Your post about LDS picture books was quite enlightening [thank you] (especially about the cost to the publisher). I have LDS picture books I purchased from years ago and the spines are barely cracked–the stories were a huge disappointment. (The only one I ever bought that was well-written was MY TURN ON EARTH.)
But there’s more to children’s lit than picture books. What about the market for middle grade and YA fiction? What’s your perspective on
that? Do you see improvement? What’s needed to make it better?
There are LDS romance/suspense authors whose books have sold in six-figure amounts. Still, it seems like the only successful books are the ones like the Foo series, which is not really LDS fiction and is published by an imprint of Deseret. Since it’s not seen as LDS-themed, it seems to be doing well in the national market (Simon and
Schuster bought the paperback rights not long ago).
Good, good thread. I’m learning a lot!
This blog has taken me over an hour to write because you’ve unwittingly hit upon one of my soapboxes. I’ve deleted 4 pages of rant and here’s what you get:
My perspective on the LDS market for middle grade and YA fiction is that it stinks right now. While there is a huge need and demand for books at those age levels, there are not enough high quality submissions coming in to meet that demand.
Because it is more difficult to sell to this age group, snooty publishers, like myself, are refusing to accept submissions that don’t meet our high and lofty standards. Other publishers are taking mediocre manuscripts and hyping them up, which leaves many readers disappointed and less likely to buy again.
Yes, there are some shining examples out there now (Wiles, Dashner, Blair, to name a few), and yes, we are seeing a gradual improvement. But it’s not happening fast enough to suit me. I want more, MORE, MORE!! Quit reading this blog and go write some, now!
Seriously, I really would like to encourage any writers who are so inclined to write for this market. Books can make such an impression on young minds. We need a host of titles to compete with what’s out there nationally. When you look at what our kids are being exposed to, it just breaks my heart. They are reading books that are really funny, entertaining, thought provoking and well-written, but then they sneak immorality in through the back door. We so need to balance that with really funny, entertaining, thought provoking and well-written books that are CLEAN and that support our values.
If I were independently wealthy or had some serious investors, I’d leave the company I’m with in a heartbeat and launch an all-out search for quality LDS children’s/YA lit to publish. [deep sigh] If you happen to have a few hundred thousand dollars lying around and would like to contribute to this cause, contact me via e-mail and we’ll talk.
P.S. Since you mentioned Foo [Leven Thumps & the Gateway to Foo], yes, I was excited to see it come out. I thought it was a definite step in the right direction. But book 1 had its problems. My fingers just itched to lay my red pencil to it. Foo was good, but it could have been great. I don’t think it would be selling as well as it is if it weren’t for Harry Potter readers wanting something to fill in the wait between books in that series. I bought book 2, but it didn’t grab me right away. I put it down before I finished chapter 1 and I haven’t gotten back to it.