|C. Kevin Thompson|
After my incident with the unscrupulous agent (Part 1 of my story) and my aversion to Christian writers conferences and fledgling, self-publishing houses (Part 2 of my story), I realized I still had to keep writing (Part 3 of my story). I also decided to give one of those “Christian Writers Conferences” a try (Part 4).
In the months, weeks, and days leading up to the writer’s conference, I remember looking over the brochure that came in the mail. I must have perused it seemingly a thousand times, checking out authors, agents, and companies on the internet, trying to find out information about each one. I also prayed and asked God to guide me. Some of the people and companies I had heard of, many I had not. I did not want to get bamboozled again by a scoundrel.
There was one, however, to which God kept pointing me. I spent several hours on that website wondering if this company would be a good match.
During the evening meal on the first day of the conference, I walked into the dining hall to get in line and saw the table with the company’s placard setting on it. The table had some people's belongings on it. I made a mental note and thought that if the table wasn’t full, I’d sit there. Sure enough, there was room…right next to the editor.
I went through the typical pleasantries and sat down only to find that editors are people, too. They have families both large and small. They face challenges that make them human. They experience joys and hurts of body and soul. Many have laudable accomplishments, lofty expectations, and enough disappointments to fill an entire world within the expanding universe we call publishing.
During the next few meals, we connected, talking about family and the physical challenges members had faced. And of course, this editor asked me about my writing. When I informed her that I had a science thriller finished and ready to present, she was very interested, asking me questions about it. So, right there, at the very table God had flagged down for me days prior with the help of the brochure, an opportunity was born. By the time the meal concluded, I had a business card, instructions on how to email the manuscript to her, and an assurance that there was high interest in my work because of the subject matter.
Once the conference was over, I did a re-edit and submitted the manuscript as instructed. (We'll call that publisher "Pub #1.")
Then, the wait began.
Now, before I ever attended the conference, I had “submitted” my work to another publisher who was interested (we’ll call them “Pub #2”). Before I submitted the manuscript, however, Pub #2 told me about a contest they were sponsoring that I might be interested in joining. It was a new concept being tried wherein contestants were asked to write the following about their novel:
- A one sentence synopsis (20 words or less)
- A Blurb (100-words or less) or Back Cover Copy
- A one page synopsis
- The first page of the novel
In a series of “elimination rounds” (think American Idol meets Writer’s Digest), readers could view these entries and vote for their favorites. The first round was purely based on the one sentence synopsis. If I remember, they could vote for their top three.
The entries were then whittled down from everybody who entered to the top 30 or so vote-getters (I really don't remember how many were left). Round 2 revealed the Blurb. Voting would commence again and narrow the field of contestants down to 20 or so. Then Round 3 revealed the one-page synopsis, etc., until the final round narrowed the contestants down to the top three vote-getters. Those three would then receive the prize of getting a priority “read” by the publisher to consider their work for publication, i.e., their works would go to the head of the class.
I finished 17th.
I have to admit I was discouraged. I thought that if someone would just read the novel and not just what I wrote about it, they’d love it. However, I learned a very valuable lesson through that entire process. If a person picks up your book off a shelf or clicks on it via the internet, it is largely based on:
- Whether or not your book cover caught their eye
- Whether or not your synopsis grabbed them
- Whether or not your back cover copy intrigued them
It is not until AFTER they have reviewed those things do they then open the book and read the first page or two (unless they have already been sold by the word of mouth of friends and acquaintances, which by the way, means someone else liked the cover, found the back cover copy intriguing, and was willing to read the first couple of pages).
In other words, you cannot escape the need for good covers, a good synopsis, or a great BCC. And of course, the story has to be good, too! (How many books have you picked up and thought, Wow! I'd love to read this! So you buy it, only to find the synopsis, the BCC, and the book cover were the best parts?)
After the contest was over, Pub #2 did contact me some months later and request my manuscript, stating that my query letter and other submitted items made my submission one of the more promising ones they had received in a while. That was encouraging.
There were two other publishers interested in my novel as well. One was from the writer’s conference, a result of making an appointment and pitching my work. That one was a pretty big publishing house. Just to have them give my manuscript a sniff was an honor and encouraging. The other house I heard about through a series of discussions with some friends online. I sent them the items requested based on their instructions. They felt the project was too big for them, which was understandable. It was a newer press. Again, I was encouraged; someone thought it worthy of a look-see.
I told other conferees I had two requests for my work via the conference and the two others from outside the conference. I was just plain excited and couldn't contain myself. Being a newbie, I was really excited, actually. My writer friends informed me this was a little unheard of. I guess not too many people get that many requests their first go ‘round at a conference for their first novel.
Pub #1 eventually contacted me and said they were interested in sending me a contract. So, after much prayer, I agreed to sign with Pub #1 and notified Pub #2 of my decision, as they were still mulling it over.
Moral of the Part 5: Follow God’s lead. His paths are not our paths; His ways are not our ways. Follow His Holy Spirit’s nudging. That’s how I sat down at that table for dinner. I simply felt a pull. A nudge. I’m glad He didn’t have to shove or yank. I had never heard of Pub #1 until I received the brochure, and still didn’t know anything about them until I researched them online. And even then, I still didn’t know they would be the one. I actually thought it would be Pub #2 or another publisher who, as it turned out, never even gave me the time of day.
Just shows how much I know.
A Clandestine Mission.
A Cryptic Message.
A Chaste Promise.
Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction—a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy his grandchildren some day.
But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in a London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of a vindictive, international scheme so hellish and horrific, it will take everything Blake possesses—all of it—to save the United States from the most diabolical terrorist attack to date.
C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years experience as an administrator at the high school level.
A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge—A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.
Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog: www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com
Kevin’s Educational Blog: www.thehelpfuleducator.blogspot.com
Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
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