Andrew Hall’s 2010 Mormon Literature Year in Review: Mormon Market

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”

A Q&A with Robert Goble author of Across A Harvested Field

Cover for Across A Harvested Field by Robert GobleRobert Goble’s novel Across A Harvested Field (Amazon |  Parables) won the Marilyn Brown unpublished novel award earlier this year. Before we get to the interview, here’s the back cover blurb so you have a sense of what the novel is about (and also note its spiffy new cover art):

“To Jordan Fairchild, the dark-haired girl renting his basement apartment seems somewhat quiet and reclusive. Just a business arrangement, he thinks, as he watches her sign the name “Nattie Hand” on the contract. Though two thousand miles away, Celeste Betancourt, an attractive Georgetown graduate student he met through a mutual friend, has captured his attention. A budding friendship with Nattie soon begins to bloom. Little does Jordan know his girl-next-door renter is none other than the world-famous pop star, a.k.a. Natalia Antonali, who recently disappeared from the public eye; little does he know how much his friendship will come to mean to her, how, for the first time a love begins to grow, untainted by “Natalia,” and how she hopes Jordan never discovers the truth.”

For more about Robert, see his Facebook page, and read this LDS Living profile written by my sister Katherine.

I think by now most of our readers have heard about how you wrote Across A Harvested Field primarily during your lunch breaks at the school you work at as well as in the evening at home. I’d like to go back further than that — when and how did you first decide to begin writing fiction? And what was the genesis for the story that became Across a Harvested Field?

I’ve always been a book lover. There were periods of time when I would devour one author’s works after another, whatever I could get my hands on. As a younger reader I tended to focus on authors like Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Tom Clancy, and Frank Herbert—King and Card being my all time favorites. I look back and picture myself the classic loner bookworm with the aversion to sports, sort of an artsy type who listened to Led Zepplin and wrote bad poetry. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I whole-heartedly discovered the meatier diets, the likes of Tom Wolfe, John Updike, Chaim Potok, John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, and many, many others I could go on naming. Continue reading “A Q&A with Robert Goble author of Across A Harvested Field”

Andrew’s Mormon Literature Year in Review: Mormon Market 2009

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”

Andrew’s Mormon Literature Year in Review, Part II: Mormon Market Books 2008

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”