Four Tips on Landing and Working with a Traditional Publisher

By Jennifer Hallmark

I stared at the typed manuscript on my desk. It represented over a year of work. Traditional publishing or Indie publishing? Or vanity press? Though I was a newbie, I needed to make a decision. I knew very little about the publishing business. No, scratch that. I knew nothing at all.

I’d been writing my first novel and loving every minute of it. It sang, it soared, it was perfect. (Yes, I can hear you laughing from here)

A person from a vanity press approached me and offered to publish my wonderful 100,000 word work in progress which had no genre, no edits, and no formatting whatsoever. I’d been praying ever since I started writing for God to show me what to do. I was clueless and not ignorant of that fact.

So, when this opportunity presented itself, I went back to prayer. The only words that seemed to resonate inside of me were “Follow the traditional road.” I was a bit sad at the time. I mean, look at what the world was missing by me not putting my novel out there.

*Shaking head.*

What did I know about traditional publishing? Nada. I began to study all the types of publishing, taking online courses, reading writing craft books, and attending writing workshops, groups, and conferences. It didn’t take me long to figure out what a mistake I’d almost made. I kept following the traditional road the best I could and here I am, thirteen years later, about to release my debut, traditionally published novel.

Click to tweet: Four tips on landing and working with a traditional publisher. #publishing #amwriting @Inspiredprompt

If the traditional road is one you’d like to follow, don’t despair. It shouldn’t take you as long as it did me. Let me share four tips that will make a difference in your journey:

  1. Know the publisher. When I first started, I just sent my novels to publisher’s names I liked and gave little thought to what they wanted. I did get some helpful criticism back from several publishers but nothing else. When I finished my novel, Jessie’s Hope, I diligently studied the publisher I had set my sights on, Firefly Southern Fiction. I studied their guidelines until I could say them in my sleep. And I read several books by Firefly.
  2. Get your manuscript edited. Whether you hire a freelance editor, join a critique group, or find a critique partner, get another set of eyes on your work. I ran Jessie’s Hope through a critique group first, then had an editor friend give it a once over. I wanted it to be as polished as I could make it.
  3. Meet said editor or publisher. One way you can meet them is online. You can visit their site, read all their blog posts, and comment until they recognize you. I found out that the Firefly editor, Eva Marie Everson, was going to be at a conference near me and I made plans to go. I made an appointment to meet with her and also took all of her classes. I needed to learn what she was looking for in a more personal way.
  4. Submit your work. Finally, at the conference, I showed her a bit of my work and also explained the trouble I was experiencing in learning deep POV. She ripped my first pages to shreds as she taught me first-hand about deep POV both in our meeting and during class. She asked for a longer submission to be sent to her email and two months later told me the story intrigued her. But I had to first take a chance and submit or I would have never known it had potential.

After the good news, I started snoopy dancing. But then she had one of her beta readers read the full manuscript and tell me all the problems it had. I worked hard over the next two years and resubmitted it in 2017. She accepted the manuscript and on June 17, my dream of being a traditionally published author will come true.

Eleven and a half years after I made the decision to follow this road. I’m sure glad I didn’t know in the beginning how long it would take or I’d have probably given up.

Now which road should you take? Indie publishing has come a long way since I started writing. I believe God understood my lack of patience and desire to see my work in print and the fact that I would regret publishing too soon. He pointed to the traditional road and for me, it was the right one.

I suggest you prayerfully look into both ways of getting your work into print. (I purposely left out the third way. Don’t use a vanity press.) Do some research into both methods. Use my four tips with a publishing house that you feel a connection to and see what happens. You never know until you take that step.

In leiu of a writing prompt:

Question time. Ask me a question in the comments and I’ll try to answer it or find an answer for you.

3 Questions Wednesday with Sue Davis Potts

Happy Wednesday! Today the Inspired Prompt welcomes author, Sue Davis Potts. We’re so happy you could join us. First question:

Who is your favorite author?

Sue: I am a former preschool teacher and I love to write for children, so I love picture book authors. When I was teaching, I enjoyed Mercer Mayer’s “Little Critter” books. He captures the way children think and sound.

Now my favorite picture book author is my friend, Michelle Medlock Adams. She puts her heart into each book and in many of her books she shares Jesus in a language that kids can understand. She is also great with rhyme which makes reading her books so much fun.

I agree, Michelle is a great author.  Next question…

 If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Sue: I am working on a couple of devotional books right now. One of them focuses on devotions for people that deal with fibromyalgia. I have fibromyalgia and the struggle is real. I would love to write something to encourage others that share some of the same struggles.

That is a much needed devotional. Last question:

If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Sue: I have a fascination with Ruth in the Bible. I would love to sit down and interview her. I would ask her to tell me about her journey from Moab to Judah. I would also ask her to tell me her and Boaz’s love story and of course, I would have to ask what it was really like living with her mother-in-law.

Sounds like a fascinating day. Thanks so much for dropping by!

Click to tweet: Author Sue Davis Potts talks about writing and a giveaway. #childrensbooks #amwriting

Sue will give away a print copy of her book, 101 Life Lessons from Uno. (US entries only)  Leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing…


101 Life Lessons from Uno

Life is full of teachable moments. Meeting Uno was that kind of moment. Uno’s accident had left him with a disability. He was challenged but he was still present, still making his way in the world. He still had value and many lessons to teach those who would learn. Whether disabled or not, we all face struggles. It’s how we handle those struggles that matters. Uno healed and moved on. If a one- legged duck overcame so can you. Be encouraged by Uno’s one leg, one life, and many lessons.


 Sue Davis Potts is a freelance writer from Huntingdon, Tennessee. She is mother to her beautiful, college age daughter, Jessa.

She enjoys writing for both children and adults. She has been published in several anthologies and magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse, Clubhouse Jr., and Ideals.

Her blog, Potts Pages, can be found on her website, http://www.suedavispotts.com. Her book, 101 Life Lessons From Uno (The One-Legged Duck), is available on Amazon.

3 Questions Wednesday with Katie Clark

Katie Clark Author PhotoHappy Wednesday! It’s my pleasure to welcome the author of Whispering Tower, Katie Clark, to the Inspired Prompt. Good morning, Katie.

Now Katie, here’s your first question:

Who is your favorite author? 

Katie:  My favorite author is probably Lisa T. Bergren. I look forward to her books, and I always love them. They’re a great blend of romance, action, and adventure!

These are my favorite type of books to take to the beach with me:) Next question,

If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Katie:  I would love to be a travel writer—as in, travel around the world and get paid to write about my journeys. Wouldn’t that be a cool job?!

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Yes it would!!  #dreamjob  and on to question #3…..

If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Katie:  Thinking about my new book, Whispering Tower, I wouldn’t mind hanging out with my main characters Skye and Philip—particularly while they’re stuck in the past. Of course, I’d only want to hang out with them there if I had the assurance I’d get to come back to the present!

That does sound like a fun day!   Thank you, Katie, for taking time to answer our three questions.

Click to Tweet: Multi-published author, Katie Clark is our 3 Questions Wednesday guest via @InspiredPrompt.

Katie is graciously offering a giveaway of a PDF of her newest book, Whispering Tower Make sure to leave a comment to be entered to win…


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Whispering Tower

Stuck in London for one of her mom’s work trips, Skye Humphries can’t help holding a grudge when she ends up roped into a summer tour group with Philip-who-crushed-her-heart. But when Skye and Philip find themselves barreling through time after unsuspectingly opening the veil between the past and present, they’re thrust into a world where Skye’s very life is in danger. If she’d known her choices were between summering with Philip or being sacrificed to the god of the skies, Skye might have changed her attitude. Now she must figure out what’s most important to her—getting even for the past or having a future.


 

Katie Clark Author PhotoKATIE CLARK started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes young adult speculative fiction, including her romantic fantasy novel, The Rejected Princess, a supernatural survival series including Shadowed Eden and Whispering Tower, AVAILABLE NOW, and her dystopian Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website, as well as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

 

Solitary Man by Eric Landfried

ERIC LANDFRIEDGood morning! It is my pleasure to welcome author Eric Landfried to the Inspired Prompt.

Hi, Eric So glad you could join us. First question:

Tell us a little about yourself?

Eric:  I was born in Charleston, WV where I spent the first 23 years of my life. My parents split when I was just a baby, but I have younger siblings (3 sisters and a brother) from blended family situations. I don’t pay attention to adjectives like “step” or “half” when it comes to my siblings. They’re my siblings, and I love them.

Thanks to visiting my dad on the weekends, I was in church every Sunday and grew up learning the Bible. I also started going to a Christian school in the fourth grade. But while I professed Christ at 9 years old, I pulled away from my faith in my teens and early twenties and made a few bad decisions. Once I hit what I considered bottom, my best buddy Chris invited me to come live with him in New Hampshire and get back on my feet. It ended up being a great decision as God used the experience to draw me back to him and I rediscovered the faith I’d discarded. I’d been writing all along, and now my faith influenced the things that came out in my work.

New Hampshire has certainly had its ups and downs for me, but the one constant has been God, and He has been absolutely faithful through it all. I’m thankful for a God I can completely surrender to, and I’m thankful for the gracious blessings He grants me in this life. He just keeps giving, though I never could deserve it, and I’m now a published author.

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What do you love most about the writing process?

Eric:  I think the moment when I type the last word of the first draft is my favorite. I call my first drafts “brain vomit” because it’s basically getting the story out of my head and onto the page where I can sort through the mess and see what works and what doesn’t. After that is when I really do my best writing. But that emotional high in between the end of the first draft and the beginning of editing is easily my favorite moment as a writer. It also gets the nagging idea I turned into a story out of my head (only to be replaced by another nagging idea, of course).

 How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Eric:  I wrote a novel, a thriller about a private investigator, when I was 16 years old. It’s absolute garbage, so I’ll never publish it. I might consider revisiting the idea once I’m done with all the other ideas in front of me, though that will probably be a while.

I started working on Solitary Man’s sequel before it was released, because I figured there would be some readers wanting to know what happens next. Sure enough, every positive review ends with “can’t wait for the sequel!” I’m currently about 30,000 words into it, so I figure I’m about a third of the way through. Of course that’s my “brain vomit” first draft, so there’s still all the editing to do once it’s done. I guess God is using me to teach everyone patience. ☺

I also have a couple of mostly completed screenplays, but since Solitary Man is what helped me finally get my foot in the door, I’m focused on writing books right now, rather than movies. I’m sure I’ll try to do something with them in the future.

If you could give advice to your younger writing self, what would it be?

Eric:  “Get off your butt and write!” Procrastination has always been an issue for me, and it’s why I’m published now at the age of 44 rather than twenty years earlier. I suppose that in my mid-life crisis, instead of buying a Porsche, I published a book. Regardless, I’m just happy to be here, and happy to have written something that so many people are enjoying. But it does pain me a little bit that if I hadn’t been a lazy jerk earlier on, I could have had this experience a lot sooner.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Eric:  As I mentioned above, procrastination is a writer’s worst enemy. It’s a career killer. If you aspire to be published, push yourself and be disciplined. I get up early every  morning to give myself 90 minutes of uninterrupted writing time because it’s the only time of day I can get that (I still have a day job, a family, and a very busy church life). Setting word count goals isn’t a bad idea, but I’m cautious of that as it can also backfire and discourage you when you don’t hit the goal. Always remember, just a little progress is still progress, and that’s a good thing.

I’d also recommend a thick skin and an attitude of perseverance. Solitary Man was rejected around 20 times by various agents and publishers before Ambassador International finally offered me a contract. It would have been easy to give up and assume I was just a talentless hack, and there were moments when I was tempted to do just that. I’m certainly glad I pushed through those thoughts and finally achieved a lifelong dream.

What does literary success look like to you?

Eric:  While being on the New York Times bestseller list would be a great achievement, I’m a realist, so to me, success means being able to quit my day job (as a traveling technician for an arcade company) and write full time. Making a living doing this thing I love to do? Well, I would absolutely love that, and I hope and pray for that moment. I guess I should also pray for patience as I wait and see if God makes that a possibility.

Future Projects or WIP you can talk about?

Eric:  I already mentioned the sequel to Solitary Man I’m working on, and I’ll add that this is probably going to be the most ambitious project I’ve ever done. I’m doing lots of research, looking at satellite photos of real places and checking maps as I plot out Doyle’s continuing journey. I have a feeling it’s going to be pretty epic.

I’m also talking with my best friend Chris about collaborating on a picture book with me writing and him illustrating. He’s a tremendously talented and creative artist (check out his work on Instagram and we’ve been good friends for nearly 30 years, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what we come up with.

Thanks so much for joining us!

Click to tweet: Eric Landfried talks about the writing journey and his newly released book, Solitary Man #amreading


ERIC LANDFRIED

Eric Landfried

I was thirteen years old when I realized I was a writer. Once I had this realization, I grabbed a spiral notebook and began filling it with all the stories bumping around in my head. I was young and inexperienced, and therefore terrible, but the ideas kept coming and I kept improving as a writer. As a shy and withdrawn kid living in West Virginia, writing became the best outlet to express myself, and I exploited it as much as I could.

As an adult, I wrote less frequently, usually due to my procrastinating nature, but the ideas never went away. Many of them are still with me, waiting for me to introduce them to the world. And now, someone has looked at my writing and deemed it worthy of investing time, money and effort in order to share it with the masses.

I now live in New Hampshire with my wife Kristen and my son Nathan. I’m excited to begin a new chapter in my life that involves doing something I’ve always loved. There’s never been a moment that I felt like I wasn’t a writer, but the journey of a writer is often discouraging more than it is encouraging. This means I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with you. Thank you for your interest and support.

Website

Amazon


Solitary Man

Solitary Man hi-res

Ten years after a brutal war, cannibals and humans fight over the pieces of a hardscrabble existence. Former Navy SEAL Doyle has been prowling the broken remnants of a devastated America for years. Alone in an armored bus loaded with weapons and supplies, he’s grateful for his solitude. Being alone makes it easier to survive, as others can become liabilities. But when a vicious cannibal attack leaves Doyle in need of fuel and repairs, he has no choice but to venture into the nearest settlement.

Jonathan has been pastoring a small church in that same settlement, and when he meets Doyle, he sees an opportunity to expand his ministry. Cannibals have kept everyone from traveling, but Doyle’s armored transport brings hope to Jonathan and his church. The two men strike a mutually beneficial bargain, but neither of them realizes this journey will change them both in ways they could never have imagined as Doyle’s unbelief collides with Jonathan’s faith.

As they look to establish churches in other settlements, they battle cannibals, militant atheists, and a mysterious super soldier with dark secrets. Solitary Man is a gritty, action-packed post-apocalyptic story with a solid, Biblical worldview.

The Importance of Return on Investment (ROI) for Writers

‎By Fay Lamb

I’m about to give you some cold, hard truth. Rick Castle is a fictional character. The number of authors who support themselves on royalties, let alone live in a condo in the middle of New York City or any other high-priced locale, are few and far between.

Oh, they do exist. I can name three of them without giving much thought to it.

However, in today’s world where, let’s face it, the market is saturated with people who believe they can write and readers who have been taken too many times, it is so much harder to support oneself on writing alone.

This is why every dollar invested in a writer’s career should be scrutinized. This careful examination of a writer’s budget should begin before the first word is written. For example, as a new author, how valuable is coaching to your career? When the first draft is written or the second or the third, what would be the reasonable cost of an edit? Then, glory hallelujah, a contract is written or a writer is skilled enough in the elements of their craft to publish a book. That’s when the cost of marketing must be considered. Make no mistake about it: even traditionally published authors must shell out payment for marketing. Facebook and Twitter are definitely not going to get the job done.

The mistake that most writers make is paying heavy fees on the front end without considering the return on investment they are likely to receive. They seek an editor or a coach, and they may find good ones, or they might find predators—individuals who have no idea what must go into a novel or a book of non-fiction to make it publishable. As an acquisition editor, a freelance editor, and an occasional writing coach, I have read many submissions in which I’ve commented that a freelance edit would benefit a writer only to learn that the work has already been edited, and I use that term loosely. Then I shudder at the price the person has paid for the edit or the coaching, knowing that the writer is likely never to recoup the money spent.

A key to hiring an editor is to ask for and review their resume. Ask them for author references and for titles that they’ve edited. Follow up on these references and ask the authors if they feel as if they received a good return for their investment. Then read what the editor has edited. Is it the type of editing you require?

Also, spell out for the editor what you require. A good fiction editor understands the elements that go into each genre of fiction. They’ll look for plot holes, for areas of inconsistency, and places where the elements are not strong. An editor of non-fiction understands the framework that publishers desire and will work to put the manuscript into that format.

Oh, and anyone who knows the industry is aware of the importance of return on investment. They will not charge you the same going rate they would charge a J.K. Rowling, or a James Patterson or a John Grisham. See, I told you I could name three authors who can live the Rick Castle lifestyle.

While those three authors have names that sell, you and I most likely do not. So, our only remedy is to get out there into the marketplace and make our names familiar. I’ve already said that Facebook and Twitter are not going to get the job done. We’re marketing to our own people group—mostly authors, and Facebook and Twitter are saturated. The return on investment is good, if you want nothing for nothing or a little for something. There are ways to make them work, but a savvy author needs to reach outside his or her comfort zone, to find traditional ads and marketing that costs them something. In the same way that they carefully examine the cost of an editor or a coach, they should ask questions of other authors who have tried different types of marketing. Authors are usually very kind to tell each other what works and doesn’t work. Authors should price various size ads on websites or in magazines or any venue they plan to work in and research the traffic for those venues.

Click to tweet: Return on Investment or ROI. A savvy author need to reach outside his or her comfort zone. Why? #amediting #IndieAuthors

Another suggestion to lower the individual cost for advertisement is to work in groups, either with authors who write the same genre for a publisher or who self-publish in the same genre. A caution, though: be sure that that the authors promoting with you write to the same standard whether it be social, morals, or in talent.

Start slow. You’ll have to pull from your own pocket at first. Always reinvest your earnings, seeking for a return on investment and eventually striving to put the money you invested back into your own pocket.

Writing Prompt: Jane stared at the returned manuscript proposal in front of her. The story is good. But have you thought about having it edited? The problem was…