that I would like to send in for consideration.

My question is to whom do I address my query? I found the address for Deseret Book, as well as the author guidelines. I am just unclear who to address in my query.

To Whom It May Concern? Ms. Sheri Dew? Or is there another name that I should know?

Please forgive my ignorance, but I have Googled several times and have not been able to find the answer, so I turn to you with the hopes that you do know!

I would appreciate any information you could pass along to me.

When you go to their Guidelines for Authors webpage, it says:

"Submit your manuscript or query to Publishing Department, Deseret Book Company, P. O. Box 30178, Salt Lake City, Utah 84130."

So that is exactly what I would do. They have a very detailed description of how to submit, including how to submit a children's story.

Then, if you click on the Contact Us link, you will find Lisa Mangum listed as the contact person for Publishing, so address your query to her. (Sheri Dew runs the company but she is not the Submissions Editor.)


The Dead Zone for LDS Books

Hi, uhm. It's me. Still living. My work schedule has been changed so many times over the past few weeks. Gah! Makes it hard to schedule time to do other things. I will probably remain hit and miss here through the end of the month but I'm starting to get things straightened out a bit. I think.

Anyway, here we go. . .

As long as you're not dead (yay!), I have a question about distribution. I've followed the travails of Zarahemla and Parables as they've struggled to get carried in Deseret Book and Seagull stores, and it seems that they all agree that the thing to do is get Granite to distribute you and then voila, you get access shelfspace in those stores. I have some questions on this question:

1. How vital is inclusion in those stores for success? I imagine quite, but what do you think?
Extremely vital. If your book is targeted to the LDS reader, and it's not in either Deseret Book or Seagull stores or on their website, then 90% of the U.S. LDS reading population will not even be aware that you book exists. I call this the Dead Zone.

2. What about their catalogues?
If you buy space in their catalog, they'll place orders and have your book in their store. But they won't let just anyone buy space. You have to be "approved" first. And it's very expensive. If it's your first book and you've self-published, you probably aren't going to sell enough copies to cover the cost of your ad or to move your book out of the Dead Zone.

Another option is to buy ad space in Books and Things. This helps you get into the smaller independent stores, but still, it's expensive and there's no guarantee.

3. Is Granite in fact the best way in that door? How does one go about arranging that?
There's Granite, Brigham Distributing, and a few others who distribute that can get products into DB & S. If you're with them, your chances go up on getting out of the Dead Zone and onto the shelf, but it's not a guarantee. We've had books accepted by our distributor that they have not been able to get DB or S to carry. And believe me, when I say those titles are in the Dead Zone, I mean they are totally dead because many independent bookstores stock what shows up at DB/S and what's in their catalog because they know people will come in looking for those titles.

To get with a distributor—and in my opinion, you should have distribution lined up before you print more than a handful of copies—contact them and ask what their process is for new product. Most likely you'll have to send them a sample book (you can print one through POD services fairly easily).

4. Lastly, what sort of sales are individual publishers doing through their websites or other means? The not-available-in-stores crowd --- are they flourishing?
Flourishing? No. Surviving? Not all of us. Just heard of another small press going down and it breaks my heart. We're certainly not getting rich off our website sales. Because:

1. When a reader wants an LDS book, they go to the DB or S website/store and browse. Most of these readers are not even going to know my website (or Zarahemla's or Parables or yours) exists, unless they Google it and it comes up on the first page or two. Unless you have a specialized niche or you've been able to get a lot of online buzz going, just putting up a website doesn't do you much good.


2. Website sales are generally one book at a time, whereas bookstores are multiple copies. One or two bookstore orders for an individual title are often as much as an entire month's website sales.

I hate painting these negative doom and gloom pictures of the industry and your chances of success in it. So let me end by saying this: There have been/are successful self-publishers/small presses. Study them and what they are doing/did to get where they are, then make a well thought out plan of attack to fit your own book.


No, I'm not dead

But thank you to all of you kind souls who e-mailed to ask that question.

Things are juggling about at work again and I'm trying to decide if I want to switch companies, switch jobs/responsibilities within my current company, go part-time or just retire altogether.

Contemplating the future takes a lot of time and energy, which is why I still haven't commented on all the Christmas stories yet (but I plan to, eventually).

That's also why I haven't updated the monthly sponsors yet. Since we're well into the month, I'm going to shift all the sponsors out a month. So if you were scheduled to sponsor in January, you will now sponsor in February, and so on. If that's a problem, send me an e-mail.

I think the LDS Fiction blog for 2008 is almost up to date. If there are any last minute additions, let me know ASAP because I'll be doing a "by-the-numbers" post for that blog later this week.

Lastly, are Steve Alten and/or Elizabeth Haydon LDS? I've been told that they are and also that they aren't. Does anyone know, for sure?