by Anne Bradshaw, BJ Rowley, Gordon Ryan, Josi S. Kilpack, Julie Wright, Linda Paulson Adams, Linda Shelley Whiting, Lisa J. Peck, Marsha Ward, Rachel Ann Nunes, Shirley Bahlmann, Thom Duncan, and Tristi Pinkston
So you want to be a writer?
That puts you in league with millions of other people in the world who feel, or know, that they have a story somewhere deep down in their soul. And, truth be known, they probably do.
To be clear from the start, this is primarily a book about how to get published in the LDS market. It is not our intention to publish a book about how to write. There are hundreds of those already available, although you will find that some of the advice presented here deals directly with writing. It’s impossible to actually separate the two. But our intent is to help you learn some of the pitfalls, along with the success stories, as they apply to finding a publisher after you have done the necessary writing.
Although I have worked all of my professional career in city management, true creative satisfaction did not come until I decided I was going to write a novel. And that decision—for those of you who think life has passed you by—did not happen until I was nearly fifty. I have since published eight novels. However—and this is a very important point—I did not give up my day job. Thousands of successfully-published writers maintain full-time employment—including the majority of the authors represented in this book—because they have a mortgage, and they have grown fond of eating. It is a gross misconception to think that someone who publishes a book reaps instant financial rewards, including a condo in Hawaii! This is even more true with regards to the relatively small LDS literary market.
The authors in this book (and notice I did not say writers, I said authors) range from their mid-twenties to those who are in their sixties (early sixties, please). Some wanted to write since they crawled up to their mother’s typewriter. Some, like myself, while reading a particular book, decided very late in their lives that “I could write as well as this guy.”
Since I became associated with LDStorymakers—a worldwide, online group of published authors, originated by best-selling author Rachel Ann Nunes—I have been pleasantly surprised to learn of the diversity of reasons, and in some cases obsessions, that brought us all to write.
You bought this book for a reason.
We can assume that you have at least a modicum of interest in writing. As you peruse the contents of this book, we sincerely hope it will heighten your interest, spur your desire, and fulfill your need to know about the business.
Business, I say? Yes, for writing is just that—a business. It’s not merely an artistic effort or something that we do on a whim or when the mood strikes. If you truly want to be an author, not just a writer, you need to write nearly every day, whether it’s good or bad. Some days I write lousy scenes, other days it flows perfectly. But I write. Daily. Except Sundays or when I want a weekend off. I also usually take a few weeks break when I finish one novel before starting the next. And when I’m on holiday, I have been found on the beaches of Mexico, Hawaii, and Australia with a draft manuscript and a red pen in hand. It’s a very compelling business.
If I learned anything those first few weeks and months when I sat down to show Tom Clancy that he was about to have some competition, it was that professional writing is like any other worthy endeavor. It is an exercise in discipline. A publisher won’t accept the many and varied excuses: “my kids are sick, my spouse needed the computer, I couldn’t think of anything,” etc. And they won’t accept poor spelling, terrible grammar, and shoddy manuscripts, just because “the story is so compelling.” Those days, if they ever existed, are gone.
Many of these LDS Storymakers are mothers, with three, four, five, six, or more children—or fathers with full-time jobs and other miscellaneous responsibilities. They have no more time each day than you do. Probably less discretionary time. But, year after year, they turn out a novel. Rachel Ann Nunes, with six children, has her twentieth novel in pre-production. I imagine some days she feels like it’s six novels and twenty children, but she writes, every workday. That is the kind of dedication it takes to become a published author.
The personal rewards, however, are great.
The very first time I saw my book displayed in Deseret Book’s window in Zion’s Mall, I had a feeling like I’d never had before. I had three children and two grandchildren by then, but my new baby had been born!
Such joy awaits you, too!
The folks in this book will sit in your lounge with you, kick off their shoes, lean back comfortably in your recliner, and carry on a conversation. The format is just that—a conversation about publishing. Listen closely. These folks have “been there, done that.” I admire them all. I honor them all. They have fulfilled their dreams and are continuing to pursue their future aspirations as well. And more than that, they have entertained thousands of people, all the while teaching high moral values and eternal principles. As LDS “every-member-a-missionary” people, what more could we ask?
I know that the authors in LDS Storymakers: Publishing Secrets all have that same overriding goal: To uplift and encourage their readers. So delve in, read what they have to say, then get in front of the keyboard. And don’t forget to buy a few reams of paper so you can print out and proof-read the next Great LDS Novel. You, too, will sit in awe as your new “baby” is prominently displayed in bookstores across the nation.
It could happen, you know! It really could.
Gordon W. Ryan
Christchurch, New Zealand