Author Topic: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction  (Read 5196 times)

House of Mustard

  • Staff
  • Level 44
  • *
  • Posts: 2934
  • Fell Points: 3
  • Firstborn Unicorn
    • View Profile
    • robisonwells.com
AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« on: March 01, 2006, 11:17:34 AM »
This is a very good overview of what's happening in the LDS market.  I'll post the whole thing, and you can glean what you want from it.

Some interesting things to note:

1) Growth in the market has appeared to top out.  Total number of titles released went down slightly from last year.  This isn't exactly big news -- they grew at an explosive pace since 2000 and couldn't really sustain it.

2) There's an increasing push for Harry Potter-ish YA books, including DB's Leven Thumps, Covenant's Ravenspell (by Wolverton), and Cedar Fort's Jimmy Finchner Saga.
 On one hand, it's not all that surprising -- Potterish YA seems to be springing up all over the country.  But on the other hand, it shows the LDS market is changing focus: rather than only releasing specifically LDS books, they're now releasing clean, moral books regardless of specific LDS references.

3)  I got mentioned, but not until the very last line.  Still, I feel loved.
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier.

www.robisonwells.com

House of Mustard

  • Staff
  • Level 44
  • *
  • Posts: 2934
  • Fell Points: 3
  • Firstborn Unicorn
    • View Profile
    • robisonwells.com
Re: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2006, 11:18:15 AM »
Warning -- it's from an email, so the formatting is bad.

Quote
Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2006 22:04:34 +0000
From: "Andrew Hall" <[email protected]>
Subject: [AML] 2005 Mormon Lit Review: Mormon Market
To: [email protected]
Message-ID: <[email protected]>
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed

2005 Mormon Literature Year in Review
Prose Fiction, pt. 2
Mormon Fiction Market

(As always, I welcome your corrections and comments.)

     After several years of a steady increase in the number of literary titles produced by Mormon publishers, the market appears to have finally reached a ceiling in 2005.  Here is a chart of the number of literary works (novels, short story collections, poetry collections, etc.) released by Mormon publishers over the last six years.  Sorry if it does not come out well in the email.

                    2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Covenant         15,   19,   25,   33,   39,   39
Cedar Fort       12,   15,   19,   23,   27,   24
Deseret          12,     9,     8,   13,   13,   13
Granite            3,     5,     7,     4,   14,     8
Spring Creek      -,     -,     -,     -,     8,     6
Palmyra             -,     -,     -,     -,     -,     4
American Book   -,      -,     2,     1,    7,    3
Sounds of Zion  -,      -,     -,     -,     2,     3
LDStorymakers   -,     -,     -,     -,     1,     2
Signature          1,     2,     2,     4,    1,    1
Crosswalk           -,     -,     -,     -,     3,     1
Mapletree          -,     -,     -,     1,    2,     0
Aspen             1,     1,     0,     0,     2,    0
Millennial           0,     0,     2,     1,     1,     0
Horizon/Corners 6,     1,     1,     2,     -,     -
Total                50,    52,    66,   82,  118,  104

    Covenant has consistently published the most literary works a year.  2005 was the first time in six years the number of literary works they published did not exceed that of the year before.  Deseret Book has maintained a stable number of releases each year, while Cedar Fort, Granite, and Spring Creek decreased the number of titles they produced.  Altogether, there were 104 literary works published by Mormon presses in 2005, down from 118 in 2004.  The volume is still quite remarkable.  The days when a Mormon novel would stay on shelves for years is gone, titles now have to find a readership quickly, or be swept away with the tide.
    The LDS Booksellers Association published a bi-monthly best sellers list of fiction and non-fiction sold at member stores in 2005.  This is the first time I have seen reliable information about the relative success of books in the Mormon market.  They have not created an overall list for the year, but putting together the six bi-monthly lists, and giving some extra weight to the presumably strong November/December sales, I came up with this list of the fourteen best-selling books for 2005.

1. Obert Skye, Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo. Deseret.
2. Chris Heimerdinger, Kingdoms and Conquerors (Tennis Shoes Adventure
Series
vol. 10). Covenant.
3. Dean Hughes, So Much of Life Ahead (Hearts of the Children, vol. 5).
Deseret.
4. Julie Wright, My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life. Deseret.
5. Kay Lynn Magnum, The Secret Journal of Brett Colton. Deseret.
5. Anita Stansfield, Timeless Waltz. Covenant.
7. Anita Stansfield, Hearts Crossed (The Buchannan Saga, vol. 4). Crosswalk.
8. Ron Carter. By the Dawn&#8217;s Early Light (Prelude to Glory vol. 9). Deseret.
8. Jack Weyland, Saving Kristen. Deseret.
8. Chris Stewart, The Second Sun (The Great and Terrible, vol. 3). Deseret.
8. Rachel Ann Nunes, Winter&#8217;s Fire. Deseret.
8. Betsy Brannon Green, Copycat. Covenant.
13. Anita Stansfield, Full Circle (Legacy of Gables, vol. 6) Covenant.
14. Jerry Borrowman, &#8216;Til the Boys Come Home. Covenant.
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier.

www.robisonwells.com

House of Mustard

  • Staff
  • Level 44
  • *
  • Posts: 2934
  • Fell Points: 3
  • Firstborn Unicorn
    • View Profile
    • robisonwells.com
Re: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2006, 11:19:06 AM »
Quote
Looking at the publishing houses, Deseret Book, produced only one third as many titles than Covenant, but had a greater number of books on the best-seller list.  It appears that Deseret sold at least as many novels in 2005 as did Covenant.  Deseret on the whole boasts more well-known, established authors, on whom it focuses rather than spreading itself thin.  Covenant is more willing to carry a large number of mid-list titles.  The next tier of publishing houses, Cedar Fort, Granite, and Spring Creek, are far behind the two leaders in terms of authors with name-recognition and advertising budget.  Signature, a house with much higher literary aspirations than the others, published only one literary work in 2005, a poetry collection.  One new publishing house debuted in 2005, Palmyra Press,headquartered in the Boston area.  Its initial mission is to publish works produced by the students and teachers of the Lifesong group, a BYU interdisciplinary program dedicated to producing authors and screenwriters.  They represent the latest hope for a stable independent publisher of literary Mormon literature.
     A trend I have noticed in the Mormon fiction market is attempts to ride the success of Harry Potter by producing juvenile fantasy series about a contemporary youth who gets drawn into a magic realm.  These fantasies avoid any specific Mormon references, apparently in hopes of breaking into the wider national market. The first of this kind, published by Cedar Fort, is James Dashner&#8217;s Jimmy Fincher Saga, four volumes of which have appeared since 2003.  In 2005, Deseret Book published the Obert Skye-authored Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo.  Skye is a pseudonym, apparently of Robert Farrell Smith, who has written several comic novels published by Deseret Book.  The book is about a boy who can glimpse at and manipulate the future.  A reviewer at Publishers Weekly wrote, "Foo contains many whimsical and delightful elements, . . . (but) at times the prose does not match the quality of the story . . . . Skye resorts to telling instead of showing, especially with character descriptions . . .  However, the story's pacing is excellent, and the last hundred pages build palpable excitement and suspense."  Covenant released the first volume of its own series, David Farland's Ravenspell: Of Mice and Magic, about a boy turned into a mouse.   Farland is the pseudonym of Dave Wolverton, a nationally best-selling speculative fiction author.  Jeff  Needle wrote, "It deals with moral and ethic, and indeed religious, issues without being overtly religious. . . . strong themes of love, loyalty and courage infuse the often hilarious escapades of its protagonist.  But we must not confuse Ben with Dr. Doolittle.  In order to help his new friends, he must become one of them, and so doing, suffers what they suffer and enters fully into their lives."  Leven Thumps was the best-selling Mormon novel for 2005.I do not know if the publishers are attempting or succeeding at distributing these works in non-Mormon outlets.
    Another trend in 2005 was the publication of serious novels which explored difficult social problems in with greater openness than seen in the past.  A leading example is Julie Wright's My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life (Deseret), a novel written in the first-person about a young woman from a dysfunctional family who indulges in drugs, becomes pregnant, and then works to change her life.  Wright has received substantial praise for her ability to fully portray the protagonist's mistakes without turning her into a villain or preaching to the readers.  Jeannie Hansen at Meridan Magazine called it "The best book I've read yet about a young woman who must make agonizing decisions concerning the fate of her unborn child . . . it is an absorbing, thought-provoking story."  Three other novels similarly have been strongly praised for frank explorations of young people's suffering and pain, as well as their literary merit.  Gary Huntsman's Leaving Moscow (Cedar Fort) tells the story of a young man caught in a spiral of substance abuse.  Pamela Reid's Remember No More (Covenant) explores a woman's determination to overcome the harm done to her by sexual abuse.  And Kay Lynn Magnum's The Secret Journal of Brett Colton (Deseret) is a coming-of-age story about a young woman rediscovering her dead older brother through his journal.
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier.

www.robisonwells.com

House of Mustard

  • Staff
  • Level 44
  • *
  • Posts: 2934
  • Fell Points: 3
  • Firstborn Unicorn
    • View Profile
    • robisonwells.com
Re: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2006, 11:19:40 AM »
Quote
     Palmyra Press, the new publishing arm of the Lifesong project, published four novels in 2005.  Two of them, Michael Fillerup's Go in Beauty and Nathan Chai's Fire Creek, are marked by gritty realism, and received particularly strong reviews.  Fillerup, who has had two books published by Signature and has had several stories appear in Dialogue and Sunstone, has been an instructor in the Lifesong project.  His new novel is the story of a white man hired to teach at a Navajo school, and called to be president of the local branch, whose life is nearly destroyed by tragedy.  Richard Cracroft called the book "A significant contribution to Mormon fiction . . . remarkable for its fresh, fascinating vision of atonement."  Chai was a student in the Lifesong project, and is now an instructor in the BYU English Department.   It is the story of a young man returning home from Afghanistan emotionally and physically scarred, but eventually finds new purpose in life through an improbable friendship.  Cracroft commented, "Here are LDS values written at once boldly yet subtly."  I hope Palmyra is able to continue producing quality literary works, there is a great need for a strong independent house in that area.  Signature's reputation is such that it can rarely get its titles in traditional LDS bookstores, and although the mainstream houses have certainly improved in recent years, publishing a few adventurous works, they can only go so far.  Several times over the last twenty years a small press appeared that showed promise of being a producer of quality literary Mormon fiction, and each time it has not lasted.  I am interested to see if such a small, presumably poor house can continue to produce and effectively promote quality work that can make it to the shelves of LDS bookstores
     Historical fiction and mystery thrillers continued to play a large part of the Mormon market, and comic novels have also begun to appear with greater frequency.  Historical fiction titles that have received good reviews include Marcie Gallacher and Kerri Robinson's Joseph Smith-era novel A Banner is Unfurled (Covenant), the finale of Dean Hughes' Hearts of the Children Series So Much of Life Ahead (Deseret), and Harold K. Moon's tale of a frontier-era polygamous family The Leah Shadow (Cedar Fort).  Among the mystery/thrillers, there was significant praise for five works published by Covenant: Kerry Blair's comic mystery Mummy's The Word, Betsy Brannon Green's Southern mystery Copycat, Christine Kersey's who-can-you-trust thriller No Way Out, Jeffrey Savage's Grafton-like mystery House of Secrets, and Stephanie Black's surprisingly bleak, dystopian thriller about a future repressive society, The Believer.   Covenant was also the prime producer of quality comic Mormon novels in 2005, including Matthew Buckley's tale of family disaster Chickens in the Headlights, and Robison Wells' comic-romance/adventure, Wake Me When it&#8217;s Over.

Next time, short stories.  Then theater.

Andrew Hall
Denton, TX
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier.

www.robisonwells.com

Firemeboy

  • Level 14
  • *
  • Posts: 607
  • Fell Points: 0
  • Spoooon!
    • View Profile
    • Chickens Don't Have Armpits
Re: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2006, 05:21:02 PM »
Wow, I was mentioned in the same breath as Robison Wells.   :)

Well, I guess that sentence is a bit long.  It might not be the exact same breath.  And my title is kind of long, a reader might have to say that sentence in two breaths.  And I guess if you were our of shape, or playing rugby while reading it, you would have to take a couple of breaths.  Still...  Within a breath or two of Rob Wells.  Not too shabby...

Thanks for posting that Rob, I'm just not in touch with what is going on in the LDS market.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2006, 05:23:22 PM by Firemeboy »
Licensed to dispense PEZ in 28 states.

Fellfrosch

  • Administrator
  • Level 68
  • *****
  • Posts: 7033
  • Fell Points: 42
  • Walkin' with a dead man over my shoulder.
    • View Profile
    • Fearful Symmetry
Re: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2006, 05:21:12 PM »
That makes TWG the prime web destination for quality comic Mormon novelists, because we have both of them right here!
"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die." --Mel Brooks

My author website: http://www.fearfulsymmetry.net

Firemeboy

  • Level 14
  • *
  • Posts: 607
  • Fell Points: 0
  • Spoooon!
    • View Profile
    • Chickens Don't Have Armpits
Re: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2006, 07:49:06 PM »
Two out of two quality comic Mormon novelists chose TMG over other discussion boards.
Licensed to dispense PEZ in 28 states.

House of Mustard

  • Staff
  • Level 44
  • *
  • Posts: 2934
  • Fell Points: 3
  • Firstborn Unicorn
    • View Profile
    • robisonwells.com
Re: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2006, 07:56:44 PM »
By TMG, Firemeboy is referring to trimethylglycine, which I fully endorse -- an important component of cardiovascular health!  Buy TMG on TWG's online store today.
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier.

www.robisonwells.com

The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers

  • Administrator
  • Level 96
  • *****
  • Posts: 19211
  • Fell Points: 17
  • monkeys? yes.
    • View Profile
    • herb's world
Re: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2006, 09:39:50 AM »
He's just being zany by turning one letter upside down.

Firemeboy

  • Level 14
  • *
  • Posts: 607
  • Fell Points: 0
  • Spoooon!
    • View Profile
    • Chickens Don't Have Armpits
Re: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2006, 04:56:13 PM »
That is right.  You don't know how long I had to search through the html tags to find an upside down W.
Licensed to dispense PEZ in 28 states.

House of Mustard

  • Staff
  • Level 44
  • *
  • Posts: 2934
  • Fell Points: 3
  • Firstborn Unicorn
    • View Profile
    • robisonwells.com
Re: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2006, 05:44:36 PM »
You silly LDS comic novelist -- all you needed to do was type two a's, and then squint:  AA
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier.

www.robisonwells.com

Firemeboy

  • Level 14
  • *
  • Posts: 607
  • Fell Points: 0
  • Spoooon!
    • View Profile
    • Chickens Don't Have Armpits
Re: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2006, 01:15:41 PM »
If I do that, the google ads suddenly switch to selling Bourbon and Scotch.
Licensed to dispense PEZ in 28 states.

The Bot

  • Level 6
  • *
  • Posts: 185
  • Fell Points: 0
  • I have a PhD in comedy, &amp; a diploma in..in..Fiona?
    • View Profile
    • Fantastic Fantasy
Re: AML Recap of 2005 LDS Fiction
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2006, 01:21:06 PM »
Quote
You silly LDS comic novelist -- all you needed to do was type two a's, and then squint:  AA


If I do that, I fall off my chair.

Actually, I don't even have to squint to do that. Man, my chair's rubbish. Or maybe I've been drinkkkinga!
Frankly, I'm shocked. But, even more frankly, I'm always shocked.