Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What Would You Change in Publishing?

by Sariah S. Wilson

I've been catching up on some agent blogs that I'd fallen behind in reading (I'm generally behind in everything in my life right now and constantly trying to play catch up).

I spent some time last reading a couple of posts at the BookEnds blog and Nathan Bransford's blog. BookEnds did a post encouraging authors to post anonymously about things they dislike in the industry, and Mr. Bransford asked what he could do to stress less and make things go more smoothly with his authors. (Of course, it might be more helpful for this discussion if I could actually link those...wait! I found the BookEnds entry! You're on your own for the Bransford one.)

It seems to me that the two things authors would most like changed is 1) lack of response to a query (so you're left wondering, did they even get it?) because now some agencies are starting to say, "If we don't respond, that means no," and 2) the length of time everything takes in every part of the publishing process.

(As a small aside to the second problem, you may or may not know that Brenda Novak (national romance writer who is LDS) has an auction every May to raise money to fund juvenile diabetes research. This auction is becoming more well known and gets more participants every year. There are all sorts of agent and editor evaluations that promise extremely fast turn arounds. A couple of my dream agents are there, but their current bids are already way out of my price range. And the guy bidding to get Evil Editor's editing for $3,900.00? Man, I think if you had that kind of money surely you could bribe a publisher to accept your book. Anyway, it's worth checking out.)

So I was thinking, what would I change in the LDS publishing industry if I could? We don't have the agent issue here, so everything is directly publisher-related. (Or maybe some of you do have agents that you use for your LDS publishing. I suppose I shouldn't assume.) I realized I'm pretty happy with how things are going. I don't even think I really would change anything.

Well, I would change something but it's not really anything to do with the publishing aspect. I would love to open readers' minds. Because for so long certain types of books were put out, many people turned completely away from the LDS fiction industry, never to return. I had one in college that literally made me want to hurt someone it was so bad. I personally didn't get back into LDS fiction until I started writing it, and I wanted to see what the market was like. I truly believe that anything you enjoy reading in the national market you can find in the LDS market, only without the graphic words or explicit scenes.

But people don't know this. I do applaud Rob and the Whitney Committee because I'm hoping that this competition will gain some recognition in libraries and bookstores and will help guide people to trying LDS fiction for the first time.

And if I had one LDS publishing wish (other than getting millions of dollars because I write the next Harry Potter, obviously) it would be that I could have thousands of copies of various LDS books to pass out for free to people who don't typically read LDS fiction. JA Konrath once said something to that effect (that the best publicity is passing out free books which is why he wrote e-books that he gives away for free so that people will see whether or not they like his writing and then hopefully buy his books), and I realized he was right. The only way to build word of mouth is to have people read your book and love it, so to put it in the hands of people for free would be awesome. How much would I love to leave an LDS book on every car at General Conference? (Yes, I know this would be bad and you're probably not even allowed to do something like that, but I still think it would be fun.)

So for you writers out there - if you could change something about our industry, what would it be? Or tell us what your publishing wish would be. Or if you're deliriously happy with everything, let us know that too.

For readers - what would you change about LDS fiction writers? What would your reading wish be?


At 5/24/2008 8:11 PM, Blogger Matthew Buckley said...

"And if I had one LDS publishing wish it would be that I could have thousands of copies of various LDS books to pass out for free to people who don't typically read LDS fiction."

You've got an Amen from the Buckley Corner! I'm right there with you. I don't know if you've heard of Cory Doctorow, but he writes for Tor. His books were selling ok until one day he asked his publisher if he could give away electronic copies of his book online. He licensed his book under a creative commons license. Basically, anybody could download, copy, print, or share his book. For free. The end result? His book sales (including the one he gave away) increased by 5 times. He said his income has doubled year after year.

The publishing world is about making your book scarce. If they are the only channel to obtain a book, they can charge $15 for a paperbook, or $30 for a hardback. They make their money back and then move onto the next book. But fewer people have access to books.

I'd love to see readers have access to thousands of e-books for free. Authors and publishers would still make money by selling regular books. More people would realize 'hey, there is good stuff out there'.

That's why I'm podcasting my latest book. I think the more people who realize you're writing, the more books you'll sell.

At 5/24/2008 8:19 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

I think Cory Doctorow is where Konrath got the idea in the first place, if I remember correctly. If I ever could find time in my life, I would write e-books to give away for free on my site, because I do think it's such a great way to introduce your writing to people. When I find an author I love, I'll be the first one in the bookstore buying that next book.

It's the reason why I love libraries too. I've had many people tell me that when they had to wait too long to get my second book in the library they just went out and bought it. I think if that keeps happening with every book you write, the more books you'll sell!

At 5/25/2008 2:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My First LDS publishing wish would be for Rob Wells to interview me. Heck, he's done pretty much everyone else. Do you think he's biased against people like me?

My second wish would be for Rob Wells to interview Jeff Savage...again. Becuase he deserves it.

My Third wish (and there better not be any prid quo pro or three wish Genie rule, cuase I aint done) would be for the world to find out about the LDS market and love it, cause it just might lead them to a pearl of great price.

My fourth wish would be for the Nephite Who Loved Me to become a cult mega-seller and as a result sales of copies of the Book of Mormon go through the roof.

My final and fifth wish is for the frog to finally be unveiled and to find out that is really is Sariah...the secret woman behind the invention of the Frog Blog.

Okay, I get one more wish. Number 6 is that all you romance authors would lose your addiction to chocolate and start eating better.

(alias Anon)

At 5/25/2008 1:23 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

I cannot read a sealed book. (By which I mean that I cannot interview an anonymous poster.)

At 5/25/2008 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


When has a sealed book stopped you from your creative interviewing techniques?

Just think of it. Interviewing an anonymous source has all sorts of creative potential, the least of which is sounding a lot like most New York Times reporters. This could be the big time, big boy.

From the desk of:


At 5/25/2008 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the chance to sit down with Rob (as in Robison) Wells earlier today, immediately after his block of Sunday meetings, outside the Kolob 6th Ward (I sat on the couch, Rob stood on a footstool).

Ly: So Rob, how do you do it?

Rob: Three hours is pushing it. I mean gosh, there's only so many ways you can analyze death by fire.

Ly: Your in Mosiah?

Rob: No, Abinadi dummy. Its the one right after Mosiah and before Alma.

Ly: Right. So I really meant, how do you get so many big time interviews with so many LDS celebrities. I mean, look at the list, Savage, Wilson, Blair, Thomas Monson.

Rob: I cheated on the Monson interview.

Ly: Really?

Rob: You know they post the Ensign talks online a couple days after conference. You don't have to wait for the Ensign anymore. Makes me look pretty smart in Sunday School.

Ly: You go to Sunday School?

Rob: The second Sunday in April and October for sure. They think I'm like this LDS scholar quoting general authorities. Its a real trip.

Ly: Great Rob. Now about the interviews.

Rob: Wanna know my secret.

Ly: Please share.

Rob: I pay em.

Ly: Really

Rob: You got a problem with that?

Ly: I meant, that's interesting Rob. Really. It is.

Rob: I know its not jourunalistically cosure, but what is these days anyway? Jason Blair was my roomate in college.

Ly: So you went to NYU?

Rob: Okay, I lied about the Jason Blair thing, but not about the LDS scholar thing. They really say that about me at church.

Ly: Can we get back to your interview techniques.

Rob: What's wrong, you don't believe me?

Ly: I've noticed that most of your interviews end rather abruptly. What do you attribute that to?

Rob: I told you, I'm no liar.

Ly: Do you prepare your interview questions in advance in order to elicit a pre-determined response.

Rob: Suck it you twirp.

Ly: What about life away from your heavy interview schedule? Have you had any interviewees contact you off line?

Rob: I know where you live, jerk.

Ly: Well thanks Rob. Its been really enlightening to get at the behind-the-scenes techniques you use for your rather fascintating interviews.

Rob: I write better than you. Nanny, nanny boo, boo! People like my books. They're funny. Real funny!

Ly: Thanks for your time Rob. Now back to the frog blog. Sariah, how is that wish list coming along?

At 5/26/2008 11:27 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Love it, Ly. My wish for publishing is that you would get right on it.


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