Just what exactly is LDS fiction?
It's fiction that is written for people who want to read about LDS topics, or issues as seen through the LDS lens. LDS fiction may include elements of romance, suspense, mystery, history, or drama, but the underlying foundation is the same -- the characters are either LDS or become LDS, the story is clean, and sin is shown, yet so are the consequences. The sin isn't shown graphically, and language is kept to a tasteful minimum.
What is an LDS author?
A person who writes books and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As we bandy about terms in the LDS market, there's room for confusion. The term "LDS fiction" refers to a genre, as described above. When you pick up a book that is listed as "LDS fiction," you should be able to count on it containing the above elements. If it doesn't, it could be classified as "general fiction" or "women's fiction" and the like, but if it doesn't include many if not all of the above elements, it doesn't truly fall into the "LDS fiction" genre.
There are LDS authors who write for the national market, and their books would fall more into the "general fiction," "women's fiction," or "young adult" genres.
When you pick up a book by an LDS author, unless it says "LDS fiction," you shouldn't automatically assume that it will contain the elements of LDS fiction. The book may or may not mention the Church at all. It may contain swearing, bed scenes and the like. Those things are more accepted on the national level and the LDS author has more leeway than they would in the LDS market. Being an LDS author doesn't mean that you have to write LDS fiction any more than I have to write women's fiction because I'm a woman or chick lit because I'm a chick -- every author has the right to choose what they want to write.
However, if you're going to write a book and call it "LDS fiction," it should maintain certain standards. It's the genre type. I wouldn't write a romance with no mystery whatsoever and call it a mystery, any more than I would write a chick lit and call it a man's book. You've got to properly identify your genre or you won't hit the audience you're targeting. If you tell me your book is chick lit and it turns out to be about four college guys who drop out and take a road trip, I'm going to be disappointed. I had my mouth set for chick lit and didn't get it. By the same token, if you tell me your book is LDS fiction and it doesn't contain the elements I'm expecting, I'm going to be disappointed. It's false advertising.
This is one reason why I'm such a stickler about the backliner of a book being accurate. It annoys me no end when the backliner doesn't give a good hint about the contents of a book. I need to expect what I'm going to read. That's why, on the back of "Season of Sacrifice," I mention the polygamy aspect. I want my readers to know full well that book contains polygamy, so if it's something they just can't read, they won't be expected to read it.
I've gone off on a tangent, although the point is valid. Let me come back to my main premise. When you pick up an LDS fiction novel, you should be able to expect a clean read. When you pick up a book by an LDS author, that guarantee doesn't exist, as the author has free agency to write whatever they want. They can just call it by another genre name to indicate to their readers what to expect.
This is where LDS authors like Stephenie Meyer have gotten a lot of criticism. Yes, she's LDS. But she's not writing for the LDS market, and so her constraints on content would be different. Her books certainly don't qualify as LDS fiction, but that's okay. She's never claimed that they do. She properly identified herself as a young adult author on the national level. I've been a pretty strong advocate for Stephenie when others have dogged her for writing the way she has. It's a different market and you can't hold her to LDS market standards when she's writing for the national market.
To summarize: In order to call your book "LDS fiction," make sure it falls into the guidelines for that genre. If it doesn't, choose another genre title and call it by that name. You'll give your readers a much more clear idea of what to expect. The fact that you are LDS and you write fiction doesn't automatically mean that you write LDS fiction.