Shannon here! And it is officially the first Friday in August! Insanity!
You're all gearing up for a new school year, aren't you? I've already been out with my kids shopping for school supplies and new uniforms. This summer has simply magicked itself away. It's still blazing hot out here in California, but I can almost taste the caramel apples on the wind. And I say, bring it on! Fall is balm to a writer's soul.
Today's summer panel question is an honest look at just how much things can change for an author. This is not a career for those who cannot function without constant stability.
Can you tell us about a crucial turning point in your career?
I’ve had several, actually, and I’m only three published books into my career. The first, I think, was when my original agent decided he didn’t want to be an agent anymore. He was a nice guy, but his departure saw me pairing up with my current agent, Holly Root. And, while I was grateful for everything my first agent was able to accomplish, Holly is a better fit in so many ways. As I work to make the jump from Christian fiction to general fiction, I'm so grateful to be with an agent who knows the market well.
When I decided to go for it and write The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Until then, I had been convinced that contemporary YA was all I would ever write. My agent had been trying, but we couldn’t seem to sell a thing. I mentioned a half-baked idea for Lost Girl along with some other YA ideas I had, but none of them sounded like someone she could sell. She suggested I try writing fiction for adults. I sent her ideas for books. She told me they all sounded like YA. She told me that I should take some time and consider if she was the best agent for me, or if I wanted to find someone else. It felt like a, “It’s not you, it’s me,” kind of break-up.
There were two that I consider crucial. The first was publishing my first book (By Darkness Hid) with an indie publisher, which was then called Marcher Lord Press. Having a book in print gave me something to promote and a way to gather readers. A year and a half later, that same book won a Christy Award, which is kind of a big deal in the Christian specialty market. Winning that award didn’t skyrocket my sales or anything, but it was like shining a spotlight on me, my book, and Marcher Lord Press, for the entire publishing industry to see. People were saying, “Who is that person who won that award?” And when I went to my annual writers’ conference that summer, I no longer had trouble looking for an agent. The agents came to me. It was a very nice change. LOL
How about you guys? I know most of you aren't headlong into your career yet, but have you hit any obstacles that you can now look at as crucial turning points?