Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Question of LDS Content

by Stephanie Black

Oh joyful day! Instead of posting a list of questions for readers, this week I’ve decided to steal my topic directly from Jeff’s blog. I’d say I’ve hit a new low in originality, except, well, I’ve done this before. Jeff's blogs are just so dang interesting.

In his list of questions about LDS fiction, Jeff asked the following:

Do you like or dislike the trend in LDS fiction of having more novels without much specific LDS content? Why?

My answer is: I like it.

I like it because I think it will offer more flexibility in the kinds of stories authors can tell. I like it because I think eventually it will broaden the market and attract more readers. But this will only happen if the books are absolutely excellent (like Jeff's Shandra Covington series) because otherwise, why would a reader come to an LDS bookstore for a not-very-LDS-specific mystery? Why not just pick up the latest national novel at Barnes and Noble? But if LDS fiction can gain a reputation for excellence along with cleanliness, that's going to bring in the readers.

In the comment trail, a couple of people pointed out that if a book doesn’t have specific LDS content, why not just go for the national market? Good question. I think there are a few reasons why an author might choose to aim a non-LDS-specific book at the LDS market. For instance:

*The author already has an established relationship with an LDS publisher and would like to continue working with that publisher rather than shifting his/her attention elsewhere.

*The author likes the atmosphere in the LDS market. There is a wonderful camaraderie among authors here.

*The author likes not having to worry that an editor will pressure him/her to add objectionable content.

*The author has an established readership in the LDS market and wants to focus on that.

*That author has chrematophobia.

A good, clean story is a good, clean story, and that’s what I’m looking for when I open an LDS novel, whether or not there are specific LDS references.

Now as to the trend Jeff mentioned, here’s a word of caution for aspiring authors. Jeff ran his idea for a clean, not-specifically LDS mystery series past his publisher before he wrote it and he got approval. (Jeff, correct me if I’m wrong). On the other hand, when I, in my pre-pubbed days, submitted a book without specifically LDS content, I was told they wanted it to be more LDS, and I know of other authors who have had similar experiences. So if your book idea isn’t specifically LDS, you might want to check with the publisher before you write it. If they aren't interested, you can decide whether you’d rather write something different for the LDS market or write that book for the national market. I do understand the rationale behind LDS publishers' wanting specifically LDS content--they want books aimed directly at their target market. But I think there's room for both kinds of books in the market and I'm pleased with the success of Jeff's books.

In fact, I'll make a confession. I’m really, really jealous of Jeff Savage because not only can he can write fantastic suspense novels for the LDS market and fantastic horror novels for the national market—simultaneously—but his fashion sense is unparalleled. Ask him sometime about that groovy purple glitter belt.


At 10/11/2006 5:21 PM, Blogger FHL said...

You forgot "Because it's easier to publish within a niche market than in the national scene." =)

FHL, sufferer of chrematophilia

At 10/11/2006 6:33 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Hey don't be knocking Rob's belt. He was kind enough to loan it to me last year. And yes, I did talk to Covenant and they were leery at first.

At 10/11/2006 7:02 PM, Blogger KB said...

Stephanie, I thought we all agreed to give beverage alerts when we post something like "chrematophobia." Fortunately, I was only drinking water and not something hot, sticky or red. Otherwise, my computer, desktop and white pants would have been ruined!

I think there are a lot of LDS publishers that suffer from that disease too. I wonder if I can use that in my official rejection letters..."I'm sorry, but I can't publish your obviously stupendous novel because I suffer from chrematophobia."

At 10/12/2006 11:59 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

We're even, KB. If I'd been drinking anything when I read your comment, my computer would have been drenched.

Good point, FHL.

Jeff, I'm so glad Covenant gave your series a chance, because it's awesome.

At 10/14/2006 8:26 PM, Blogger Keith Fisher said...

I was going to write these thoughts into a blog you beat me to it. very good points. just goes to show that great minds . . . we'll your's is a great mind, mine is just trying to catch up.


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