by Amanda Bacon
Hi COMPEL Writer Friends!
I’m thrilled to be joining you on the blog today.
I’m Amanda and I’m on staff at Proverbs 31 Ministries, serving on Lysa TerKeurst’s team as a Content Coordinator. That means I help organize and wrangle the different areas of content Lysa produces. It’s a dream job I’m able to mesh with my busy home life here in North Carolina. I’ve been married to Jeremy for twenty years and have eight kids, ages 6-18. How we became the parents of this large crew and ended up living in the South is a story for another day.
Today, I’d like to tell you another story about two friends, fourteen years, a windy road and one eventual book deal.
If you’re like me, when the words “book” and “deal” are paired together in a sentence, I lean in close and take in every bit of information I can. Because after writing on a seemingly invisible blog for over twelve years, the thought of writing a book one day was always on my mind. But how? It doesn’t seem like anyone reads what I write as it is.
Let’s take a leap back in time to 14 years ago, when my dear friend Anne-Renee and I met. I remember the exact time and place I ever laid eyes on her. We passed each other at the sink in the church bathroom, of all places, said a quick hello and went on our way. But deep inside, I knew she would eventually mean something very dear to me.
As it would happen, we both joined our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group and eventually stepped into leadership roles too. We led this large group of women for a few years and loved every second of it. But after eventually graduating ourselves out of MOPS, we wondered what was next for us?
We weren’t ready to give up offering help and encouragement for moms. In fact, it felt like we were just getting started. We began to meet in coffee shops over the next few years trying to figure out what our next step would be. Could we, should we write a book?
Six years ago, we decided to take some serious steps in that direction. God was nudging us out into the deep waters of publication, and we felt ready to swim. It was finally time to put all of our ideas, energy and time into writing our very first book proposal.
Even though we had no idea what we were doing, there was one thing we knew for sure—we needed to get to the She Speaks Conference. We’d spent many years prior pining over a trip to North Carolina to attend, but it wasn’t the right time for either of us.
We registered for She Speaks in 2013, and clicked that little button that said, “I’d like to meet with a publisher.” Gulp. Were we really doing this? Were we really ready?
Writing the first version of our book proposal and meeting with three editors at She Speaks that summer, began our windy walk toward eventually signing a book deal in 2017, turning in our manuscript in 2018, and releasing our first book, Shiny Things: Mothering on Purpose in a World of Distractions this month!
Writing it out in one little paragraph like that ties it up in a simple little package. But it was anything but simple. I can think of a thousand other words to describe the path we’ve been on that aren’t as inviting. But there are two words that stand out and encapsulate every last inch of it: worth and it. It was all worth it.
Here’s a scaled down timeline of what the last six years have looked like for us. We’ll meet on the other side to talk about what this process felt like, and how we survived and even thrived through this process.
- Write our first book proposal
- Attend She Speaks and meet with three editors
- The proposal goes home with an editor who helps us edit for an entire calendar year
- Attend She Speaks and meet with two more editors
- Receive a no from the publishing house we worked with in 2013-14
- Get connected with an agent through a writer friend, and sign a contract
- Our agent begins pitching our book proposal to publishers – we receive several no’s
- Attend She Speaks
- Our proposal is noticed by a publisher our agent pitched to
- Begin talks with them and are asked to change our book topic to something they saw on our blog
- Write a new book proposal in three weeks and travel to meet with them
- Things are looking good and we’re told a book deal is coming
- Waiting on news from the publisher and the pending deal
- This takes a full calendar year
- Meanwhile, our book is not being shown to other publishers
- Attend She Speaks
- The book deal falls through
- Original publisher we worked with in 2013 contacted us to see what we were working on now
- Our agent sent over our new book proposal
- Receive another second rejection from the publisher
- The editor takes it back to pub board after we make a couple of changes and we get a YES!
- Signed a book deal in May
- Manuscript due in March
- Editing process
- Book releases April 16th!
After seeing it all mapped out like this, it doesn’t seem quite so simple, does it? Some of you may be nodding your heads because your experience has been similar, or maybe you’re horrified that trying to get a book published could look so disjointed and uncomfortable?
Please don’t feel defeated. What I’m about to share will help you see how this process was exactly what was needed to get to the place we are today.
Back in 2013, we were wide-eyed and willing to do whatever God asked us to do, but we didn’t understand all the ways it would eventually look so different than we’d envisioned. We thought our book idea and writing would be so impressive and needed out in the world that we might sign a book deal on the spot at She Speaks. Some writers have experiences that mirror that, but certainly not us! In all, we heard upwards of sixteen rejections from editors, publishing houses and agents before we received our “yes.”
Our process has been wonky, yet wonderful. What you can’t see as we were in process all these years were the genuine relationships we built in the industry that helped us keep going when it felt like we had opened a door we had no business trying to walk through. At every turn, God was reminding us that He gave us the idea and these relationships, and He was in charge of the timeline and the eventual book topic too.
In these years we met and became friends with the 10 authors who offered their endorsement of our book. Each was a special gift added to our life at just the right time on the path. We made friends along the way, but we also had each other. Most of us aren’t trying to get a book published with a dear friend, but we can all gather a team of people to help spur us on. Especially when it gets hard.
What you also can’t see reflected the middle of this mucky timeline, is that we launched an online ministry and a podcast for moms as was suggested to us by one of the publishers we met with. We became adept in growing our message and streamlining it down to what we really wanted it to be. We also matured as people and writers in those six years. It was all for something.
Even those years of writing blog posts I was sure nobody was reading turned into one of them catching the eye of a publisher and being the catalyst for our new book!
If I could say one thing to you, it would be this: keep faithfully doing the thing you feel compelled to do in your writing.
Keep your expectations of and dependence on God high and keep flexible expectations of what the publishing process might look like. As Maria says in The Sound of Music, “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” And He will.
Do you dream of pressing through to publication?
We would suggest joining our COMPEL community as a way to learn from bestselling authors, powerhouse speakers, and master communicators on how to creatively and expertly share the message God has placed on your heart. COMPEL is a monthly membership site for writers who want to write words that move people. Whether you’re an aspiring or seasoned writer, COMPEL Training offers invaluable training for mastering the craft of writing as well as insider perspectives about the publishing industry. CLICK HERE to sign up!
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