Thursday, October 24, 2013

Everyone has their own story about the road to publication. Here’s mine:

I wrote devotions beginning in 1972 and continuing through 2009. At that point, I lost contact with the editor who had been giving me annual assignments. I took that as God’s hint to concentrate on fiction. Prior to 2002, I had been working on a YA science fiction novel but was still struggling to beat it into shape.

Sometime later, maybe 2006, several of my critique partners suggested—kicked me in the rear—to switch to adult science fiction. That’s when I started Dark Biology.

I had been attending writers conferences beginning in 1996 with Colorado Christian Writers Conference and 2003 with American Christian Writers Conference. I kept learning, kept pitching, and kept getting rejected. For sixteen long years. No one took the bait until 2010 when Terry Burns, an agent with Hartline Literary, asked for a proposal and later for a full manuscript.

One problem: I hadn’t finished the novel. Word to the wise: Don’t do that.

In May 2012, one day before Colorado Christian Writers Conference, I submitted the manuscript for Dark Biology to Terry. I didn’t sign with him, but only because another agent offered me a contract first. Terry encouraged me a lot over the years, and having his request hanging over my head helped me finish the novel.

At that year’s conference, I met Steve Hutson of WordWise Media who offered me a contract in August. Later, I learned that Steve had been a client of Terry’s before Steve went into the agenting business.

The ink was barely dry when Pelican Book Group offered me a contract. I became a Pelican author two days before the ACFW Conference. I attended the conference in a daze.

Pelican put me to work. My first assignment was to eliminate three POVs, which was a condition of the contract. Then I got the first round of edits, which cut whole chapters and macro-edited the novel.

Next came round two. For this round, I worked on a more detailed edit while incorporating comments from a former astronaut candidate. That edit seemed brutal because I was juggling so much. The Pelican people were kind enough, but I had to re-work whole scenes. The result was a much better book.

A line editor then checked the work. I read through the galleys for any typos that had somehow escaped. We completed this phase in January.

Pelican scheduled the release date for October 25. However, I got a huge surprise when my sister emailed me that she’d received her order from Amazon. My baby was six weeks early! I called her. “What do you mean, you have my book? I don’t have my book!” My shipment arrived the next day. The print version is available now. The e-book version releases October 25.

I’ve barely started the marketing process. That’s another side to writing that I’m learning about: appearing on this blog and others as part of a month-long blog tour, handing out bookmarks and pens, talking about the book on social media. I haven’t even touched book signings and (shudder) speaking.  

The gestation period for Dark Biology was at least six years and probably more. I didn’t keep good records back then.

The road to publication for my debut novel involved conferences for seventeen years, several writing and critique groups, loads of shorter pieces that I wrote, pitches, rejections, tears, and heartache. Sometimes I wondered why I continued. I won the Perseverance Award in 2006 from CCWC, but it was another six long years before I signed a contract.  

Every author has a road to travel. Thankfully, most are shorter than mine. I’m convinced, however, that
my journey concluded in God’s timing with the agent, publisher, publicist, and influencers He handpicked for me.

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of Bonnie's debut novel, Dark Biology!

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Bonnie! I remember meeting you and your husband several years back at a conference (I think ACFW 2005, in Nashville?) ... how neat to see God open this door for you!


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