Tuesday, October 4, 2016

My Timeline to Publication

Even for the fastest of writers, creating a novel takes time. Getting that novel published takes even longer—far longer than many people realize. So here’s snapshot of Beast’s meandering journey to publication:

1990: When I was six years old, I had three grand ambitions. The first has been lost to the sands of time. The second was to work for Disney. The third was to write down the bedtime stories my dad made up for my siblings and me.

Mid-1990’s : Due to some criticism received and fear of the places my imagination was going, I gave up writing stories except for required assignments for school.

January 2000: As I looked toward college, I felt restless. Nothing I considered doing post-college felt right.

After listening to all my grumbling, my parents finally sat me down and asked me, “If you could do anything—if money or education were not an issue—what would you do?”

My answer was simple and immediate and complete surprise to me:


December 2000: After writing for a year, I felt uncertainty dogging my heels. Did I really have what it took to be a writer? Was this what God really wanted me to do—or was this what I wanted to do?

That December the writing guild I had joined did a competition of sorts. Writers would bring Christmas stories to read to small groups, and each group would vote for one story to be read in front of the entire guild. So I laid out my Gideon’s fleece before God: “If You want me to do this, let my story be chosen.”  

But when I saw two of the guild’s most published writers in my group, my stomach sank. That my story would be chosen over theirs seemed impossible.
Impossible or not, God honored my fleece. My story was chosen. 

2001-2007 Having made the whole-hearted commitment to writing, I jumped in with both feet, learning everything I could. During the next several years, I wrote two novellas and three novels, worked on 3 two-year correspondence courses, and attended eight writing conferences.

October 2007: A new publisher is started. Called Marcher Lord, this publisher would specialize in Christian science fiction and fantasy only. 

January 2008: I had been batting around a new idea for several months. But I didn’t want to write it. It seemed too dark. It seemed to take my imagination in a direction I didn’t want to go. It definitely seemed like a manuscript that no one in the Christian publishing market would want. But the idea refused to go away. 

So I wrote the first chapter and read it to two critique partners. The reaction I received was unlike any I had ever received before and unlike any I have received since:
Dead silence followed by an in-breathed, “Wow.”
Now I had to write the story.

Spring 2008: Each year the American Christian Fiction Writers holds the Genesis, a competition for unpublished novelists. In 2008, the Genesis was considered a great place for feedback, and those who won the competition would often gain an agent within a year, with a book contract soon following. 

I entered two manuscripts in 2008. The first was a completed novel that I had been polishing for a year. I entered it with the hopes that I might actually final in the Genesis.

The second manuscript was Beast, under its original title of Metamorphosis. At this time the manuscript was still incomplete, but I entered it at the last minute on a whim, hoping that I would receive some good feedback on the story.
Summer 2008: I made the finals of the Genesis—with Metamorphosis?!

September 2008: Judged by a leading agent and editor in the industry, Metamorphosis won the speculative (science-fiction & fantasy category) of the Genesis! I was on cloud nine. I was about to breakthrough…

2008-2014: After I completed Metamorphosis, I started the process of submitting to agents and editors, confident that success just lay around the corner.

Months passed. I received rejection after rejection. I might have won the Genesis, but as I feared, no one wanted my story.

January 2014: Marcher Lord was bought by the agent who had judged Metamorphosis in the Genesis competition. Marcher Lord was renamed Enclave Publishing.

Seeing that the owner like my story enough to award it a Genesis, I submitted Metamorphosis through their open submission form for their consideration.

September 2014: After nine months of silence, I decided that my submission to Enclave had been lost in the transition. So I decided on a more direct approach.

Both the owner and I would be attending the ACFW writing conference. I sat through a class he taught and then approached him after class. “Six years ago you judged a Genesis that my manuscript won.”

“Whatever did happen to that story?” he asked.

Once I recovered the shock that he remembered the story without me naming a title or describing a plot, I explained no one seemed interested in the story.

He immediately invited me to submit the whole manuscript to Enclave, promising to respond a couple of months after receipt.

Thanksgiving 2014: I received an e-mail from Enclave. Metamorphosis had been rejected.

May 2015: It had been a busy weekend full of activity. My parents were in the middle of a move. My older sister was visiting. But late one night I decided I had better briefly check my e-mail, if only to clear all the accumulated junk.

An e-mail from Enclave awaited me. The owner apologized for the delay of response, but my manuscript had been misfiled. However, he was pleased to inform me that the beta readers loved the opening chapters of Metamorphosis. Now, for the first time in over six year, I had a full manuscript under review! God's wonders never cease to amaze me.

October 2015: On average a publisher to responds to a manuscript within three months. So when I didn’t hear anything from Enclave for five, it was with trepidation I composed an e-mail asking for a status update. The last time it had taken this long for a publisher to respond, the rejection letter had been lost in transmission.

I heard back from the publisher less than a day later—with another apology. He thought my story had been laid aside in error by the readers, but he would check up on it immediately.

Twenty-four hours later I received a second e-mail. The manuscript was on his desk. The story received positive reviews from the readers, and it now waited for his review. He would get right on it.

November 2015:Almost exactly year after receiving a rejection from Enclave for Metamorphosis, I signed a contract for the identical manuscript, now under the new title of Beast!

Moreover, as proof of God's impeccable timing, a slot had just opened up in the publishing schedule. Beast was fast-tracked for publication in July 2016.

January 2016: Beast undergoes professional editing, making the original story even better.

April 2016: The beautiful cover of Beast goes public.

Enclave is bought by a new Christian fiction publisher, Gilead, opening new possibilities for my book.

June 2016: I proof the galleys of Beast, which is the final typeset form for the book before publication. My story now looks like a real book!

July 2016: Due to the purchase of Enclave by Gilead, the original release date of Beast is shoved back. Nonetheless, the celebration of publication begins! 

October 14, 2016:
By the grace of God,
Beast officially releases!

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