My journey to getting a book published
I’m Lisa Lickel. I’ve been published in magazines, newspaper, radio, and devotionals, but if I had to introduce myself, I’d say I’m a novelist. I took the Christian Writer’s Guild Apprentice Course when I was a church secretary with a steady income back in 2001. I think I did pretty well, selling my first articles before I graduated and making the top ten of the first Operation: First Novel contest. That was in 2003. I started looking for agents as well as publishers, building my portfolio with novels and clips of my published articles. Then I had the unfortunate experience of signing with an agent and landing a book offer about the same time at the end of 2005. Unfortunate, you say?
Sigh. There are things I wish authors would just be honest about up front, so people who are interested in the journey could get a better idea of what they’re getting themselves into.
I was so naïve when I first started to write that I hadn’t even realized there were two different markets: ABA and CBA. My agent was very nice, sending out proposals left and right to everyone and their grandma, the agent’s favorite targets in the editing world whether they were ready or not and doing what I assumed were appropriate agent things. I just didn’t realize that I needed to be more proactive, too, and when that contract fell apart…well, I probably could have used more than a cyber-pat on the shoulder.
The contract? Well, in a way I wish it wouldn’t have happened. Getting it was too easy. I learned about a new book club launch through my affiliation with American Christian Fiction Writers. As I sat on the fence, I thought I’d try to get a foot in the door. That’s not a very nice attitude…just a hint. I figured I’d at least get a read, after all the standard rejection forms I’d been receiving. I got more than a read…I got an offer on something that wasn’t finished. Twenty-twenty hindsight says I was in a not-good place and shouldn’t have gone through with the contract. But I did. Then I was even offered a second contract for the sequel!
If you visit my website, www.lisalickel.com, you’ll notice that I have two novels released. They’re not sequels. One is for Barbour Books now defunct Heartsong Presents: Mysteries bookclub that, although the manuscript sold in 2006, didn’t come out until 2009. The “now defunct part” is a clue. The other is a book is one that I very much wanted to publish. It’s the story of my heart, an inspirational romance. The agent gave up after getting about eight rejections and one maybe, but I didn’t. I eventually sold it to an independent press secular publisher, who is marketing it as inspirational. The secular press also offers genres that most Christians find distasteful. The single editor/publisher is a busy lady, trying to send out a dozen books a month on her own. Yes, there are errors in the copy, despite my five pages of edits that I asked for on top of hers. Some other things happened that cause me to hesitate at marketing this book to others besides my family and friends. But then I think of William Peterson and The Shack. Not a great book, for sure, but having a great impact. No, I don’t think my book’s going to do the same…but isn’t that what drives us as authors? The chance?
Opportunity is there for the taking…be persistent. Really. Knowing there’s a chance to make a difference to someone, even if it’s a couple of hours of entertainment value out of a dreary life, makes trying to publish worthwhile. And I’ve met some pretty cool people. I’m still here trying to get through the hoops.
Just, really, don’t quit your day job…even on the offer of a second or third contract. Grow, be a little flexible, and find your voice. It’ll happen.