Guest post by Karen Gowen
WiDo is located in Salt Lake City. It has quite a few Mormon authors but avoids LDS fiction unless it has something remarkable about it, such as Heroes of the Fallen by David J. West. (West’s book has the appeal of being based on the last days of the Nephite nation, yet with a fantasy style and tone.) Several manuscripts submitted early on were accepted with the caveat of “only one conversion story per manuscript please,” and as authors and editors cut back on the LDS themes, they liked the results so well they took out all the rest of the religion as well.
WiDo wants truth in its books, but steers clear of agendas, whether LDS or otherwise. Mormon authors for some reason love to put agenda in their work; even when they don’t think it’s there, it often is. Our editors take it out. Although a reader might agree with a particular agenda, most of us don’t like it in our fiction.
WiDo distributes through Ingram to bookstores and through Follett to libraries. Distribution to LDS bookstores is through Brigham Distributing. Online, WiDo’s books are available through Amazon, Barnes&Noble.com, Target.com and other online sites, with a select few available through Borders.com and The Book Depository. WiDo’s titles are sold in numerous independent bookstores from East to West in the United States, although bookstores are cutting back on their purchases for obvious reasons. For this reason, WiDo wants their authors to have a strong online presence to maximize online and ebook sales.
There are five editors, two interns and two copy editors who go over each manuscript numerous times to make sure it is polished and professional before it heads to the typesetter. Once typeset, it is again reviewed by an editor and at least one copy editor. No book is released until it is thoroughly and completely edited even if that means release dates are pushed back.
Cover designs vary from original artwork, photography, to computer-generated designs, depending on the genre and the tone of the work. For this reason, WiDo’s books do not look anything alike. It would be very difficult to pick out three titles from a group and say “these all look alike and must be published by the same company.”
Genres accepted for publication range from memoir, women’s fiction, YA, fantasy, mystery, to action adventure. With WiDo, the story is key. If we like the story, the writing style, the characters and feel like the work has something special, we don’t care about genre. WiDo likes a book to be around 50K- 80K words, but will publish less than 50K and up to 100K if the work merits it. We do not publish illustrated children’s books, how-to books, self-help, middle-grade (unless it has wide appeal), and erotica. We might add LDS fiction to this list as well. Deseret Book, Covenant and Cedar Fort have the market on that genre, and we aren’t interested in competing with them.
WiDo has been slowly building. There have been several business models that have had to be readjusted based on economic changes. An advantage to a small press is the ability to adapt quickly when times merit change. For this reason, WiDo has kept its releases down, with only five titles published since it started in 2007.
However, acquisitions and editing have continued. This year, 8-10 new releases are planned, with the majority of them by LDS authors. A historical fiction work, Fires of Jerusalem by Marilyn Brown, will be the first release of 2011. Close behind it will be In the Mirror by Ann Carbine Best, a memoir about her husband who was a homosexual BYU professor in the 1970’s and the impact this had on the marriage and family. Following these will be regional novels Mississippi Cotton by Paul Yarbrough (not a Mormon), and Arizona Guy by Raymond Spitzer.