Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Looking Forward to a New Adventure by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

From the moment I finally got a publishing contract, after nine and a half years and over two hundred rejection letters, I wanted to help other writers achieve their dream. I started by teaching classes, even though I’m an introvert. My least favorite thing to do is be the center of attention or get up in front of people. Especially if I have to say something. But writing changed all that. I had this burning need to share what I’d learned, what it takes to get published, and to help others learn from the mistakes I’d made along the way.

At first, I spoke at writing groups, then at conferences. First in Arkansas, my home state and then surrounding states. I hit my stride and didn’t even battle nerves after a while. Then I got an opportunity to do paid critiques at conferences where unpublished writers e-mail me a few chapters. I’d critique their work, then meet at the conference and point out mistakes, show how to fix them, and encourage by pointing out what they’d done right.

Several times over the years, I’ve thought I’d enjoy being an editor. Besides studying countless craft books and attending numerous conferences, I’ve learned the editing process through eighteen published books by working with a variety of editors. Each one taught me invaluable lessons. But publishers pretty much won’t hire an editor, unless they’ve got a degree. I’d never have the time for that, so I kept teaching and critiquing instead.

I met Linda Fulkerson at a local American Christian Fiction Writers group meeting. After meeting once, she asked if I wanted to go to the ACFW conference in Minneapolis. Even though I’d been married for a long time and was in my mid-forties, my dad said I couldn’t just take off with someone I barely knew. I explained that’s what Christian writers do, but he still had to meet her. He let me, so I guess she passed the test.

Over the years, Linda and I have been traveling buddies to countless writers groups, retreats, and conferences. We live about an hour and twenty minutes away from each other in North Central Arkansas, but are complete opposites. I love to write, Linda loves to plot. I’m technology challenged, Linda is a techie geek. As a former newspaper editor, she’s great with grammar, graphics, computer programs, and business. I’m creative. She loves to drive, I love being a passenger. She’s an ex-Marine, I’m an ex-hairdresser. You get the picture.

In April, Linda called and told me the owners of Mantle Rock Publishing, a small press, wanted to sell their company and retire. Linda was interested in buying it and asked me to go into a partnership with her as the acquisitions/content editor. It immediately sounded fun and like something I’d enjoy. I talked it over with my husband, prayed about it, and accepted.

Linda and I traveled to Kentucky in early May to meet with Jerry and Kathy Cretsinger to buy the company and sign the papers. I took the rest of May and most of June to tie up my writing commitments and polish my proposal for a new series I submitted to Love Inspired. I’m currently making time to take an online course to be a certified editor. The newly christened, Scrivenings Press officially launches July 1st.

I’ve learned some things already, about managing my time, and how to work with authors. Since I’ve been on the other side of editorial revisions, I remember how overwhelmed I felt with those first few books. Instead of dumping all of my revisions on my author at once, I’ve e-mailed the debut author I’m currently editing with things I want her to study, hopefully preparing her, so she won’t feel so overwhelmed.

The one thing I dread is sending out rejections. I’ve been there, I know how they hurt, and remember wanting a solid reason for the rejection. Something I could work on and fix. So I plan to explain why I rejected the manuscript, point out things the writer needs to work on, and recommend writing craft books that will help them.

In our pursuit to help writers and authors, Linda and I are each planning to publish a writing craft book in December. Both books are based on classes we teach. Hers is marketing, while mine is based on lessons I learned from my editors along with repeated mistakes I see from authors I’ve critiqued over the years with advice on fixing each error.

I see all of this as a way to help unpublished writers and newbie authors improve their craft while getting excellent clean and/or Christian books into readers hands. Let the adventure begin.

Several times over the years, I’ve thought I’d enjoy being an editor. via @stvauthor #SeriouslyWrite


Shannon Taylor Vannatter is an award-winning, traditionally multi-published author. She is known for giving thorough manuscript critiques at conferences and is highly sought-after. Throughout Shannon’s writing career, she has worked with multiple editors, publishing companies, and agents. Her role in Scrivenings Press will be acquisitions/content editor and author career development. She is currently undergoing the process of becoming a credentialed editor through the Christian PEN Institute.