When Can We Buy Your Book?

I can’t decide whether I like it or not when friends say, “When can we buy your book?”

As some of you may know, the Christian fiction market has exploded in the last few years, just in time for me to start writing. I mistakenly thought that it would be easy enough to write fiction for that market. Honestly, many of the books I’d read in that genre didn’t seem difficult to equal. In fact, I now blush to say that I thought I might be able to do a better job than some of those authors. So I got started and, sure enough, after eighteen months or so, I had a nice little novel finished and ready to go. Wow! What a feeling!

But today’s fiction market, Christian or not, depends upon agents as much as authors. Securing a literary agent is a lot like hiring a realtor to sell your house. You could sell your house yourself, but the odds of things going well are against you. The occasional publishing house will look at an unagented manuscript if the moon is in just the right phase and they’re feeling benevolent. But generally, an unagented manuscript goes right to the bottom of the slush pile, never again to see the light of day. You really need to have an agent. But here’s the catch: literary agents prefer to work with people who have already published, not newcomers, unless they’re tremendous talents. So how does an ordinary beginning writer find an agent? Ah, there’s the rub!

This is how I found mine. One author I like very much, Jane Kirkpatrick, writes such outstanding novels that I had to e-mail her with my compliments. We struck up a conversation over the web, and she learned I planned to attend the yearly convention of the American Christian Fiction Writers.  “Oh, great,” she wrote. “You ought to talk to my agent, Joyce Hart. She’s going to be there.”

 I already had appointments with two other agents but when I arrived at the conference, one of my appointments had cancelled. Did Jane’s agent have any time available? Yes, she did. I went into the interview with some information about my novel in hand and Jane’s recommendation to get her attention. And voila! Because of Jane’s name, Joyce  took a little more time with me than usual, and eventually, after some months of conversations via e-mail, she offered me a contract  to represent my fiction. I’ve been a client of Hartline Literary Agency since then, and I can tell you that, like a good realtor, your agent befriends you, advises you, scolds you at times, and tries and tries and tries to sell your book.

But so far, my book hasn’t sold. That’s not unusual. Published writers say it’s about average to get an agent after two or three books and to sell your fifth or sixth novel. I was blessed to find the agent more quickly than that but as to a sale–yeah, not so much.At least not yet. But I can tell you that I’m on novel number three at the moment. Only three more and I should be ready for the big time!

Speaking of being ready for the big time, my next blog post will be an interview with Mary Ellis, the big time author of a number of what are sometimes called “bonnet books”–that is, stories set in the Amish community. It’s been my privilege to review some of Mary’s books in the past. I’ll ask her a few questions about her intimate knowledge of that fascinating people and the books she writes about them.

And I’ll definitely let you know as soon as you can buy my book!



5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by A. Duenas on April 10, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Well, you know I will want mine autographed! I will also want to accompany you to the screening when it makes it to the big screen 😉


  2. So glad you are writing here so I can know a little part of your new world. Miss you, dear friend. You can find us at schaub.wordpress.com. Love to you and Jeff.


  3. I made a typo. It’s schaubs.wordpress.com.


    • I’ll check out the schaubs blog soon, too! Sounds great. Jeff and I will be in Dallas from 9/20-9/24 this year and I know he plans to contact you and try to arrange to get together. The meetings are mine, not his, so he has the free time. I’d love to see your children and to hug you both. Lots of love, Mary


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