5 Secrets to Getting Published

post by Michelle Griep

Psst. Hey buddy. Step over here and I’ll tell you the secret to getting published. . .

#1. Learn the craft.
You have to know the writing rules to break the writing rules. Yes, even if you’re wearing a leather jacket and have a pack of Pall Malls rolled up in your tee-shirt sleeve. How can you rebel if you don’t know what you’re rebelling against? There are certain writing rules you need to know simply to have an intelligent conversation with another writer, things like point of view, showing vs. telling, writing tight, or the endless debate on whether a Pilot G3 beats out a Uni-Ball Jetstream (and it does, every flipping time).

#2. Write a kick a** story.
Even when you’ve learned the craft of writing, story is still king. If a reader doesn’t care about the sweeping saga of a lovestruck coyote pining for a rock badger in Colonial America, you’re not going to sell the dang thing. There’s got to be an oh-my-goodness-what-happens-next kind of breadcrumb trail to lead your reader from beginning to end.

#3. Breathe life into your characters.
And not just the hero and heroine, baby. Any character that shows up in your story needs to be a person of interest, even if that “person” is a dolphin. Your reader needs to relate to your characters in some way, shape, or form or they just won’t care a fig about them. And personally, I hate figs. Fig Newtons included.

#4. Finish what you start.
Newsflash: if you keep re-writing and overthinking the first few chapters, you’ll never type “The End.” Seriously, didn’t you learn this in preschool? Listen up, class. When we begin a project, we should see it through to completion. Unless, of course, you’re sheet-rocking a ceiling. In that case, just hire it out.

#5. Slap on a smile and get out there and network.
I understand you’re an introvert. Most writers are. Still, they do sell big boy and big girl undies at Target. Just ask a clerk. The point is that you need to suck it up and go meet agents and editors. They are the gatekeepers for traditional publishers. And even if you decide to self-publish, you’ll need to network to get the word out about your book.

There you have it, kids. It really is as simple as pounding your head against the wall. Getting published takes perseverance and a bucketload of blood, sweat and tears, so stock up on band-aids, deodorant, and kleenex and you’ll be good to go.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.


Writing Lessons

By day, Liz Johnson works as a
marketing manager, and she makes time to write late at night. Liz is the author
of nine novels—including her latest, The Red Door Inn (Prince Edward Island Dreams, book 1)—and a New York Times bestselling novella. She makes her home
in Nashville, where she enjoys exploring local music, theater, and making
frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her nieces and nephews. She writes stories
of true love filled with heart, humor, and happily ever afters. Connect with
her at www.LizJohnsonBooks.com or www.Facebook.com/LizJohnsonBooks.

Writing Lessons
I was standing in line for coffee
(well, in line with others in line for coffee—I prefer the near milkshake
version) at a writers conference several years ago. The woman behind me was
also alone and also wearing a nametag identifying her as part of the same
conference. Feeling a little more extroverted than usual, I asked, “What
do you write?”
I expected a quippy response—the kind
of single-line identifier writers spend years perfecting. What I got instead was
a tirade on the ills of Christian publishing and the narrow-mindedness of some editors not interested in books
about missionaries in Africa.
After five full minutes, she
harrumphed. “I just don’t understand why God would call me to write this
book, when no one seems to be interested.”
I thought that probably translated
into, “I had a couple painful editor appointments,” but I didn’t say as
much. Instead I gently—I hope I was gentle, anyway—suggested that perhaps God
had called her to write the book so He could teach her something new.
To which she snapped, “I’ve
already learned the lessons I wrote about in my book.”
Thank goodness it was then my turn to
order. Double that whip cream, please.
I wonder about that exchange every
now and then. It was years ago, and I probably wouldn’t recognize the woman
again if she introduced herself. But I think about what I really meant to say,
and if I’m listening to my own advice. You see, I think God uses the very
process of writing and editing and pitching books to teach us amazing things. Even
on the surface level, I’ve learned some incredible lessons, like perseverance
pays off, flexibility is important, and big computer screens can hide bad hair
days.
But there’s more to this whole
putting thoughts to paper thing. Here are three lessons God has taught me
through the course of writing my books.
1.
My worth isn’t in sales or how many books have my name on the cover.
Who I am is not how many people
recognize me on the street (none, by the way) or what conference I’m asked (or
not asked) to speak at. Doing the hard work of writing a book isn’t about
making a name for myself or being told I’m a wonderful writer (although that’s
nice to hear every now and then). Because in the darkness (I write best at
night) it’s just me and my computer and God. That time alone is 95% of my
writing life. And in that time, when the enemy whispers lies into my ear (like
I’ll never amount to anything or I’m not worthy), I cling to the reminder that
my worth is wrapped up in one thing. I am a child of God. And I do what I do
because it’s the call He’s given me. I’m called to use my talents and not bury
them in the ground. The process of writing reminds me whose I am and whose
voice I heed.
2.
God’s good gifts don’t always come in the form of five-star reviews.
Matthew 7 talks about how God is a
good Father, who wants to give His children good gifts. It’s easy to think that
those gifts always come wrapped in red ribbons and blazing with stars. But
sometimes the sweetest gifts come in a spurt of writing or an unexpected inspiration.
My favorite of his gifts are epiphanies that fill in gaping plot holes I
couldn’t fill on my own.
The passage I mentioned in Matthew
follows the familiar “ask and it shall be given to you” line. I’ve discovered a
joy in asking God for help and waiting to see how He’ll show up. Sometimes it’s
through a kind word from a reader. Other times it’s in a brainstorming session
with a fellow writer. And then there are the times when it’s a meal made by a
friend who knows I’m on deadline and just need real food. When my eyes are open
to them, I see His gifts everywhere.
3.
I don’t have to fear rejection.
Writers know the acute pain of
dismissal better than most. We wrack up rejection letters with a butterfly net
and wear them like a badge of honor. But that doesn’t mean they stop stinging.
We pitch to our dream editors and agents, hold our breaths, and let out loud sighs
when we hear back. “It’s not right for me.” “Your manuscript isn’t quite
ready.” “It doesn’t fit into the market right now.” Or a reviewer plants a
one-star review on your work, their words harsh and overly critical.
Industry experts tell us these aren’t
personal rejections, but how could they not feel that way when we’ve poured our
hearts into these stories? They hurt. Even after the 12th and 25th
and 99th. (And they don’t hurt any less after you’ve published a
book or six.)  What I’ve come to learn is
that a rejection may burn, but it’s not lethal. It may leave a bruise, but
it’ll heal. And in the midst of that pain, I continue to turn to one truth. God
has promised never to leave me or forsake me. No matter what pain this life
brings, His love is everlasting. I don’t have to fear rejection because He’ll
never reject me.
Join
the conversation. What have you
learned through the process of writing, editing, and pitching your work?
The Red Door Inn
Marie Carrington is broke, desperate,
and hoping to find sanctuary on Prince Edward Island while decorating a
renovated bed-and-breakfast. Seth Sloane moved three thousand miles to help
restore his uncle’s Victorian B and B–and to forget about the fiancée who
broke his heart. He wasn’t expecting to have to babysit a woman with a taste
for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes
past her.
The only thing Marie and Seth agree
on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just two months will take
everything they’ve got—and they have to find a way to work together. In the
process, they may find something infinitely sweeter than they ever imagined on
this island of dreams.

Industry News

Megan DiMaria is Novel Rocket’s industry news columnist. An author and speaker, she enjoys cheering on writers and loves to encourage others as they journey through life’s demands and delights. Megan is the author of two women’s fiction novels, Searching for Spice and Out of Her Hands
Welcome to the December 2015 edition of
Novel Rocket’s industry news. I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving. Enjoy the next few weeks leading up to Christmas, and have a blessed
Christmas day. Don’t forget to give books for Christmas!
Have a great month, friends. Write on!

Writing With God

By Rachel Hauck @RachelHauck

I’ve been writing full time for 11 years.

When I look back over my career, however mediocre or stellar it may be, (ha!) I’m amazed and grateful to still be in this writing game.
My first books were Heartsong romances, one written with author Lynn Coleman. I thought they were pretty darn good.
But I didn’t win any awards or accolades. 
Chick lit was becoming a big hit about the same time and after reading Kristin Billerbeck’s What A Girl Wants something clicked with me!
Georgia On Her Mind was my first chick lit. Earned a 4 star review from RT. “Hauck’s first chick lit is splendid.” 
But, no awards or accolades. 
All the while, I’d been attending conferences, meeting people. I became Vice President, then President of American Christian Fiction Writers.
Writing, along with networking, got me in the door at Thomas Nelson with two more chick lits, Lost In Nashvegas and Diva Nashvegas.
I’d arrived! Thomas Nelson was my dream publisher. But I had a lot to learn about the business side of publishing. 
When my books released, there was no publicity person. Promises fell through the cracks. And in those days there were no blog tours or blog talk radio.
The Nashvegas books didn’t sell well. No awards. No accolades. 
Except! Diva Nashvegas won the Maggie Award of Excellence. 
The nod came so out of the blue when I got the call I was confused. “What? Who is this?”
My next books did better. Two lowcountry chick lit/romances set in Beaufort, South Carolina. 
Sweet Caroline won ACFW’s Book of the Year. Love Starts With Elle was a RITA finalist.
I hired the young publicity company, Litfuse, to do blog tours. My publisher had decided to do zero promotion for Love Starts With Elle. A decision they told me about but still hurt nonetheless.
So, I scraped together a few dollars and hired Litfuse. I learned you can’t sit on the sidelines. 
I’d been on MySpace since Lost In Nashvegas. I tried to do some promo there but it was largely a confusing, weird social media site geared largely toward music.
All the while, I’m praying. I’m seeking God. I didn’t want to spend my time writing if He’d not called me to do it.
Writing is too time consuming emotionally and physically to be chasing it if God had something else for me to do.
While writing Love Starts With Elle I said to the Lord, “I got nothing. My writing career is not taking off. I quit my corporate job. Hubby and I are not doing youth church any more. I lead worship but if I’m not there to do it, someone else will. We don’t have kids. Hubs is very low maintenance. Hey! I’m 100% available. What do you need me to do?” 
Here’s the kicker. God is so good I knew if I wasn’t writing, I’d love whatever task He set for me.
About a month later, my editor asked if I’d be willing to write with country artist Sara Evans.
Sure!! I had such a peace. I knew this was next on my God-writing journey.
I loved those books. Writing them was fun. Very low stress. They didn’t have the impact any of us wanted, but I knew I was doing what He’d called me to do.
Meanwhile, the Lord gave me the gift of The Wedding Dress. A USA Today Bestseller and Romantic Times Inspirational Book of the Year. 🙂 
My good friend Debbie Macomber says, “I was a 25-year over night success.” 
That inspired me, doesn’t it you?
Why am I telling you this? Not at all to brag. There’s really not much to brag about. It’s to remind you to stay with it!

Writing takes time. Writing takes patience and yes, having our ear against the heartbeat of Jesus.

There were times when other publishers wanted me to write for them. I never had peace about it even though my friends and several big name authors were writing for the latest CBA publisher on the scene. And doing well.
A few years ago my agent talked to me about co-writing as a way of helping another author while boosting my sales and earning potential.
Never had peace about that either. Soon after I ran into a physical issue that slowed me down for about four months. Had I had a co-writing deal going amid my own work…. Shivers!  
The Lord would’ve sustained me but HE knew! “Not yet Rachel.”
He was building my faith and my testimony.
A few weeks ago while at the gym—how many of us know God speaks to us at the gym?!—I felt a release in my spirit over some things I’d been praying about.
I knew it was “go” time. 
But still? Going forward with prayer, “go time” might mean a year from now. 
In this business it’s easy to become consumers of fear, envy and jealousy. It was hard watching other authors get the big book deals or touting their sales while I was languishing in “barely there” land.
But I have to run my race. Walk the journey the Lord called me to walk.

Jesus said this, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Writing with God means hanging on in the ups and downs. Leaning into Jesus. I have a ton of stories of God meeting me in the midst of writing, in the midst of worry, in the midst of pain. 

He always brings joy! He is good. He is faithful. Don’t lose patience with the journey.

Be blessed!

*** 

Rachel Hauck lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery pets.


A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, she worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in uncomfortable chair to write full time eight years ago.

She’s the author of USA Today, EPCA and CBA best sellers, RITA and Christy nominated books. 


She also co-authored the critically acclaimed Songbird Novels with platinum selling country music artist Sara Evans. Their novel Softly and Tenderly, was one of Booklists 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.

Rachel serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, a conference speaker and worship leader.

Rachel writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

Visit her web site: www.rachelhauck.com.