Self-promotion and its Discontents

I read a blog post by David Wooley the other day about his publisher’s insistance that he help promote his new book. I must admit that I identify with his reluctance to promote himself. My own tendency is a bit introverted, so promotion of any sort requires me to overcome a little embarassment.

But in thinking about David’s post, I can’t help but remember that promotion can also be used in the wrong way. In the Mormon context, publishers and authors face significant cultural and ethical dilemmas in promoting their work. Continue reading “Self-promotion and its Discontents”

The Cost of Free

Last week I got back from a three week trip to South Africa, Mozambique and (briefly) Swaziland. I bought books (of course), and tried to get a sense for these countries and cultures. As you might expect, crossing the border from South Africa into Mozambique we saw quite a stark economic contrast. Where South Africa appears very western, despite its significant problems, Mozambique faces significant economic challenges and is sixth to last on the Human Development Index.

These economic issues are, of course, a major problem for the expansion of Mormon culture. Mormonism continues to expand quickly in less developed countries, but our culture isn’t keeping up with that expansion. LDS books, films, music and other cultural elements are largely not available outside the US and Canada, leading many to suggest a radical solution:

Just give these products away for free!

Unfortunately, I don’t think this will work in the long run. Its not sustainable, it doesn’t help local members grow, and it often cheats authors and producers of any way to make a living from their work.

Continue reading “The Cost of Free”

On The Financial Motive

There is something deceptive about success stories. You hear a story of someone else’s success, and it is sometimes hard not to assume that you can do the same.

Author success stories are no exception. For Mormons, Stephanie Meyer is the most recent example. She is just like so many LDS authors — a suburban housewife with kids who writes in her spare time. I’m sure she has a Church calling, worries about how well her kids are doing in school and probably finds inspiration in the people she knows. In fact, her life is just like that of half the women in my ward.

The problem is Meyer’s success — or that of Orson Scott Card, Dean Hughes, Rachel Nunes or whoever — is really very difficult to replicate.

Continue reading “On The Financial Motive”