Carol has written three complete novels. She has four more in various stages of production. These are not lightweight works that she dashed off in a few hours. The completed books are 90,000 to 110,000 words. She has worked on them almost every day since the beginning of the year. I expect she will finish at least one and maybe two more before the end of the year.
I keep asking her when she is going to publish them. She obviously loves to write. And even though I don’t generally enjoy fiction, I must confess, they are pretty good stories. She worked hard on the story telling and dialog. You can read a sample chapter from her latest book on her blog. She also read about forty romance books this year as part of her writing preparation.
In addition to her writing accomplishments, Carol has lost over one hundred pounds in the past year. Yes, you read that right – over one hundred pounds. She says she has a lot more to go. I am convinced she is going to do it. By this time next year, perhaps sooner, I expect Carol will be less than half the woman she once was. Why doesn’t she write a book about that amazing feat?
The LDS fiction market is hot
When our family owned an LDS bookstore back in late 1970’s, there really wasn’t a market for LDS fiction. Blaine Yorgason had just published Charlie’s Monument, Brent Yorgason was working on Windwalker and Jack Weyland was just beginning to think about publishing Charly. Anita Stansfield was nowhere near publishing her first book and Stephenie Meyer was a child.
Of course, you can’t put the Twilight series in the LDS fiction market just because Stephenie is a member of the church, although some have complained that Mormon beliefs are found in her books. The same could be said for Orson Scott Card. His success in publishing is not a part of the LDS fiction market, even though he has a few series that definitely have Mormon themes.
In our home library, we have books from LDS fiction authors like Chris Heimerdinger, Richard Paul Evans, Gerald Lund, Ron Carter and Anita Stansfield. But that’s about it. I am amazed to see all the LDS fiction when I go into a Deseret Book retail store on our visits to Utah. It sure has blossomed in the last thirty years since we had an LDS bookstore. I wonder why that is so.
Publishers of LDS Fiction
I’ve heard that Covenant Communications is actually the largest publisher of LDS fiction, with over 55% of their current catalog falling into that genre. Their ratio of fiction to non-fiction in their current catalog is 214 to 175 so that percentage holds up. I find it amazing that they now publish more fiction than non-fiction titles. The ratio looks a little smaller over at Cedar Fort.
You can find several lists of LDS fiction publishers online but even the beginning researcher into the market can see that distribution is the real name of the game. I’ll bet you know who owns that part of the business, don’t you? That’s right – Deseret Book. Nobody else even comes close. They bought Bookcraft years ago, then Covenant Communications and Seagull Book.
So let’s face it, if you want to publish and be successful in the LDS fiction market, you’re going to have to deal with Deseret Book, so get used to the idea right up front. Nobody else has the marketing muscle to get your book out there through their stores, their online web presence and their direct mailings. And of course, Deseret Book is owned by the LDS Church.
The inside scoop on LDS writers
One of my favorite group blogs for understanding how LDS fiction writers think is Six LDS Writers and a Frog. The essays are delightful and the quality of the content is exceptional. I would hope so. I mean, these are professional authors. They write about a variety of things but invariably you can learn how much work is involved in creating and promoting their work.
You can learn about writer’s block, editing, title selection, book signings, promotion and even rejection. Yes, published authors get rejected. Sometimes their material is considered to not quite fit the LDS publishing standards. And that is the real focus of my essay today. What if your writing style is more like Nora Roberts or Danielle Steel? Is that too risqué for Mormons?
I think that’s why Carol has not tried to publish her books yet. Her first one would never go over with an LDS publisher because it described some pretty exciting moments of romance. Hey, we Mormons get passionate too you know! Why do you think some LDS families are so large? Each book that Carol has written since then has been toned down until I think her latest is ready.
How to get published
You can read author guidelines at Deseret Book, Covenant and Cedar Fort. Horizon was bought by Cedar Fort awhile back in case you didn’t know. There are a lot of other LDS Publishers out there but these are the largest ones today. Oh, sorry, I didn’t even mention Signature Books but that’s because they don’t publish romance fiction. Did I mention that’s my essay focus today?
Take a look at the submission form at Cedar Fort for a real awaking of what is expected of an author today. They want to know how you can help market your book, details of any previous writing experience and speaking experience, and a description of your ability and willingness to travel to promote your book. Yes, you must do more than write a good book to get published.
For the more technical details of how to prepare a manuscript for consideration, go read the submission guidelines at Covenant Communications. Also check out their author questionnaire to confirm that public speaking is a required part of being an author. Hey, you obviously have something to say if you’re considering publishing a book. You’re expected to sell yourself.
Summary and conclusion
A lot of writers of LDS blogs, who are the primary readers of my essays, are also authors or aspiring authors. I’m convinced that there are many great potential new LDS authors out there. I don’t think we’ve begun to see the explosion in LDS fiction that is about to take place. With the obvious popularity of the still emerging LDS fiction market, we need more good writers.
I also remain convinced that the primary consumers of LDS books and especially LDS fiction are women. You can drop me a comment and tell me I’m wrong but my informal surveys among my own LDS acquaintances bear this out. Deseret Management knows that, which is why they put Sheri Dew in charge of the company. It is mostly Mormon women who buy LDS books.
This essay doesn’t address non-fiction publishing so I’ll try to pick that up in a subsequent post. I suspect the majority of people who read this essay are interested in publishing a fictional work. I hope this is helpful. I’ll add a bunch of links at the bottom where you can get more information on the LDS publishing market including LDS authors, booksellers and associations. Good luck!
01. Deseret Book – the primary channel for LDS book publishing
02. Covenant Communications – owned by DB but run separately
03. Cedar Fort – Large LDS publishing house – includes Horizon
04. Signature Books – Major LDS publisher – no romance fiction
05. Mapletree Publishing – A fairly complete list of LDS publishers
06. LDS Story Makers – A great collection of online LDS authors
07. Six LDS Writers and a Frog – Great insights on LDS writing
08. Authors Incognito – A great resource for aspiring LDS writers
09. A Motley Vision – More than LDS writing, but worth the visit
10. LDS Publisher & LDS Fiction – new but helpful LDS writing blogs