Date posted: July 28, 2010
Date posted: July 27, 2010
The first thing I learned in my extensive research (thankyouverymuch Google) is that publishing a book is nearly impossible without an agent.
The second thing I learned is that finding an agent willing to represent you is nearly impossible if you’ve never published a book before.
It’s a catch-22.
I got discouraged for a bit, but, then started researching how to find an agent.
The first step is writing a query letter. Most agents get hundreds and hundreds of submissions every month, so they simply don’t have time to read everyone’s manuscript or book proposal. Instead, they read a few snippets from the email to decide if they’re interested in knowing more. So, if you write an enticing query letter, that’s your best chance at getting an agent to take notice.
Want more details on what a good query letter looks like? My agent Rachelle wrote a post on how to write a good query letter here.
But, of course, I didn’t do that. I was naïve and clueless and I wrote a pretty horrible query letter. In fact, I just pulled out the query letter that I wrote to Rachelle and I’m surprised it didn’t go straight into the trash file. This is it, copied verbatum from the email I sent Rachelle in February 2009.
Dear Ms. Gardner,
I’m looking for a literary agent to market my book “The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby”, a non-fiction book focused on helping Christian moms-to-be to survive their pregnancies. I have attached a table of contents, the preface and a sample chapter for your perusal. Please let me know if you would like any additional information or have any questions. Thank you.
But, obviously, it didn’t go straight to the trash. Rachelle was nice enough to coach me through the process and help me write a formal book proposal.
Next week: How to write a formal book proposal
Date posted: July 19, 2010
A lot of people have been asking me questions about my book and the steps I took to get it published, so I’ve decided to dedicate every Monday on my blog to talking about my personal experiences with the publishing process. I, of course, am still learning about the publishing industry, so if you’re looking for more in-depth information, I suggest you check out my agent Rachelle’s blog that is full of great information about submitting, querying and publishing books.
So, here we go…
Post #1: I’m Not a Writer, So Why Am I Writing a Book?
I actually have to give my mother-in-law Nanette credit for putting a bug in my ear about writing a book.
Two years ago, my mother-in-law called me after she had found out that my sister-in-law Mollie was pregnant. My mother-in-law wanted suggestions on a good Christian pregnancy guide that she could buy for her daughter… but I didn’t know of any.
In fact, when I was pregnant, I went to countless bookstores and bought scads of pregnancy books and honestly, I was a bit disappointed with most of them. Some had good information but were a bit boring, which meant I spent more time sleeping while holding them than reading. Others, although entertaining, were slightly offensive. As a Christian mom-to-be, I didn’t want to see the f-word in my pregnancy guide. I wanted something wholesome, informative and fun to read. I couldn’t find anything like that.
My mother-in-law’s response? She told me that I should write one myself.
I, of course, laughed at the idea. I’m not a writer (or, at least I wasn’t at the time). I was a Spanish teacher, with a degree in Psychology and art, not in English.
But, the idea stuck.
I decided to give it a try. Whenever I had a few minutes (which wasn’t often—at that point, I was busy with a one-year-old and a newborn), I jotted down a few thoughts and ideas. I worked on an outline. I got started on a few chapters. And, slowly, a book began to take shape. It took a long time—I’m not kidding, after about a year of writing, I had two chapters and a summary done and that was it. But I just kept plugging along, little by little.
Next week: Writing a Query Letter
Date posted: July 15, 2010
I don’t want to be a downer on my second blog post ever, but it’s been a tough week.
First, I have to give away my sweet dog Zoe. On Friday, the vet called and diagnosed her with several illnesses, the most significant being severe diabetes. Treatment involves twice weekly vet visits as well as daily insulin shots. I love Zoe, but I’m just not willing to make that kind of a sacrifice—financially, emotionally, physically—for a dog. My friend Anna reminded me that every hour I spend sitting at the vet’s office and every dollar I spend on insulin is an hour and dollar that I’m not spending with my family. That really put it in perspective. We found a rescue organization that does rehab with trained medical professionals that’s willing to take her. That seems best.
Then, on Tuesday night, I had a miscarriage. I was almost 13 weeks along and while this entire pregnancy has been shaky, things had finally started to turn around. Just two weeks ago, my doctor saw significant growth and a strong heartbeat so it was shocking to lose the baby so quickly. And, as those of you who have had miscarriages can attest to, a miscarriage is an extremely painful thing—both emotionally and physically. I know I’ll recover, but it’s going to take awhile.
You know that Matt Redman song “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord”? Well, we sang it in church on Sunday and right now, I’m repeating the words over and over to myself. “You give and take away… You give and take away. My heart will choose to say… Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be Your name…”
Lord, help me to trust your purposes, even when they seem unclear to me. Help me to walk out of this fog a better mother, a better wife and a woman who sees You even more clearly.
Date posted: July 15, 2010
So, here I am, starting another blog.
For those of you who know me well, you’ll know that this isn’t my first foray into the blogosphere. Way back when Josiah (my now four-year-old son) was born, I started writing a blog entitled “At Wit’s End“. I even managed to acquire two whole followers (thank you, Mom and Hildi!) before my writing and picture-posting fizzled. If you click through, you can see that the last post I made was on Joey’s birthday. His third birthday. In 2008.
But this time, I promise to do better. In fact, I’m making a vow to write a post once a week. No, wait, strike that, at least once a week. Some weeks I may write two. Or three. Or even four.
Anyway, welcome! Pull up a chair… I’ll be writing again soon. Sometime before next Wednesday.