Mormon Alumni Association Books!
Faith-promoting LDS books have a whole publishing-and-distribution network in Deseret Books (plus Seagull and others) — not to mention Mormon literature organizations and a ready-made audience in LDS wards around the world who’d like to help Orson Whitney’s prediction “We will yet have Miltons and Shakspeares of our own” come true. But what if your book is less faith-promoting, yet you think it would be of interest to people with a Mormon background? It can be a bit more challenging for your book and audience to find each other!
That’s where Mormon Alumni Association Books comes in. Mormon Alumni Association Books is an informal cooperative association of authors helping each other to promote and improve their books. It is centered around a website and a facebook group, and is organized by me, C.L. Hanson (contact: chanson dot exmormon at gmail dot com) in conjunction with the outer blogness blogroll and the community blog Main Street Plaza.
How to participate and help out:
- Have a look at the MAA site and read any books that strike your fancy! If you like them, recommend them to your friends, and your book group!
- Write book reviews — and tell me about them so I can link to them. (Post reviews either on MSP or on another site.)
- Write articles for MSP! Despite that crap about “you can leave the church but you can’t leave it alone” the reality is that most people who stop believing in Mormonism typically only feel like talking about Mormonism occasionally. That’s fine, but it makes it trickier to keep the site regularly filled with interesting content (aside from my weekly link roundup).
- Link to these three sites from your own website.
- If you know any ex/post/borderland/etc. Mormon blogs that aren’t in Outer Blogness, please tell me about them and/or have them contact me so that I can include them.
- If you have skills that would help various authors (editing, production and cover art, tech expertise in creating e-books or video trailers, etc.), please tell me and allow me to connect you with people who would appreciate your help.
- If you have any contacts in the book distribution industry who would be interested in looking over the MAA catalog, please introduce them to MAA Books! Note that I can help get copies to sell on consignment and/or negotiate deals for shelf placement.
If you have written a book:
Contact me, obviously. 😉
Ideally, it would be great if you’d contact me before your book is set in stone. I can connect you with friends who will give you free feedback and/or refer you to professional (paid) editors. Note: I do not get any commission on this — it’s for your sake, to help your book be the best it can be! Well, OK, also to maintain the good reputation of MAA Books. 😉
Let’s share this adventure!
RE: Facebook description:
Might MAA Books also be a space for those authors who aim/ed for their book to be “faith-promoting” but were deemed not so by gatekeepers? In other words, what if the author still thinks of the book as “faith-promoting” as opposed to “not being sufficiently so?” The current description seems to describe a kind of “end-result,” “the gatekeepers won, so here’s this alternative space”…
Ideally, I would love to see books where the question of whether the CoJCoL-dS is true or not isn’t the point of the story. One of the crazy things about Mormon lit is that it’s hard to find stories that just happen to be set in Mormon culture without having the story be actively arguing for or against Mormonism. But the MAA doesn’t reject books on the basis of whether they aim to praise or discredit Mormonism.
What I’m suggesting is that maybe the wording of the Facebook description might be a turn-off to an author who doesn’t want to think of his/her book as not “faith-promoting,” who thinks that the traditional LDS publishing channels are “wrong” in their assessment of his/her work, and doesn’t want to be part of MAA Books because it also suggests the work is not “sufficiently faith-promoting.” Perhaps such an author is an obscure figment of my imagination, but I’m not so sure.
When I published Ockham’s Razor, I knew that the content was outside the bounds of the traditional LDS publishing channels, but that didn’t stop me from arguing against a gatekeeper who insisted my story would not be read by the “faithful” due to its content.
As a related tangent, yes, the Church is against women reading romantic erotica, and certainly wouldn’t approve of women consuming same-sex male erotica, but this doesn’t stop at least one faithful Mormon woman from writing it for a living. Are we to say that the woman is faithful but her stories are not? Are we to say that the woman is unfaithful because she writes unfaithful stories? Or, as I would argue, should we say that the woman is faithful, and her stories are (or have the potential to be considered) faithful, too?
Here’s the thing: There’s a whole LDS publishing industry out there (publishing, distribution, brick-and-mortar stores, literary organizations with their own reviews, etc.) — but only for books whose portrait of the CoJCoL-dS is net positive. The Mormon lit community often debates the definition of “Mormon Literature” — specifically debating whether pieces that don’t promote the faith should be even considered Mormon Literature at all. If it were not for this restriction, the MAA Books group would not be needed.
I am perfectly happy to read, enjoy, review, and actively promote good books that are ultimately faith-promoting. I’ve written plenty of positive reviews of such works. But I don’t feel like it would be helpful to go way out of my way to cater to authors of deliberately faith-promoting LDS books simply because they are exactly the segment of the community that has other resources and support organizations to turn to.
Yes, I see how the group is a response to a long-established gatekeeping business. I guess I’m just wondering if the intention is keep the “outer” edges parameters, basically let the gatekeepers do their thing and not really have the association be a response to this gatekeeping. I can imagine an author trying to publish something through the regular channels, only to learn that the gatekeepers don’t think there’s enough “spirit” in their work to justify questionable content, and then the author refusing to glaze it with a sugar-coated feelgoodness, and ultimately turning to a group like MAA Books, sighing, “Well, I guess my book isn’t ‘faith-promoting’ enough.” It sounds kinda like a resignation. Again, maybe I’m reading too much of my own experience into this.
My book, The Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcott is a straight foreword suspense/mystery story developed out of Mormon culture. It has won two awards. Why would the LDS church not want it read by Mormons?
@6 If the story is neutral towards Mormonism, I wouldn’t say that the CoJCoL-dS wants Mormons not to read it, but rather that the their publishing industry is unlikely to want to promote it.
I Would love to have you review my book, The Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcott: Heritage of Secrets. I would be happy to mail a copy to your address. Mystery suspense. Logline: A previously kidnapped investigative reporter is determined to publish a lost revelation Joseph Smith wrote that will destroy his church before he is caught again.
@8 OK, the review is published: Unweaving the tangled web: Michael Obornâ€™s â€œThe Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcottâ€