Friday, May 11, 2018

Rocky Road to Publication by Terri Wangard

Terri Wangard

If you’ve ever met with an agent or editor at a conference, you’ll probably relate to author Terri Wangard’s experiences. If you haven’t pitched a manuscript yet, but plan to in the future, what she shares will help you prepare. Believe me, many of us have had similar encounters—some humorous—some not so much. ~ Dawn

Rocky Road to Publication

One frequently asked question on guest blog interviews is, what advice would you give new writers? My usual answer is patience. Landing a contract can take years.

Guests visiting our local writers group ask about finding an agent or editor. They have the idea that all they need to do is ask an agent for representation, and they’re on their way. I understand the feeling.

My first ACFW national conference removed such thoughts. I had one agent interview and one editor. The agent arrived five minutes late. She glanced over my sample chapters and told me it wasn’t something she was interested in representing. The editor interview was worse. My mind went completely blank. I couldn’t remember anything about my story. Reading from the one-sheet clutched in my lap surely didn’t make a good impression.

My next two agent interviews went well enough in subsequent years. I submitted my proposal and they declined. Another agent gave me hope. She made extensive notes as we talked. At the end of our fifteen minutes, though, she shocked me by saying she represented enough historical authors and was only interested in acquiring contemporary. This despite having historicals listed in what she was looking for in her conference blurb.

For an editor appointment, I carefully read the editor’s bio to find common ground for conversation. She probably felt like she was being stalked. Don’t try to be too friendly.

Not everyone replies to submissions. I’d hosted one editor’s workshop, so we had a nodding acquaintance before our interview. He seemed interested and encouraging. I never heard from him. Not even when I sent him an inquiry, asking if he’d received my material, after another editor showed interest.

The strangest interview was when the editor didn’t ask me anything. I tried to keep a conversation going, albeit one-sided, telling about my current story and what I’d already done. Finally, I asked if she wanted to ask me anything. No. She did give me her card to submit a proposal, but I never heard anything.

One editor talked with me for several minutes before asking me about my story. After I described how it was influenced by family history, she commented that was the first time I showed enthusiasm. I was so nervous, I came across as stiff and uncaring. Relax! They may reject you, but they won’t bite.

In 2015, I submitted my manuscript to a small publisher, and it was accepted! I was on my way, for a little while. The first two books of my WWII series were published in 2016, but one month before the third would release, the publisher closed down. After the initial shock, I signed with another small press that brought back my two books and published my next two.

So, when I’m asked about advice for new writers, I definitely recommend patience. And persistence. And develop a tough skin. 

Frank Swanson has plans. He has good job prospects, maybe even broadcasting in Hollywood. He has a beautiful wife. The war is an interruption to a good life he’s eager to get back to.

Lily Swanson longs to be a mother. Soon Frank should be home for good and they can furnish a nursery. Maybe even find a bigger house.

Joe Gallagher grew up in a small house with plenty of siblings. He loves the solitude of flying, but the war has dragged on for so long. He’s ready to go home.

Susan Talbot has a bad attitude. She’s estranged from her family and she doesn’t attract friends. But war can bring out the best in people and Susan’s surprised to realize she’s happy.

They all do their part in striving for victory in World War II. Sometimes, though, the danger can be hard to identify.

Terri Wangard grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. Her first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction and has won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her busy as an associate editor.

Connect with Terri:
Author Website:  
Twitter: @terriwangard