WordServe News: May 2014

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

New Releases

Rebecca DeMarino released her debut novel A Place in His Heart with Revell publishers.9780800722180_p0_v2_s260x420

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Doug Fields released 7 Ways to Be Her Hero with Thomas Nelson publishers. 920563

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Kathi Lipp released I Need Some Help Here! with Revell publishers.9780800720780_p0_v3_s260x420

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Jonathan McKee released Get Your Teenager Talking with Bethany Hou9780764211850_p0_v3_s260x420se Publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spencer Moses released his suspense thriller with Revell publishers, Network of Deception.9780800722562_p0_v3_s260x420

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Gilbert Morris released the third book in his Western Justice series with Barbour 9781616267605_p0_v2_s260x420books, Raina’s Choice

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Dr. Arnie Cole and Michael Ross released Worry Free Living with Authentic.9781780782263_p0_v1_s260x420

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Karen Witemeyer released Full Steam Ahead with Bethany House Publishers. 9780764209673_p0_v2_s260x420

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New WordServe Clients

Mark Atteberry, pastor and multi-published author, signed with agent Alice Crider.

Larry Dugger, pastor and Christian counselor, signed with agent Alice Crider

John Merritt, founding pastor of CrossWinds Church in Dublin, California, signed with Alice Crider

Bill Sanders, award-winning journalist, signed an agency agreement to be represented by Alice Crider.

New Contracts

Jan Drexler signed with Love Inspired to release A Home in Deadwood. Sarah Freese, agent of record.

Anita Agers-Brooks signed with Barbour for her non-fiction book, Getting Over What You Can’t Get Through. Alice Crider, agent of record.

Angela Strong signed with Ashberry Lane for her YA novel, The Water Fight Professional. Alice Crider, agent of record.

What We’re Celebrating!!

Jennie Atkins is a semi-finalist in the Romance category of the ACFW Genesis contest for unpublished authors!

Carol Barnier made the awards list in both humor and evangelism for two of her articles for the 2014 EPA Higher Goal Awards!

Debora Coty (Fear, Faith and a Fistful of Chocolate), Jo Ann Fore (When a Woman Finds Her Voice) and Jordyn Redwood (Poison) all made the shortlist for the 2014 Selah Awards!

Wounded Women of the Bible by Dena Dyer and Tina Samples is a finalist in the AWSA Golden Scroll Awards!

Leslie Leyland Fields was featured on Christianity Today as the cover story. You can read it here!

Adam Makos’ A Higher Call hit the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and Washington Post bestseller lists!

Jordyn Redwood’s Poison and Julie Cantrell’s When Mountains Move are on the short list of Inspy finalists!!

Kimberly Smith wrote an article for Time magazine. Read the full story here!

What can we help you celebrate?

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Unpacking a Rebuke

????????????????????????????????????????We’ve all met at least one—the writer who simply cannot take any criticism of his work. Such folk gleefully hand you their writing for review. But when you offer a tiny suggestion about a passage they’ve written, small funnel clouds begin to form over their heads. They’ll have none of it. Their eyes pinch. They are certain you are thick, even dim-witted, and probably don’t floss or exercise. Such writers typically don’t last long in the world of words, because as Justice Brandeis once said,

“There is no great writing, only great rewriting.”

Then however, there are those of us at the other end of the spectrum. We are so certain that the opinions of others must be more credible than our own, that we buy into anything anyone says about our work. This can have us constantly scurrying off in the direction of the most recent advice.

So when evaluating a rebuke or criticism, where is the balance? What questions should we be asking?

Was the rebuke from the wrong person? In my critique group we have a few poets. But I don’t get poetry. There. I said it. Thus, any constructive comments from me must be taken with a grain of salt. In fact, I typically find myself saying the same thing over and over again:  I don’t get poetry, but I love your imagery. Not very helpful. Our poets would be perfectly sane to pause before taking my poetry advice.

But what if the rebuke came from someone a bit higher up? What if a book proposal to an agent was rejected?

Was it a good idea with a bad pitch? I had a great talk in my roster of workshops but no one ever selected it. Finally someone said, “Yes, we want this talk! But you’ve GOT to change the name.” When they explained why, a light bulb went on. My title had completely misled would-be attendees as to what would be presented. Most hadn’t even read the description because the title sent them packing. The same thing can happen in a query or cover letter. You may well have a great idea, and your writing might actually be ready. But if the agent or editor didn’t catch the fever in your pitch, or if it left them confused, they most likely never went on to your writing.

Agents and acquisition editors aren’t magical. They don’t have a clairvoyant wisdom that lets them know exactly what’s going to take off and what’s going to fizzle.  Even with decades of experience and loads of algorithmic analysis, it’s still a highly unpredictable business. Which means they sometimes get it right and they sometimes don’t. (Well, all except for Word Serve Agents. They really do always get it right. Whew. Dodged a bullet there.)

Say what you want about the Harry Potter series; I still cannot imagine anyone reading through some of J.K. Rowlings writing and saying, “Ehhhh. I just don’t see it. This won’t interest a soul.” And yet. . . twelve publishing houses said just that.

Learn to Unpack a Rebuke

Most of the time, we really could improve what we’ve written. Most of the time, our writing needs some work. But don’t chase after every single comment as though it is Gospel. Measure it. Weigh it. Give it reasonable consideration. Develop a mature view of your own work. Most of the time, there is value in the criticism. But in the end, if you think your reviewer got it wrong, stick with the plan a bit longer. Look for the gatekeeper who gets you.

The obvious conclusion of this line of reasoning is that even advice from this writer must be evaluated carefully and perhaps dismissed. I’ll admit, sometimes I get it right. And sometimes I get it wrong. For example, if I had been on the committee to evaluate and select new TV programming, we’d never have heard of World Wide Wrestling or Honey Boo Boo.

WordServe News: February 2013

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

The biggest news is our own Sarah Freese gave birth to a baby boy, Mason. They say writing a book is like giving birth, but I think the comparison breaks down a bit…if you’re the one actually giving birth! Congrats, Sarah! Now…back to work.

New Releases

WhatASonCheri Fuller released What a Son Needs From His Mom (Bethany House)

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wishingonwillowsKatie Ganshert released Wishing on Willows (WaterBrook)

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husbandlistenRick Johnson released How to Talk So Your Husband Will Listen (Revell)

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Jordyn Redwood released Poison, book #2 in her “Bloodline Trilogy” (Kregel)

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permissiongrantedMargot Starbuck released Permission Granted (Baker)

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forsakendreamsMaryLu Tyndall released Forsaken Dreams, the first book in her new “Escape to Paradise” trilogy (Barbour)

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MarianoRiveraMike Yorkey and Jesse Florea released Playing with Purpose: Mariano Rivera, the future Hall of Famer from the New York Yankees (Barbour)

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New WordServe Clients

During the Super Bowl, a storyline grew about Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49er’s starting quarterback. He had been adopted and his faith and family were being talked about, including his birth mother. His birth mother, Heidi Russo, had contacted our agency a few days before and quickly signed in. Margot Starbuck is writing her memoir You’ll Do Great Things, and Alice is circulating it to publishers.

New Contracts

Marcus Brotherton signed with Tyndale to collaborate with a Seattle-area pastor on a book called The Presence.

Tim LaHaye and Timothy Parker signed with Thomas Nelson to write Revelation: Clear and Simple, a chapter-by-chapter explanation of the last book of the Bible.

Margot Starbuck and Jeremy Jones signed with Focus on the Family to publish devotionals called Kingdom Women and Kingdom Men (respectively), using content from Tony Evan’s books of the same name.

Mike Yorkey and Marcus Brotherton signed on with Barbour to do Playing with Purpose: Nascar about Christian race car drivers.

What We’re Celebrating!!

A Higher Call by Adam Makos was able to stay on the New York Times hard cover bestseller list all through the month of February. It rose as high as #6 on the print list. The WWII story also made the NPR hard cover nonfiction list for 4 weeks, Publisher’s Weekly list, as well as USA Today.

Helen Shores Lee and her sister Barbara Shores, authors of The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill (Zondervan), appeared on “The 700 Club“.

Carol Barnier flew to Colorado Springs to tape an episode for Focus on the Family for her book Engaging Today’s Prodigal (Moody). One episode turned into two! It should air in March.

Jordyn Redwood got a starred review (her second!) in Library Journal for her new novel, Poison. That’s a pretty rare event, so it’s big news when it happens.

Carolyn McKinstry was on “The Today Show” to talk about Black History and her book, While the World Watched (Tyndale), the story of her losing her 4 girlfriends in 1963 to the 16th Avenue Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.

What can we help you celebrate?

She Never Had a Rejection?

hI once met a woman at a writers conference and, as writers often do, we began sharing what we’d written, what we hoped to improve on, perhaps publications we’d like to write for some day, editors we wanted to meet. The usual stuff. But when I talked about the last rejection note I’d received, this woman got a curious little smile on her face and sweetly said, “You know, I don’t typically say this out loud, but I’ve never ever gotten a rejection. . .not even once.”

That conference was a while ago, so I no longer remember where I hid the body.

But at the time, my snark-o-meter went on full alert, and I found myself thinking dozens of less-than-charitable thoughts.

Maybe she’s never submitted anything. That would sure hold down the rejection letters.

Maybe she’s writing for a very tight niche–like Amish women scuba divers–and she just happens to be one of three writers on the planet with the right contacts.

Maybe (and here’s where I sank to my lowest level of cynicism), maybe she’s sleeping with the editor. That’s because she’s married to him, and together they started a third-rate magazine and she provides 90% of the content with snappy pieces like “You, Ginseng Tea, and a Happier Colon.”

See, I told you I’d reached a new low.

Big sigh. God probably just sent her my way to improve my humility and compassion skills. Apparently I have a ways to go.

Here’s the thing—I think she was being sincere, and was possibly even surprised at her own good fortune. And she may well have written lovely and informative pieces for top-notch magazines. But the problem with her comment is that it’s the writer’s equivalent of winning the lottery. The real truth is, in the world of writing, if you’re not getting rejections, you’re just not in the game.

The publishing industry has a very steep learning curve. For much of it you’ve just got to get in there and start. I’m not saying you should skip the process of researching the publication ahead of time, spelling the editor’s name correctly, and fashioning your piece with their readers in mind. In other words, don’t ignore the process of learning craft and industry. But much of that learning will come from doing, failing, rethinking, and doing again. Almost every published author I know has at least one massive fail to their credit.

A rejection letter can mean many things, but the only sure thing it means is that you sent something in. So instead of seeing it as proof positive that you can’t write, consider other very likely scenarios such as:

  • The magazine had something like it recently.
  • The magazine has something like it already in the hopper and it’s working its way up.
  • The magazine has worked with a particular writer who’s been talking about doing something like this, and they’d rather take a chance on someone who has some history with the magazine.
  • Or maybe the piece was just too ______ [insert word of choice—edgy, tame, academic, casual, ecumenical, evangelical, rural, urban, prissy, intense] for their magazine’s style or their audience.

Learn to embrace rejections. Unless you plan to win the writers’ lottery, there’s simply no way to avoid them. In fact, they’re like a merit badge, proving you’re in the game. I’m not saying you’ll ever come to love them. But you can see them as useful. I, for one, open them, learn from them, and then use them to wallpaper my bathroom.

What about you? Do rejections bring you down, sometimes to the point that they impact your next submission?