An author asked me to review a contract recently, and I was surprised at something the author said. The contract was with one of the larger Mormon publishers, and the author hoped that the book would become a big success in the Christian market in the US through that publisher.
I don’t know where the idea that this was possible came from. I hope that the publisher didn’t tell the author that it could.
I told the author that there was no chance, and it doesn’t look like there will be in the future. In fact, the fact that the author is LDS means the publisher is irrelevant. A Mormon author can’t succeed in the Christian market.
Many Mormons in the arts look for the chance to get their works distributed in the Evangelical Christian market, and don’t understand why it won’t work. Christians are sometimes flabbergasted or offended that Mormons would even try — or, in a few unusual cases, they are ignorant of the gulf between us and surprised when Mormons produce things that don’t fit their views, or after they talk to some of their customers about Mormonism.
The problem is that the Christian market is very suspicious of Mormons. We are considered heretics and anything we do is suspicious. A book by a Mormon must therefore be a way to draw others into our “heresy.”
Sound farfetched? I’m afraid its pretty easy to find evidence of this. An illustration of the problems that can occur can be seen in the case of a book by Baptist preacher Joel Osteen. When one of Osteen’s many books was picked up by Deseretbook.com, Osteen’s critics used it as evidence that his Cristianity was suspect. (see )
Want more personal information? Go into a Christian bookstore and ask what would happen if it became known that a popular book sold in the store was actually written by a Mormon. Or find the most innocuous title by a Mormon publisher, and ask if they would ever carry it. Christian bookstores that will carry books by LDS authors are publishers don’t exist as far as I can see.
For many LDS Church members this seems strange. On most political and lifestyle issues they feel so close to Evangelicals that they assume Evangelicals feel the same. But many, if not most, Evangelicals disagree.
Why? I admit that it does seem strange that Mormons would be so objectionable. Let me see if I can make an analogy that helps explain it. Imagine that a polygamist in Utah wrote a book for the Mormon market. Would any traditional LDS bookstore carry it? Would the LDS public criticize bookstores that did?
I think the situations are comparable. Evangelicals object to Mormons calling themselves Christians, just like we object to polygamists that call themselves Mormons. And Mormons are sensitive to any kind of public participation by polygamists, just like Evangelicals are sensitive to Mormons in their space.
I do how that we don’t treat polygamists the same way that we are treated by many Evangelicals. But, I don’t think it is likely that the LDS market would be hospitable to books by polygamists. Don’t expect the Christian market to look on books from Mormons or from Mormon publishers any differently.