By Elizabeth Carlston
Some people may think the LDS book market is saturated and there is no room for new ideas or manuscripts, but in a recent lecture, two Deseret Book editors told authors how to get their writing published.
Director of Publishing Cory Maxwell said Deseret Book has three major points of criteria for manuscripts.
“We are looking for all the well-written, best-selling kinds of books,” Maxwell said.
Books should have artistic merit, meaning they are well written, researched, thorough and have a freshness or originality. Maxwell said they should be inspiring in nature and reflect the values of the church. Most importantly, a manuscript must be marketable and unique.
In general, Deseret Book is not interested in poetry, family histories, or personal stories. However, if there is a compelling reason why the manuscript should be considered, they are always interested in good books that will be successful for both author and publisher.
Maxwell emphasized the importance of writing well and being persistent in the process of submitting a manuscript.
“Publishers don”t usually do this,” Colleen Whitley, director of the BYU publishing lab said.
They are bypassing many of the filters a publisher uses to screen manuscripts, she said.
Maxwell said there are three levels of approval a manuscript must pass.
The publishing department handles acquisitions and is comprised of editors who consider the value of the manuscript. The publishing counsel group consists of members from Deseret Book”s marketing, retail and wholesale divisions. Sheri Dew, chief officer of Deseret Book, also sits in on these meetings to determine how feasible a book would be financially.
Recently, Deseret Book has been scrutinized for new policies regarding what titles are placed on its shelves. Maxwell said they appreciate books distinguishing between right and wrong and don”t support books that are vulgar, sexually provocative or that glamorize wrongful acts.
He mentioned Bruce C. Hafen”s biography of Elder Neal A. Maxwell. The book has been widely successful for Deseret Book, but people couldn”t find it on the shelves of a Border”s store in New York. Maxwell said it isn”t because Border”s bans it, but because the book doesn”t fit their agenda.
“Some have felt this is censorship, but it isn”t,” he said.
Maxwell said Deseret Book exists to build and inspire individuals as well as families and communities.
“Success is less a function of the popularity of a book than the source of the book,” Maxwell said. “An important element of loyalty exists so the reader can expect good quality from a particular author.”
Deseret Book Manager of Editing Jack Lyons told aspiring authors to be familiar with the titles available in the bookstores and make their manuscripts stand out with good writing.
“A lot of the manuscripts that come in are brown cows, but every now and then there is a purple cow,” Lyons said. “Think about ”what I can do to create a purple cow?” Write the best thing you are capable of writing.”
In 1999, Deseret Book combined with Bookcraft, publishing under four different names. As of the past few months, Deseret Book decided to reduce to two names, Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain. The imprints will appeal to the Latter-day Saint market as well as a wider audience.
Author submission guidelines may be found: http://deseretbook.com/store/help/pubguide
Publishing at Deseret Book
Please follow these guidelines:
* Your manuscript should be in clear, dark, double-spaced type on standard 8 1/2-by-11-inch paper.
* Leave sufficient margins on all pages, at least 1 inch on all sides.
* Be sure each page of the entire manuscript is numbered in sequence, not by chapter.
* Submit your manuscript in a flat package. Do not put it in a three-ring binder or bind the sheets in any way.
* Send sufficient postage to cover the return of your manuscript, a self-addressed mailing label, and an envelope large enough for the manuscript. Be sure also that your name, address, and telephone number are on the manuscript and your cover letter.
* Allow at least eight weeks for response on your manuscript.
* Manuscripts may be sent to:
Deseret Book Company
P.O. Box 30178
Salt Lake City, Utah 84130