Wednesday, June 24, 2020

3 Things I've learned as a Publisher that Make Me a Better Author by Misty M. Beller

As a full-time writer, I’ve been published by both small and large presses, as well as publishing many of my books myself. For years, I’d been mulling over the idea of starting my own small press, but never felt that peace in my spirit that comes from knowing a decision is God’s will. Then at the beginning of 2018, things began to change. I felt God saying, “Yes. Now.”

By July 31st of that year, I had purchased Serenade Books, an inspirational romance publisher (of both contemporary and historical novels), and began to rebrand the company as Wild Heart Books, with a focus on Christian Historical Romance. CHR is the genre I personally write, what I love to read most, and has the readership I’m already connected with.

Since then, it’s been quite a journey! I’ve met some incredible authors and put in ten times the hours I had expected to (maybe twenty times, I lost count after the first few months), and I’ve seen so many sweet blessings I never expected along the way.

One of the blessings I’ve experienced is a fresh perspective on how I can be a better writer and author with my own work! Here are just a few nuggets I’ve learned:

· Be teachable: Every author should be continuing to grow your writing skills, whether you’re writing your first novel or your fiftieth. A great way to grow significantly is to work with a competent editor. You’ll learn SO MUCH, I promise! But you’ll be able to glean the most growth if you’re careful to consider that editor’s suggestions and teachings with a very open mind and thick rhino skin. That editor is being paid lots of money to give honest feedback that will take your novel to the next level. In addition, they’re approaching your book from the perspective a reader would take, so if something bothers the editor, it will usually bother readers too. (If you don’t want to hear about that issue in reader reviews, fix it in editing.) Embrace their help!

· Be flexible: The publishing process is a constant progression of give and take. Sometimes this give and take involves the schedule: like when you work hard to meet a deadline, only to find out the line editor had a death in their family and will be delayed in their part. So the publisher massages the schedule, pressing a week out of your editing time and moving the formatting in-house so it can be done the very day the manuscript is ready. Sometimes the give and take is in the cover design, going through extra rounds of adjustments to make sure you love your cover AND it’s also a look that will draw readers in your genre. Sometimes the give and take is in editing. I could write an entire blog post about this, but hopefully get the idea!

· Find a creative way to start your novel: (You thought this third point was going to be another “Be _____” didn’t you? J). Many writers today have learned to start their opening scene in a moment of impact for the main character. That is excellent advice, and usually not hard to accomplish. You DO want to start the book with movement, and near enough that first “Door of no return” that will thrust your character into the journey they’ll take through the book. But you also want to make sure that opening scene is fresh, original, and something that will draw your reader into the rest of the story.

Possibly half of the submissions I receive start the first chapter with the main character immediately during or after the death of someone they love. I understand that death can often be what thrusts the protagonist into the story journey, but this type of scene has been done so much as the opening chapter, it’s almost cliché. Also, a scene of mourning isn’t often intriguing for the reader, at least, not enough to pull them into the rest of the story.

See if you can find a unique spin. Or maybe begin the scene in a moment of action before the “big moment” that thrusts the character out of their current state into the story journey. That can be a great way to help the reader meet the character and want to root for them. No matter how you decide to start your story, just make sure you find a creative opening scene and you draw the reader in. 

That’s all for now! I’d love to hear your stories that relate to any of these points! What’s the biggest writing lesson you learned from an edit? When did you have some unexpected give and take in your publishing schedule? Or how did you change your manuscript’s opening scene to make it fresh and intriguing? Do tell!

For years, I’d been mulling over the idea of starting my own small press​... via @MistyMBeller #SeriouslyWrite


Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love. 

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and children now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty's heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God's abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Author Links:   

After losing her husband in the Rocky Mountain wilderness, young widow Joanna Watson is
struggling to make a new home for her five-year-old son, Samuel, in the little mountain town of Settler's Fort. When she returns home from work to find Samuel and the woman watching him missing--and the sheriff dead--she enlists a man she prays has enough experience in this rugged country to help.

Isaac Bowen wants nothing more than a quiet, invisible life in these mountains, far away from the bad decisions of his past. But he has a strong suspicion of who's behind the kidnapping and murder, and if he's right, he knows all too well the evil they're chasing.

As they press on against the elements, Joanna fights to hold on to hope, while Isaac knows a reckoning is coming. They find encouragement in the tentative trust that grows between them, but whether it can withstand the danger and coming confrontation is far from certain in this wild, unpredictable land.