Friday, October 20, 2017

5 Ways to Make an Acquisitions Editor Say Yes

 with guest Raela Schoenherr, Fiction Acquisitions Editor, Bethany House Publishers. 


 While the basic job description of an acquisitions editor—acquire new books for a publishing company to publish—at first glance seems like a job where I get to regularly say “Yes!” and make authors’ days all day long, the truth is the number of aspiring authors exceeds the number of available publishing slots, and most acquisitions editors have to say no far more than we get to say yes.  And yet, despite how it may feel to pre-published authors, we LOVE when we get to say yes! We get to make you happy, you get to make us happy, and we both get to make the publishing company happy.

Since it makes my day when I get to say yes to a new author, I want to offer up five ways you can make it easier for me to say yes to your proposal, your book, and you.

1.) Great writing

Shall we get this one out of the way? Those of you who have studied the industry, attended conferences, or read publishing blogs knew this one was coming, didn’t you? 

All of us who say we are looking for great writing are well aware of how vague and indefinable this feels to a writer. In many ways, it’s a “we’ll know it when we see it” kind of thing. Which really doesn’t give you a lot to go on, does it? 

While this often boils down to the particular taste of an editor, there are some ways you can work to earn that nebulous label of great writing. And most of that involves studying the industry. 


Read widely in your genre—definitely in the CBA market, but also in the ABA market, if you can. When you’re moving books to the top of your TBR list, make sure to include those that are winning awards and receiving positive recognition from discerning sources. 

 Enter your unpublished manuscripts in contests where you will receive feedback from qualified judges even if you don’t end up placing in or winning the contest. Join a critique group, find a critique partner, or gather beta readers who have the ability to offer you constructive criticism as well as point out the areas where you shine. 

Read industry and customer reviews of the books you love and those that have received recognition to look for common themes in what is resonating with industry professionals and readers.

2.) Professional presence

In this day and age, where authors are more accessible to their readers than ever, the way you present yourself matters more than ever.

I love when I get to meet an aspiring author in person and hear directly from you about yourself and your book. A positive in-person interaction with an author suggests that you will leave similarly positive impressions of yourself and your work on future readers.

It almost goes without saying that an author’s online presentation of himself or herself makes a difference, as well. Editors and authors often don’t have the opportunity to meet in person before signing a book contract, so we’re basing most of our confidence in you on phone and email conversations as well as how you have chosen to present yourself online. 

As you go about your interactions and presence on the internet, try to act as if you already have several thousand readers following you online, and make sure you would be comfortable with any member of a publishing staff seeing what you’ve posted or commented on or liked or reviewed.



3.) Unique angle

Since there is a lot of competition for opportunities to publish your book with a traditional publisher, any way you can make yourself stand out from all the other authors and proposals an editor receives the better. 

It may be that your story or your approach to telling your story feels new and fresh and distinct from a particular house’s current list of authors or what is available in the market. (Although, of course, this comes with qualifiers since a book still has to be a reasonable fit for a publishing house’s readership.) Rather than offering a carbon copy of a specific book a company is already publishing, consider how you can craft a story in such a way that it will appeal to the same type of reader without feeling like a retread of another book. 

Or, it may be that something about you as the author is what makes this project unique. Is there anything about you that sets you apart as uniquely qualified to be telling these stories or that will particularly attract readers to your books? 

4.) Partnership potential

It’s often said that platform is not as essential in fiction as it is in nonfiction. While I believe this to be true, I would also say it’s steadily becoming more of a factor. A publishing company may not expect you to carry the brunt of the marketing and publicity for a book, or even most of it, but if two very similar authors with very similar projects are up for discussion, one author’s potential to be a stronger or more engaged partner could be one of the things to tip the scale in his or her favor. 

A huge platform may not be a realistic option for many pre-published fiction authors, but strong partnership potential might be something you can offer. Are you particularly savvy when it comes to networking with future influencers, endorsers, and/or reviewers? Are you really creative when it comes to ways to collaborate with libraries or indie bookstores or the media? Do you have an education or background in the content that makes up your story? Are you a Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter or #bookstagram fiend? 

Ultimately, as you take a close look at how you can be a desirable publishing partner, figure out what makes the most sense for you and where you feel you can be most successful and focus your efforts on your areas of strength.



5.) Knowledgeable passion

We’re all here because we are passionate about books and reading. That’s what brings us all together! So, while most aspiring authors may have passion about books in general, what stands out is an author who is informed and knowledgeable about their passion.

You can ask yourselves some questions to consider if you’re as knowledgeable in your passion as you could be. 

  • Are you aware of books on the market that are comparable to yours? Have you read them?
  • Have you read outside your typical genres to further your awareness of good storytelling? 
  • Are you aware of industry trends and news and events? 
  • Do you know the major publishing players and the authors and types of books they publish? 
  • Are you particularly excited by the content/setting/hook/unique features of your book, or are you simply chasing the market? 
  • Are you passionate not just about your story but can defend why it’s a good fit for the market and/or the publishing company? 
  • Have you made strides to learn and study your craft?
  •  Do you ask questions and make the most of the opportunities you have to network and learn from others in the industry?
  •  Have you been willing to put in the amount of time it takes to truly make your manuscript the best it can be, or are you too impatient to go beyond that first rough draft?

Those are just five things that can help make an author an easier yes to an acquisitions editor. Every author and every situation is different, so these are not hard-and-fast…but they sure don’t hurt!  


What are your honest answers to the challenges Raela offered above? Leave a comment and we'll give one commenter the opportunity to win their book of choice from these Bethany House Publishing titles. Readers, say hi to our special guest and let her know which Bethany House Publishing titles you're currently enjoying or are on your TBR pile!




Raela Schoenherr is a fiction acquisitions editor and has been with Bethany House Publishers since 2008. She grew up reading Christian fiction and enjoys being able to work with the kinds of books she always loved. When she’s not reading (or listening to audiobooks!), she’s probably cheering on the Green Bay Packers, running, or spending time with her wonderful family and friends. A graduate of Bethel University, she makes her home in Minneapolis, MN and is active on Twitter at @raelaschoenherr. 











And we have more Happy Birthday videos 
as we continue our 10th Birthday Celebration!


Rachel Dylan


Ann H Gabhart


Susan Ann Mason



153 comments :

  1. Welcome back to Seekerville, Raela. A pleasure to have you share your insights with us.

    Writers and readers, it's Friday. We have the full Friday Fare. Bagels and schmear! Enjoy!

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    1. My favorite: Montreal-style bagel with scallion cream cheese and shaved lox. Mouth is watering.

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    2. Ok Tina, I have to ask....what is schmear???? I'm assuming it's the usual toppings for bagels (cream cheese and such), but I never assume...lol!

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  2. Hi Raela, while I'm not a writer I have enjoyed many Bethany House novels (and the authors of course!). Deadly Proof, Blind Spot (all of the Chesapeake Valor), Heart on the Line & No Other Will do are among the many. I also love many of the authors who publish under Bethany House.

    Even though this post doesn't pertain to me, I still think it's great. Finding ways to make yourself stand out from the crowd in your own unique way would be a challenge, but the rewards are worth all the hard work and dedication! I've read many authors testimonies of how it felt to get "the call" and see their dreams come true as a published author.

    Yay to another Packers fan!! Although with Erin Rogers out due to a broken collar bone I hope they do well for the season without him, yikes!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words about Bethany House!

      And yes, not a lot of happiness in Packerland last Sunday :( What a bummer for him, too!

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  3. Hi, Raela! For once the upside of being Down Under is getting to comment while most of the Seekervillians are sleeping :)

    Blind Spot just arrived in my mail box yesterday (hurray!) and obviously I am beyond excited for The House on Foster Hill next month.

    Complete side tangent but did you have a fun trip to England?

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    1. Hi, Kara! Fun to see your name here :) Hope you love the books!

      Yes, England was so lovely! I loved everything we got to see and do, and I fell in love with Cornwall. Wish I was back there now!

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  4. Raela, thanks for the tips you offered. It's always great to hear what helps a new author snag an editor's attention.

    I love reading in my genre, romantic suspense, so knowledgeable passion is an easy one for me.

    I thoroughly enjoy reading Lynette Eason, Dani Pettrey, Dee Henderson, and Julianna Deering. Rachel Dylan's new book is in my TBR pile. It sounds great.

    Are there any storylines that are an immediate rejection with Bethany House? I have a book I'm editing that involves a serial killer and I'm curious to know if that would be a possible fit.


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    1. Well since Terri opened the door, I'll ask my question in the same vein...

      Putting aside the fact that even an overused topic can be fresh by a new spin, as noted in your post..

      If you were to write a manuscript wish list right now what would you put on the list?

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    2. Ooh, good question, Tina! I’ll be checking back!

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    3. I'm interested in the answer, as well, Tina and Jill!

      Love those suspense stories! :)

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    4. Thanks for commenting, Terri! Glad to hear you love romantic suspense.

      There might be some stories we know right away wouldn't work for us, but I don't personally have a list of non-starters. We've definitely seen and published romantic suspense with serial killers before since that often makes for intense suspense, so I don't see that as being a problem.

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    5. Great to hear from you, Tina, Jill, and Debby! Thanks for stopping by (or, in Tina's case, hosting)!

      I wish I had a better answer to your question! There have been times when we've been looking for a specific subgenre or type of story in the past, but right now, I'm not on the hunt for one particular type of story. If it's something in a genre we're already well-represented in, we just need to make sure the project can be differentiated from what we're already doing. And if it's in a genre we don't have a lot of representation in, then it's just a matter of a project that excites us and an author we feel good about partnering with. I know that's utterly unhelpful, but hopefully an opportunity as well :)

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    6. Actually, that is very hopeful! Thank you!

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  5. Loved reading the article even though I am not a writer. I am looking forward to reading At Your Request.

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    1. Thanks, Deana! Hope you enjoy At Your Request :)

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  6. Hi Raela, I have a couple of Bethany House books on my reading list including: Cherished Mercy- Tracie Peterson & The Promise of Dawn - Lauraine Snelling.

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    1. Hi, Mary! Enjoy Tracie and Lauraine's books!

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  7. I LOVE Bethany House and I just finished Deadly Proof, I just purchased Chasing Secrets and I just received Blind Spot in the mail. I have always admired Bethany House covers and I can usually pick them out of a "line-up" they are always so beautiful.

    Thank you for your post, I am just now trying to venture out and read outside of the genre's I usually prefer.

    Happy 10th Birthday Seekerville!

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. So glad you're enjoying the books! And so fun to hear your thoughts about the covers--our art team is very talented!

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    2. I have to agree with the cover comment...Bethany House has some fantastically beautiful covers!! Any time I get one, I have to sit and admire it for a few minutes and run my hand over it smiling like a kid with candy in their hand!! :-)

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  8. Hi! Thanks for the tips. Your blog today made me appreciate anew how hard authors work to get their books published. As a reader, I'm so thankful for their diligence!

    I just finished Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey and am shaking with anticipation for the next book in her series. So good!

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    1. Thanks for the comment! I'm right there with you--I'm always impressed at how hard authors work! They're inspirational, for sure.

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  9. Welcome to Seekerville, Raela. Thank you for sharing these tips with us. I just finished reading Deadly Proof by Dani Pettrey...loved it!
    Thanks for visiting today.

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    1. Thanks for the welcome! Happy to hear you liked Dani's book :)

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    2. LOL...Deadly Proof is Rachel Dylan's book! :-)

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  10. Hi Raela! I’m always impressed with Bethany House books—amazing covers and awesome stories! Thanks for sharing your “secrets” today!

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    1. Thanks so much for saying hi, Jill! And thanks for supporting our books and authors!

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  11. This is totally stellar advice for all writers... Raela, thank you for being here today! Bethany House sets the bar high in so many ways, and your advice is appreciated by all of us.

    And a GREEN BAY fan living in Minnesota? Add brave to your list of attributes, LOL! I love the Cheeseheads just because they're so cool... and I've loved the Favre era and the Rodgers era... and I'm so sorry he got hurt last week! What a rivalry that is.

    Can't wait to read Mary Connealy's newest book "No Way Up"!!! That's my gift to myself when pumpkin season winds down next week.

    Coffee is here!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Ruth!

      Ha, yes, I get a fair amount of heckling about my football loyalties. I am originally from WI though, so it's legit :) Usually it helps that we have a better team...but now I have no idea how the rest of the season will go!

      A new Mary book sounds like the perfect reward!

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    2. Ruthy, I am a huge Packer fan and I live in Oregon :-) I do miss Farve, but Rodgers has done well for the team...I just pray his injury will not end his career. I also love Seahawks because Washingtonians are crazy about their Hawks...lol! Anytime I drive up to visit my sister-in-law in WA, I can definitely tell I've crossed the state line by how many different kinds of Seahawk clothing, hats, and etc there are!

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  12. I love Bethany House which publishes some of my favorite authors, Mary Connealy, Karen Whitmeyer, and Jody Hedlund. Fantastic writers, those three!

    Do Bethany books have more alpha heroes or beta heroes? (I'm drawn to alpha heroes, but I really enjoyed Karen Whitmeyer's beta hero in Heart on the Line.)

    Happy Friday!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your favorites, Sherrinda!

      Ooh, that's a good question! If I'm completely guessing, I might say we have more alpha heroes. But of course that's just simply driven by the heroes the authors choose to write! Both types are a lot of fun, but I actually have a soft spot for the beta heroes, myself :)

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    2. Sherrinda, I loved Amos in Heart on the Line! There are so many alpha heroes out there that it's a nice change of pace to see a milder man get the spotlight! I kinda fell in love with him myself, lol.

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  13. Raela, it's great to have you in Seekerville! I enjoyed reading through your post, and especially the questions. I'm learning more and more, with writing and a lot of other things in general, networking is very important. What storyline, job for hero or heroine, or other defining part of a book would make you give a story a closer look? Thanks for your time here today!

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    1. Hi, Sally! Yes, I think networking is more and more important for authors these days--similar to most other areas of life too, I suppose! It's always fun when authors flip an established trope or genre device on its head! I think most of us here are big readers, so we're pretty good at anticipating what a story is going to be like, which makes it really fun to be surprised!

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  14. Hi Raela!

    Very good tips for authors. Can you give us any insights on Bethany's submission policy?

    I have Jen Turano and Mary Connealy's book in my TBR pile.

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    1. Thanks, Rose! Enjoy Jen and Mary's books!

      Similar to most publishers, we don't accept unsolicited manuscripts. We receive submissions through literary agents, or we may interact with an author directly when we have met them at a conference, judged their entry in a contest, had the author recommended to us by a trusted source, etc.

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  15. Hi Raela! Great tips for authors. I've loved Bethany House books for years, particularly Karen Witemeyer, Tracie Peterson and Kris Hunter.

    My focus this year has been on writing deeper and advanced character development--just took a fantastic month-long class with Laurie Campbell on the heroine's journey. And I leave tomorrow for a writing retreat/research trip. My question is what does Bethany House look for in an author's social media presence? An author page on Facebook? A large newsletter list?

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi, Patty! Thanks for reading our authors!

      So glad to hear you've been learning so much about character development! When it comes to social media presence, our marketing folks wouldn't say there's an exact number we're looking for or an exact place they have to be present. It seems to work best when an author finds what format works best for them and where they have the best success connecting with people. A big email subscriber list has definitely been valuable. For Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc. it's great to see strong numbers on whichever platform the author is invested in, but it can also go a long way if the numbers are more average but the author has a highly engaged and interactive audience, too. It's helpful if an author has a (professional-looking) website--it can be simple, but it's good to have an initial landing place where an author can gather all of her information and links in once place.

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  16. Thank you for joining us here at Seekerville, Raela. As I read through your challenges, I can say yes to most of them. I read a lot of industry blogs, craft and marketing books, and I love to read fiction. But I do need to keep a better eye on news and industry trends. And I should probably read more outside of historical fiction.

    I absolutely LOVE Bethany House books. I'm pretty sure they are my favorite publisher. I just finished Roseanna White's Ladies of the Manor series. Loved it!

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Amber! Authors are some of the hardest-working people I know--I admire you guys!

      So glad you loved Roseanna's series!

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  17. Good morning, Raela.

    It's great seeing you here today. Thanks for all the writing tips.

    What conferences do you normally attend? Any coming up soon?

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    1. Thanks, Conni!

      The one I attend every year is ACFW. I tend to rotate between other conferences. I'm not decided yet on my 2018 schedule!

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  18. Raela, thanks for being with us today! Loved your blog post. Certainly one to save and review often!

    Great tip about reading the reviews of the books being publishing in my particular genre. An interesting way to find information about what resonates with readers, as you mentioned. Something I hadn't considered in the past. Thanks for sharing!!!

    Happy Friday to all and Happy 10th Birthday, Seekerville!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Debby! Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  19. Raela, thanks for a bouquet of good tips and letting us know what matters. I have to work on different aspects of this at different times. Craft is always an issue and I'm always trying to improve.
    I started working on my professional presence after the last election. Realized I have NOTHING to say in that arena that can't be said better by someone else, or doesn't need to be said after all.
    Platform IS difficult for fiction writers, but that doesn't mean we should give up. There's always a way.
    Thank you for your insights.
    Kathy Bailey

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  20. Good morning, Raela. Thanks so much for this insight. Before I began writing novels, Bethany House historicals and romantic suspense were the ones I gravitated to when it came to reading. The covers pulled me in and the stories kept me coming back. And I've read all the books in the graphic, except Rachel's--reading Threads of Suspicion now.

    As a writer, number three caught my attention. It can be difficult to decide if what seems an interesting angle/profession/premise to me would strike an editor that way.

    You mentioned platform. I know this can be subjective based on the appeal of the story, but what does Bethany House consider good platform numbers for fiction? Is it advisable to submit if an author doesn't have those numbers, even if she thinks the story fits the house?

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    1. Thanks for supporting out books!

      There aren't specific numbers we're looking for when it comes to platform, but obviously if you have numbers in the thousands, you'll want to highlight that. Engagement rate can also be a valuable thing to highlight if your numbers are average but you have a very invested, interactive audience. And it does take time to build--it appears that the best thing authors can do is to stay consistent with their content on whichever platform they resonate most with. Over time, followers will keep coming back if they know they can count on consistent, enjoyable content/interaction from that author.

      We do consider proposals from authors who don't have a strong platform. If the project and author are right for other reasons, it's not a non-negotiable. It's just another thing that can help an author's case!

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    2. Thank you for the response. Happy weekend!

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  21. Whoa! So many good questions!!! Questions I didn't think to ask but should have. LOL

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  22. Hello Raela, Great suggestions. This budding author needs to re-read and make sure I'm doing what needs to be done. When I have told an author my synopsis, she wants me to hurry up and finish my story because it is unique. Onto another topic, I really can't wait to get my hand on Dani Pettrey ' s Blind Spot. I have the rest and enjoyed them. I love Bethany House books.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kelly. Keep up the good work! Lots of good support here on Seekerville!

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  23. Good morning, Raela. Wonderful post! The one part I don't need to worry about is chasing trends? I write historical fiction primarily set in medieval Japan and first century India. I don't think anyone will ever accuse me of chasing a trend. :-) The rest if germane to me.

    I have a couple of questions. I hope you won't mind.

    The first question deals with platform. My Japanese historical fiction occurs in the late 16th century, the middle of Japan's Christian Century. I've started speaking at churches about that time period (explaining how it went from 0 converts to 300k+ converts and then driven completely underground, all in less than 100 years). As an editor, would you think of something like this as having a platform, or do you see it as beginning of a platform that needs more development and what would you suggest?

    Also, do you have any plans to attend conferences or workshops in the southeastern U.S in the near future?

    Definitely in for the drawing, with either Jen Turano or Dee Henderson please.

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    1. Hi, Walt! Thanks for the comment!

      That's great you've had the opportunity to speak! I think that's helpful in that it shows initiative and is hopefully slowly building connections. If you are able to build a subscriber list through these events, that would be helpful for you too!

      As of now, I only know for certain that I'll be at ACFW in 2018. But it's likely I will end up attending elsewhere as well, just no firm plans yet.

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  24. Hi Raela!

    I loved your #1 point - Good writing! What is great about this is that aspiring authors can learn to write well, and you gave some great tips to improve our writing.

    Reading well written books is my favorite way to improve my writing. I add the finalists in contests to my TBR pile - the Christy Awards, the Carol, the Rita - they are always give a good read, and I can immerse myself in some stellar writing. :)

    I have many Bethany House books on my shelves. A couple days ago I finished "No Way Up," by Mary Connealy. Fabulous!

    Thanks for being in Seekerville today!

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Jan! Isn't it nice that "research" also means getting to read good books? :)

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  25. Raela, welcome back to Seekerville! Thanks for the terrific insider reminder of all it takes to snag a contract.

    When I was a newbie, I thought my first manuscript was ready for publication long before it was. I'd revised a lot so in my mind it wasn't a rough draft, but I still had plenty to learn about craft. Contests helped me see the weaknesses. As a published author, I still like to have the fresh eyes of my critique partner before I hit send.

    Janet

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    1. Hi, Janet! Great reminder about how valuable critique partners and a fresh set of eyes can be!

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  26. Waving to Ann, Rachel and Susan for their lovely Seekerville birthday wishes!

    Janet

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  27. Another good point, Jan Drexler! Congratulations to Bethany House Publishing and Revell for so many Christy Award finalists. I'm excited about the format for this year's awards-including a teaching track!!

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  28. Hi Raela, welcome to Seekerville. I was honored to meet you last year in Nashville and always look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thanks for sharing these great tips today.

    I'd also be interested to see you manuscript wish list.

    Thanks again for visiting and sharing today!

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    1. Great to hear from you again, Jackie! Thanks for stopping by today!

      This was my response to the ladies about about the manuscript wish list:
      I wish I had a better answer to your question! There have been times when we've been looking for a specific subgenre or type of story in the past, but right now, I'm not on the hunt for one particular type of story. If it's something in a genre we're already well-represented in, we just need to make sure the project can be differentiated from what we're already doing. And if it's in a genre we don't have a lot of representation in, then it's just a matter of a project that excites us and an author we feel good about partnering with. I know that's utterly unhelpful, but hopefully an opportunity as well :)

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  29. Hi Raela, I love your name! I read Deadly Proof and I just finished Blind Spot. Both are fantastic. I've always known that Dani Pettrey excels in writing romantic suspense but Rachel Dylan kept me guessing AND reading! Thanks for sharing your interesting tips and I would love to win a Bethany House book. They publish some of the best.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Connie! Glad you're enjoying Dani and Rachel!

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  30. Sometimes the morning is just blessed.

    I've been pondering the correct steps and stages for a pre-published writer and this morning I woke with so many questions that my head hurt. I grabbed my second cup of coffee and visited Seekerville and wa-la! You were there with direction and most of the answers I needed.

    I printed your post and will spend time going over it with my marker until I can "thumbs-up" each point. I think my favorite is #5. Knowledgeable Passion. A writer with this quality sucks me in every time because their passion transfers to me. And if anything, I'm knowledgeable about my passion, so that was a definite boost for me.

    I enjoy Lynette Easton, Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Karen Witemeyer. The other authors will be new discoveries for me. But I love contemporary romance, so Becky Wade holds one of the top slots in my favorite author category. And because I'm passionate about horses, Undeniably Yours and A Love Like Ours, have permanent spots on my top "read-again" shelf.

    Once in a while I picture myself offering to do Becky's dishes so she has more time to write!

    Thank you for this helpful post and blessings to you.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that story, Barbara! So glad for great writing communities that help us connect.

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  31. Welcome to Seekerville, Raela! I agree with all your points.

    I love Bethany House books. Too many favorites to mention, but let me just say - besides the great stories, I adore the covers. I know they say not judge a book by its cover, but well...a fabulous cover draws me in and prompts me to read more.

    I liked what you said about reading widely in your genre - both CBA and ABA. SO agree with this. While we don't want to compromise our values, I do believe we're seeing a shift toward stories that reflect difficult issues and real life problems. And the reality is, as Christians, we want to immerse ourselves in those stories and characters who may be experiencing the same things we are. We want to know that while everything isn't always pretty and wrapped in a bow, there's still an every-present hope in the midst of chaos.

    Please toss my name in the drawing for Jen and Karen's books.

    Thanks so much for joining us and for all the wonderful insight!

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    1. We want to know that while everything isn't always pretty and wrapped in a bow, there's still an every-present hope in the midst of chaos.

      Well said, Cynthia!

      Nancy C

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    2. Thanks so much for that perspective, Cynthia! I agree!

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  32. Good morning, Raela. It’s great seeing you in Seekerville, today. Thank you for such an informative article. I’m sure this will be one I’ll reread often as I continue to work toward a publishing contract.

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  33. Hi Raela,
    Your tips and advice are much appreciated! It was such a pleasure to meet you at the ACFW Conference last month. Bethany House always has fantastic books.

    As an editor, what are you favorite types of stories?

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    1. Thanks, Sharee!

      As an editor, I think my favorite types of stories are the ones that surprise me--I read a lot (as everyone else here does!), so it's a lot of fun when I don't see a twist coming or even though I have a general sense of how the book will end, the author takes me on an unexpected path to get there.

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  34. Hello Raela! I love ALL that Bethany House does to promote Christian fiction! Bethany House does so with a spirit of excellence! I'm currently enjoying Where We Belong by Lynn Austin.

    Blessings!

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  35. Raela, welcome! This was such a great post. I love hearing from an editor's perspective. I was really intrigued by what you call knowledgeable passion. I'm always interested in reading articles, blog posts and newsletters about the industry and feared I spend too much time trying to keep up! But I won't feel so guilty about that now. :)

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    1. Thank you, Missy! It's great to follow along with the industry, especially if you enjoy it! But sometimes trying to stay up on everything can make our heads spin, too. I'm sure there's a healthy balance for every author!

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  36. What about framing stories? (I was told by a contest judge that's what books like the Notebook and Fried Green Tomatoes are called. Same characters, but they go and forth in time.)

    I've got a story I've been dying to tell. Is this something Bethany House would consider?

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    1. Yes, frame stories are definitely a strong trend in the ABA right now and I think we're starting to see more of them in CBA too. As you pointed out, this has been a trend before too, so it's fun to see a renewed interest. I also think of them as dual time/split time/time slip novels. We're excited to be launching a new author writing a dual time story late next month, actually! Jaime Jo Wright is the author :)

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    2. I can't wait. I've follow Jaimie on Twitter! I can imagine her story will have plenty of humor.

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    3. Oh, Connie. Great question. I have a story I recently started that would fit this. It's the structuring of such a story that is challenging.

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  37. Welcome to Seekerville, Raela. I'm definitely passionate about my current story lines (The Natchez Trace Novel series) and defend it and wax poetic about the 1790s in pre-Civil War Natchez Territory.

    As far as reading and being aware of trends, I would love to read more of the wonderful books on my TBR list... as soon as I meet this next deadline! lol

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    1. Love to hear about author's passions for their stories!

      You're right, there's always a balance in trying to read widely but also make sure to get that writing done :)

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  38. Hello, Raela. Bethany's western historicals were the first inspirational fiction I read ... and boy did they set the bar high. I particularly enjoy the depth of the stories and characters, and the complete immersion in time and place. And oh my goodness, the covers are wonderful! No wonder there are so many award-winning Bethany books :-)

    Happy Friday everyone!

    Nancy C

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    1. Nice to hear from a lovely reader, thank you!

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  39. Hello Raela! Thanks for the great tips. I really like the one about having on on-line presence. So many times I see authors posting things that make me cringe and I can just imagine how someone in the publishing industry might view it. Post as though it'll be read by thousands of followers. What great advice! On the flip side, there have been a few editors and agents that I've put on my "never want to work with" list due to some of the things they've posted. (No one from the CBA market, I'm happy to say!) I love Bethany House books. Thanks for the chance to win some great books. I just picked up "Her One and Only" from Becky Wade and can't wait for the weekend to start reading. :)

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    1. Thanks for your comments, LeAnne! Enjoy Becky's book :)

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  40. Hi Raela:

    Thanks for your post! It's always good to hear from an acquisitions editor…about getting accepted. Wouldn't it be great to discovery the next Nora Roberts? In a way, you're like a gold miner panning for the shinny stuff. Like they say: "It could happen."

    I like all your points plus I would add two caveats to your number three:

    "…any way you can make yourself stand out from all the other authors and proposals an editor receives the better."

    There is an old saying in advertising that if you want your newspaper ad to be the best noticed in the Sunday paper, just put pictures of naked women in the ad. You'll get noticed without fail! Of course, unless you are in the adult entertainment business, you'll probably destroy your business.

    The idea is to get favorable attention. Next avoid purely distracting attention. In TV ads this is called a video vampire: an advertisement that everyone can recall seeing, (and often many times to laughter), but no one can tell you what product was being advertised.

    Finally it helps if the attention is to point and adds value to your presentation.

    For example: consider the book, "Love on a Dime", by Cara James. It's about a dime novel romance author in the 1890's. To get into the spirit of this book, I ordered an actual dime novel form the time and read it. This made Cara's book even more fun. Cost ten dollars.

    You might send this Dime Novel to the AE with a note such as, "Just thought you'd enjoy reading how well these Dime novel authors wrote without any writing clubs, contests, seminars, or 'how to' books. It was an amazing time for writers. Have the book arrive with your book.

    If you are writing a story about a newspaper editor in the American Colonies in 1770's, how about sending an actual newspaper form that time period. Send a note: "Just wanted you to enjoy reading what my editor was actually publishing at the time." (cost ten dollars). Not a copy!

    You could also go to small local or regional museums and copy some private letters or diary entries from the time and location of your story. Louis L'Amour did this all the time to get a feel for the times and what was on the mind of the people of the time. These pages should be selected to be very interesting and support the veracity of your story writing.

    The important point is that you strive to add value with the same effort you are making to gain the favorable attention of the AE.

    BTW: this is the kind of thing copywriters do when they want to land a job interview with a big advertising agency.

    Please put me in the drawing. There are three favorite authors in that selection.

    Vince



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  41. I am not a writer. But I love reading. I read Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer. It was a great book. I am currently reading 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep. Imperfect Justice is a book on my to read list when it comes out.

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  42. Welcome to Seekerville, Raela. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to post such informative information. We really appreciate hearing from an editor what you really want to see from authors. I enjoy so many of your authors, including our Mary, so know you are doing a great job acquiring wonderful stories for us to read. Have fun today and thank you again.

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  43. Welcome to Seekerville, Raela! Editors always bring so much knowledge and insight to the blog, and we're so grateful to you for giving of your time in this way.

    Bethany House has been my dream publisher forever. I admire the depth and breadth of your fiction line--so many top-notch authors in a variety of genres! Mary Connealy's latest just arrived, so it's working its way up to the top of my TBR stack.

    Your question that stood out to me most is: "Are you particularly excited by the content/setting/hook/unique features of your book, or are you simply chasing the market?"

    Obviously, if we're just chasing trends, we'll never catch up because what's popular can change so fast. But how do you find a workable balance between passion and marketability? That's my ongoing struggle.

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    1. Hi, Myra! Thanks for your comment! That's a great question, and I think many authors approach that differently. It's definitely a balance, though! Some authors know exactly what they want to write and stick with it until it works, and others figure out ways to incorporate what they love about what they started out writing into something that might have slightly less of an uphill climb. I do think it shows when an author truly loves what they're writing!

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  44. Hi Raela! Thanks for sharing about your work! I recently read Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey and loved it. I'm not big into suspense but she's one of my must-read authors :)

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    1. Hi, Heidi! Thanks for stopping by, and I'm so glad to hear Dani is a must-read for you!

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  45. Thank you for such a helpful, informative post, Raela! As a reader, I have enjoyed all of Jen Turano's books, many of Lynette Eason's books and several of Karen Witemeyer's. Should I win the drawing I'd choose the Karen Witemeyer title.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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  46. Thanks for your post, Raela. As a writer currently querying, your tips are timely.

    I think, hands down, the best way to become a great writer is by reading. Craft books have their place, but nothing beats picking up a book and noting what works/doesn't work.

    The social platform works the other way, too. I had an agent in mind to query, but when I read through the very political, very harsh tweets and comments on their social media, I decided to skip over that agent.

    I have a question about newsletters. How important are they and do you recommend to your writers that they send them out?

    Thanks, Raela!

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    1. Hi, Josee! Any excuse to read more, right? :)

      I think our marketing folks would say newsletters are very valuable because you can contact your readers directly and you know people are receiving it and at least seeing it show up in their inbox (as opposed to mysterious algorithms on Facebook). That being said, it can be hard to gather folks to join your newsletter when you're not published yet, so we do understand that. But if you can capture people even before a contract or book, all the better! I think frequency preferences vary--but you don't want to spam. Some authors do monthly, some do quarterly. Once a year is probably too little and every day is too much--so somewhere in between there :)

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  47. Hi Raela. I have a question about platform. Is platform defined simply by the number of facebook friends and twitter followers, or does it also include how often you post or tweet? Does what you post or tweet make a difference as well?

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    1. Hi, Cindy! I would say platform involves all of those things--number of followers, engagement rate of those followers, author's engagement on their page. As for what you post, it makes a difference if you have a lot of followers based on a certain platform but what you're writing doesn't cross over to that audience. So, making sure the people in that platform would be likely to translate into customers of the particular book.

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  48. Hi Raela, I think your name is beautiful. But then I love different names. Thanks for your good advice. I would definitely love to be published by Bethany. Not sure that I have manuscripts to the point of being ready for publication.

    I will admit I have a little fear of taking that step. If I send it too soon, will that cause the publisher to not want to ever see another manuscript from me?

    I am doing better today as far as the pain, but still needing to rest and allow my body to heal from the fall out of the bed. Thankfully my hip was not broken.

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    1. Hi, Wilani!

      I would say it's different in every situation and for different editors. In some cases, I have seen a manuscript that's not ready yet but known I wanted to hear from the author again, so I usually try to make that clear. In other situations, the reasons a book isn't a fit for us are likely to be true again even on a different project. I can guess that it's very hard for an author to know, so my advice would be to get as much external feedback as you can to help you know if something is ready or not.

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  49. Hi Raela, thanks for the great post. How would a prospective author go about demonstrating/explaining partnership potential and knowledgeable passion?
    I love books from Bethany House; Jen Turano, Karen Witemeyer, and Elizabeth Camden are all favorites of mine!

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    1. Adrienne, welcome to Seekerville!

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    2. Hi, Adrienne! Thanks for the question. A lot of that can come out in a proposal--in the marketing section, the comps an author makes, the hook, etc. At a conference appointment, this can be apparent in how well-prepared an author is to pitch themselves and their book and why it's a fit for that house as well as in the questions the author asks. And also how an author presents themselves online!

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  50. Thanks for such an interesting and informative post, Raela. It’s so good to get your perspective on some of the things I’ve wondered about.

    Social media is something I still struggle with. I find it difficult to ask people to “follow” me, when I don’t even know where I’m going. But I’m trying. I only have 305 followers on my author Facebook page, but my last (boosted) post resulted in 146 shares (practically viral for me, LOL), more than 200 likes, and numerous comments. The exact same post on Twitter, received one like. To say I don’t understand how this all works is an understatement. But I’m not giving up :-) Learning something new every day.

    I do have one question - what is Bethany House’s policy on their authors writing in different genres?

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    1. Hi, Laura! Thanks for stopping by! Social media can be tricky, and I know it looks different for everyone! You may want to check out other authors and see who's doing it well and what inspiration you might take from the way they approach it.

      We feel that an author's books are their brand and every book they put out is their way of building that brand and developing their audience. It can be tricky to get an audience to follow an author across genres, particularly when an author is newer and trying to grow a readership. Some authors have a big enough fanbase that readers will buy whatever the author produces. But, in many cases, it's most helpful to fulfill reader expectations when you're trying to convert them into committed fans, rather than risking losing readers with every release in a different genre.

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  51. I read a lot of Bethany House!! Just finished Lynn Austin's Where We Belong.

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  52. Hi Raela!

    I read so many Bethany House titles! Currently reading Where We Belong and loving it!

    Blind Spot is definitely at the top of my list!

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  53. Hi Raela! Thank you so much for your informative post. I learned a lot. BH produces some of the best Christian fiction. Keep up the good work!

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  54. Welcome Raela! Thank you so much for visiting today and sharing your wise insight with us. I've been a BIG Bethany House fan since I discovered their books and now have shelves full of Bethany House books---especially the historical romance---LOVE those!
    I've not had the pleasure of meeting you at a writers conference, but when Charlene Patterson was there I always enjoyed visiting with her (we share a love of cats, LOL). :)
    Thank you again for this post, and please enjoy the Georgia peach cobbler I've baked today. ;)
    Blessings, Patti Jo

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    1. Hi, CatMom! Glad to hear you and Charlene were able to get your cat fix chatting in together :)

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  55. BTW, I meant to say how much I've been enjoying the birthday greeting videos!! Thank you to everyone who took the time to send them! And thanks to Tina for posting them. :) I feel like I know so many of you better after hearing your voices!

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    1. Aren't they fun? And I agree, everyone has been generous with their time and selfies to take them!!

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  56. Hi Raela. It's fun to see you on Seekerville. Sorry (not sorry) about Aaron Rogers. I won my fantasy football match up because of his injury, and let's face it, the Vikings probably won because of it, too, so I can't be too sorry. ��

    Thank you for this list. I know it's hard to give a definitive answer to what an acquisitions editor is looking for when they contract an author, but this list has some great insights and it's different from so many others I've read.

    I'm a huge fan of Bethany House. I don't miss a book by Julie Klassen, Karen Witemeyer, Jody Hedlund, Elizabeth Camden, Tamara Alexander...the list goes on and on.

    One thing I've been wondering about is the split-time stories. They're popular right now, but do you see that trend continuing?

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    1. Hi, Gabrielle!
      Wah, I was so sad about that injury. I could hardly bother to care about my fantasy teams after that. I'm glad it was at least a good week for you!

      Thanks for being such a dedicated supporter of BHP!

      They definitely are popular right now! I've been reminded by others that split time is far from a new storytelling format and has been popular before too, so it's hard to say whether this will be a trend or become more of a consistent subgenre. Personally I hope it's here to stay because I'm a fan!

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    2. Thank you for your thoughts! I enjoy split time, too, and I'd love to see it stick around as a subgenre. Looking forward to Jaime's next month!

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  57. Gosh, Gabrielle, you made me think of another question.

    Women's Fiction..it's coming back. Any thoughts?

    Does anyone at Bethany HP, write WF?

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  58. Wait! I answered my own question..maybe. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck? I am sooooo eager to read this book.

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  59. And as a final note, I know it is getting late in the day on a FRIDAY! TGIF. You may have to leave us for your other life. If so, please know how much we appreciate your taking time from your busy schedule to celebrate our birthday with us and thank you for sharing your insights.

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  60. Raela, it's so nice to see you here today! I loved your tips. And this particular mindset really cemented things for me:

    "As you go about your interactions and presence on the internet, try to act as if you already have several thousand readers following you online, and make sure you would be comfortable with any member of a publishing staff seeing what you’ve posted or commented on or liked or reviewed."

    Focusing my efforts with the mindset of having lots of readers already interested can add a bit of confidence to what I share, or in how I attempt to build a solid platform.

    Loved each of these tips!

    Melissa Tagg's books have been some of my favorites Bethany House has put out!

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  61. Hi, Raela!
    I was so sad to miss chatting with you at the ACFW conference this year. Maybe I'll be able to make next year's.
    Thank you for bringing this post brimming with such good advice.
    The latest Bethany House novel I read, and as always thoroughly enjoyed, was Jaime Jo Wright's The House on Foster Hill. Praise the Lord for NetGalley, right? ;) Now I can't wait for Gossamer Pond. I'm eager to finish Kristi Hunter's Hawthorne House as well. The comedy content of many Bethany House books has me coming back again and again. I wonder what the ratio is of humorous fiction vs. more drama type stories?

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  62. Hi Raela! Nice to meet you. Thank you for the post!

    I'm a fan of Bethany House. I like books by Tamara Alexander, Melissa Tagg, Becky Wade...and more.
    Reading is my hobby LOL

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  63. Fantastic article, Raela! Love those great tips. ☺️

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  64. Hi Raela, Thanks so much for sharing your tips today. I can't deny that the first one is my favorite! I write because I'm a reader first.


    As some others have mentioned, I'm really looking forward to Jaime Jo Wright's The House on Foster Hill. That's exactly the type of story I love to read and write.

    Mary Curry writing as Cate Nolan

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  65. Great advice, Raela! Thank you for sharing. The thing I'm working on most right now is social media presence. I can definitely see how in today's world, that is a very important part of an author's career.
    --Janette

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  66. Raela, thank you for those five great tips. As far as Bethany House, I'm a fan of Kristi Ann Hunter and have read the first two in her series and have the fourth (but I want to read the third one first). I've read the first two in the Lynette Eason bodyguard series. I just finished Katie's story. I also like Melissa Tagg's books.

    I'm working on the unique angle aspect the most.

    Thanks for the great tips.

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  67. These are all such good tips. Thanks!

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  68. HI Raela,
    Thanks for sharing these. I know it's late. Sorry to have missed the conversation, but I will go back and read comments, now. Just wanted to say thanks and that it was a pleasure hearing you speak at this year's ACFW spotlight.

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  69. Hey Raela, I recently read "Cold Shot" by Dani Pettrey. Hadn't read a suspense mystery in a long time and thoroughly enjoyed it. Rooting for Griffin and Finley while playing detective was a lot of fun! Of course, all of Bethany House's authors are "top drawer" and a pleasure to read. My challenge as a writer would be online presence....would have to really push myself to make it a priority.

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  70. Thank you for the very helpful advice! This article is giving me a lot to think about. Reading other genres is an area I need to work on.

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  71. I always find these kind of lists from people on the "inside" of publishing encouraging. There is always room to grow and some how these kinds of lists make me feel hope. Thanks Raela. Love our Bethany team.

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  72. I have read Deadly Proof & At Your Request is in my TBR stack :)
    Love Bethany House!

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  73. Raela, I love your name. Thanks for your expertise on how to submit your work to an editor. Its always nice to get the inside scoop from one who acquires manuscripts. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

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  74. Hi, Raela. Looks like a good article that will be helpful to authors. I'm looking forward to reading (hopefully winning!) Blind Spot.

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  75. Thanks for the great suggestions, Raela! I love Bethany House and their books! I just finished reading Heart on the Line, and am currently enjoying Long Time Gone. :)

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