Back when I interviewed Carla Stewart about her new novel, I asked her, “What advice would you give to writers trying to get their first novel published?”
Here’s her answer: Be realistic. It takes much longer than you think, but while you’re waiting, you there are basic things to consider so that when you do get a contract, you’re not overwhelmed.
Here’s a short list:
- Continue learning the craft. Conferences. Writing groups. Books on writing. And simply keep writing.
- Don’t be afraid of being unique and developing your voice. That is often what catches an agent or editor’s interest.
- Put up a website and/or a blog. A well-done site (professional if you can possibly afford it) says to the world you are a serious writer with something to offer.
- Network: not only at conferences, but also on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
- Reach out: People remember others who appreciated them or made them feel good. Send thank-you notes or drop emails to those who’ve taken time to hear your pitches (agents and editors in particular) or those who’ve made you laugh or shared a gem of wisdom with you. By giving to others you pave the way to lasting relationships. (And you, KBW, are wonderful at doing that here! Your hand of friendship is a tremendous blessing to me.)
- Commit yourself and your career to God and His timing. He wants the very best for you.
Those things have all paid off for Carla, as her first novel is due out this summer. Chasing Lilacs is a coming of age story set in Texas. In 1958, Elvis is on the radio and summer is in the air. Life should be simple and carefree. But not for twelve-year-old Sammie who has plenty of questions about her mother’s “nerve” problems. About shock treatments. About whether her mother loves her.
As her life careens out of control, Sammie has to choose who to trust with her deepest fears. Her best friend with an opinion about everything? The mysterious kid from California whose own troubles plague him? Or her round-faced neighbor with gentle advice and strong shoulders to cry on? Then, there’s the elderly widower who seems nice, but has his own dark past.
Trusting is one thing, but accepting the truth may be the hardest thing Sammie’s ever done.