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Monday, January 26, 2009


A few years ago I was happy because I had signed with my first choice agent. Things didn’t work out, and shortly after that I had to put the brakes on writing because of an unrelated problem. About two years ago I decided to get back into the game, but unfortunately it was more challenging than the first time around because my agent had already blown the contacts for traditional houses in the CBA (once a house has considered a manuscript, they will not look at it again). Although I knew many of the places Lever had been, I didn’t have a complete list of which editors, and which houses, that my agent had talked to.

Quel bummer.

It took a few months to learn that no other agent would touch Lever. I had three options: 1) rename the book and try again; 2) finish *Nest Among the Stars* (the prequel) first, then make the rounds with two books in hand; and/or 3) try for another route to publication. I think I’ve also already mentioned that I was uncomfortable with some aspects of traditional publishing, so I decided to give untraditional publication a shot. I figured the worst thing that would happen was that I would have tried and failed, but I believed in Lever. I figured it’s God’s book, so I’d do my best and that would be enough.

My goal was to make Lever’s quality inside and out indistinguishable from any book from Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, or any other big house. THIS quest is another long series of steps and learning that maybe you’d also find interesting sometime.

My prelude here was necessary to explain another marketing effort I made: two prestigious contests given every year for self- or independently-published books. Even though these contests both have stiff competition, I felt like I had a possible, albeit small, chance of placing (hope springs eternal).

The first is the Writers Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Interestingly, about ten years ago at some parent group or something (don’t quite remember), I met the wife of the grand prize winner of this contest. She was impressed that I recognized the title of her husband’s book! (I read Writers Digest religiously). That was about it, except she said it was a fabulous opportunity for him. The grand prize winner receives $3,000 cash, endorsements, guaranteed reviews in major review houses, consultation with marketing experts, etc.

The second contest is the Independent Publisher Book Awards. There are a number of categories. While this contest doesn’t offer so much in prizes, an IPPY award is well-known in the industry and gives a *seal of approval* that increases the chances for reviews, ordering by libraries and other venues, etc.

Another contest that Lever won’t be eligible for until next year (since it has a 2009 release date) is the Christian Small Publisher Association Book Award. This is another award for books from small publishers, and like the IPPY, gives a *seal of approval* and a foot into better buying venues.

All I can say is, the applying and hoping for gateways to open never stops! Oh well, it’s something to keep one busy. The contests are still ongoing, and I’ll give an update if I win.


gzusfreek said...

Good luck with the contests, Amy. I appreciate your post, as always, learning so much.
I never knew how all consuming this task could be. Thanks for sharing your journey.
(I will be reading Lever very soon!I can't wait!)

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Hi Amy!

I would love to hear about what you did to control the quality of your publishing project. Please, please post on that subject. I've always wondered why some self-published books like Lever look really great, and others scream "self-published." I'm particularly interested in the cover design and the quality/weight of the cover, along with what binding method you used.

Andra M. said...

I've considered Writers Digest's contest, but I never heard of the other two before.

Thanks for the information, and here's to hoping!

Amy Deardon said...

gzusfreek, thanks so much! I'm very interested to hear what you think of Lever, good or bad. Yes, pubbing is certainly consuming; I appreciate your listening :-)

Rosslyn, my goal was to make it professional (indistinguishable from something from Tyndale), so I didn't go through *typical* or *easier* self-pubbing channels. Thank you for your nice comments!

The most important factor is to be objective with editing. I know too many people who self-pub something that just isn't ready. It's a great temptation, but must be resisted. If the book is bad, all the glitz on the cover won't matter.

Andra, thanks for your good wishes! I'll keep my fingers crossed. There are other contests also, but one can easily spend all one's money on this stuff. I'm just going for the biggies.

Anonymous said...

Press on, sister! Contest season is here....with fury! I have like five I'm looking into.

I'll be prayin' for ya!!!

Billy Coffey said...

I'll have to keep this in mind...

Good luck!

Gwen Stewart said...

I'm with Rosslyn...I'd love to hear more about your journey and the decisions you made along the way. Really, anything you feel comfortable sharing would be great.

God bless you today. Please do keep us posted on your contest places and wins! ;)

Jessica Thomas said...

Thanks for sharing some of the details of your path to being published. I look forward to hearing more.

Perhaps you can help me with my bad attituded towards contests. (As you pointed out in your blog today, you can't reap if you don't sow.) I'm a bit cynical about them because they are so subjective. If the choice is between two well written books (or poems, or short stories), who is to say one is "better" than the other? Perhaps I am having a "pride issue" and just need to get over it. Or perhaps it is a laziness issue. Not really sure. Maybe I will just enter some contests this year and not count myself out before even trying! :-p

Good luck to you! I look forward to reading your book. I've got two in line before it (so pray for my time management!)