So you want to be published, eh? Not fond of your hair, are you? Welcome to Hair-Pulling 101—a glimpse into what to expect after you get the call! Julie here, and to share her own personal experience with us today is my dear friend and Southern belle extraordinaire, Maggie Brendan. Maggie is the author of the popular “Heart of the West” series, so leave a comment for a chance to win her latest, A Love of Her Own. Without further ado, please welcome Maggie Brendan …
For a new author thrilled with a three-book contract, I was thrust into the demands of contracts, deadlines, edits, marketing, book signings, speaking and writing, all in rapid succession. Everything had to be crammed into my already busy life. My head was beginning to spin and the little I thought I knew about publishing was nothing more than a blinking cursor on a computer screen, but I jumped in with both feet. Knowing all the work that comes with being published was the one thing that had held me back in submitting my manuscript for years, along with the fear of failure. But wasn’t this what I wanted—to see my story in print? Looking back now, I can see the difficult path I walked.
One of the hardest things for me to juggle after I signed the contract was learning how to handle having one book published and all that it would entail while working on the second book. As a writer, about the only thing you want to do is write or read other books. Whether we like it or not, a lot of things must take place before your book hits the shelves. I was deep into my second book when I received edits on the first manuscript. So naturally, I had to stop working on it and concentrate on the editorial comments. The hard thing about that was I would lose my momentum in the story for book two before I could pick it back up again.
Once the editorial comments were addressed, I worked on compiling a list of potential influencers for the book. Next, it was necessary to find writers that would consider endorsing my novel, send the list to marketing, and keep my fingers crossed that someone would agree to endorse me. I spent a little time working with marketing on the blurb for the back of the book. In the middle of this, my galleys (the initial typeset of a manuscript sent to the author for review before it’s printed) were sent to me—meanwhile I’m thinking my time to finish book two on deadline and the holidays were quickly approaching.
Another thing that I had to do was introduce myself to bookstore managers and hopefully set a date to book sign when the book was released. I wasn’t nervous about it really; it just took away some valuable writing time. Finally, the page proofs came, my last time to make any changes to the manuscript, so again, I put aside the manuscript that I was working on to go completely over them. Once I sent the page proofs back, I was ready to settle down writing until the book came out in January.
It was very hard to cover all my bases on editing, writing, marketing and book signing. Christmas holidays arrived, and I had to carefully budget my time to include decorating the house, shopping and maintaining a sensible writing schedule. However, a speaking engagement appeared out of nowhere and then a radio interview. On top of being a new author and learning the publishing process, there were family things and church activities that I had to make choices on. A wonderful opportunity to be a prayer minister to my pastor’s online radio program, Right From the Heart, was put before me. Though I hated to turn it down, I felt like I couldn’t juggle that on top of everything else. I had to allow myself to pare down a few activities that were on my schedule. But the book signings went off without a hitch, as did the speaking.
I submitted book two, then worked hard on my deadline for book three. Did I mention that I also have a blog and I’m a resident blogger for another website once a month and I have led a writer’s critique group for the past 6 years? That meant reading submissions for fellow writers. These things only added to my stack of things that I must do, and continue to write another novel. I endorsed several author’s books during this time. I believe social networking with other authors is important for marketing, and I continued to receive interviews and tried to stay active on various writers’ loops.
While working on book three, my brother was very ill and there were personal health and family issues that were front and center. I struggled hard to keep my focus and maintain my word count each day. By then I was feeling the stress. I learned how to schedule my time writing and marketing, along with many interviews for book one, edits on book two and trying to wrap up book three before my deadline. I had to be diligent in finishing before my brother died and I did—exactly one week before he passed. I was asked to speak at a Regional Church Bookstore and Libraries Conference near the end of my deadline on book three. I was a guest for book clubs and another one by conference call.
Many times I cried out to the Lord to sustain me, give me direction and keep me focused to write the best story possible despite everything that was happening around me and to me. My family prayed for me and so did my wonderful critique partners who knew the stress I was under. When my agent called to see if I had given any thought to a new series to pitch to my publisher, I actually came up with an idea for another series during this stressful time. Writing is like a team sport, and I couldn’t have done all this without the aid of my agent, my editor and the great support team at Revell Publishing, and my best friend and writer, Kelly Long.
I’m now working to complete book one in a new series, The Blue Willow Brides. But it has been a very difficult year because of a major surgery that set me back. Maybe this is God’s way of getting me to relax and trust him. Writing is the easy part, but all the rest is important to launch a new book. If you have a passion to write, and a story to tell, and a dash of humor to carry you through, you can do this. Never give up. God’s got your back!
I’ve learned so much through this process and looking back, I can see how God’s hand has continued to cover me and keep my feet firmly planted to be able to stay with the commitment that I made to honor him by writing Christian Fiction. My theme verse is Psalm 27:1. The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? (NASB) And trust me, I use it A LOT!
Maggie Brendan is a member of the American Christian Writers (ACW), American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). She was a recipient of the 2004 ACW Persistence Award in Atlanta, GA. Maggie can be found on her blog, SouthernBelle Writer and is a resident blogger on Bustles & Spurs. Her book, No Place For a Lady, the first in the Heart of the West series received a 4.5 star review from Romantic Times. The Jewel of His Heart, book two, received a 4 star review from Romantic Times. A Love of Her Own will release in June 2010.
To win a copy of Maggie’s brand-new release, A Love of Her Own, please leave a comment with your e-mail address in a spammer-free format such as janedoe(at)charter(dot)net.