My Impossible Journey
By Lisa LickelWeb: http://www.lisalickel.comIn 2007, four years after I started writing professionally, things seemed to be falling into place for a long and happy writing career. I’d signed with an agent, signed two contracts for novels, been published nationally in my church magazine and Writer’s Digest, as well as locally doing front-page features for the decent-circulation newspapers.
Not only had I signed with Barbour publishing and had my first mystery published in 2009, but had the promise of publishing the second book in the series. Many of the authors in Barbour’s mystery writers club had published with a small publisher, and when that same house accepted my manuscript, Healing Grace, the second book I wrote, I was thrilled. The publisher had a very strict-sounding policy of how to make your book look perfect, so I wasn’t worried about anything.
I was naive. I blithely walked right off the edge of the publication path. The Barbour mystery book club folded, my second contract went up in smoke, and Healing Grace came out with so many typos I was too embarrassed to market it. Not that I knew much about marketing anyway. I took the next three years attempting to figure out what makes books sell. By the time I’d tried to work with another agent and pitched my work all over the place, I decided to stick with independent publishers and signed with an up and coming Canadian publisher, MuseItUp. My writing partner, Shellie Neumeier, had a book with them, and it looked great. Muse picked up the mysteries and we’re doing okay. I had the rights for Healing Grace back and submitted it. The acquisitions team recommended against accepting it.
In the same death sentence, however, the publisher offered me an opportunity: Lea believed in me and the book. I was not blasé about accepting this challenge. I knew there were things that could have been better—I believe I have learned a lot since I wrote the book in 2004, and I believed in the editing team that had done such great things with the first two books. I was glad to have the chance to bring Healing Grace, a favorite story, back to life.
Here’s what I learned.
1. Never assume.
Just because Healing Grace had been published, I shouldn’t have simply thought another publisher would jump at it. I was glad to be given reasons why it should never have been published in the first place, and a chance to make it better.
I’ve learned a lot in nine years. It’s time to apply that knowledge, but also to accept guidance. Take every opportunity to challenge yourself.
3. Rely on experts.
Muse uses three layers of editing before a book goes to publication. I love my team and trust them, but I still had to know what the acquisitions team didn’t like about the story. When Greta got in touch with them, we were able to work on those issues and make a stronger story.
4. Promote early.
I learned that just because I wrote it, readers do not know about my book unless I tell them. I called several reviewers ahead of time to get some reviews ready and start talking it up to a new audience.
5. Slow and steady.
Although I have my reviewers lined up ahead of time, I’ve learned that one blast of promotion for a book on the release date flutters and dies if the author doesn’t get some discussion going. Keep fanning the flames. Line up promotion spots for six months at least. Schedule immediate press releases, then more interviews and spots and signings spread out. Use the opportunities to mention other work.
Back Cover Copy of Healing Grace:
Grace has a secret. Just like her aunt, and her Tennessee grandmother before her, she can heal with a touch. Often the gift comes with a physical price, but one she’s willing to pay—until her husband developed a fatal cancer.
How much, then, was Grace willing to sacrifice? When she couldn’t help him, she runs from God and friends—straight into the life of another terminally ill man.
Ted Marshall, whose young son Eddy reminds Grace of everything she lost, has a mysterious illness. Can she redeem her soul by helping this man? Finding new friends and trying to fit in to a small, established, fruit-growing community in Michigan provides enough strife. When Ted’s suspicious brother, Randy, attempts to trace Grace’s past, what will he find? More than a tragic figure whose parents and child were killed in an accident and whose husband died a few years later?
Randy’s son is hurt in a summertime accident. Can Grace keep her secret and still help the young man? Ted’s ex-wife stirs up the community with her accusations, and Grace discovers who are her real friends. Her new boss lets her know he feels more than professional admiration for her. Can she return his feelings, or will her emotional attachment to Ted win out?
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