An Interview with Diana Flegal of Hartline Literary Agency

by Elizabeth Griffin

EG: In your career of working with books and authors, what has been the highlight—e.g., working with specific authors or on specific projects?

DF: Truthfully, I enjoy all aspects of working with writers; the fledgling and the accomplished. I particularly enjoy brainstorming fiction plot developments and nonfiction chapter outlines and book titles. Hanging out with such creative minds always infuses me with high energy. It is a total rush to hold a book in your hands you have played a role in getting to market that contributes to honest and worthy conversations.

EG: Why do you come to conferences like our Northwest Christian Writers Renewal— what do you like about them? What is the best way to approach you at an event?

DF: I enjoy meeting and speaking with the conferees. The various ways a writers mind entertains a thought amazes me. Even on similar topics, they come at them with such unique perspectives.

The best way to approach me is first as a fellow word lover, then, as one who might have a helping word. I tend to shy away from the one who believes they heard from God I am to represent their writing. If God has told you that, keep it to yourself, and let God tell me. Then we will both be delighted at the prospect of working together.

EG: How do you interact with authors whom you represent? Can you explain briefly the process you go through of preparing and selling their book to a publisher?

DF: My clients and I go back and forth polishing their proposals in an attempt to answer ahead of time any questions a publisher might have in regarding the merits of their title. In the midst of that process, I will prepare a list of publishers looking for a book of its genre, and prepare a query letter which I will tweak to each publisher’s unique list. When it is ready to go, I will place it on five to six desks simultaneously, and we will wait three months max to hear back from them. At the 1½-month period, I will make a phone call or frame a nudge e-mail. Though it is rare, a submission can end up going astray or into a spam folder. If we have received any helpful rejection letters, or an offer to make a change and come back to them, my client will rewrite, and we will then begin a second round of submissions, hopefully resulting in a sale. The one exception is for “requested by a publisher titles.” I will follow up on those in two weeks with a phone call.  In the waiting, we will work on various ways to further develop my clients platform and career. I will send them opportunities I learn of for them to contribute to anthologies, or write and submit an article on an area of their expertise.

EG: Anything about your personal life you care to share that helps us get to know you and feel more comfortable?

DF: I am an encourager and caregiver on personality assessments. I stick with my clients through many ups and downs, longer than many other agents might. I no longer question if this is a negative in this line of work. I believe I am where God has placed me. Though this business is challenging in this present economy and political environment, I am grateful to work in the CBA and ABA publishing markets.

Diana Flegal has been an agent with Hartline Literary Agency for eleven years. She represents mainstream and inspirational titles, fiction and nonfiction, but nothing that conflicts with the Christian worldview. She is currently looking for nonfiction authors who have a substantial platform, as well as outstanding contemporary women’s fiction, issue fiction, and formula romance. When she is not reading submissions or stealing away with a recreational read, she is hiking in the mountains or kayaking the many lakes of her home state, North Carolina.

Please bring the following to your appointment:

  • A one-sheet that includes a tagline, back of the book blurb, and short bio
  • A synopsis if fiction, or a chapter outline if nonfiction
  • A list of the social media you are currently using and the number of followers for each one
  • Your marketing strategy (what you plan to do to help promote and market your book)
  • The first chapter of your manuscript
  • A notebook and pen/pencil

Diana will teach two workshops at the Renewal this year:

First Lines and Great Beginnings – This is a fun and interactive class where first line and opening page examples will be shared in a safe and friendly environment. Fellow conferees will be asked to honestly express if they would read on. Suggestions will be offered to improve the chances a reader would read on.

The Agent Author Relationship – Do I need an agent? If so, when do I need one? What does an agent do? And…what should I do that an agent won’t? Understanding the relationship between the author and agent is paramount to a successful career. In this class, you will learn what to expect and what is expected of you as an author. A Q&A time will end the workshop and a writer’s resource list will be offered.

To request an appointment with Diana and also attend her workshops, be sure to register soon for the Renewal.

_____________________________________________________

In addition to writing and editing a monthly lifestyle newspaper for 10 years, Elizabeth Griffin elizabeth_griffin2has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, along with the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories of redemption. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 16 years. Her recent adventures include directing communications for an international missions group and public relations for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and blogging at Follow the Dots.

Advertisements

Nick Harrison: A Friendly Face Returns to the Renewal

by Elizabeth Griffin

Nick Harrison is a familiar face at the annual Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, and we are thrilled to have him return again this year. His friendly demeanor makes him approachable and invites questions that he is highly capable of answering after many years in the book business.

Nick started out as a bookseller and then moved on to a successful 15-year stint as an editor at Harvest House. When he retired from there, he chose to begin working as an agent for WordServe Literary. Nick says, “I love this industry and hope to stay in it as long as I can.”

WordServe Literary was formed by Greg Johnson. Nick has found Greg to be a helpful mentor in his transition from editor to agent.

“The great thing about being an agent is that if I love a certain proposal and it finds rejection at one publisher, I can keep championing it to other publishers. As an editor, if I loved a proposal and it turned out not to be a good fit and had to be rejected, that was the end of my relationship with that proposal,” Nick says.

As an agent, Nick expected to represent several fiction authors, but so far he only represents one and has another under serious consideration. He also represents an author of children’s books. He has found himself taking on projects he never thought would exist, and he likes the surprises he’s encountered so far on this journey.

In addition to representing authors, Nick has authored 10 books of his own. Several of these are devotionals and prayer books that can be seen on his website and Amazon.com.

Nick’s next release is called One-Minute Prayers for Those with Cancer. It’s the book he wishes didn’t have a market.

Nick loves what he does and especially enjoys meeting new writers and helping guide them in their writing career. Be sure to say hello to him at the Renewal. He is looking for adult fiction in all genres except speculative fiction. For nonfiction, he will look at self-help, spiritual growth, social issues, women’s books, men’s books, and personal experience books if the lessons from the experience are applicable to a large segment of the population. He is not looking for children’s books, prophecy, poetry, or gift books.

Nick will teach these workshops at the Renewal:

Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Correct Them by Nick Harrison – In addition to having been an editor at Harvest House Publishers, Nick is also a writer. He understands the frustrations every writer faces. To the beginner, he can offer to show his pile of rejection slips.  To the advanced, he can offer to show his pile of rejection slips. Becoming a published writer takes time, talent, and persistence. The mistakes Nick will talk about are indeed common—and he says he has made them all.

What to Do When You Don’t Have a Platform by Nick Harrison – Writers hate the word platform, but increasingly it can make the difference between a book sale to a publisher…or rejection. While slowly building your platform, there are some things you can do to compensate for not having a platform. We’ll look at some of those ideas. (For fiction and nonfiction authors.)

Check out the rest of the workshops being offered at this year’s Renewal. To request an appointment with Nick, register soon.

_____________________________________________________

In addition to writing and editing a monthly lifestyle newspaper for 10 years, Elizabeth Griffin elizabeth_griffin2has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, along with the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories of redemption. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 16 years. Her recent adventures include directing communications for an international missions group and public relations for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and blogging at Follow the Dots.

Jennifer Slattery: A Way with Words

By Elizabeth Griffin

From the moment she could speak, Jennifer Slattery loved words. In fact, her mother used to beg her to be silent—just for five minutes. But Jennifer couldn’t do it. Even when disciplined by teachers for talking in class or embarrassed in Bible studies for dominating the discussion, her natural propensity for self-expression would not be dampened.

As an adult, Jennifer’s wellspring of words has become a source of healing to many women. She began Wholly Loved Ministries to teach women the truth about who they are as daughters of the King. Through stories and humor she shows women how to tune out the lies promoted on social media and modern culture, and to tune into the truth of God’s Word and their identity in Christ.

In addition to speaking fluently, Jennifer also has a freely flowing pen, and she has published five Romance novels with New Hope Publishers. She is a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com, Internet Cafe Devotions, and Christians Read. As managing editor of Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, she loves working with writers to help them strengthen their manuscripts and grow in their gifting.

“If you have a passion to write, God lit that spark within you, and he knows exactly what lies ahead,” Jennifer says. “In fact, he’s fully committed to perfecting all that concerns you. If we belong to Christ, we’re chosen and called to greatness. God has entrusted us with the most precious, most powerful words known to man—the gospel. At this moment, God is equipping, molding, stretching, and guiding us so he can use us to create ripples of love, peace, joy, and hope. The question is, are we complying?”

At the May 5–6 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Jennifer will entertain proposals for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction. Because we’re so close to the conference, she will schedule her own appointments. You may e-mail her to request a 15-minute slot, or you can use the sign-up form at the Editor/Agent Appointment Desk.

In looking for women’s fiction, Jennifer is especially interested in manuscripts that can cross over into the general market. Though the publisher will continue to release novels with strong Christian elements, for this imprint they’re looking for stories that don’t necessarily use Scripture or refer to God but that reveal truth in more of a parable fashion, such as showing the consequences of sinful behavior. She is not interested in seeing nonfiction, children’s, YA, or overtly religious women’s fiction.

Another way you can take advantage of Jennifer’s insights in writing and promotion is by attending her workshops:

Creating Characters That Grab Your Reader – Some characters entertain us; others grab hold of us and don’t let go. A well-crafted character grabs the reader at their deepest heart level, causing them to see themselves in the character’s struggles and victories. In this discussion on abstract and concrete goals, inner lies, black moments, and character arcs, writers will learn how to take their readers from merely enjoying their stories to living them. (Emerging-writer level)

Developing and Expanding Your Reach: Ways to Build Your Author Platform – This class touches on numerous ways authors can begin to build their platform from article writing to guest blogging, speaking, and more. It discusses how a writer can go from having zero publishing credits to getting asked to write for publication. It also addresses the importance of presenting one’s best work, developing a strong critique partnership team, tweaking old articles and posts to make them fresh, and using self-publishing and compilations to gain readerships. (All levels)

At the conference, let Jennifer’s God-given gift for self-expression inspire you to develop your own way with words.

Sign up now for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

______________________________________________________

Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper elizabeth_griffin2for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.

Doc Hensley Explains the Art of Pitching

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference

Dr. Dennis E. Hensley has probably lost count of the number of conferences he’s spoken at over the years. He’s taught workshops, served on panels, presented manuscript makeovers, met personally with conferees, and often served as the keynote speaker. Through it all—and while pitching some of his own 60 published books—he’s learned from his publishing colleagues what impresses editors and agents the most during their appointments with conferees.

DocExplainsPitchingAs director of the Professional Writing department at Taylor University (Upland, IN), Dr. Hensley shares this knowledge with his students, along with readers of his column in Christian Communicator magazine. Now he’s letting Renewal conferees in on the secrets to effective proposal pitches.

The following article is an excerpt from the book Finding Success with Your Dream Writing Projects (by Dennis E. Hensley with Diana Savage), which will be released this August by Bold Vision Books.

MASTERING THE 15-MINUTE BOOK PITCH

Pop artist Andy Warhol once said that every person, sooner or later, enjoys 15 minutes of fame. In the arena of pitching book proposals, it comes down to 15 minutes of fame or 15 minutes of shame. When you attend a writers conference and schedule an appointment with a literary agent or book editor, you have 15 minutes—sometimes less—to convince that person your book is worth considering for publication and that you are someone this individual will want to do business with.

That’s not much time, so let’s talk about how to make those minutes count.

  1. Look professional. Although writers conferences are usually casual in attire, trying to convince someone to invest more than $35,000 to launch your book is big business. You need to look like someone who would appear impressive on talk shows, when giving speeches, and when meeting folks at autograph parties. First impressions are lasting ones.
  2. Have an actual book idea. Some would-be writers come up with a great title and even some clever research, but trained editors can see what would make a good article and what would actually sustain a full book. A published book usually is somewhere around two-hundred pages, with about four hundred words per page, which is 80,000 words. Thus, if you don’t have an idea that can be content heavy for 320 double-spaced manuscript pages, don’t waste the editor’s time.
  3. Know the competition. Anticipate that the agent or editor will ask you what else is on the market similar to your topic. It’s good that other books exist on your topic, because they show that other publishers have seen market value for it. Your job will be to explain how your book is different. Perhaps you have newer research, better photos or other graphics, a broader range of topics, exclusive interviews, distinctive sidebars or reading lists or quizzes. Emphasize how your book is unique and better than the competition. One special insider tip is this: Prove that your book will still be interesting a year from now when it finally gets into print and how it will contain enduring elements that will make it stay in print several years thereafter.
  4. Speak as though this person is a committee. Although you are addressing just one person, he or she will have to champion your book before a publication board. It will be made up of people from sales, publicity, layout and design, marketing, accounting, legal, and editorial departments. As such, explain how you will help to market the book via speaking engagements, blogging, social networking, library appearances, webinars, professional organizations, public readings, writers workshops, reviews, and autograph parties. Don’t give anyone on the board a reason to reject you.
  5. Sell yourself with wild abandon. No one likes a braggart, but when it comes to selling a book, you need to prove that you know what you’re talking about. You can do this by providing a résumé that stresses your education, your list of previous publications, any honors or awards you’ve received, and your professional credentials. Stress the research you conducted in preparing this book manuscript. Additionally, if you can produce a list of endorsements from people with name recognition, this will certainly work in your favor.
  6. Hand over a solid book proposal. Despite the fact that you will have a well-organized, extremely focused conversation with this agent or editor, you still will need to have a high-quality book proposal to leave with this person if he or she decides your book idea warrants publication consideration. Your cover letter will explain why you feel this publisher is right for your book; highlights of your career after age twenty; a terse description of your book (“The Help is about African-American maids who find ways to shame their oppressive suburban white employers during the 1960s”); mention of your best endorsements; and a word about your target readership. You’ll need to have from one to three fully completed chapters, a one-page biography (write about yourself in the third person), a table of contents that you may wish to expand into an outline, a one- or two-page synopsis of the entire book (yes, do tell the ending), and information about your personal platform.
  7. Anticipate blunt objections or questions. Editors may ask if the manuscript is “clean,” meaning void of mechanical writing errors. Say (truthfully) that you’ve had other eyes go over the entire book (professional editors or maybe members of your writers critique group). Editors may ask “Who cares?” about your topic. Have statistics ready, audience surveys, sales records of similar books. The editor may ask, “But who are you?” so have credentials and experience to show you are the perfect person to write and promote this book.

Contrary to common belief, editors come to writers conferences because they want to discover talented writers, and they want to find publishable books. How else can they stay in business? However, their greatest joy is to discover someone who is polished, professional, and savvy about writing and marketing books. This could mean a long-term working relationship. So, when the clock starts ticking, use every second to show that you came prepared to do business.

© 2016 by Dennis E. Hensley, all rights reserved

Learn more valuable tips from Doc Hensley at the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Sign up today!

__________________________________________________________

Diana SavageDianaSavage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Cult Escapee Athena Dean Holtz Now Helps Other Wounded People

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Not everyone caught in the clutches of a cult is able to get free.

Athena Dean Holtz has.

Twice.

First she was drawn into the Church of Scientology. After she escaped that deception and came to Christ in 1986, she was lured into a toxic, legalistic Christian cult. Among other abuses the leaders committed, they fraudulently coerced her into turning over a custom publishing company she had cofounded.

That took place five years ago. Eventually she was able to walk away from the traumatic situation, get counseling, and go public with her story. The cult leaders lashed back viciously and created entire websites dedicated to humiliating and discrediting Athena and those close to her.

AthenaDeanHoltzPinable“I’ve learned a lot from that experience,” she says. “God has taught me a great deal about why I was vulnerable in the first place. He has also given me great insights into deceivers and the people they have deceived.”

After spending twenty-five years in the book-publishing industry in the Pacific Northwest, Athena served as a broadcast missionary under Commission to Every Nation with her program for women, “Always Faithful Radio,” on AM 630 KSLR in San Antonio, Texas.

Early in 2014, she returned to publishing in this area and cofounded Redemption Press. “The amazing part of that story,” she says, “is God brought me full circle, back to the same offices I used to occupy.”

As a speaker, author, blogger, publisher, and now a pastor’s wife, Athena helps people who have been wounded by the church and other traumatic life experiences.

On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Athena will lead three sessions of an interactive WriteCoach Lab:

Build Your Platform Through SpeakingBuild Your Platform & Promote Your Work Through Speaking – Let Athena Dean Holtz help you map out your own individualized plan for using public speaking to build your author platform and promote your book. Includes hands-on exercises to get you started on your journey.

Athena is passionate about encouraging people to learn to trust God, even in the wake of spiritual abuse, trauma, or loss. “My prayer is that they will experience God’s faithfulness and restoration in the midst of the difficulties of life and suffering,” she says.

Her involvement at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal is borne out of that passion. “I pray that people who’ve been wounded will learn to comfort others with the comfort God gives them,” she says.

As a Renewal sponsor, Redemption Press is holding a drawing at its vendor booth. The winner will receive a professional bundle of publishing services valued at $2,200.

To enter the drawing, as well as have the opportunity to be coached by Athena in one of her three WriteCoach Lab sessions, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

________________________________________

DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

Grace Fox Loves to Connect the Dots

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference

Are you interested in learning the basics of the writing craft? Do you need an expert to show you the ropes?

If so, we have just the right workshop series for you at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference! Grace Fox, award-winning author of eight books and hundreds of magazine articles, will teach a continuing class, “The Newer Writer’s Blueprint for Building a Publishing Career.”

GraceFoxPinableMany writers experience discouragement when they start out, and Grace knows a great deal about pushing through those times. Whenever she has felt like quitting, God has been faithful to inspire readers to send her encouragement.

On one occasion she prayed, “Lord, if you want me to invest my time, energy, and abilities somewhere else, then please confirm that for me today.” Five hours later, a woman Grace didn’t know called her and said, “I’ve never phoned an author before. Please don’t think I’m a whacko or a groupie. I read your book Moving from Fear to Freedom, and it changed my life. Today I felt compelled to call you and urge you to please keep writing. We need to hear truth.”

Since that day, Grace has never doubted her calling as a writer. “The way I figure,” she says, “God has made it abundantly clear that I’m to write, and he’ll make it clear when it’s time to stop.”

Grace’s passion is to connect the dots between faith and real life to help her audiences live the life God intends for them. Drawing from Scripture, as well as personal experiences while living on Canada’s rugged coastline, in urban USA, and in Nepal’s Himalayan mountains, she uses the written page and the public stage to build Christ-based confidence in audiences worldwide. Her quick wit, real-life stories, and biblical insight keep her in constant demand as a speaker.Market Like the Pros Panel

At the Renewal she will serve on a marketing panel with Carolyn McCready, Jim Rubart, and Dennis Brooke on Friday, May 15.

 

The following day, Saturday, May 16, she will teach three continuing workshops:

The Newer Writer’s Blueprint for Building a Publishing Career           

Session 1: Lay the Foundation: Every effective and lasting publishing career begins with a carefully laid foundation. Discover ten components necessary for creating the strongest foundation possible.Lay the Foundation

Session 2: Build the Platform: Learn how to define your brand, grow name recognition, and build your publishing platform using websites and social media. Discover biblical truths with which to weigh those practical realities, and then determine your personal approach to platform building.

Add the ExtrasSession 3: Add the Extras: Boost your publishing career by developing speaking presentations around your writing topics. Brainstorm possible themes and learn how to formulate a presentation. Brainstorm other ancillary products that promote your writing, encourage your audience, and earn income.

Grace’s articles have appeared in more than forty different publications, including Focus on the Family, Reader’s Digest, Insights Canada, Power for Living, War Cry, and Today’s Christian Woman. Her eight books include Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation and the corresponding DVD-based Bible study.

She’s a popular international speaker and is national co-director of International Messengers Canada, a ministry that offers creative short-term and career missionary opportunities in Eastern Europe. Her frequent media appearances include 100 Huntley Street, It’s a New Day, and The Harvest Show.

To benefit from Grace’s three-part continuing workshop, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

___________________________

DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

Editor Carolyn McCready’s Love for Books Inspired Her Career

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Carolyn McCready lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she cheers on the Ducks and loves film, music, cooking, and travel. She’s also an avid reader.CarolynMcCreadyPinable

With her schooling in education and English, she originally intended to be a teacher, but a summer bookstore job changed her plans. She remained at the bookstore for ten years, working as store manager and the book and Bible buyer. Her expertise led to her become the Vice President of Editorial at Harvest House Publishers.

Carolyn is now an executive editor with Trade Books for Zondervan Publishers, a division of Harper Collins Christian Publishing. She has worked with such authors as Lysa TerKeurst, Stormie Omartian, Kyle Idleman, Rachel Macy Stafford, and Shauna Niequist.

Market Like the Pros PanelOn Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Carolyn will meet with writers in group appointments. If you want to show her your work, please follow the guidelines concerning what she would like to see and what she’s not looking at right now.

She will also serve on a marketing panel with Grace Fox, Jim Rubart, and Dennis Brooke.

The following day, May 16, Carolyn will co-teach the workshop, “What Editors Are Really Looking For,” with fellow editor Terry Glaspey. What Editors Are REALLY Looking For JPG

Kirk Kraft’s Interview with Carolyn McCready

Three years ago NCWA member Kirk Kraft interviewed Carolyn on his blog right before the 2012 Renewal conference. Kirk has graciously allowed us to reprint that informative interview here.

Kirk: Could you tell us a little about the progression of your publishing career and your current role?

Carolyn: My degree is in education and English, and I expected to be a teacher. Along the way, though, life took one of those turns that can change everything. I took a summer job at a Christian bookstore, working for a wonderful store owner. I planned to be there for the summer and find a full-time teaching job the next year, but I learned that my love of books and the joy of connecting people with the perfect books for them made this a great job for me. I worked there for ten years and became the store manager and book and Bible buyer. During that time I developed relationships with most of the major publishers and worked for Zondervan as a dealer advisor.

I was offered the job of editorial director at Harvest House Publishers, as they were looking for someone who understood the retail marketplace and was familiar with the full breadth of books available. I was also, of course, an avid reader and loved the prospect of working with writers and seeing their ideas become wonderful books. I eventually became the VP of Editorial and was with Harvest House for fifteen years. It is a wonderful, focused, family-owned Christian publisher, and I learned so much during that time concerning what publishing is all about and what it takes to make a book. It does take a village

After that I took the job of Executive Editor with Zondervan and am thoroughly enjoying my role of acquiring nonfiction trade books. I still live in Eugene, Oregon, but I travel regularly to Grand Rapids to work with my colleagues at Zondervan and around the country to meet with authors.

Kirk: How do you know a story is a winner when you read it?

Carolyn: I love reading fiction although I don’t acquire much in that arena. But with fiction, it is usually a combo of a great voice, engaging characters, and a story that makes me want to turn the page. I’m looking for something fresh, as so much of the fiction we see—and even publish—feels the same. It’s like watching the pilot of a new television show or the beginning of new movie—sometimes it just hits, and you feel it. It grabs your attention, and you want to spend time in that world. It can even be in a very typical genre but still stand out. You know it when you read it.

Kirk: What is the biggest mistake you see writers make in their submissions today?

Carolyn: I think the biggest mistake might be not understanding what editors need to help their publishing team decide to publish a new book. We need to see that you have a great idea, a significant—or at least growing—platform, and strong writing skills. The platform issue is very important, but it doesn’t have to mean that you are the pastor of a large church or a speaker for major women’s conferences. You do have to show that you are working hard to gain a following and that you have made progress in that arena. Speaking, blogging, writing for magazines and newspapers, leading workshops on your topic—all can be really important to a publisher. Then give us a marketable topic (and the reasons that it is—do your research!), and finally, and very importantly, hone your writing so it’s as strong as it can be.

Kirk: What would you say are the biggest myths in publishing?

Carolyn: That you must have a large platform to get published. It certainly helps—and you will hear that from every publisher—but there are certainly exceptions. Sometimes it’s all about a great story and good storytelling. Look at Heaven Is for Real!

_____________________________

Thanks again to Kirk for letting us share his interview with Carolyn.

To request an appointment to meet with Carolyn McCready, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

____________________________

DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.