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A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Published-Author Life

Monday, November 22, 2010

My agent, me, & my editor
I signed a three book deal with Bethany House in September of 2009 and my first book released October 2010. So it’s been well over a year, now, that I’ve been a contracted author. As I thought about the past year, I realized I’ve learned a lot about publishers, agents, and the world of writing.

So often we hear about the rejections, the hard edits, the long waits, the lack of marketing, the low advances, and an abundance of other negative things related to publication. And it can get discouraging.

But what I’ve learned this past year, is that the publishing industry is NOT a big scary monster that sits high on a cliff pushing authors off and then laughing maniacally as we try to navigate the waters of published author life.

No, I’ve learned that the publishing industry is made up of real, caring people. While I realize there are always exceptions, I thought I’d share a few of the behind-the-scenes positives that I’ve experienced this past year.

My Publishing House—Bethany House Publishers:

They’re interested in helping my career succeed, not just one book. They gave me a three book contract because they want to work with me long term, want to help me develop a brand and a readership, and want me to do well.

My editors push me to work hard on my books, but it’s only because they care so much about making each story as excellent as possible. Every time I need to hash out an idea or talk more in depth about something, I’ve been able to schedule phone calls (including very long, 3 hour calls!). And they’re always available via email and respond to all my questions right away.

The marketing department is behind me all the way. They’ve been receptive to my ideas, always accessible and encouraging, and have worked hard to promote my book. Most recently they’ve worked to set up a blog tour, a twitter giveaway, an interview with a book distributor, and are promoting my book to book clubs.

My Agent—Rachelle Gardner, WordServe Literary:

She’s interested in helping my writing career succeed too. Just like my publisher, my agent has an investment in my writing career and not just one book.

My agent is there beside me for each step of the journey. Most recently she’s been helping me think through the direction I need to go with my third book. She spent some time discussing it with my editors, working with them, trying to make sure the direction I take with Book 3 is best for my writing career.

She cares about me as a person, not just as a writer. After I got my rewrites back on Book 2, Rachelle called me to see how I was doing. She’d just gotten back from vacation, was swamped and behind with her work. But she took the time to call, to listen to my frustration, to commiserate, but then also to encourage and inspire me to keep going.

Others within the writing industry:

My Web Designer: My website is my home online. And PulsePoint, my web design team, is like the manager of my home. Since they work primarily with authors, they’re on top of the industry, watching out for my needs, and cheering me on. A couple of weeks ago, they surprised me by adding “share buttons” to the excerpt of The Preacher’s Bride that’s available on my Book Page.

My Critique Partner: My critique partner has gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping me. She most recently finished critiquing my rewrites—meaning this is the second time she’s critiqued my entire book. Not only that, she’s always there to listen and encourage me whenever I’m having a rough day.

Writer friends: And then, last but not least, I’ve found the online writing community to be a source of incredible encouragement and friendship. Other writers that I've met through blogging and twitter have supported me in countless ways. THANK YOU! If you’re a writer and not connected to a community of writers, I highly suggest getting plugged in.

There you have it! There are many more positives, too many to list. But for all of the negatives that we experience, I think every once in a while it helps to stop and count our blessings. What are the blessings you’ve experienced this past year in your writing life?

35 comments:

  1. It is good to see someone with positive news about the industry. I have not met Ms Gardner in person but I can almost attest to the fact that she is really nice. Did you know someone from wordserve dropped by my blog to say hi just bcos I said hi on their blog?! that made my day.

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  2. Wow, Joanna! That IS really cool! Just shows that industry professionals really do try, even though they're under time constraints like the rest of us.

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  3. Blessings...isn't it good to recount them and dwell on the positive instead of focusing on the negative?

    For me the biggest blessing was finaling in a contest this summer. It was a much needed encouragement, and hopefully will help to keep my chin up when those pesky doubts pop up.

    Blogs like yours are also a blessing. When people pour out their time and energy to bless, encourage, and motivate us struggling writers, it is truly a gift! Thank you!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  4. Hi Sherrinda,
    I agree. Even though it's important to share our frustrations with one another and help bear each other's burdens, I think it's good to stop every once in a while and count our blessings too! :-)

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  5. Jody, I love seeing this list. Before ACFW, I sort of had that cliff image in my head (not to that extreme though). :) But meeting the editors and agents in person made me realize the points you mentioned here are true. Now I look forward to experiencing them for myself hopefully soon. :) Thanks for being such an encouragement!

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  6. I went into this year hoping to get just one little story published and I have exceeded that goal. Along with way I have met some wonderful people, like you, and I am having so much fun building my new life as a writer. I wouldn't change a thing. :)

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  7. Blessings...well, the big one is gaining internal strength and challenging myself to do the one thing that was always in the back of my mind...and not giving up.

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  8. It is good to see some positive news rather than all the doom and gloom that has been posted lately.

    My biggest blessing has been gathering the courage to let people know I am a writer and (to my utter amazement) no one laughed.

    I have only recently become involved with my local chapter of RWA. When I attended the first meeting, it was so odd for me to have people start a conversation with "So, what do you write?". They asked as if writing was the most normal activity in the world and they paid attention to the answer! It is great to not be weird. :)

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  9. Jody, one of my many blessings this past year was getting to know you better. You do a fantastic job sharing your writing journey here on your blog, giving those of us who are on the other side of a contract helpful information and insights. Thanks for the great example you are to so many of us.

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  10. My biggest writer blessings of the year, three contest finals and a published article with another one already set for next year. Still making progress.

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  11. Blessings?

    ~Unselfish writers and agents who blog and share all the tips, tidbots, and secrets of this crazy, publishing world.

    ~My Critique group has been a huge blessing. They're there for me in my writing, but also in life. I can ask them to pray about something and I know they will.

    ~I'm thankful for pie!

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  12. Hi Jody! This is such a great post. I'm with you... I've been shocked at how WONDERFUL the entire publishing industry has treated me. My editor, my marketing director, my publisher, my agent... everyone... have been so kind and encouraging and supportive and willing to go the extra mile to help make sure my writing career is successful. I have had nothing but positive experiences. I'm glad you have, too.

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  13. I agree with you, Jody. I was also afraid of the publishing industry and afraid of the editorial process before I signed my contract. Now, I have been pleasantly surprised and touched by the kindness of my editors and others at Thomas Nelson. And of course, our agent is wonderful! :-)

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  14. My writing blessing the past year include signing with a wonderful agent and meeting many great writers and critique partners on line, and in person.

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  15. Jody, my experience has been similar to yours. Once the contract comes, the pace picks up dramatically, and it's great to have a team behind you.
    Thanks for sharing your journey. My own blessings along my road to writing? Representation by the wonderful, caring Rachelle Gardner. Being "discovered" by Barbara Scott at Abingdon, and the efforts of the team there to make all of my books the best they can be. And the support of my first reader, severest critic and biggest supporter: my wife, Kay.

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  16. this is a great post, Jody! Thanks, and so glad you've had such a positive experience. I bet your attitude and work ethic contributes as well~

    all the best! :o)

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  17. It's good to see the positives from being a published author. Sometimes it's hard not to be intimated by the whole industry, so it's nice to see that you have some great people surrounding you.

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  18. I think these positive experiences are more the norm -- the naysayers are just louder sometimes.

    Thanks for sharing your list~

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  19. Thanks for the peek at the positives you've experienced. As Amanda says, sometimes we only hear the negative side because those people tend to be the most vocal. There's much to be thankful for when we take time to think about it. Meeting people like you in the online writing community has been one of my greatest blessings.

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  20. It's always nice to read about stories on the other side of the "fence." I'm sure good critique partners and a caring agent are WAY helpful. I'm constantly blessed by the friendliness of people in the writing blogosphere!

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  21. Thanks for sharing some of your amazing insight, Jody! You've taught me so much about the path.

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  22. Blessings abound in teh writer's world! My critique partner has gone so far and above a critique partner. She's a friend who has interceded in prayer on a personal level, taken time from her own writing to prioritize mine and so much more!!

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  23. You do have an exceptional publisher! But you also have an exceptional product. The two go together.
    Ann

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  24. I wondered how much support they give you after you sign the dotted line. Good to know they are in it with you for the long haul. :O)

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  25. Being able to attend the ACFW conference this year was a blessing. And I've definitely been blessed with some fabulous critique partners.

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  26. Congratulations, Jody!
    It's always nice to hear about people that have accomplished their dreams, especially after all that hard work.

    Keep writing!

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  27. Yeah! It's not as scary as we all think it is. Maybe one day I'll have the opportunity to navigate where you have gone. Congrats on all your success

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  28. I pray the next year is full of continued blessings. :)

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  29. Hi Jody, congrats on hitting the best sellers list. I have been having problems commenting on blogs, so read your last few posts now.

    The publishing industry is not all that scary. Its just our fears that makes us see them as monsters.

    Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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  30. Thanks for sharing this with us. I'm so happy for you that you've found such success and support in your career!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  31. Jody, I had already bookmarked your site as a great example of what I hope to include in my "someday" website, but your blog is excellent, too! Thank you so much for sharing your journey, and helping other writers in the process.

    I highlighted you and your site on my blog today--I hope it will introduce many others to your generous spirit. http://bit.ly/e2BWaf

    ~Debbie

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  32. Jodi,
    So glad to find you through Debbie's blog. What great list!

    This year I've been blessed with not only accepting but fulling embracing that I'm a writer! Now I even say it- watch, I'm a writer!

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  33. Wow! You are most richly blessed my friend. I'm thrilled to see how far you've come on your journey! Can' wait until I have a supportive team behind my writing. =)

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  34. I got a good laugh when I read about the publishers kicking us off a cliff while laughing. So funny!

    It's wonderful to see the writing journey from this point of view. It's so nice that your agent and editor are in the trenches with you, working together to make your books the best they can be.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  35. Hi Jody -

    I'm so glad you've had the support of an agent and publisher.

    My blessing list:

    1) Encouragement from the Genesis Contest.

    2) Having some non-fiction pieces published.

    3) An agent asking for a full.

    4) Wonderful writer friends supporting me through highs and lows.

    Happy Thanksgiving,
    Susan :)

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