Publisher gives LDS author largest cash advance in Utah

At noon today, Springville author David Ridges will receive what may be a precedent-setting $50,000 check.

The payment is an advance on the royalties that book publisher Cedar Fort Inc. expects to pay Ridges for his forthcoming book, Mormon Beliefs and Doctrines Made Easier.

“It’s the largest [advance] that we’ve made and the largest that any book publishing company in Utah has made that we know of,” Cedar Fort spokeswoman Katie Hofheins said Tuesday.

Cedar Fort is a small publishing company, also in Springville. Its authors write fiction and nonfiction books aimed at members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It expects to publish about 100 titles this year.

The company will present the check to Ridges at the LDS Booksellers Convention, which is being staged today at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy. Last month, it paid a similar amount to another writer, Steven Alten, whose novel The Shell Game will be published in December.

Advance payments aren’t unheard of in Utah, but they are rare. Robbie Nichols, vice president of marketing for Covenant Communications Inc., an LDS-themed publisher in American Fork, said he doesn’t know of one that came close to $50,000. He wonders if the payment isn’t a publicity stunt.

“That would be a large sum. I don’t think that this is something they are going to offer all of their authors. I don’t think that’s going to happen. We wish them luck,” Nichols said.

For his part, Ridges is thrilled, and he thinks the size of the payment will set a new standard in Utah.

“It will possibly set a precedent that will encourage other writers to put real effort into making it a career,” the 66-year-old author said. “I think it will also attract authors to Cedar Fort, which is becoming a very prominent player in the LDS book-publishing business.”

Advance payments are a gamble for publishers because authors typically don’t return them if their books don’t sell well. Ridges’ book is expected to reach bookstores in November. Cedar Fort expects to sell 40,000 to 50,000 copies in the first couple of months at $27.99 a copy, Hofheins said.

“He’s one of our top-selling authors. He’s a retired instructor for the LDS Church Education System, and he’s published 21 books with Cedar Fort,” Hofheins said.

The payment to Ridges is roughly 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent of the anticipated sales in the first months. Hofheins said Cedar Fort will pay advances to other authors if they or their books warrant them.

“It’s done outside of Utah, and we want to pick up on it. We just want to keep our authors here and keep them happy,” she said.

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