What is it really like after an author finally signs that first contract? Does someone from the publishing company give a newly-contracted author a cigar and robe for writing and a golden key to lasting platform success? All of that would be nice, but no.
I’ve asked three of my Books & Such clients to share what’s happened in their writing journeys since signing contracts at some point this year.
None of these authors experienced instant success. Each author persevered through revamping proposals, disappointing rejections and the need to grow their platforms. In Jenny Errlingson’s case, this pastor’s wife, conference speaker, and mother of four also wrote an entirely new novel in six months after we determined that her first novel wasn’t gaining traction. She had a great attitude and buckled down to create a new story. Then, upon an editor’s request, she expanded her novel by an additional 20,000 words under a six-week deadline since she had to get her family ready to travel to America from their home in Iceland. Jenny kept a great can-do attitude, and she got it done!
Today’s post is offered as a note of encouragement to those who are still working, dreaming, and praying for a traditional publishing contract. Keep going! Don’t give up!
If you’re already a published author, I hope that today’s post is a reminder of how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned in your publishing journey.
Kate Boyd | Herald Press (Nonfiction)
What has been the highlight of the writing/editing process for you so far?The highlight has been the collaboration. I thought about the subject of my book for a few years and even discussed it with some people, but working with Barb helped me to clarify the ideas into the outline for a book and working with my editor (at Herald Press) helped me to polish those ideas and communicate them more clearly. I learned how to better frame ideas and concepts, and it resulted in something I’m even more excited to stand behind and share with others.
As you think about the proposal that you wrote for the book, is there anything that you would change when you prepare a future proposal?
The main thing I want to remember is that as much as the proposal is a tool to secure a contract, it is also a tool to guide me in writing the book. I leaned heavily on the work I did for both tone and content when I was writing the manuscript. Knowing that, I would have put together more details on who I would be writing to and probably more details in the chapter summaries so that I would have an even clearer focus when I sat down at the keyboard.
Jenny Errlingson | Revell (Fiction)
What is harder about the writing process than you thought?
I think the hardest part for me right now is wondering if I can do this again, ha! I have so many ideas and outlines for the next books after I turn in this manuscript. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to release more novels, but I’m vacillating between excitement and the nagging “what ifs.”
If you could go back and talk to your past self, what would you tell her about this process?
I would tell my past self that the process can take longer than you think, but that it’s worth it to improve your skills and be in God’s perfect timing. If I had realized that then, maybe the years I stopped writing after my first rejection would have been filled with more growth and learning instead of insecurity and doubts.
Prasanta Verma | IVP (Nonfiction)
What is easier about the process than you thought?
Having someone (my agent Barb) go over the contract details made the process easier. Now that I’m writing the manuscript, having a concrete deadline is a definite motivator to getting the work done.
What is harder about the writing process than you thought?
I’m writing nonfiction, and the writing process itself is time-consuming and challenging, especially if you’re like me and read and research as deeply as you can about your topic. It takes time to read, research, and write all at the same time. Words and ideas need time to marinate. Building in time to set aside the words for a bit and then coming back to them is something to keep in mind.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Readers, as you read Kate, Jenny and Prasanta’s stories, what encouraged you? Did anything they shared shift your perspective on your own publishing journey?
This is a a road I will not know;
hope, in this case, is quite gone,
but I’m happy for your glow,
and am here to cheer you on.
It’s not all who claim the prize,
some must lose that others win,
but to murmur and despise
the fortunate is quite the sin.
And so, dear hearts, I wish you well
with all the love that’s in my soul;
know I’m not in reject-hell,
but that my failure’s made me whole
to know, and knowing, understand
that me writing ain’t what God had planned.
Hi Andrew, your poem today felt like the Apostle Paul’s words “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” Thank you for encouraging those who reach that contract goal and at the same time, I deeply respect your graceful honesty in acknowledging your journey and the different path that you’re on.
Thank you for your kind words Barb! There is definitely much motivation to persevere when you have an amazing agent who believes in you!
Jenny, thank you 🙂
April P Pool
Thank you for your openness about the process! It gives me encouragement to persevere!
Yay! April, we’re so glad that you were encouraged today!
Thank you so much for sharing from your journey, ladies! Definitely an encouragement to hear real-life advice from the author trenches. 🙂 Blessings on you and your books!
Kiersti, thank you for stopping to share your encouraging words with our fellow Bookies!
Barb, what an encouraging post! Each highlighted journey here is unique, as is true for everyone on this writing road. I really resonated with the reminder that God’s timing is always perfect. God has ingrained in me this truth many times!
Hi Jeanne, thanks for coming over today to share your comment. I’m so glad that God used this as a reminder that He sees you in Your writing journey and that you can keep trusting Him!
Kristen Joy Wilks
Thank you so much, Barb! This is exactly the kind of thing I hope for when I open a blog post from a literary agent. I LOVE hearing other authors stories and dreaming of what might happen with my written words some day! I loved what Jenny said about wishing she could tell her younger self that building your skill takes time and to use those years of rejection to learn and grow! I quit writing once, too. But three months later, I had to take a long hard look at what I would do to create if I didn’t write. Was there value in writing just for the sake of a story you never shared with the world. And who God made me to be, whether published or not. I came to the conclusion that we are made to create things and writing was the form of creation that brought me the most joy, no matter what happened to the words after they were down and polished. I love hearing her story. That she gave up and then pressed on and eventually, her words found a home. So encouraging!
I love what you shared here. That perspective is always such a needed foundation for me. Writing is my form of worship and brings me the most joy. Praying you continue to find joy on the journey as the Lord unfolds his plan for your writing 🙌🏾.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Thank you so much, Jenny! Loved your story and the important reminder it gives.
Hi Kristen, I’m thrilled that today’s post spoke right into your heart. Like you, I appreciate Jenny, Kate and Prasanta’s candor in sharing their stories. Keep writing!
David A Todd
Congratulations to the authors and agent in the publishing of these three books. Any way you can add links to the books in the original post?
Hi David, thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation! I will update the post for Kate’s book, which releases next year. However, Prasanata and Jenny are still in the writing phrase so links aren’t available for their books yet since their manuscripts haven’t been turned in.
I really appreciate Jenny’s perspective on the keep on keeping on. Continue writing and growing in the wait.
It’s strangely comforting to know that authors deal with wondering if they can do it again after their first book is published.
Those “what-ifs” happen to them too.
The determination to start, stop, re start, take a u turn and begin again with full throttle and determination is evident in this journey. Thank you ladies for the inspiration.