To Blog or Not to Blog?

A Brave Blogger Interview with Greg Hurley

Many beginning writers believe the writing process requires great confidence and unfaltering courage. I’ve learned the writer’s journey requires the ability to admit we’re not brave or altogether perfect.

As Christian writers, we fare well if we possess the wisdom to ask God for the strength and discipline needed to buckle down and type the words He gives us. Of course, we may have to erase them, type them again, and repeat until we convince ourselves to click save and post.

This week, it’s my privilege to introduce one of the bravest bloggers in this series. Greg Hurley, founder of Hurley Wealth Management Group, is a new writer who recently took that first leap of faith.

Greg serves as a speaker who encourages others to align faithful stewardship with financial management. He answered ‘yes’ to God’s nudging to dig deeper into the Bible. He answered ‘yes’ to following God’s leading from Los Angeles to San Francisco. And he answered ‘yes’ when God led him into the blogosphere.

Please help me welcome Greg to celebrate what God has been doing as he writes from the heart on his first blog, “Calendar, Cash, and Calling,” launched in September, 2016.

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Congratulations, Greg. Please tell us what led you to start your blog?

I dream of a different Bay Area, one where Jesus Christ is reigning as King over everyone and everything, as soon as possible. I started the blog to encourage Bay Area Christians to live as God intended in the areas of calendar, cash and calling—three areas I think we all tend to get stuck in. Why? So the other 97% will know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and live as God intended. This is what I think about most, and what drives my decisions.

 

What steps did you take to prepare for launching your blog?

I got advice from wise mentors, who happen to be bloggers themselves. I journaled, dreamed, prayed, and focused on knowing God more and more (not in that order). With my mentor’s help, I realized I did, and still do, have an arrogance problem. I asked for accountability and started learning more and more about what the Bible said about that subject.

Realizing how debilitating pride can be helped me along this path. I have a long way to go but I have come a long way through the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, the truths of God’s word, others praying for me, and with the support of my wonderful wife Nicole who has been so patient over the last 16 years.

 

What were the biggest obstacles you faced when you made the decision to share through this medium?

Confusion, fear, perfectionism, and making sure my wife and I were united in this decision fully.

 

How did God help you work through those challenges?

God sent me Nicole for numerous reasons, but one I know for sure. He uses her to help me accomplish what He created me to do. She’s one of the smartest people I have ever met. She’s not afraid to share her opinion with me, which can drive me nuts but is totally necessary if I am to become all that God created me to be. My wife also played a key role in helping me find the best writing coach.

 

Please share some of the greatest rewards you’ve experienced through your blogging adventures.

It’s most rewarding to be able to share what God has put on my heart and see people encouraged through the pain I have gone through. Being able to give talks that relate to my blog topics has been awesome. I’ve been able to interact with people face to face, answering some of their questions and hearing feedback on how my talks have helped them to think differently. It’s rewarding to see people’s lives changed, as they draw closer to this Awesome God we serve and begin to live out their purpose.

 

How often do you post new content and what can get in the way of your commitment to maintain this consistent blogging schedule?

I post once a week, usually midweek. I also share a Friday Inspiration quote. Balancing my schedule to include family, work, and the organizations I am very passionate about has been challenging. But with Nicole’s support, it has been okay.

 

How do you prepare for those distractions?

Just finishing my MBA in May of this year, I have been able to learn to do a lot of work in a short amount of time. Sometimes the work pressures can be intense, but then I go back to the promises of God’s Word, and know that God can do the impossible and surely get me through a time crunch I may be facing.

 

What have you done to expand your readership?

I have mostly been focusing on content and direction for the blog. I am trying to direct most of my efforts to creating great, concise, blog posts. I worked with my writing coach and my design consultant to create 30 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude During the Holidays, a free PDF giveaway. This project was meant to help me during my Christmas time grumpiness, but will hopefully help others and lead to new subscribers.

 

How do you prevent being overly concerned with the number of subscribers, likes, or comments on your blog posts on your website or through social media?

I believe God owns the blog. He is going to bring who He wants to read the content. I try and understand what part I am supposed to play and leave God’s parts to Him. I am trying to be patient and know that it takes time to build a platform, especially in a place like the busy Bay Area. I believe in the message He has put on my heart. I believe He wants that message to get out, in His timing.

 

What’s the most important thing God has taught you about using the voice He’s given you through your blog?

To be humble and to watch my tone in my writing.

 

What final word of encouragement would you like to share with writers who are hesitant about taking that first brave step into the blogging world?

Know God more. Wait on His timing. Enjoy the process. Have fun. Dream big.

 

Thanks for inspiring us, Greg. 

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You can connect with Greg by visiting or subscribing toCalendar, Cash, and Calling.” You can also like his Facebook Author Page or follow him on Twitter. Greg will be available for questions, and would be blessed by your encouragement, in the comment section under this blog post.

 


Xochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. Married to her best friend since 1994, she enjoys being a wife and mom, traveling, photography, and sharing God’s Word through FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn, and her blog.

 

When Good Blog Posts Go Viral

A Brave Bloggers Interview with Jami Amerine

Platform. Platform. Build your platform!

As writers provide quality content, nurture community, and meet readers’ needs, their platform grows. This process requires time, effort, consistency, and patience. But sometimes, as Jami Amerine learned, a message shared through a personal blog touches the hearts of readers, gets shared until that good post goes viral, and expands the writer’s reach unexpectedly and quickly.

Though Jami entered the blogosphere reluctantly in March 2015, she faithfully encourages readers with courageous transparency, authenticity, wit, and wisdom from the trenches of life. One heart-felt rant posted on her blog, Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, whisked her into an instant platform and changed the course of her writing journey.

After “An Open Letter to My Children: You’re Not That Great” went viral, Jami gained an agent’s representation and signed a two-book contract with Harvest House. Stolen Jesus: An Unconventional Search for The Real Savior, her debut book, is scheduled to be released on October 1, 2017.

Please help me welcome Jami, as she encourages fellow writers and shares her adventures since entering the blogosphere at top speed.

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Congratulations on your upcoming book and the exciting things God is doing in and through Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, Jami. Please share how God blessed you with an “instant platform” through your blog.

Thank you, Xochitl. Honestly, I had given up on publishing the minute I learned about platform. It seemed daunting and unrealistic to me. Who am I? Just a mom. I wasn’t even a “writer.” After attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I left convinced I would never be published but that it was fun to write. A few writers convinced me to blog. I admit now, I believe myself a needle in the haystack. I was okay with this. Maybe the greatest act of faith is oblivion and relinquishment. I expected nothing. When I posted “An Open Letter to My Children: You’re Not That Great,” I had 69 loyal readers. Two days later I had 690,000.

 

What was your initial response to that first viral post?

I was in shock, undone, and humiliated. I was harshly irritated when I wrote the article and had posted it with misspelled words, from my phone while at a dance recital. I couldn’t believe the response, or face the comments. I was receiving death threats and accolades. I wrote a response, “Then a Riot Broke Out in Target,” and my numbers skyrocketed.

 

What challenges did you face after that good blog post went viral?

My newfound audience wanted more and I didn’t know what to say next. My agent encouraged me to sign up for Write 31 Days, a blogger challenge for the entire month of October. The night before, I still hadn’t chosen my topic. I was crying in my bathroom, reading another venomous comment, and it came to me like manna from heaven: “Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying.” The viral status went over the million read mark within the first three days of October.

 

You encourage writers to build their platform and increase opportunities for posts to go viral by participating in syndication. Please explain the concept of syndication and share your top tips for bloggers as they explore this option.

Syndication is when an online magazine publishes your material and links back to your site. They usually only pay for unpublished works. Currently, I rarely syndicate because I have a good following.

 

I appreciate your genuine relationships with your blog readers. How do you nurture those connections with such a large following that seems to be continually growing quickly?

I just comment. I love them. I care what they say and what they are going through. As my numbers increase, I have one fear: I don’t want to lose touch with any of them. Readers email me and send me private messages. They ask for prayers or pray for me. I feel like they’re my real life friends. I confess this to God: Let me stay grounded in this, and please afford me the time and resources to be with these readers.

 

Through authentic encouragement, you continue to establish great network connections with other writers who share your target audience. How does connecting with and supporting other writers better your blogging experience and expand your reach?

Well, I was very convicted of “greed” with my platform. This was laughable, so I decided to share all of my tricks.

The greatest message I like to convey to “Jesus Bloggers” is you don’t have to look behind you.  Your message and words are different from the other guy. Trust God with your platform. Share what you know generously. He didn’t bless you with the gift of words to stress you out. He moves how He moves and saves how He saves. If your words meant eternity for JUST ONE… would you be satisfied?

 

What has been the greatest reward you’ve experienced through the whirlwind growth of Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors?

Freedom in Jesus Christ. I didn’t even know what I was saying, until I started saying it out loud. He is a good Father. He loves me. He died for me. I was “saved,” but I didn’t believe in my salvation until He started unfolding the story of Stolen Jesus. All the bad theology, all the misinterpreted emotions, hurts, hardships and joy have brought me to a place where He trusts me to shout GLORY and know what the heck I am talking about. I can’t believe what He is doing. I can’t believe what He has done. I am sad I lost so much time fearing Him and bathing in condemnation, but I wouldn’t change it–if it was only for one reader to stop and look at who Jesus is… I am truly blessed.

 

What final word of encouragement would you like to share with writers who are navigating through the blogosphere?

Keep writing. Trust Him to move your words. The reality is I gave up, in my weakness, but people stopped and read some of the harshest words I have ever written. God can do whatever He wants whenever He wants. Every time you start to wonder, ask Him, “How can I bring you glory?” Sit back and let Him be God. He is really good at it.

Thanks for inspiring us, Jami. I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store for you as you continue to honor Him and minister to readers through and beyond Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors.

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To connect with Jami, you can receive email notifications by subscribing to her blog, Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, join the community on her Facebook Author Page, and follow her on Twitter. You can also support her newest adventure, The Easy Wife, a Grace Podcast she launched with her sister, Stacey Todd in December 2016.

Jami will be joining us in the comment section of this post to answer questions as she continues to inspire us to use our God-given voices through blogging.

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Xochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. Married to her best friend since 1994, she enjoys being a wife and mom, traveling, photography, and sharing God’s Word through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and her blog.

 

Building a Fiction World through Your Blog

A Brave Blogger Interview with Sarah Sundin

sarah-sundin-author-photo-nov-2016Novelists strive to draw readers into their characters’ worlds, tirelessly crafting scenes to develop realistic settings within the limits of one novel or a series of books. There are some, though, who enrich their readers’ experience by inviting them deeper into the history of the settings in which their characters’ stories unfold.

Sarah Sundin welcomes readers to meet her characters in the World War II era she’s introduced through her three historical fiction series: Waves of Freedom, Wings of Nightingale, and Wings of Glory. Sarah’s unique approach to blogging taps into the heart of her family’s personal experiences and treats readers with her intriguing “Today in World War II History” facts.

Please help me welcome Sarah Sundin as she celebrates her latest historical fiction series, Waves of Freedom, and shares more about how she expands her characters’ world by building their real world settings through her blog.

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sarah-sundin-book-cover-anchor-in-the-stormCongratulations on the completion of your third World War II era series, Sarah. Would you share a teaser for Anchor in the Storm, which was released in May 2016? No spoilers, please.

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. She loves the wartime challenges of her new job but spurns the attention of society boy Ens. Archer Vandenberg. As Arch’s destroyer battles U-boats along the East Coast, Lillian uncovers a black market drug ring. Arch and Lillian work together on the investigation, but can he ever earn her trust and affection?

 

How and why did you decide to use your blog to enrich the setting of your novels by presenting historical facts through your daily posts?

While researching my novels, I’d started a timeline document to keep facts and dates straight. Before my first novel released in 2010, I decided to start posting Today in World War II History tidbits on my blog, then sharing them on social media. I never dreamed how many people would enjoy them!

I also post occasional articles on WWII topics. I’ve found the articles with the broadest appeal have to do with Home Front topics, like rationing. I look for topics in my novels that pique interest and explore them through blogging. For example, the heroine in Anchor in the Storm is a pharmacist, so I ran a series about pharmacy in World War II, and the hero serves on a destroyer, so I posted pictures of my tours of WWII destroyers.

I also enjoy writing posts around important dates, such as D-Day and V-E Day. For the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I’m running a series from December 5-9 with photographs from my recent visit to Pearl Harbor—plus I’ll be giving away some commemorative items I purchased there.

In general, I like to write articles that provide extra value for those who have read my novels—and might draw new readers as well.

 

I’ve heard fiction writers voicing their struggles with choosing relevant blog topics or themes to support their novels. How would you advise novelists, as they seek to determine a topic or theme for their blogs?

Finding topics that resonate with current readers and attract new ones requires creativity and trial-and-error. Look at theme, setting, time period, and characters for ideas. What makes you and your novels unique? You may have blog topics.

Also, think about frequency. Most true bloggers like to post weekly, even more often. While this does increase blog readership, it might not increase book readership—and it can steal valuable time from novel writing. Personally, I prefer to target my posts around a book release or around special dates.

 

sarah-sundin-book-cover-through-waters-deepWhat are your top tips for writers who are considering presenting historical facts through blogging?

Select topics that would appeal to your target readers—or attract them. Do your research and be careful to be accurate—I’ve had students use my blog posts for research. Also, be careful to check copyright information on photographs. Many historical images are public domain, but not all.

 

How has your blogging approach expanded your readership in ways you didn’t expect?

Some of the articles I’ve written, especially on rationing during the war, continue to draw hits through Google searches years after they were written. I’ve received quite a few emails from people who have discovered my novels through these articles. Definitely worth the time. Also, the Today in History posts are fairly popular on social media and increase interest in the WWII era, which—I hope—also increases interest in WWII novels.

 

What was your most rewarding experience with a reader through your unique blogging approach?

My favorite experiences have been when readers share their own stories with me, either their personal stories or family stories. I’ve heard some of the most amazing memories—funny, fascinating, heartbreaking, inspiring. Those stories remind me why I write.

 

What was your most challenging obstacle you’ve overcome as you began building your characters’ worlds through your blog?

The greatest obstacle has been time. Writing a thorough, well-researched article—even for a topic I know well—can take hours.

 

sarah-sundin-book-cover-when-tides-turnPlease share a final word of encouragement for novelists who are considering expanding their novels’ settings by building a more complex world through their blog.

Blogs are a wonderful place to “dump” all that lovely research you can’t put into your novel. By exploring your time period or setting in greater detail on your blog, you can expand your readers’ experiences and allow them to immerse themselves in that world for a while longer.

 

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Thanks for giving us a peek into the World War II era, through your novels and your blog, Sarah. I’m looking forward to the March 2017 release of your next novel in the Waves of Freedom series, When Tides Turn.

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To see Sarah’s photographs in honor the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and to enter for a chance to win some commemorative items that she purchased during her recent visit to Pearl Harbor, please visit her blog on or before December 9, 2016.

You can also connect with Sarah through her Facebook Author page, Twitter, and through the comment section below. Sarah will be dropping in to answer questions and encourage Inspire blog readers today (December 8, 2016).


Author Photo 2016 - INSPIRE ThumbnailXochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. Married to her best friend since 1994, she enjoys sharing God’s Word to the ends of the earth, being a mom, traveling, and photography.

How to Write for Chicken Soup for the Soul

An Author Interview with Heidi Gaul

heidi-gaul-author-photo-2016Chicken Soup for the Soul has been sharing inspirational and motivational stories for over twenty years. More than 250 compilations have been translated into 43 languages, with over 110 million books sold in the US and Canada and over 500 million sold worldwide.

With about a dozen new titles being added to their list yearly, the Chicken Soup team welcomes writers to submit their stories or poems. They’re open to unsolicited submissions and have recently extended deadlines for a few of their upcoming compilations.

Though Heidi Gaul is not an employee or an official representative of Chicken Soup for the Soul, she has had eight stories published in different themed Chicken Soup books. Her work has also been published in The Upper Room and will be included in Every Day with Jesus, a Guidepost devotional book scheduled for release in 2017.

Please help me welcome Heidi as she shares personal tips that could help writers improve their chances of having their stories accepted for publication in future Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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Thanks for joining us, Heidi. In which Chicken Soup for the Soul books have your stories been published?

heidi-gaul-finding-my-faith-chicken-soup-book-coverMy stories are included in Finding My Faith, Angels Among Us, Touched By An Angel, Dreams and Premonitions, The Cat Did What?, My Very Good, Very Bad Cat, I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That!, and Thanks To My Mom. My favorites would have to be Finding My Faith and Thanks to My Mom.

 

What elements make stories or poems a good fit for Chicken Soup for the Soul?

Every story published by Chicken Soup for the Soul editors must be true, and must involve the writer, as opposed to being a story retold through the writer. Chicken Soup stories should relate one event or occurrence in a way that will draw in the reader, making them laugh, cry, or even get chills. The reader needs to not only feel empathy for the characters in the story, they need to trust the writer enough to feel themselves a part of the story.

 

How can writers benefit from submitting to compilation books like Chicken Soup for the Soul?

Because Chicken Soup for the Soul has such a large audience, it offers vast name recognition for its writers. With so many stories being submitted for every title, being included in the 101 stories they finally select is an honor. Plus, it’s a great avenue for inviting others to visit your website.

 

How can writers prepare themselves for submitting to a Chicken Soup book?

It’s critical to follow the guidelines. I usually print a copy of the specific story angles they’re searching for, and keep it handy, mulling over the key points for a few days. I want to understand the audience the editors are targeting, and submit a story that fits. We all have plenty of memories, but they might not align with the editor’s needs. If that’s the case, no matter how well the story is written, it won’t be accepted.

 

Please share your top tips for writers who want to become a part of the Chicken Soup family.

(1) Begin your piece with an action or some dialogue to set the pace.

(2) Don’t be afraid to offer as much of yourself onto the page as possible. Twelve hundred words are all you have to enrich the reader’s day. Make each word count.

(3) Take advantage of sensory detail to ground the scene.

(4) Write your first draft, then edit like crazy. Check every adjective and adverb, and if they aren’t important to the story’s tone, pull them.

The writing has to be clean—professionalism needs to be evident through tight word usage as well as your ability to take your readers to an emotional place you’ve created for them.

 

heidi-gaul-chicken-soup-thanks-to-my-mom-book-coverWhat should writers consider when submitting devotions, stories, or poems with Christian elements?

Chicken Soup for the Soul is not specifically a Christian publication, but more of a bridge. The books focus on an optimistic, healing perspective. When my Christian viewpoint is vital to a story, or a quote made by a Christian luminary strengthens it, I include it. But inserting a sermon or sharing a preachy message that doesn’t tie in will guarantee rejection.

And by the way, those pithy quotes prefacing each story? They are selected by the editors—the author merely okays them.

 

What can writers expect after they submit to Chicken Soup for the Soul?

I always tell people that they won’t hear from Chicken Soup until they’ve forgotten they even submitted. And sadly, if your story isn’t one that’s chosen, Chicken Soup won’t notify you at all, due to the number of submissions they receive.

 

What happens after Chicken Soup for the Soul accepts your story for publication?

First, you’ll be notified if your work is under consideration, and again later if it is accepted into the final line-up. If your story is chosen, you’ll be paid in a timely fashion and will be given several copies of the book that includes your story. In addition, you’ll receive a periodic newsletter from them—Chicken Soup for the Soul makes you feel like part of a family.

 

What do you consider the most difficult part of the submission process?

Pressing “submit.” And the second hardest part would be concentrating your story to a size fitting the guidelines while maintaining enough emotional swing.

 

heidi-gaul-chicken-soup-very-good-very-bad-cat-book-coverWhat is the most rewarding part of being a member of the Chicken Soup family?

Knowing one made the cut into a top-notch, wholesome line of anthologies—it’s not easy. Another blessing is when readers contact you, praising your story, and you know you touched their heart. That’s a wonderful connection.

 

What are some creative ways writers can share their books with readers after their work is published in a Chicken Soup book?

Chicken Soup provides each author with so many free books, I often sell the surplus. I’ve enjoyed success with marketing at writer’s conferences, online through social media, and at privately owned book stores. I love to do giveaways, and my readers have fun signing up for my newsletter in order to participate in them. (Spoiler Alert: There will be a giveaway announcement at the end of this interview!)

 

What final words of encouragement would you like to offer writers as they consider writing and submitting to this prestigious publication?

(1) The strength of a publisher like Chicken Soup for the Soul is great, and deserves respect. Many companies don’t reflect the light as well as they do.

(2) Your gift of writing is one of the most powerful means available for spreading the Word, and when finessed with subtlety and skill it will reach many.

(3) If you don’t already see your reader as a loved one with whom you’re sharing a life event, think again. They are counting on you to enrich their day—warming their hearts, bringing a smile to their face or a tear to their eye. So, what are you waiting for?

 

heidi-gaul-chicken-soup-book-coverThank you for sharing your insight with the Inspire family, Heidi. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the giveaway opportunity you mentioned.

Thank you for inviting me. It’s been a lot of fun!

Although I’ll be interacting with readers in the comment section of this blog post, I’d like to invite you to visit my website. Look around. Sign up for my quarterly newsletter, if you’d like. I do a drawing for a free Chicken Soup book with every 25 new names.

 

I’m on my way to sign up now, Heidi.

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To encourage Heidi or ask her more questions about submitting to Chicken Soup for the Soul, please leave a comment below. You can also connect with her on her website and through her Facebook Author Page, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Click HERE to check out the current themes and submission deadlines for upcoming Chicken Soup books, to carefully review the guidelines, and to submit your story.

Please let us know if you submit a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul and if your story has been selected for publication in a Chicken Soup book. We’re looking forward to celebrating with you.

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Author Photo 2016 - INSPIRE ThumbnailXochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. She’s been published in The Upper Room, ENCOUNTER, and Devo ‘Zine magazines, as well as in Inspire’s Victory, Promise, Forgiveness, and Joy anthologies.

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When a Writer is Ready for an Agent

An Interview with Nick Harrison

nick-harrison-2016-author-photo-full-sizeNick Harrison has inspired readers toward magnificent Christian living for over two decades through his devotional writings in Magnificent Prayer, Power in the Promises, His Victorious Indwelling, and Promises to Keep: Daily Devotions for Men of Integrity.

His newest release One-Minute Prayers® for Dads will be released on April 1, 2017.

After guiding authors through their writing journeys as a senior editor at Harvest House for over 15 years, this accomplished writer and seasoned editor entered the industry as a Wordserve literary agent in November 2015.

As he builds his client list, Nick continues to invest in upcoming writers through his writing blog and by teaching at various writing conferences.

Please help me welcome Nick Harrison as he shares his wisdom and insight with writers who are considering seeking agent representation.

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Thanks for joining us, Nick. As you’re settling into the exciting world of agents, please share how a writer can recognize a good agent.

A good agent will take an interest not just in your work, but in your writing career and in you as a person. It may take a while to find the right agent, but it’s worth the search. You want someone who “gets” what you want to accomplish as a writer. Don’t settle for less.

 

What must novelists do before they are ready to seriously pursue an agent?

A few years ago I would have said to simply finish a truly great story in novel form. But now I’m finding that many fiction publishers are requiring the same “platform” they require for non-fiction authors.  Now you no longer must write the story, you must demonstrate you can help find the market for the book.

 

What should nonfiction writers do before they consider submitting their proposals to an agent?

See what other clients the agent represents. If the agent doesn’t represent other writers in your non-fiction genre, there must be a reason. Either they don’t care for that genre or they don’t believe they can sell that genre to a publisher.

Ask your author friends for recommendations. Above all, go to at least one writer’s conference a year and meet agents in person. Talk to them and find out what they represent.

Of course, too, a good non-fiction author will have his or her platform in place and thus be able to demonstrate how the book can reach the intended market through the author’s efforts.

 

What should writers consider when interviewing agents to determine if they are a good match?

Many good agents have blogs. Read their blogs, look at their client list, and meet them in person. It’s kind of like dating. Your first or second agent contact may not be the right one. Keep looking, prayerfully.

 

When would you recommend writers to seriously pursue an agent?

It depends. If the book truly has great potential, the author should contact a good agent as he or she begins the book. This is when the author has some very timely story with national exposure possible. For instance, an Olympic Gold Medalist who wants to write his or her story needs an agent right away.  Most writers, though, need to finish the book (fiction) or complete a strong book proposal with three sample chapters. I prefer the first three chapters.

 

When would you encourage a writer to hold off on seeking an agent?

Another good reason for attending a writer’s conference is to gauge the interest in the book you want to write. If you query editors and agents at a conference and get zero interest, you need to rethink your book and possibly drop the idea altogether. Fiction writers should finish the book or at least get well past the halfway mark before looking for an agent.

 

In what circumstances would a writer be better off without an agent?

Really, the only case I can think of is if the author plans to be a one-book author and has a publisher already eager to publish the book. Even then an agent can be helpful, though both publishers and agents are far more interested in authors who will continue to write than they are in one book authors. Of course, self-publishing authors may prefer not to use an agent.

 

When, if ever, would it be wise for a new author to accept a contract from a publisher without being represented by an agent?

I would advise an author who has an interested publisher, but does not want to sign on with an agent, to at least hire an agent for a one-time fee to look over the contract.  First authors are a risk for a publisher. Sometimes an agent can negotiate better terms, but not always.

 

When would it be appropriate for that author to seek an agent with future books?

When they’re ready to establish themselves as a career writer. An agent is extremely valuable in helping an author with career planning.

 

If there are more than one agents interested in representing a writer, what should the writer consider when making a decision on who to work with?

Ask which agent is a good fit. Not just which will get me the most money, but which agent cares about me as a writer and wants to see me succeed. As I said above, it’s kind of like dating.

 

What should writers look for as warning signs when researching agents or agencies?

No author should pay an agent for fees to read his or her work. A freelance editor does that. Ask around. Ask some of the agent’s clients about their working relationship.

 

nick-harrison-book-cover-one-minute-prayers-for-dads-april-2017What final word of encouragement would you like to offer writers who are considering seeking agent representation?

Keep looking for the right fit and stick with that agent as long as they continue to understand your goals.

 

Thanks for joining us and congratulations on your upcoming release, available for pre-order now, One-Minute Prayers® for Dads, Nick. 

 

ASK AN AGENT: Nick has graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us in the comment section. Please ask general questions in a positive way and stick to the topic of writers seeking agents. This is NOT an opportunity to pitch book ideas to Nick.

 

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Author Photo 2016 - INSPIRE ThumbnailXochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with God and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. She’s been published in The Upper Room, ENCOUNTER, and Devo ‘Zine magazines, as well as in Inspire’s Victory, Promise, and Forgiveness anthologies.