The three P’s –
perseverance, preparation, and prayer…
Gayle Roper is the award winning author of more than forty books. She has been a Christy finalist three times for her novels Spring Rain, Summer Shadows, and Winter Winds.
Gayle enjoys speaking at women’s events across the nation and loves sharing the powerful truths of Scripture with humor and practicality.
Gayle is married to to Chuck Roper and has been “for more years than seems possible!”. Gayle and Chuck live in southeastern Pennsylvania where they enjoy their family of two great sons, two lovely daughters-in-law, and the world’s five most wonderful grandchildren.
When she’s not writing, or teaching at conferences, Gayle enjoys reading, gardening, and eating out every time she can talk Chuck into it.
I know you’ll credit God with your long career in Christian publishing…but….what do you believe are key characteristics to develop to stick around for the long haul?
The three P’s – perseverance, preparation, and prayer.
Perseverance is necessary because it is the long haul, and it isn’t a straight path. In the more than forty years I’ve been involved in Christian publishing, I’ve had thirteen different publishers depending on the topic, genre and what was selling at the time. Before Christian fiction became such a powerhouse, I wrote nonfiction and children’s fiction. All that time I considered mysel f a novelist, but novels were still a hard sell. So I persevered.
And I became involved in Christian writers conferences. First I just attended. Then I became a volunteer. Then staff. Then a teacher. It was through conferences that I both prepared and persevered. After I sold seven books, I had a five year fallow period where I couldn’t place anything. It was writers conferences that kept me going. And I couldn’t think of anything else I’d like to do.
Of course I’ve prayed hard through the years. And I’ll tell you, my main prayer has been, “Lord, do whatever you want to do with this manuscript. I’d love it to be a best seller, but that’s Your choice. Do as You will.” For me, an achiever, this prayer is gut-wrenching, but as a Christian, I didn’t know how else I could pray.
Do you still struggle in an area of writing? You teach, you publish, but is there one area that really is challenging for you?
The biggest area of challenge to me is sales–or lack of numbers I’m happy with. I’ve won numerous awards for my stuff including a RITA, two Carol Awards, and I’ve finaled for a Christy three times. But my sales numbers have never been what I want. I think this is the story of most writers, but that doesn’t make it hurt less. It’s my dismal numbers that make that “Do what You want” prayer so hard to pray. But somehow, is spite of this disappointment, I’ve been able to continue publishing. It’s truly a God-thing.
Do you have an area that used to trip you up that you have finally conquered? What is it and how did you wrestle it into submission?
I hate self-promotion. As the industry has changed through the years, authors are expected to do more and more of their own promotion. The thought of it makes me shudder. I’m sure I drive my publishers nuts. I’ve a new title just releasing, SHADOWS ON THE SAND, and I’ve tried a couple of new avenues of promoting the book. We’ll see if they make a difference. Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew what it was that made a book catch on? Then we’d have a plan that, while painful to writers like me, would at least work.
If you didn’t put the effort and heart and soul into your writing, where would you invest it?
Do you know, I don’t know the answer to this question. Back when our sons were getting ready to go to college, my husband and I had several discussions about my going back to teaching school. Regular income and all that, you know. The thought of going back into the classroom made my stomach hurt. I knew I wouldn’t have the emotional energy to teach every day and still write anything much. Not that I don’t like teaching; I love it. I’d just gotten used to teaching at writers conferences where people came on purpose and actually listened to you. He and I both decided I was a writer and teacher of writing through and through, and we needed to honor that calling in spite of the financial cost.
What are the top three things you think newcomers need to know about publishing today? Why?
1. It’s a highly competitive field, so be prepared for the emotional cost of competing.
2. Learn the craft. Study how-to books. Sit under established writers. Read like crazy in the genre you want to write, both general market and Christian. Listen to audio books of good writers to hear things like rhythms and tone. Never stop learning how to write better.
3. Take the time to do it right. Anyone can slap up something as an ebook, but is it worthy of your name? How embarrassing to have to send out corrected versions because you jumped the gun. How sad to blow your chance by showing an editor or agent a book that’s not ready.