Tag Archives: Publishing

How I Publish a Novel

Two weeks ago I shared how I write a novel. Today I want to talk about how I publish a novel.

So now I have a finished manuscript, written and rewritten until the story is exactly how I pictured it in my mind. Now it is time to get some feedback. Some people use critique groups, some people use beta readers. I like to use beta readers. A beta reader is someone who may or may not be a writer, but is definitely a reader, particularly of my own genre.

At this point, I want to know if my story is working, if there are any boring parts, or is there a place where I can make it better. I don’t care about a missing “the” or the finer parts of the writing craft (by now I have most of them down pat). What I want to know is how a reader feels about my story. After all, that is who I am writing for.

I currently have two beta readers with the possibility of adding a third. These are people who I trust to give me their honest opinion, who enjoy fantasy, are avid readers, and who want to see my story succeed.

It usually takes a week or two to hear back from them. In the meantime, I either take a break or start working on my next novel. When I get their feedback, I sit down and read through all their comments and figure out if I agree with them, if they fit in with my story, and should I change anything.

After my beta read, it is time for my manuscript to head off to my editor (duh, duh, dum). I know some people get nervous about this. I don’t. I know that I have written the best book I can and poured my soul into it. I’m pretty sure my editor isn’t going to write back and tell me to throw this story out and try again. What he (or she) will do is tell me how I can improve.

This is where trust comes in. I know my editor is for me and wants me to do even better. So when I get my manuscript back a couple weeks later dripping in red ink, it’s not because my editor hates me, it is because he or she loves the story and sees how to make it even better.

This edit, by the way, is called the content edit where the story is scrutinized down to the last scene (this is not the copy edit where the grammar and punctuation is checked).

photoNow I sit down with my newly “decorated” manuscript and go through every track change my editor put in. This takes couple of weeks of 8-10 hour days. It is the most grueling part of publishing in my opinion. My husband had no idea what this was like until the edits came back on Son of Truth and I disappeared every day into our bedroom with my laptop, only to emerge for coffee and food for three weeks. I did not clean, I did not go out for lunch with friends, I barely did laundry (naked is not an option at our house lol). I worked and edited until my brain felt like mush.

Once I am done (I can’t tell you how good that feels!), I send in the new and improved manuscript. Now comes the copyedit, which thankfully is done by someone else. This is when I catch up on my housework and family. A week later and the manuscript comes back. I double check the copyeditor’s work. Hit send. A couple days later I receive the galleys. The galley is the official book (how it will appear in print and on ereaders). This is where I have one last chance to catch any last minute stuff (minor things, no changing scenes or names, just catching the occasional missing “a”).

I am awful at catching stuff. I blame it on how fast I read. My mind will automatically put in the missing word. I have a friend who is amazing at catching these kinds of details. Because of that, both of us read the galleys and catch whatever little things we can. Every time she gives me her list of errors, I find myself so thankful for her work. She is amazing!

I now put my seal of approval on the galleys. The manuscript is sent off to the print, the ebook is uploaded into Amazon, B&N, etc… And then release day arrives (*cue heavenly music*).

A book is not published in a lonely corner by one person. It is done by a group of people who love and care for the story. Will there be mistakes after the print? Yes, after all, it is humans who are producing it. But it will be the best book we could produce at this given moment in time. I will continue to grow as a writer and the publishing process will change. Even now, with the recent sale of Marcher Lord Press, I know there are changes in store for me and my books.

But for now, this is how I publish a novel.

How I Became Part of Marcher Lord Press

Last week I shared how I became a writer. Later that night, after I wrote my post, I received a surprising email. Here is the story…

I first heard about Marcher Lord Press through a blog interview a few years ago. By then, I knew enough about the writing industry to know that publishing a Christian fantasy would be difficult. Hardly any Christian publishing companies were taking those kinds of books. They wanted romance, historical, Amish. Not a fantasy set in a different world. Not my kind of book.

Then I read Randy’s interview with a man named Jeff Gerke. Jeff was starting a new publishing company that would only produce Christian science fiction and fantasy. He saw a market out there that no one was reaching. So he was going to reach it.

After reading that interview, I turned to Dan and said, “My book might have a home someday.” I never realized how true those words would become.

I watched Marcher Lord Press with interest. I watched the books produced. I read the books. And they were good. Really good. I was still finishing my own book at the time, but I knew when I was done, I wanted to submit it to Marcher Lord Press.

Later that spring, I went to the Mt Hermon Writing conference with a finished book in hand, ready to show it to agents and publishers. I also met Jeff there. I told him about my book. He seemed interested and told me to submit it. But he also warned me that it would take 12-18 months for him to get back to me about it. That was fine with me.

I went home and sent off my manuscript. I also sent it off to a couple others who were interested. Then I started writing the second book. I heard back from the others. The message was the same: good book, but not for us. I didn’t lose heart. I knew I suppose to write. But that didn’t necessarily mean I would be published.

Then life happened. Dan and I found ourselves at a crossroads a couple months ago after he was let go from the church we were serving at. All thoughts of publishing disappeared from my mind. Instead, I found myself in God’s crucible. I was being reshaped and reforged by grief and heartache. Dan and I clung to each other and God as we sought what we should do next. We came out of that time with a strong love and desire to reach people with God’s love. So we decided to church plant.

But how did publishing fit in with that? I didn’t know. We were beginning a whole new way of life with me working full time and Dan taking care of the kids, going to school, and planting Living Grace Church. I finally knelt down one night and gave my writing to God. I was willing to give it up if God so chose.

After work last Friday, I received an email from Jeff. I waited until the kids were in bed. Then I did the dishes, all the while praying. Then I sat down and opened the email. His first words were would I like to be a Marcher Lord?

I ran to Dan’s office crying. Poor Dan, he couldn’t figure out if they were good tears or sad tears. I finally said he wants my book. Then we both came running back to my computer and finished the email. Then I sent off my reply. Yes, I wanted to be a Marcher Lord.

I couldn’t believe it. I walked around the house the next two days in a daze. I felt that gut twisting sensation you get when the roller coaster reaches the top and you’re looking down right before the plunge: excited and terrified. The contract came in. I read over it a couple times, had Dan read it, then signed it.

Monday, the news broke and life has not been the same since.

So what now? you might be wondering. Do I get to sit back and wait for my book to be published? Hardly lol. I have some big revisions to do per Jeff’s request in the next three months. Then probably more.

Am I making tons of money and going to retire? Um, no :). Most authors hardly make anything with their writing. But that’s not why I write.

When is your book coming out? Not sure yet. Need to get through those revisions. But I’ll let you know when I know.

How many books are you writing? I am contracted for 3.

What is your book about? Click on the tab labeled Daughter of Light (right hand side) to read a blurb about my book.

So that’s my writing journey. There have been a lot of people who have supported me, encouraged me, and pushed me to the next level the last few years. To name them all here would take a lot of space. You all know who you are. Thank you my friends!

To find out more about Marcher Lord Press, click here.

If  you have any other questions, feel free to ask in the comments below :).

God’s Forge

I was reading through Psalms this week and ran across this verse: “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.” Psalm 105:19. We all know how Joseph’s story ends (he becomes second in command and reunites with his family), but I had never thought about all those years of his life that pass within the thirty seconds it takes to read in Genesis.

Here is a quick synopsis: Joseph was betrayed by his family. He was sold into slavery. He served as a slave. He was tempted. He was lied about and unjustly imprisoned. He watched others released from prison while he languished in that dark place for years.

As I thought about Joseph more, I put myself in his place: the heartache brought on by the betrayal of his brothers. The fear he might have had as he was handed over to the merchants for gold. Perhaps discouragement, yet a choice to make the best of things as he took his place as a slave in Potipher’s home. The split second decision to run when Potipher’s wife tried to seduce him. The disbelief when Potipher believed his wife’s lies about him. Then the kicker: thrown into prison for doing nothing wrong.

Joseph sat in that prison for years. He was totally surrounded by darkness, both physically and emotionally (at least I would be). All he’s known in his life are lies, betrayal, and hardship. He sits there day in and day out, facing a bleak existence. Perhaps he tries to hold onto the promised visions he’d had that God was going to do something great with his life, but he can’t see how that’s going to happen now as he stares at the dark dungeon walls.

Even darker thoughts may have invaded Joseph’s mind. Should he have given in to Potipher’s wife? He wouldn’t be here now if he had. Or could God be trusted? Why hadn’t God kept his promise? Why had God allowed him to be imprisoned? Maybe jealousy tempted him as he watched Pharoh’s cup-bearer leave prison. The deep, painful depression as he waits for the cup-bearer to keep his word and get Joseph out of prison, only to have days turn into weeks turn into months.

Until the time came…. God tested Joseph’s character.

I feel like I’m in God’s forge right now. When I picture a forge, I see a dark room filled with heat, sweat and pain. I see a hammer slamming down on a heated piece of metal. It takes the heat, sweat, and pain to turn ordinary metal into something extraordinary and useful. But the process can feel dark and painful.

When I read the verse above this week, things clicked for me. I put my name in that verse: “Until the time came to fulfill her dreams, the Lord tested Morgan’s character.” Yikes!

Now unlike Joseph’s dreams (which were prophetic and a promise from God), my dreams are simply aspirations of mine. I am a writer. And like most writers, I would like to be published. But is that God’s plan for my life? Is my “writing in the dark” a time when God is testing my character?

I think so.

I do not know what kind of future God is preparing me for (he certainly has not promised me a book contract). But I do know that he considers my faith “more precious than gold” (1 Peter 1:7). So into the forge I go so God can shape me into the woman I need to be.

Writing in the Dark

I began writing about six years ago. Little did I know the steep learning curve that came with that particular “hobby” or the things God would teach me through the process.

At first I wrote scenes that came to me. I fiddled around with plots, never quite knowing where I was going. As I wrote, life continued to roll by. God move my family a couple times. I had a daughter, then along came the twins. When the twins arrived, I put writing away. My days were consumed with diaper changing, feeding children, and keeping the house from burning down (forget about cleaning it… Dan did that, bless his heart lol).

By this point, I came to realize writing is hard. I thought about putting the whole endeavor behind me. After all, when could I write with four little ones running around the house? But I could not shake the bug. I had to write. I had to finish the story inside of me.

When the twins were about one, I went back to writing. Sometimes only a hundred words a day. Sometimes I went weeks without writing because my family needed me. Life interfered again and my family found ourselves on the not-so-thrilling roller coaster ride of unemployment. It was then I started channeling the fear, heartache, and my deep search for God into my writing. I finally began to understand my characters. I understood their search inside themselves to choose the easy way or to choose God’s way: many times a path of hardship. I now had a plot.

We finished the roller coaster of unemployment (and lived!). By now I was half way through my first book. I was on a roll. I began to have goals of finishing the book and trying my hand at finding a publisher for it. Then I heard God speak. I knew in my heart he was telling me to wait an entire year. I balked at the idea and pushed forward with my own goals. God slammed back (note to anyone thinking about going through a door God is closing… don’t! He can slam hard lol).

I stopped fighting God and listened to him. I quietly put my goals of publishing away and instead continued to write. I finished my manuscript halfway through that year. I had two trusted friends critique it. They found all the things I knew in my gut I needed to work on with the story. I cried (yeah, its hard to work on something for years and find out you’re not quite there yet), then picked myself up by my flip-flops straps (I don’t wear boots) and began to work on the rewrites in earnest.

I learned a lot that year. I learned to finish a book. I learned to push through writer’s block. I learned to take criticism and use it to make my book better. And I was learning to put my work as a writer into God’s hand.

December came around again. Instead of my own plans, this time I asked God his. I felt his nudge to go ahead and start exploring the world of publishing. I signed up for the Mt Hermon conference. I tidied up my one page and pitch. And unlike last year, I totally felt scared about the prospects of publishing.

I met some amazing people at the conference. I had people interested in my manuscript. And I learned even more about writing. I came home refreshed.

During that year I also came to realize how much I had learned about the gospel through the writing of my story. Its not just about being saved from hell: it’s about being saved from something inside of us, something we cannot save ourselves from. It’s about God saving us and healing the darkness inside of us. What a beautiful picture!

The story of my writing is not done yet. No, I don’t have people knocking down my door wanting to publish my book. In fact, no one has knocked. But I felt God speaking to me again last week.

He is asking me to write in the dark now.

I can’t see where my story is going to go: I don’t know if it will ever be published or if it will only be something I leave behind for my children to read some day. What I do know is that I need to be faithful in the little bit of writing I do each day. And leave the rest to God.

(For anyone needing encouragement during their own writing in the dark, my friend Becky has done a series of posts this week. Check them out here:

http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/