8 Publishing Landmines & Helpful Tips for Writers

Katie Ganshert was born and raised in the Midwest, where she
writes stories about finding faith and falling in love. When she’s not busy
plotting her next novel, she enjoys watching movies with her husband, playing
make-believe with her wild-child of a son, and chatting with her girlfriends
over bagels. She and her husband are in the process of adopting from the Congo.
You can find her online at her blog and on Facebook.  

A little over a month
ago, one of my lifelong dreams came true. I officially became a published
author. My debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, hit the shelves.
I’m a reflective person
by nature, so I often ask the question: How did I get here?
The simple answer: I did
some things right and I did some things wrong.
I thought I might share
both with you today.
When it comes to
navigating this huge field called publication, we run the risk of stepping on
all kinds of landmines—those hidden dangers that knock us on our rumps. Here
are eight of the more popular ones I’ve seen. I know because I’ve stepped on a
few of them.
Be on the lookout for…
1. The Comparison Landmine
We pay
attention to how long it takes other writers to get an agent, who’s getting
book deals, who’s self-publishing, who’s selling more books, who has more blog
readers, who’s winning awards, who’s receiving accolades, etc, etc. Before we
know it, we’re wishing for so-and-so’s journey instead of our own. Remember, everybody’s
writing journey is unique. God has us on our own path for a reason.
2. The Book One Landmine
So many writers get stuck
on book one. Polishing, polishing, polishing, unable to let go and 
move on.
Might our first book get published? Sure. Will we make a career out of one
book? No. At some point, we all have to set aside our first effort and write
something new.
3. The Contest Landmine
are great. We get feedback from judges and winning can be a huge foot in the
door. But sometimes, we get so focused on making those first fifteen pages
perfect that we neglect the remaining two hundred seventy-five. Fiteen shiny
pages does not a novel make.
4. The Defensive Landmine
is part of the writing life. Whether it’s from a fellow writer, an agent, an
editor, a reviewer, or a reader. Are we listening—really listening—to the
critiques? Or are we letting our predisposition to like our own story get in
the way of growth and improvement?
5. The Cosmetic-Obsessed Landmine
It’s a
whole lot easier to get rid of adverbs and tighten our prose than it is to
address the serious problems. Here’s the thing. We can write the most
beautifully, tightly written novel in the history of all novels, but if the
plot, structure, or character development is flawed, all the cosmetics in the
world won’t help. Jody Hedlund recently blogged about this in a post titled Why
Skimping on Macro Editing Could Cost You Readers

6. The Immediate Gratification Landmine
Publication is a long
journey. There’s nothing immediate about it. Letting impatience dictate our
next move will often lead to regret.
7. The Recluse Landmine
The days of holing up in
our offices and turning out novels for our publishers is long gone (not sure they
ever existed). The act of writing might be a solitary endeavor, but being an
author isn’t. If we have a do-it-alone mentality, we’ll either never get
published or we’ll miss out on the rich relationships that often come when we
reach out to encourage and be encouraged.
8. The Social Butterfly Landmine                                                                    
Social media is good and
necessary. But if we’re putting more energy into Twitter and Facebook and
blogging than we are into our stories, than we’re stepping into dangerous
On the flipside of what
not to do, I believe there are things we should do. Things that help us reach
our goals.
Here are eight things I
did that I believe helped me get to where I am today:
1. I sought and listened to critique.
Whether that meant paying
a professional, reading feedback from contest judges, or finding a critique
partner, I did my best to push past my defenses and learn from the feedback.
2. I read LOTS of craft books.
I spent an entire summer
devouring every craft book known to man and frequently revisit some of my
3. I read LOTS of fiction.
In my genre, sure. But
more important than that, I’m always searching for high-quality fiction,
regardless of genre. The kind that will challenge and inspire me to be a better
4. I joined ACFW, (American Christian Fiction Writers)
Support, networking, and
education. Three huge benefits to joining a writing group.
5. I went to a conference.
I know conferences are
expensive, but they’re worth every penny. Especially if you feel like you have
a story that is truly ready for publication. Having a face-to-face meeting with
an agent or editor is so much more effective than a query letter.
6. I learned about the industry.
Not only did I make a
point to study the craft, I made a point to study the industry. This is a great
starting place. So is my agent’s blog, Rachelle
7. I kept writing.
I wrote three books
before getting an agent. Five before getting a book deal.
8. I persevered.
Rejection is a part of the process. So are the excruciatingly
long waits. Writers who get published are writers who persevere through both.
Let’s Talk: Have you stepped on any
of the landmines mentioned above? What has been helpful in moving you forward
in your writing journey?
Wildflowers from Winter

A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany
Quinn has built a life far removed from her trailer park teen years. Until an
interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her
hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa. Determined to
pay her respects while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to
stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of farmland and a startling turn of
events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.
Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn
farm for years. So when Bethany is left the land, he must fight her decisions
to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany’s vision, Evan
feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.
For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her
childhood doesn’t seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to
new life, love and a peace she’s not even sure exists?