Best-selling author, Sandra Byrd, received her first rejection letter at the age of thirteen. Since then, her work has been featured in various publications and periodicals. She has published over thirty books for adults and teens, and is now offering her must-read teen novels as e-books.
I was encouraged by Sandra’s amazing writing journey and am pleased to introduce this inspiring author in part one of a special two-part interview.
Sandra, you received your first rejection letter at age thirteen. What kept you from quitting at such a tender age?
You know, I think I was just so excited that someone had taken the time to send me a response, even one saying “no,” that I felt like a real author.
Real authors hear no from the first day of their career through their last. So it didn’t seem like a downer.
But we also hear “yes” now and again, which keeps up writing!
Have there been times during your writing career when you felt like quitting? If so, what helped you to persevere?
Yes. I went to college on a writing scholarship, and once there, I got scared. I thought, who gets published? No one! How will I pay back my student loans? The odds seemed stacked against success, so I changed my major to business and got a degree in real estate/construction management.
Later, after I became a Christian, I felt like the Lord was showing me: don’t look at the odds, look at God. He is not subject to odds.
The verse, “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength,” doesn’t mean I can do anything I want. It means I can do all things that He has ordained, determined, and set aside for me to do.
There is nothing that you are called to do that you cannot do. But there is also no way to open a window He has shut. Once we really get a hold of that, it’s easy to walk away from fear.
How has God used those difficult times to mold you into the writer you are today?
Ha ha. Which difficult times? I think the difficult times come and go and come again. I will say that I never write about themes that I haven’t learned personally, first, usually the hard way.
I keep pleading to write a book about a lottery winner but it hasn’t happened yet!
Seriously, though, gravitas makes you a person, and a writer, who has earned a few moments to be listened to. You’re not a tour guide on a trail that you’ve never taken.
God has given some wonderful writing mentors to me, too. I’m following them on the trail as well.
Describe the biggest obstacle you have faced as a writer. How did you overcome?
One thing new writers should understand is that ours is a business of constant critique. Most of it is offered to help you, and your book, become leaner, tighter, stronger, better. You will love your writing so much more once someone has helped you develop it.
There are people who tear down, though. One writer, Christy English, calls them the destroyers. They post on line, they’re snarky and rude. They’re jealous, or they just like to look smarter than you. There is nothing redeeming in their comments, nothing to help you shape the next book. Learning to tune them out is hard. Their comments still sting, but I get over them faster, now.
God has used your writing to minister to vast audiences, and is now expanding your reach through your new e-books. Tell us a little bit about these projects and share the benefits and challenges of e-book publishing?
I’ve been traditionally published for many years, and I have loved it. But it’s a new world, and e-books provide opportunities for writers, both those already published and those who have yet to be published.
Some people may prefer to go the traditional route via agent and publishing house, and that’s fine. For those who aren’t able to find a good fit with an agent or publisher, or who prefer to retain more control over their work, e-publishing is a legitimate, viable option.
You’ll still want to present your very best work. So that means having someone edit the book, acquiring a good cover and either learning how to format the manuscript for Kindle and Nook or hiring someone to do it for you. But these are fairly reasonable charges, and then 70% of your book’s sale price will be remitted to you.
Even more important, for many writers, is that they will have a guaranteed opportunity to get their book into the marketplace and into the hands of readers.