On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, JJ Barnes chatted with Grace Sammon and members of the Authors Talk Network about their experiences in the publishing industry and what they’ve learned.
Written by JJ Barnes
Creativity, collaboration, and an urge to communicate resulted in a unique alliance. Nineteen authors, most of whom have never met, created a network where readers and authors come together to discuss books and so much more.
Recently, I had a chance to sit around the Table Read table with Grace Sammon and a cuppa and learn from these authors’ experiences from idea to publishing.
JJ and Grace: If you could go back in time and change one experience of getting your book published, what would you change and why?
“Generally, I’ve enjoyed every aspect of my book publishing adventure. It’s been a joyful learning experience getting to know the various stakeholders in the process, especially readers. I have no regrets about the steps I’ve taken. Some worked out better than others, but all have yielded something positive.” – Saralyn Richard, http://www.saralynrichard.com/
“I would have taken a longer view of building an author platform and been more patient with myself and the industry. The road to publication is full of opportunities to celebrate. There are many ways to measure success. I wished I’d focused more on relishing the journey and less on results and outcomes.” –Mary Helen Sheriff, Author Marketing Coach
“I have three published books. In hindsight, I would have been more patient with my first novel, Waiting for Ethan. One of the first publishers my agent submitted it to offered to publish it as an ebook. Of course I was so excited and grateful that someone wanted to publish a book I wrote that I jumped on it. In retrospect, I wish I had asked my agent to submit to other publishers to see if we received other offers. I’ve always wanted to see my book in a bookstore, and with an ebook, you don’t get that opportunity.” – Diane Barnes, www.dianembarnes.com
“I would probably change a few things about some of the contracts I’ve signed along the way. While I can’t share those details, I’ve learned a good bit about what to fight for and what to yield.” – Julie Cantrell, www.juliecantrell.com
“Include an airtight rights reversion policy.” – Josie Brown, www.JosieBrown.com
“Honestly, I wouldn’t change anything. My journey was long. I didn’t begin to become serious about writing until I was sixty-four. I needed to be in the right place, both emotionally and physically, to open myself to writing. I published my first book at seventy and became a USA Today bestselling author at seventy-one. – Barbara Conrey, www.barbaraconreyauthor.com
“I don’t believe much in looking back because each step, a misstep or not, has taught me so much. The lesson that has taught me the most is the importance of networking and having a social media presence. No matter how many authors I speak with, each says that the effort to promote and keep a focus on their book is far greater than they anticipated. Keep track of your mistakes, they too are lessons.”
– Grace Sammon, Director of Author Talk Network, www.AuthorTalkNetwork.com
JJ and Grace: What was the most challenging part of getting your book published?
“Time. The challenge is always TIME. We never run out of ideas or desire to create. We definitely run out of time to get it all done.”
– Julie Cantrell, NYT and USA Today bestselling author on Instagram www.Instagram.com/juliecantrell
“What has challenged me most is the time it takes from signing a contract to the release date. It doesn’t matter whether the publisher is small or one of the Big Five. Publishing takes time. Patience is a must. Use that time to write the next book because soon, time becomes a thing of the past when you launch one book and edit the next.”
– Barbara Conrey, on Instagram www.Instagram.com/barbaraconrey
“Being patient through the submission process.”
– Diane Barnes, Author of Waiting for Ethan
“I released a debut novel in the fall of 2020. Bookstores and libraries all over the country were shut down. Many traditional paths to finding readers disappeared. I had to get creative to find a ways to get my book into readers hands.”
– Mary Helen Sheriff, author of Boop and Eve’s Road Trip
“My third book, A Palette for Love and Murder, was released in March, 2020, exactly when the pandemic was forcing the entire world into isolation. One by one, every in-person event planned by my publicist and me had to be canceled. It was painful, but only one of many disappointments at that time.” – Saralyn Richard, https://twitter.com/SaralynRichard
“Absolutely the “beta readers.” These critical readers of The Eves, prior to the final edits, made me think and re-think the story. I thought I was done and they pointed out gaps in my thinking or gaps between what was so clear in my head but not clear on the page. Indeed, the entire character of Jesper was never in my head and he makes the story so much richer. It slowed the process but improved the work.” – Grace Sammon, author of The Eves.
“I was lucky in that my first agent sought me out as opposed to going through an agent hunt. Now it is definitely harder to get an agent’s attention, especially since the number of publishers has shrunk via mergers in the past decade. Whereas self-publishing has been a success option for me with my mystery series, I feel certain novels, certain stand-alones for example, may need the bigger push of a traditional publisher’s marketing team, especially now that they actually do something to market books (as opposed to a decade ago, when they put in on the shelf for a 60-day launch and waited for it to sink or swim). So whether self-publishing is your Plan A or Plan B, at least it can be part of YOUR plan, if need be.”
– Josie Brown, https://authorprovocateur.podbean.com/
JJ and Grace: What was the most rewarding experience in your journey from idea to publication?
“There are two distinct joys. The first is the simple joy of rearranging 26 letters on the page over and over and over again, building a character, scenario, and place from nothing. That, and hearing the characters talk in my head or in my dreams. Literally, I would wake up laughing at Dierdre. The next, is the magic that happens when I hear from readers. Readers in live time, at book clubs, in emails, in podcasts. There is an undeniable and profound joy when that connection happens. It’s magic.” – Grace Sammon, Host of The Storytellers Radio Show and Podcast
“A fabulous editor, who (a) appreciated my author’s voice, and (b) advocated for me to the marketing team.” – Josie Brown, author of The Housewife Assassin Series
“I’ve considered every step of the process incredibly rewarding, but the most impactful part for me is when readers respond with their own personal stories in response to the books I write. To be told my stories saved a life or healed a soul or shaped a future … that’s a very special reminder that our work matters.”
– Julie Cantrell, editor, ghostwriter, and story coach at www.bluesparked.com
“It’s always rewarding to me when someone takes the time to read a book I wrote. I am so grateful. When they leave a review or send me an email that says they laughed, cried or were inspired, I am deeply touched.” -Diane Barnes, dianebarnes777 on Twitter and Instagram
“The most rewarding experience by far is hearing from readers who understand and appreciate what I’ve written. If I’ve touched a reader, I know I’ve done my job well.”
– Saralyn Richard, https://www.instagram.com/naughty_nana_sheepdog/
“The collaboration and spirit of generosity within the author community have blown me away.”
-Mary Helen Sheriff, CEO of Bookish Road Trip
“I’m not going to lie. The most rewarding experience in my journey so far is when Nowhere Near Goodbye became a USA Today bestseller. And always, the comments of readers who share with me their experience of losing a loved one to glioblastoma and confirmation that the story touched their hearts.”
– Barbara Conrey, USA Today Bestselling author of Nowhere Near Goodbye.
JJ and Grace: What has surprised you the most about being a published author?
“I never realized how many hats an author wears, how varied her day-to-day experiences are. The work of an author involves creative thinking, research, writing, soliciting feedback, revising, cover design, publicity, technology, website design, social media, publishing, distributing, selling, autographing, traveling, contests, conferences, public speaking, blogging, newsletters, blurbing for other authors, and more. There is never a moment of boredom, and never a sense of completion, because there is always something else on my plate.”
– Saralyn Richard, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7338961.Saralyn_Richard
“There are many surprises on this journey, but what never fails to surprise me is how invested readers become in the story. The characters become flesh and blood, and I love that so much.” – Barbara Conrey, on Twitter www.Twitter.com/barbaraconrey
“The readers! I love it when they reach out to me to tell me how much my books mean to them. It never stops being a thrill!” – Josie Brown, author of The Candidate
“I’m surprised by the entire world of publishing. The incredible writers I’ve met along the way that seem to move through the world like I do, the creative community that supports the arts at every turn, the fabulous readers who love our stories and cheer for more, the beautiful events I’ve gotten to take part in from private homes to lovely luncheons to posh salons and artsy festivals … it’s all been an amazing journey. I’m grateful to be living my dream.”
– Julie Cantrell, international bestselling author www.juliecantrell.com
“The diverse reactions to Boop and Eve’s Road Trip have underscored the importance of knowing and targeting narrowly defined audiences.”
– Mary Helen Sheriff, award-winning author
“How supportive the writing community is. I feel like the other authors with my publisher, Red Adept, are invested in my success. They have been so helpful and encouraging since the time my novel was accepted for publication.” – Diane Barnes, author of More Than
“I’ve published before in the area of non-fiction. The journey to publication is quite different for a novel. Learning the varied options, sharing with other authors, joining groups on Facebook like Bookish Road Trip, or groups like the Women’s Fiction Writers Association or Women’s National Book Association that have all resulted in making REAL friends. All of this has been surprising.”
– Grace Sammon, Director of Membership, Bookish Road Trip
JJ and Grace: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author looking to learn from your experiences, what would it be?
“Ask questions. Learn everything you can. The book world is full of resources and very supportive of one another.” –Mary Helen Sheriff, host of Growing Up Bookish
“Network early and be generous with your time and your spirit. The reading and writing community is wonderful. Indeed, we are here to lift each other up. Contact us! “
– Grace Sammon, www.gracesammon.net
“Keep yourself open to new possibilities, people, and experiences. Everyone you meet is an opportunity for personal and professional growth.” – Saralyn Richard, author Bad Blood Sisters
“If I can only give one piece of advice, it is never to give up. Because you will want to. But if you want, need, to be a writer, then you will find a way to develop the thick skin that will allow you to keep going – no matter what. “
-Barbara Conrey, on Facebook www.Facebook.com/baconreywriter
“My motto: “Last Author Standing.” If you quit writing, it’s game over. And if you NEVER attempt to complete that book, you’ll never know how many others you may have touched through it. Or, as my husband always says: “The answer to every question never asked is ‘No.'”
– Josie Brown, Administrator, Bookish Road Trip
“Writing should be fun. Don’t ever let the business of publishing suck the joy out of your writing time.” Diane Barnes, Author of Waiting for Ethan, Mixed Signals and More Than
Grace: Enjoy the journey indeed! Thanks to my fellow Author Talk Network authors for sitting around the Table today. Special thanks to JJ for hosting us and all she does to create a vibrant and engaging community of readers and writers!
To learn more about Author Talk Network go here: www.AuthorTalkNetwork.com and check out each of us at the links above!
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