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October 2012

Reporter: Donna Schlachter

Donna SchlachterSchlachter is a storyteller at heart and enjoys writing HiStory Thru The Ages. Follow her on Facebook, through her blog, and on her website.

Presenter: Mary Sue Seymour

Mary Sue SeymourSeymour, nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Agent of the Year, has been agenting for 20 years and is listed as a top deal-maker for inspirational fiction on Publisher’s Marketplace. She has sold multi-book deals to Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, Harvest House, Bethany House, Cook, Harper One, Guideposts and others. She represents several best selling Christian authors such as Shelley Shepard Gray, Beth Wiseman, Mary Ellis, Amy Clipston, Don Reid, and Vannetta Chapman.

Workshop 17: From Nonpublished to Published: What It Takes

Progress definition
Mary Sue Seymour hosted a panel of several of her published author clients for her ACFW conference workshop From Nonpublished to Published: What It Takes. While they had different stories to tell detailing their journey to publication, they agreed on the basics:

  • Change your thinking. Perhaps you need to move from writing about the familiar into a new genre, one with a different word count.
  • Trust your agent. He or she knows the market better than you do.
  • You’re a writer. Write.
  • Persevere. Everything happens in God’s timeframe.

The Christian market

“Amish book sales are strong, but publishers aren’t acquiring new Amish writers,” Seymour said. Publishers want 1800’s American historical romance.
“Digital books and e-books have opened the publishing market wide for many authors who wouldn’t ordinarily be published,” she said. Most new publications are available as e-books.

  • Platform and promotionThe panel agreed that writers should trust their agent to know what they need.
  • Time management: Writing your books should come before social networking. A good balance is to spend 80 percent of your time writing and 20 percent marketing. Keep Facebook, Twitter, and blogging in its place.

Advice for aspiring authors

Seymour and the panel also shared other good tidbits of advice:

  • All things equal, editors will compare writers’ Facebook and blog presence and choose authors with marketing skills already in place.
  • Editors expect authors to be involved in marketing their books.
  • If you can quit writing, you should.
  • Being humble and flexible is important.
  • Appreciate the time and resources invested in your career.
  • Write a good story and be willing to rewrite as much as is needed.
  • Improve your writing by reading craft books and attending conferences.
  • Say yes even when you’re afraid, overworked, frustrated, offended.
  • Make sure each character is necessary to your story. If you don’t care about a character, readers won’t either.
  • Join a writers group, whether it’s online or in person.
  • Get a critique partner who will be honest and constructive.
  • Do what you can and leave the rest. You can’t be everything to everybody, and you can’t do everything.
  • Keep writing. If your book has been rejected, move on and write another book.

Progress image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

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