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: Iâ€™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.Â The focus is on published fiction, but I also cover theater and film.Â 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 Churchâ€™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”
Shadow Mountain was kind enough to send me their summer/fall catalog early this summer and ask if I’d be interested in reviewing any of the titles therein. I have been meaning to tackle something by Rachel Ann Nunes as part of my wm-reads-lds-genre-novels project, so I jumped at the chance to get a copy of Imprints ( Amazon ). This title marks Nunes’ foray from Romance in to the Mystery/Thriller genre so it seemed like it would be a much more approachable entry in to her work for someone like me.
For this review, I’m going to break it in to four parts: the set up; what works; what doesn’t work; and the novel as Mormon literature. Each of those is going to be written from a slightly different point of view as I negotiate between my identities as a fan of genre fiction but with a bias towards genre work that has strong literary elements (the good ones — not the precious/precocious literary stuff); a writer and editor of fiction; a cheerleader for Mormon fiction; and a Mormon literary critic.
The Premise and Setting
Adopted by hippie parents, Autumn Rain lives in Portland, where she runs her late father’s antiques shop. She has also recently been reunited with her twin sister (also adopted — and apparently the main character in a previous Nunes novel) and has a crush on Jake, the tall dreadlocked African American dude who she sold her father’s herbal remedies store to. Autumn also has discovered (post the trauma of her father’s death in a bridge collapse) that she has a paranormal power: she receives impressions and memories from physical objects (assuming that they have been imbued with strong emotions [love, anger, terror, etc.]). She used these powers to solve a previous case, and the word gets out so one day a community college instructor turned private investigator named Ethan McConnellÂ shows up with a pair of worried parents. It turns out that their daughter has semi-recently joined a commune that may or may not be a dangerous cult — the same commune that Ethan’s sister had joined almost a year previously. Autumn gets sucked in to the investigation, eventually going undercover with Jake and with Ethan’s help.
The setting: Portland and Oregon is the perfect place for a hippie chick with paranormal powers, and Nunes weaves in some good details and locations. Continue reading “Review: Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes”
One of the sometimes inscrutable changes that happen frequently in book publishing comes from the name on the book, the imprint. I was reminded of how strange these changes can be when I discovered quite a while ago that Bookcraft, once the name of the second largest LDS publisher, is now no longer in use.
Continue reading “The Life and Death of Imprints”
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.Â Independent publishing has not dried up and blown away, however.Â 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.Â But I am glad to see that the independents have life in them. Continue reading “Andrewâ€™s Mormon Literature Year in Review: Mormon Market 2009”
Wm writes: Once again AMV is proud to bring you Andrew Hall’s Year in Review in Mormon letters.
The story of the year in nationally published literature by Mormons was the memoir.Â Â Two Mormon women, Elna Baker and Kathryn Lynard Soper produced honest and interesting life stories, to excellent reviews. While other Mormon authors sold more books, few other nationally published author made their Mormonism so central to their story.Â Â Other big stories for the year include Stephanie Meyerâ€™s continued dominance of the fiction landscape, Brandon Sandersonâ€™s rise to the top of best sellerâ€™s lists, and the continuing flood of young adult speculative fiction. Continue reading “Andrew’s Mormon Literature Year in Review: National Market 2009”
This past week has been quite busy for news about the LDS market and the publishing industry. The following are noteworthy:
- Cedar Fort saw unexpected promotional success with Melissa Moore‘s book, Shattered Silence, which will be the subject of an Oprah episode that airs September 17th.
- Deseret Management announced that the websites of Deseret Book, KSL, the Deseret News, LDS Church News, and Mormon Times will now all be managed by a new division in the company, Deseret Digital.
- A 17-year-old American Fork teenager M’Lin Rowley, signed a 10-book deal with Deseret Book‘s Shadow Mountain imprint.
Continue reading “News & Comment: Cedar Fort Title Makes Oprah & Other News”
Wm writes: Every year since 2000, Andrew Hall has put together a Year in Review for all of the major genres of Mormon letters.Â AMV is pleased to bring you Andrewâ€™s Year in Review for 2008, continuing in this post with the second part of his look at Mormon authors being published in the national market. Also see Part Ia.
Andrew Hallâ€™s Mormon Literature Year in Review â€” Part 1b: National market books continued
In the wake of Harry Potter, Deseret Book’s Shadow Mountain imprint has made a big push into the national young adult fantasy genre.Â They had four authors producing five novels in 2008. The most successful is Brandon Mull, whose Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague was the third in his series. The series reached #3 on the NYT Children’s Chapter Series bestseller list.Â Obert Skye released two novels, Leven Thumps and the Wrath of Ezra, the fourth in a series, and Pillage, a stand-alone humorous novel. Shadow Mountain also brought in two authors who have previously published in the Mormon market. James Dashner published a successful fantasy series for the Mormon publisher Cedar Fort. Shadow Mountain contracted with him to write a national middle reader fantasy series, The 13th Reality. It tells the story of a contemporary 13-year-old who is presented with a series of letters and clues drawing him into a adventure. A reviewer at Kirkus wrote, “Though there are chunks of text that are overwritten, the telling is generally laced with a strong sense of humor and a sure hand at plot; the author is plainly in tune with today’s fan base.”Â A reviewer at School Library Journal wrote, “This book had great potential. The beginning of the adventure starts with a bang, but by the middle of the story things begin to drag. The immediacy gets lost in the daily struggle to figure out the riddles and the unending descriptions of Tick’s life as he awaits the next one.”Â J. Scott Savage has written several mysteries in the Mormon market. Through Shadow Mountain he published the fantasy Water Keep: Farworld. Meridian Magazine reviewer Jeannie Hansen wrote, “There’s enough magic and strange creatures populating the book to please the most avid fantasy reader, but there’s an added dimension of mystery and philosophy that marks this fantasy as a cut above many fantasies currently being marketed to young adults.” Continue reading “Andrewâ€™s Mormon Literature Year in Review: National Market 2008, Part Ib”