Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dangling the Carrot

If you read my last blog, you know that I was waiting to hear from a publisher about my book, David's Song. Yesterday, I received the much anticipated email. I'd like to share that email. Just a bit of explanation for those of you who are not of my faith and may not understand some of the jargon. LDS refers to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Think Mitt Romney. BYU is owned and operated by the Church and therefore I thought that using a publisher who catered to that market might be wise. (Since, as you know, the first part of the novel takes place at BYU). Secondly, Deseret Books and Seagull are bookstores located in the inter-mountain west that cater specifically to the LDS audience. With that explained, here's the email.


I really enjoyed reading David’s Song and thought it was well written, so I presented it to our editorial board. We would like to publish your book, but there are a couple of issues that need to be worked out.

First, the page count is more than what we typically publish for an LDS novel. In order to keep our prices at a competitive level, the word count should average around 80,000. If we feel a longer story is solid, we can consider publishing it in a mass market size to keep the price down. This might be an option for David’s Song, which brings me to the second issue. The second half of your story, that takes place in the present, isn’t quite as strong. I feel that Annie’s character and story line falls a little flat and probably wouldn’t be suitable for our LDS buyers. The fact that she is spending so much time with David, ignoring her commitment to Jeremy, and even kissing a married man while she is still married herself would be rejected by the Seagull and Deseret Book stores.

Therefore, I would like to suggest publishing a book that would consist solely of Annie’s story that takes place at BYU. It would need a new beginning, the airplane sections would need to be removed, and it would need to end with David leaving, but then Annie and Jeremy would need to be developed a little more. A possible scenario might be that Annie and Jeremy get together, but Annie drags her feet because she is both heartbroken over David and also not sure she can trust anyone again. (On page 272 of your current manuscript, Annie is speaking with David in the present and tells him it took her a long time before she would trust Jeremy not to leave her like he did.) This could be Annie’s and Jeremy’s final conflict before she realizes that she really does love Jeremy, trusts him, and wants to marry him.

Let me know your thoughts on this and what you’d like to do. I’m willing to hear any other suggestions you might have.

Thank you,

My first reaction was there is really something worse than a rejection. I had the distinct feeling that they were asking me to cut off my right arm. You might have to be a writer to understand that. In the 24 hours I've had to think about it, I have seen both the positive and negative of the email. First, they liked the story. They thought it well written. They would like to publish it. In other words, they wanted to work with me. I understand the business aspect of their requests for revisions. They are not a philanthropic enterprise, they are a publishing house. If they don't think that the story would be stocked in the bookstores, then the project is not viable. On the other hand, I have some concerns about how they want me to change the story.

This blog is to see what others think. I have some ideas, but I want to know what those who have read David's Song think about the requested changes. Please feel free to weigh in on the subject. I told the publisher that I would get back to them in a weeks time. Later today I am off for a little (Week long) escape with my husband. When we are not enjoying the warmth and sunshine of the Caribbean, I will be thinking of this. So please, let me know what you think, either by posting here, or on Facebook.


  1.'ve asked for opinions. I'm going to give you mine, with the proviso (which I know you already know) that I am looking at it through a non-LDS lens.
    You (and they) are running under the assumption that your story has no mass-market appeal for non-LDS readers. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Just because it takes place in LDS territory (BYU) and shows LDS values doesn't mean that the characters couldn't be making the same decisions whether they were LDS or not.
    I don't happen to believe that the second half of the story is weaker. Without that part of the story, you have a completely different story... NOT David's Song. Without that part, you might as well have written a completely different novel.
    Might I suggest that, rather than shopping DS as an LDS novel, that you shop it as a YA novel, instead?
    My two cents...

  2. Hmmmm. On one hand you would be published; on the other hand you would be butchering a story which in my opinion did not falter in the least in the latter portion. Did I approve or agree with all Annie's actions and decisions in the second half of the book? Absolutely not. Am I exspected to be niave enough to think these types of choices and challenges don't ever occur in a LDS woman's life? Oh, please! That is ridiculous! I found the second half of the book quite gripping as Annie wrestles with those temptations, and let's remember in the end our heroine chooses Jeremy. In my opinion, the second half of the book is not weaker. It is, if anything, more engrossing. There were times I wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into her friend who kept
    encouraging her involvement with David, and Annie for being so easily swayed, but this indicates I was totally involved in the story. It is a tiny bit offensive to me that an LDS publisher thinks this story is too immoral for their readership. Do they think Mormon women will be abandoning their families by the thousands after reading Of Annie's struggles?
    Having said that, you have an offer. Congratulations. Now make a list of the pro's and con's of accepting it. You know what they are. Figure out which results you rather live with. I totally agree with Jill; your book's appeal would extend beyond the LDS community. I don't think it unreasonable that another non-LDS publisher would find it worthy of publication.

  3. As I read your post, my thoughts were just what yours were- Yes- congratulations!!! they want to publish and What??? They want to change the storyline??? But after thinking a few minutes my thoughts were, why not do the revision as suggested by expanding the BYU storyline and make the modern day part your sequel?? (yes- I know that you already have parts 2 and 3 but this would make 4 books in all) As for appropriate- the reality for me is that the adversary exists and has destroyed marriages by his cunning ways. I felt that temptation with Annie as I read wondering 'what would I do if I were really in that situation?' I don't think you took the situation too far (in a Danielle Steele novel we all know what would have really happened), but it was just enough to be what Annie needed to have happen to know for a sureity where her heart and her loyalties to her family and Heavenly Father lie. I also liked how you showed how cunning the adversary can be by leading us a little at a time down the wrong path and before you know it, he has you so confused that you don't know what is right. The scriptures have many instances of immorality- David and Bath-sheba; the woman taken in adultery; Judah, son of Abraham to name a few... You then showed how important repentance is in this situation. You didn't make the indiscretion ok. We are all human and aren't perfect- yet. I personally like stories where characters overcome thier character defects and this is a situation that I'm sure there are many LDS and non LDS women(and men)have found themselves in at one time or another, wondering if they are with the right person, especially when there are marital issues going on. It's reality based not a sugar coated happily ever after. That's what appealed to me as a reader. I really think this is something that if you feel strongly enough about: be prayerful about where the Lord wants you to take this book. (I'll be praying for you too! and the publishers because I hope they can see the benefit of publishing the whole storyline!) Enjoy the Carribean! Someday I hope to at leat go on one trip like that with Skip =)

  4. I don't know what to say! I love the story the way it is (although I am not as in love with grown up David as Annie is). I liked that Annie was dealing with a tough situation; a situation that many people of all backgrounds can relate to. Making a relationship work is not all roses. I am sure that if you fleshed out Annie's and Jeremy's history it would make for a good read. But if the whole story iconsists of Annie falls for and is scarred by David the jerk and then is rescued, at first against her will, by Jeremy the perfect hero, it might be too much of a cliche YA novel for my taste. It has been done, Annie might be dynamic but everyone else in the story is completely flat. (Although young girls would probably love it). Don't change your book to the point that it is no longer a story you want to tell, you can't sell out. But I am sure you will find something either with this publisher or another tha you are comfortable with.

  5. Ok, I agree with the other 4 comments, I am NOT a reader and never have been (I would much rather be playing a sport or working out) BUT I LOVED DAVID'S SONG!!! So much that I could not put it down and read it straight through...Its pretty late right now as I read this (and I got an hours sleep last night) so my brain isn't thinking on an intelligent level, and I have never been good at all of the book jargon, but plain and simple I thought your story was great from an LDS and Non LDS view...I agree with donna, make a pro and cons list than pray about it (whih I already know you will do :) I hope you guys are having a fabulous time on your trip, cant wait to hear all about it!