2010 Mormon Literature Year in Review
By Andrew Hall
Part 2: The Mormon Market
Link to Part 1: The National Market
Wm notes: portions of this bibliographic review rely on comments from sources who have chosen to remain anonymous. As I said with his report on independent Mormon publishers posted here at AMV last July: I’m personally confident that Andrew has used his anonymous sources judiciously and within standard journalistic practices. But also keep in mind that the comments here represent particular points of view.
(Note: I am now posting at Dawning of a Brighter Day, the blog of the Association for Mormon Letters, a weekly column covering the world of Mormon literature. The focus is on published fiction, but I also cover theater and film. I also link to recently published literary works, news, and reviews. I hope to make the brief column a convenient gathering place for authors and readers to announce and follow news about the field each week.)
In this section, I will look at the Mormon fiction market by analysing recent trends, introducing each publisher, noting books that have received especially strong reviews, and noting the passing of a beloved author.
Despite the troubled economy, the number of literary works published by Mormon market publishers rose considerably in 2010. This was despite the fact that the publishers owned by the Church’s Deseret Media Companies, Deseret Book Publishing and Covenant Communications, stood pat on their annual output. The rise was due largely to an increase in the number of fiction works published by independent publishers Cedar Fort, Leatherwood, and Valor. Publishers report, however, that the book-selling economy remained stagnant in 2010, which means that more authors and more books crowded into the market, increasing the competition for market share. Continue reading “Andrew Hall’s 2010 Mormon Literature Year in Review: Mormon Market”
Many of us (here and elsewhere) have lamented over the problem of trying to reach and/or create an audience of Mormon readers who might have an interest in fiction reflecting a Mormon perspective but grittier or more realistic than what standard LDS bookstores can or will carry.
I don’t have any new ideas about how to find those readers. However, I do have an idea about a different piece of the puzzle. At the moment, there’s no single place to send people where they can browse for authors and titles that might interest them. My suggestion: an online store that caters specifically to Mormon literature, organized to make browsing easy — like a good brick-and-mortar bookstore — with a broad and inclusive enough selection that people could explore with a fair confidence of finding what they’re looking for.
Continue reading “The Concept of an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore”
Wm writes: Andrew Hall has really outdone himself this year with this look at the Mormon market which features not only works published but a run down of the players in the market as well as some original reporting on them. Sadly, Andrew is probably not going to be able to also do a look at film and theater. Happily, it’s because he and his family are moving to Japan where Andrew has secured a teaching position. Always cause for rejoicing in this tough market for academics. Congratulations and thank you, Andrew.
Click here to view data on the number of books published per publisher from 2000-2009.
Recently I have been worried that the Church-owned sector of the LDS literary market (publishers Deseret Book, Shadow Mountain, and Covenant, and the bookstores Deseret Book and Seagull) were taking too much control of the market, squeezing the independent actors out. That remains a valid concern in terms of the ability of independent publishers getting shelf space or promotion space in the Church-owned bookstores. Independent publishing has not dried up and blown away, however. Just the opposite, independent publishers published more literary works in 2009 than in 2008, and the ranks of the independent publishers grew slightly. Together with a downtick in the number of titles published by the Church-owned publishers, the percentage of titles published by the independent publishers was 50% of the total works published in 2009. This returns the market to the equilibrium that existed for most of the decade before 2008, when a drop in independent publishing resulted in the Church-owned publishers producing 64% of the titles. Of course, the Church-owned publishers achieve sales of which the independents could never dream. But I am glad to see that the independents have life in them. Continue reading “Andrew’s Mormon Literature Year in Review: Mormon Market 2009”
Benson Parkinson, founder of the AML-List and co-founder of Irreantum, was kind enough to send me a copy of his essay “Three Kinds of Appropriateness” for posting here at AMV. It used to be posted on the Association for Mormon Letters website, but it got lost in the shuffle a while back. It hopefully will be back up on the AML website soon, but since I refer to it often and will be referring to it again in the future, I’m thankful Ben has given me permission to post it here. It originally ran on the AML-List in January 1997 (and sadly those early days of the List, which featured several excellent essays/columns are no longer archived online).
LITERARY COMBINE: Three Kinds of Appropriateness
Morality is a mark of Mormon literature. It probably wouldn’t have to be that way, but even the most fringe Mormon offerings generally get around to taking a moral stand. People say that everyone has a different idea of appropriateness, a different degree of tolerance for sex, violence, bad language, and depictions of sinful behavior. I find that, when it comes to appropriateness, Mormon literature tends to be of just three kinds. Continue reading “Benson Parkinson’s “Three Kinds of Appropriateness””
Wm writes: Every year since 2000, Andrew Hall has put together a Year in Review for all of the major genres of Mormon letters. AMV is pleased to bring you Andrew’s Year in Review for 2008. Today — a look at the Mormon market for books. Read the other entries in the series.
Andrew Hall’s Mormon Literature Year in Review — Part II: Mormon market books
Click here to view data on the number of books published per publisher from 2000-2008.
There was a slight drop in the number of fiction books published by Mormon publishing houses in 2008, from 94 in 2007 to 86 in 2008. The dip was due largely to a decrease in the number of books published by independent publishers, such as Cedar Fort, the third largest publisher. Covenant and Deseret Book, which are now both owned by the Church, published slightly more novels in 2008 than they did in 2007. As a result, the Covenant/Deseret Book combination published 65% of the novels in the Mormon market in 2008. That is up from 56% in 2007, and around 50% in the five years before that. I have heard from some independent publishers that Deseret Book’s bookstore division makes it difficult for them to get even standard Mormon-themed novels onto their shelves. That is a very disconcerting trend. In any case, it is a good bet that the total number of Mormon fiction titles will go down again in 2009, because of the dip in the economic outlook. Continue reading “Andrew’s Mormon Literature Year in Review, Part II: Mormon Market Books 2008”
Time and Eternity the first LDS market novel by E.M. Tippetts was published last month by Covenant. Tippetts, who writes speculative fiction under the name Emily Mah, lives in New Mexico with her husband Trevor. A convert to the LDS church, Tippetts is currently writing full-time.
She and I traveled in some of the same online circles several years ago, and when I found out that she had a Mormon novel coming out, I asked her to do a Q&A. She kindly accepted.
For more on Time and Eternity, visit the E.M. Tippetts author site. If you are more interested in her speculative fiction career, check out the Emily Mah site.
The main focus of your writing career up to now has been speculative fiction. How and why did you decide to write a romance novel for the Mormon market?
There are a lot of answers to this question. The mundane ones include the fact that the national market can move very slowly with submissions processes that can take years and the LDS market isn’t so bogged down. That market is more accessible, writer’s don’t need agents and the publishing companies all take unsolicited manuscripts. It’s also a very large, vibrant market and a fascinating community of writers and artists all working to express their gospel influences creatively. I could just give those answers, but I suppose the real answer is that I had been working on my writing for five years and it occurred to me that something I could do to better in my spiritual life and not take significantly more time in the day was to try my hand at writing something for the LDS market. Writing was another part of myself that I found I could dedicate to the Lord. I didn’t specifically choose romance, but decided to try to write a plot driven novel. My favorite plot-smith of all time is Jane Austen, and I spent the months that I wrote Time and Eternity pulling apart her stories, trying to pick up on some of her techniques. My novel isn’t much like one of hers at all, except that I hope the ending is both well set up and happy, not a foregone conclusion, but not a convenient coincidence either. I wanted readers to put it down with a sense of satisfaction. Continue reading “Q&A: LDS Fiction Author E.M. Tippetts”