In the past few months we’ve been posting blogs by published authors to give you a glimpse into the self-publishing and traditionally published writing world.
Today, we welcome Wendy Pope as our guest blogger. What I love about Wendy and know you will too is that she is candid and speaks from a heart for God when it comes to publishing.
Wendy has just released her second book, Yes, No, Maybe: Living with the God of Immeasurably More, with Cook Publishing.
Wendy, tell us a little bit about how your publishing journey began.
I started serving in ministry with Proverbs 31 Ministries in 2003. Through Proverbs I began to speak at women’s conferences and retreats. I never dreamed of being a speaker, much less an author. I always had the gift of gab so speaking wasn’t a stretch, but writing—that was an entirely different story. Grammar, spelling, and English were not my strongest subjects in school, so you can imagine my initial response when I was invited to be part of the P31 Writing Team. It was and still is much easier for me to tell a story than to write a story; therefore, I was shocked when God put a message for a book on my heart.
I thought when I accepted God’s call to write a book it would be easy to write and publish. Why is it that we think when we obey God that things will be easy-peasy? There’s nothing in Scripture to indicate that and that’s not how it happened for me.
My writings were scrutinized and rejected for over 10 years before my first book was published. Those years of waiting taught me to stay focused on the Person of my faith, rather than the object of my wait and trust God’s timing. Waiting to be published is hard, but our God is always on time. Learning this lesson has strengthened my faith in ways I’d have never known had I not had to wait.
Tell us about your experience with an agent.
I met my agent Blythe Daniel at the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference. First, I highly recommend attending conferences such as this. You’ll not only gain skills for all aspects of the publishing journey, but you’ll also meet people in the industry and you just never know where that connection will take you
Blythe helped me before we submitted my book proposal to any publishers. She truly wanted me to offer the best product possible. Sometimes I just wanted to be finished with the book proposal and move on to submitting, but in the end, I completely trusted her and knew she was my advocate. I also trusted her knowledge of the industry. That trust factor is important.
The relationship with an agent starts with an initial meeting (possibly at a conference) or phone call to determine if you’re a good fit for one another.
Before committing to an agent, do some homework. Ask her which authors she’s had success with. Then contact some of those authors for feedback. Which publishing houses has she published with? You don’t want to work with an agent who has never had a Bible study published if that’s what you’re trying to publish. Ask her how many clients she works with at a time and how much contact the two of you will have during the process.
Once you decide to work together, that agent should be with you from the very beginning to the very end, as was Blythe.
Tell us about your experience with a traditional publisher.
My publisher Cook Publishers is the right fit for me. Just like with an agent, this correct fit is so important. They understand my heart: teaching the word of God. David C Cook is a non-profit publishing house. Their goal isn’t to make a lot of money, but to make the name of Jesus known. This “lit my fire” so to speak because my goal isn’t to become famous, but to make Jesus famous. Writing a book is great, but the Gospel is greater. I’m thankful to be aligned with a publisher whose heart is committed to teaching others about Jesus.
What surprised you about the publishing journey?
The publishing process seemed simple: I write a book; a publisher would fall in love with it and publish it. I had no idea it could take so long to acquire a contract; nor did I know that a first-time author could receive a multi-book contract. My long wait was blessed with a contract for two books. This frankly blew my mind, and scared me, as I only had an idea for one book. I truly believe this multiple book contract was God’s immeasurably more blessing. Whether your contract is for a single publication or multiple, prepare to wait for the “signing ceremony.” There is a lot of back and forth before the contract is ready for your ink. Contract time is the time when it is very beneficial to have an agent or at the very least an attorney to look out for your rights.
What insight can you offer about publishing now that you have hindsight?
I wanted to have a published book a long time ago, but that didn’t happen when I wanted it to. I was a seasoned speaker, and my desire was to offer a resource my audience could take home with them. I always, always want to point my audience to open up God’s Word on their own.
The lack of publishing made me feel discouraged and rejected. I had to pray and push through so much of that.
What God revealed to me was that I wasn’t ready. My writing wasn’t ready and my ability to prioritize wasn’t ready.
First, I encourage writers to be open to writing experts, such as professional coaches and editors, who will give honest feedback and then teach you how to get better. That means having a teachable heart and not overreacting to critique.
As far as my priorities, God and my personal relationship with Him come first. If this relationship suffers, everything suffers. My family is a close second. I never forget they are part of my ministry. I check everyone’s calendar before I book an event or schedule a writing retreat. I don’t miss my family’s special days or events. My parents, who are aging, are considered when filling in my calendar.
Ministry, in general, is not my life; it a beautiful part of my life. We can’t get sidetracked by trying to “make things” happen. When we put God first, He will make sure that there is time for everything else. Christian writers need to remember that the book is His book. We simply have the privilege to join with Him in writing His story.
What is life like for an author after publishing?
I can only speak for myself. God blessed me immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine. While releasing the first book of my two-book contract, David C. Cook offered me another two-book contract. I’ve been on a hamster wheel of publishing since 2015. I’m continuing to write books, articles, and devotions, but also leave room for professional development. My goal is to become a better writer, so I invite people into my writing world that will help me grow and improve. It’s important to stay teachable.
What is one more tip you’d like for readers to know?
The star of the story is Jesus. We can’t ever lose sight of that. Our goal as Christian authors is to make Him known. Our writing is about His book, not book/publications. It’s kingdom ministry and God invites us to participate. Ministry will complement, not complicate your family. We need to seek Him and wait for the right opportunities, so our ministry doesn’t outgrow the growing of our family.
Wendy Pope lives in North Carolina with her husband Scott. They have two grown children who are following God’s calling for their lives. Wendy writes and speaks for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She the author of Yes, No and Maybe: Living With the God of Immeasurably More and Wait and See: Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Plans. She leads women to live change through her online study, Read Thru the Word, a study of the One Year Chronological Bible.
You can learn more about Wendy and her ministry at www.wendypope.org.