Posted by: L.J. Popp | December 7, 2012

Christian Writers’ Conference / Thoughts on publishing

Finally, a chance to post about the Heart of American Christian Writers’ conference in Kansas back in November! It was probably the most expensive writers’ conference I’ve been to, but also the most helpful. Besides all the wonderful sessions and workshops, I got to meet with seven editors and agents, including Jeff Gerke, the pioneer of Christian Speculative Fiction publishing! Thomas Nelson publishers asked for a full proposal for my Middle Grade fantasy novel Dargon the Human Slayer. I’m hoping they take it, and that one of the agents I talked to will take me on!

Most importantly, I got to meet Rowena Kuo, who was on the editing board at Written World for my novel Treasure Traitor. She was almost as excited to see it finally out as I was! We’ll be working together on the book trailers for the whole series, so I was glad to finally meet her, hear her vision for the company, and pitch her some short stories for her magazines.

Here’s me with Rowena on my right and Jeff Gerke on my left, with New Zealand publisher Grace Bridges on the end:

Me with Rowena and Jeff Gerke

I’ve got to say, there’s something different about a Christian writers’ conference. There’s a less competitive feel and more comradery. Though one negative thing I have to say is that some authors seemed to feel that self-publishing was their only option. (Hopefully the conference cured them of this.)

Now just because I went the traditional route doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with self-publishing, but to have the attitude, “I write (fill-in-the-blank obscure subgenre/nonfiction interest), therefore it’s such a niche market that self-publishing is my only option” simply isn’t true. I always encourage people to try traditional publishing first, because the danger of self-publishing is to push it out before it’s ready. Some people even self-publish because they don’t want to take the time to go through the rejection process, revision, an editor, and everything that goes into the traditional publishing process of making a good book a great book. If you’re not willing to take the time to make your book the best it can be, why would anyone take the time to read it?

To me,  self-publishing should only be pursued after you’ve had professionals help you look at it and perfect it, and after considering all options. Not as a last-ditch resort. As a thoughtful, prayerful, careful career decision. I realized early on it wasn’t for me because I wanted a traditional house to “show me the ropes” and teach me the business. But that doesn’t mean it’s not for others.

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