Lynnette Bonner Conquers the Indie Publishing Jungle

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Because of Lynnette Bonner’s unique upbringing, one might almost think she was destined to forge a new path as an independent author.

She began life in Malawi, Africa, where her parents were missionaries. She learned to speak Chichewa (Chee-chay-wuh) fluently, climbed acacia trees, sampled fire-braised termites, and ran through tall, crisp grasses playing “cows” with her young African friends.

From fourth grade on, she resided at a Kijabe, Kenya, boarding school during each curricular term. When she came to the US to attend college, she met a young man who had grown up “in the sticks of Idaho. That’s just about as close as you can get to African ambiance and still be on US soil,” she says. That man is now her husband, Pastor Marty Bonner.

LynnetteBonnerPinableAfter Lynnette finished her first novel in 2000 and submitted it to many publishers and agents, a small e-book publisher finally offered her a contract and released her book. Then the company promptly went out of business. By that time she was homeschooling her two oldest kids, had a toddler, and then gave birth to her fourth child.

“I told the Lord the book was in his hands,” she says, admitting she was pretty sure he already knew that. She also determined that if God had given her the story just to help her through those tough, stressful years, she’d try to be content.

“But I kept asking him to direct my steps where the book was concerned. I specifically remember praying that if the Lord wanted this book to be published, he would need to ‘drop a publisher in my lap’ because I didn’t have time to shop it around again.”

Several years later, a small press—the first she’d submitted to in seven years—eagerly picked up the book, and Lynnette was on her way.

Eventually she realized that she could be even more effective if she became an “indie” author—a writer who publishes independently instead of with traditional publishers. That decision encompassed much more than mere self-publishing. It involved every step of the process: writing, editing, proofreading, layout, cover design, marketing, and even legal concerns, such as acquiring each book’s ISBN number.

Perhaps adapting to a new culture when she came to the US as a young adult helped Lynnette acquire the skills she’d need years later for negotiating the jungles of independent publishing.

She has been successful in her endeavors. To date, Lynnette has indie-published ten books. At the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, she will share the secrets she has learned.

An Overview of Indie Publishing-1) An Overview of Indie Publishing: Nothing Less than the Best (Friday, May 15) – What exactly is indie publishing? How is it accomplished, who is best suited to go that route, and what’s the best way to go about it? Let’s talk about print and e-book formatting that shines, and much, much more.

Making Your eBooks Work for You2) Making Your E-books Work for You (Saturday, May 16) – Learn about the many passive marketing techniques you can incorporate into your e-books to make them work harder for you. We’ll talk about the first things all successful indie authors need to have in place, along with other verified marketing techniques proven to work for the instructor and many of her indie author friends. If you have an e-book you want to take to the next level, this is the class for you.

Lynnette’s latest book, Song of the Surf, will be awarded to every qualified person who enters this year’s Grand Prize Contest. Don’t miss your opportunity to win a free ten-page manuscript critique by our keynote speaker, Angela Hunt, along with an e-book copy of Lynnette’s newest Christian romance.

To learn timely insights about indie publishing, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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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.

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Do You Have Perfect Pitch?

NCWA welcomes Karen Ball from The Steve Laube Agency!

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While I was at a writer’s retreat awhile back, I was struck, as I always am when in the company of writers, by the power of the right word used in the right way. On the first day of the conference, I had group meetings with the writers.

This is where a group of writers come in, sit at a table together, and each takes a turn pitching his/her book to me to see if I would be interested in representing the author. I had six groups, each lasting a half hour, made up of anywhere from 5-7 people each. So folks had a total of 3-5 minutes to engage me in their project.

It’s the writer’s conference version of speed dating!

The cool thing is, a good number of those who came had such a strong understanding of their project and of the market that they were able to hook me in the first few words. Now that’s doing your homework! For example, one woman told me right off the bat her book was romantic suspense, what the main story line was (in a sentence), and what the conflict and spiritual takeaway were.

That took about 45 seconds of her four minutes, so from there I asked questions about the story and focus and she was able to relax and just talk. I ended up asking her to send me the proposal. Don’t know if we’ll pursue it–the writing is what tips the scales, of course.

But I was impressed with her well chosen descriptions. And if I’m considering two manuscripts and all things are basically equal, I’ll always go with an author who is, first and foremost, teachable, and then able to communicate the heart and soul of her story quickly and effectively.

Summer and fall boast a lot of wonderful writers’ conferences to attend. So you writers need to know how to capture an editor’s or author’s attention in a matter of seconds. Yes, SECONDS, not minutes. So spend some time thinking about the following:

Do You Have Perfect Pitch?

*What’s the main theme (or themes) addressed in my story?

*For fiction, what’s the nonfiction hook I could use to stir interest in media outlets (e.g. radio, where they generally don’t have a clue what to do with novelists)?

*What genre/category is my book? Are there any best-sellers or movies that I can compare my book to that will position it quickly for the agent/editor? For example, “My book is Die Hard meets Left Behind.”

*What’s the spiritual takeaway?

Finally, can I describe my book in:

* one sentence

*25 words

*50 words

*200 words

(At different stages in the process of seeking publication, you’ll need to be able to do all of the above!)

That’s enough to get you started. So hey, go for it! Put together a masterful pitch, one or two sentences, that will position your book in any editor’s or agent’s mind. And if you want to try your pitch out here, feel free. I’ll let you know what I think.

TweetGroup pitching to an editor is the writer’s conference version of speed dating!@KarenBall

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This post first appeared June 13, 2012 on The Steve Laube Agency blog. Used by kind permission.

Karen Ball has been blessed to use her love of words and story during nearly 30 years in publishing. Currently the owner/operator of Karen Ball Publishing Services, LLC, and a literary agent with the Steve Laube Agency, Karen built and led fiction lines for Tyndale, Multnomah, Zondervan, and B&H Publishing Group.

She’s discovered and worked with some of the top novelists in publishing, including Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, Brandilyn Collins, Angela Hunt, Ginny Yttrup, & Robin Jones Gunn. In addition, Karen is a best-selling, award-winning novelist and a popular speaker and teacher. She lives in Oregon with her husband, father, and three four-legged, furry kids. Visit Karen on her website or at The Steve Laube Agency.