Book Update…

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Hey all, it’s been a little bit since I wrote about the publishing process for my first book and thus an update is due.  The problem?  There is not much to update.  We are still in the throws of back and forth editing.

This means we are in a great opportunity for anyone reading and following along to ask questions about the process thus far.  I’m happy to answer from my experience thus far.

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One Sheets & Proposals

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In preparation for my meeting with the publishing companies, I was instructed to prepare what is called a “One Sheet”.  Essentially, it is like a combination of your resume and synopsis of the book project, all on one single sided sheet of paper.   It is important to strike a balance between too much or too little information.   When we met with publishers, right out the gate, we handed over our One Sheet for their review.  I will say that in my appointments, they very briefly glanced over the information on the One Sheet.  Most of the time was spent in conversation.  Yes, you need to have a One Sheet, but also don’t stress out over putting it together.

At the end of the meeting, the publisher would then ask for the actual book proposal.  In this particular instance, none wanted them at that exact moment.  Instead, it was requested that the proposal was emailed to them once we returned home.  If you do not have an opportunity to have a meeting with a publisher, and you are choosing to contact publishers directly, a good cover letter with a One Sheet is sufficient.  Then allow the publisher to request your proposal before sending it. A cover letter and One Sheet are also a great way to reach out to literary agents before the expense of mailing a full proposal.

It is incredibly important that your proposal is complete and ready to send before you even pitch your book.  The sooner you can email them the documents, the better.  Not to mention that writing a book proposal is a lengthy process.  Some publishers have specific requests in the format or content of the proposal.  By having a completed proposal to work from, you can edit the proposal to meet those requests faster than having to write it from scratch.

For publishers who will accept cold (unsolicited) proposals, their guidelines for proposals is normally found on their website.  For those who only accept solicited proposals, you may need to ask if there are any specific details they wish to have included in the proposal.

In a nutshell, a good proposal will have:

  • a picture of you
  • your contact information
  • a paragraph or two about you, personally
  • a paragraph or two about you, professionally (education, ministry work, etc.)
  • details about your current platform (social media numbers, blog followers, etc.)
  • details about your speaking platform (past dates, upcoming dates, locations, etc.)
  • details about any previously published works (solo, contributions, etc.)
  • a paragraph or two about the book content
  • a paragraph or two about why this book is needed, beneficial
  • details about any books that might be considered “competition” and how your book differs or adds to the conversation on the topic.
  • proposed outline of your book
  • 2-3 sample chapters of your book*
  • a list of alternative titles (if you have thought of any)
  • a list of other titles you are working on

* keep in mind that for most works (non-fiction, Bible study, etc.) you do not need to have a complete manuscript in order to pitch.  In fact, some publishers prefer that you don’t.  However, fiction and memoirs are manuscripts that publishers prefer to have completed before the pitch.  In either case, if you do not have a completed manuscript, indicate in your proposal how much time you would need to complete the manuscript from the time the contract is signed.  I would also include this info with proposed future titles you are working on.

Should you need to mail a proposal, it should be single sided only, not stapled.  A binder clip works beautifully to keep it together during shipment.   In my experience, thus far, and speaking with other authors… no publisher has ever requested a full manuscript on the spot.

One the publisher has your full proposal, they will review it and present it to the publishing board (aka pub board) for consideration for print.

Moving Foreword

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As part of publishing a book, you may be considering a foreward.  This is usually written by someone else that has read the material, who has a frame of reference to you the author.  I asked a friend, I’ll spare her name for now, if she would be willing to consider writing a foreword… and she agreed to read the manuscript.

I sent her the version of the manuscript that had been cut to the appropriate length, but had not been edited through the back and forth process that occurs behind the scenes.  That is an incredibly intimate thing to ask of someone to do.  I’m handing over a raw version of my book, my thoughts splayed on pages, words that once read I can’t take back.  What if she doesn’t like it?  What if she doesn’t agree with me?  What if she says NO?

Insecurity will get the best of you, that is for sure.

I am ever so thankful that she not only liked my work, but agreed to write the foreword.  As I was making a long drive home, yesterday, she read her words over the phone to me.

Humbled.

She made me cry, which is honestly not something I do a lot of.  But, it wasn’t so much a response to her elegant words or accolades for my material.

It was a response to the fact that she saw me.

The inside, under the flesh, in my heart, me.

The me that I wished so many in recent years were able to see.  My heart for serving God’s women.  My heart for building up leaders.  My desire to please God.

In the several years that we have known each other, I have never sat down and had a formal conversation about who I am and what I dream of.  Most of what was written in the foreword came from simply doing life along with one another.  What she read between the lines of the words that came out of my mouth.

The mouth reveals the heart, it’s intentions.  She could hear what I wasn’t saying because she was listening to what I was.  Stitching together whether or not my word and deed matched one another.

To have another person not only look at the merit of my written work… but the desires of my heart in relation to my devotion to God and His work… it moved me to tears.

Not only does my friend see me, but God sees me.

I pray that when my day comes, He will say “well done, my good and faithful servant”.

Getting Technical

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If you are considering writing a book, I wanted to take a moment in our online journey together to discuss a few technical things you will want to know.

First:  Complete or Incomplete Manuscript

One of the things I found very interesting in the process of meeting with the publishers is that in most cases, you do not need a completed manuscript in order to pitch your book.  From publisher to publisher, the only two genres of books that publishers wanted a completed manuscript was memoir and fiction.  If you are writing a devotion, Bible study, leadership book, etc. then only a few sample chapters are necessary.  Although you will want to have an outline of the book that shows where you are going with the topic.  Also, if Children’s Books are your thing, you do not need to have the whole thing written out and illustrated to get a book deal.  In fact, many publishers have in house artists that will do the artwork for you.

Second:  Not All Publishers are Created Equal

In the company of Christian publishers, you will find some variations.  Some hold to strict doctrinal lines, and others are willing to explore other doctrinal view points.  There are publishers who do not publish certain types of books.  Take the time to get to know the publishers.  What are they selling?  What are they looking for?  How do they take submissions from authors?  What format do they want the submission presented in?  The more you know, the more you will be prepared for publisher meetings and connections.

Third:  Do You Need an Agent?

Some publishers will prefer an author without an agent, some don’t care, and some will only take proposals from someone with an agent.  An good authors agent is just like a talent agent, they work on your behalf using their contacts to get your book published.  They only get paid, when you get paid.  Therefore they do everything possible to help you in the process.  They understand the market, and what publishers like and don’t like.  They will go alongside you and help polish up the book to it’s best. 

Fourth:  Editing Process and Writing Formats

Once you have a contract, your publishers will have an editor help you through the nuances of your book.  Be prepared for editing.  When my contract was signed and accepted, the next thing I received from the publisher was a style guide.  This guide helped me to understand that writing format that my publisher required.  I tend to write like I talk, and having a theatre background that includes script writing… I can’t help myself.  I write as if what is being read is meant to be spoken.  However, just because I wrote the book and they liked my writing doesn’t mean it fit the format they preferred.

Additionally, when I was in school learning about writing we were taught two different writing styles.  In high school, I learned AP style.  In college, I learned MLA.  (Or, perhaps it was the other way around?).  Turns out my publisher prefers CMOS a.k.a. Chicago Style.  This was a writing style format I was not just unfamiliar with… I didn’t even know it existed.  So in addition to having to edit down the word count of my book, I also had to reformat the entire thing to fit their writing style.

The reason I bring this up is that you need to know that in most cases this is your responsibility.  An editor is not going to do all of this work for you, unless you want to pay out of your own pocket for the services.  You will want to weigh that cost against your advance/royalties and see if it is worth it or not to hire out the editing work.  Your publishing editor will do some editing, but the bulk will fall on you.

 

Feeling Overwhelmed

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I couldn’t share my publishing story without giving a nod to feeling overwhelmed.

I was at an amazing conference, being filled with great information… teaching… and encouragement.  My mind was already at max capacity.  Then, I’m facing publishers who are interested in my book.  I was overwhelmed at the first request for my proposal.  Everything else just added to it.

Upon arriving home, signing the contract… I was still overwhelmed.  There were things I needed to do (editing the book size for starters) and that was on top of my every day life.  It’s a process of go-go-go and wait.  Trying to understand what to do and when to do it.  People giving advice from their experiences, on what you should and shouldn’t be doing, and really it just gets to be too much at times.

Especially when you are getting advice from one person that counters the advice from someone else.

This is why it is so important to take your time, don’t rush.  Pray about each of the steps, seek wise counsel but weight it against the Lord’s Word and how is guiding and leading you.  There are good, godly, people out there who have amazing testimonies, experience, advice, and good intentions.  Just because they are apart of your life does not mean they are aligned into your calling.  You can be overwhelmed by the input and stress that others put on you, even when they have your best interest at heart.

Separate the wheat from the chaff.

Trust the One who began your journey will see you through to it’s fruition.  Ask God to light up your pathway, and to let you know when the race is done.

Put on Your Armor

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Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand

against the devil’s schemes.

Ephesians 6:11

When ever the Lord is about to move you into something He has ordained to happen, or whenever you are walking in obedience to His will over your own desires… something happens.  An incredibly large target falls on you… your work… your family.

I would love to share with you some encouragement…

First… know that it is going to come.   If we know that it is going to come, we are prepared for it.  Button down your home, secure it. Be in the Word, pray, and have others praying for you.

Second… know that it can’t last.   His Word tells us that all weapons formed against us shall not prosper.  His Word secures the promises He made for us, for He is faithful, loving, and protective of His children.

Third… know that it may hurt.  Just because the weapons formed against us will not prosper, that simply means the enemy will not get the victory.  There may be some battle wounds that come in the process, but ultimately the Lord is victorious.  Knowing that there may be some wounding helps us to keep our eyes beyond those flesh wounds and on the One who sends His armies by our side.

Fourth… know that it will not be in vain.   You may be weary or wounded, but cast those things on Christ… His yoke is light.  Whatever it is that the enemy means for evil, God will use for good.  HIS GOOD.  YOUR GOOD.  KINGDOM GOOD.  In our testimony we will recount what the Lord did as He battles for us.

Fifth… know that you are not alone.  There are people stepping out in faith all over the world, and the enemy has his eyes fixed on them.  He is not concerned with those who are not about God’s business, nor is he concerned about those who are luke warm… just floating by.  His efforts are fixed on those of us who are walking out our faith, and when we lock arms with one another… GOD GETS THE GLORY.

Don’t be afraid to share with others the battles you are facing, let them scream out a battle cry on your behalf.  Don’t keep your prayers to yourself, but instead grab those who can stand in the gap for you or with you. 

Even still…

I will praise Him.

He is a good, good Father.

I will praise Him in the storm.

He is constant and unchanging.

His voice calms the sea.

When I don’t understand…

I lean into the One who sees what I can’t.

He is faithful.

Luke 1:45 – Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Lamentations 3:22-23 – The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.