By Common Consent, the self-proclaimed Best Mormon Blog in the Universe, is launching a press. BCC Press can be found here. I asked some of the BCC Bloggers behind the launch what they were thinking, and here’s what I found out.

Why did you form BCC Press? 

The primary reason is because we need to do a better job of sustaining long-form discussion in our church.  Over the last fifteen years or so that I’ve been involved in the online Mormon community, I’ve seen us becoming increasingly abbreviated in our discussions, more willing to jump to conclusions, more willing to simply argue from our preconceived notions of each other instead of seeking bona fide understanding.  In some ways blogging sustained this decline, to the point that now I occasionally hear that even blog posts are too long.  We have a tl;dr culture that is simply not sustainable.  Our real-world connections will fall apart and ultimately our online forums will degrade into worthless echo chambers.  I think more reading, and more writing, can fight against that trend.  So this is really part of BCC’s overall mission to promote understanding and have powerful discussions about the community in a productive way.
What was the inception story of the Press?  
Science the Key to TheologyWe’ve got a solid set of authors at BCC and we’d been batting around for a while the idea of putting together some anthologies of past posts, maybe curated editions, that sort of thing, but the idea didn’t really take flight until some of our authors came to us with manuscripts and ideas for full-fledged books of their own.  It’s clear that publishing is a tough business and we thought, maybe we can lower the barriers to entry a little, do it without a profit motive (like the blog does), and try to access the existing platform that BCC already has.  Steve Peck’s book was really the big catalyst for me – it’s such a great book that we needed to find a way to get it in front of as many people as possible.
What niche of authors or audience do you see this filling?
We’re looking to work very broadly within the Mormon community (I guess that’s already a niche!). I’d love to have authors from all walks of life, and I’d welcome conservative and more progressive viewpoints.  The beauty of working with a book as opposed to brief essays or Facebook status updates or whatever is that the length of the medium forces a certain mode of argument and discussion.  It’s hard to write for very long without engaging with opposing viewpoints.  Your thoughts need to be more considered, more rational.  You need to make yourself very clear and more balanced than perhaps you’d be in 140 characters.  So BCC Press hopefully will be a broader sort of place than BCC, and the audience I would hope would also be broader than BCC.  The challenge will be finding topics and authors who write interesting thoughts in an interesting way.  Beyond that, I’m comfortable that the audience will be there and the discussion will be there.
How does it differ / fit in with the other Mormon niche publishers out there?
Mormon publishing is not a large world and there are some excellent presses out there.  We have a lot in common as a group.  As a press we’re not going to be super-specialized on, say, memoir or history or one genre. Our identity is not going to be tied to advancing a particular agenda or ideological stripe.  We really want to be a service to our community.  So we’re a non-profit, a 501(c)(3).  We’re run by volunteers and we do all the work ourselves at no cost, other than basic expenses.  Once we recoup those expenses in book sales, we want to give as much to the authors as possible to keep the writing community going.  That’s probably our biggest difference, but it goes to the heart of why we’re doing this — we really want people to read, discuss and engage with their Mormonism on a deeper and more satisfying level.
Who do you see as your desired authors / topics?
      Book                    KindleOh man, there are so many terrific authors out there now.  Some of them have signed up for books with us already. What I’d like to see is a bridging of what is perhaps a generational gap in Mormon Studies right now.  You have old guard authors who were really pathfinders, that founded some of the great journals out there, and then you have a rising number of writers and scholars who are really just getting started. We want to bridge that gap in a way that is relatable and powerful.  There are so many pressing topics in the Church right now just waiting for a really good, reasonable discussion: the environment, sexuality, racism, our relationship to scripture, science and faith (Steve Peck’s new book hits that topic in a novel way), poverty — it’s really a very open space right now for authors.  We also want to give a better voice to authors of different cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds that can enrich the community as a whole.  So many stories of minorities and women have yet to be told in our books.
What target audience(s) are you trying to reach? 
Ideally?  I’d love everyone to read and really love the books we’re going to print.  I don’t want to produce books for an echo chamber sort of audience; that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid, though I hope the Bloggernacle community enjoys what we produce.  I would want to reach those audiences who feel like they don’t have a place within the community, whether because they feel isolated in their wards or because the progressive culture of the Bloggernacle swings too far left for them.  If the goal is to encourage better understanding among us, I want to cast a wide net and bring everyone in.
How can someone submit work to BCC Press?
Email us at info@bccpress.org, and we can go from there.  We try to make the onboarding, planning, contracting and all that as simple as possible.
Can you explain the logistics of publishing with BCC Press?
We are a volunteer organization. We aren’t trying to make money for ourselves or for the press. In fact, we are actively raising money to cover production costs so that we can return as much as possible in royalties to our authors. And we are a small enough community that we are interested in talking with authors at an early stages of a project and helping new authors (or authors making the transition from blogging to booking) shape their books from the outset. So, once we decide to pursue a project, we assign an editor who collaborates with the author as much (or as little) as is necessary to bring the book to fruition. Then we have BCC volunteers do the line editing, proofreading, and typesetting, and we use print-on demand technology to produce both print and ebooks. We are working with bookstores on the Wasatch Front to get books sold through their stores, but we will also distribute online, through Amazon, and we will provide books at very low prices for authors to use at signings and events.
Basically, we want to distribute books as widely as possible with as much of the royalties going to the author as we can manage as a non-profit press.
Where can I find out more about the press or buy the books being published?
           Coming in May 2017The website is bccpress.org, and we’re selling our books through both Amazon and CreateSpace. Amazon is more convenient for most of us, but CreateSpace pays almost double—which means more money for our authors. So if you’re looking for a physical book, pretty please buy it through our CreateSpace store.
Tracy McKay’s memoir The Burning Point deals with a lot of serious issues, including addiction, divorce, single parenthood, poverty, welfare, and raising a special-needs child in difficult circumstances. But ultimately it is the hopeful story of a Mormon woman who, facing a lot of difficult circumstances, went back to college and turned her life around. It is also the story of one of the birth of the Tracy McKay Scholarship Award, now awarded annually by the Feminist Mormon Housewives blog to Mormon women returning to school.
Michael Austin’s #BOM2016  is a collection of 45 blog posts written for By Common Consent during 2016, part of the authors attempt to reconnect with the Book of Mormon as a scholar and literary critic. This is the first of a number of planned BCC Press books that will curate and present important material from the blog’s extensive archives–almost fifteen years of posts about some of the most important issues in contemporary Mormonism. Another such volume is planned for this year collecting posts by BCC women and edited by BCC blogger Karen Hall.
I just recently bought my own copy of Steven Peck’s book Science the Key to Theology, and I’m in the process of devouring it. More to follow on that! You can pick up a copy here or on Amazon (but createspace is preferred!).
  • Do you buy books from Mormon publishers?
  • What authors would you like to read if they published a book?
  • What topics would you like to read in book form?

Discuss.