I’m so delighted to have one of my friends and critique partners, Jennifer Slattery, on a virtual visit. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, has just launched and I asked her about that moment that every author anticipates – “The Call.”
Marji: What was your greatest fear before you were published?
Marji: What do you mean?
Jennifer: As a high school dropout who experienced homelessness in my teen years, I’d always carried around a sense of failure. Like I wasn’t as good as everyone else; like I had to prove my intelligence and worth. I had this fear that when my book came out, people from my past would expose my shame. But then God helped me see how clearly His grace is revealed in my life, in my journey from then to now, and though I still felt shame, my desire to see other’s lives changed overshadowed that.
Marji: And I’m amazed at how easily you can share what must be a difficult topic. That’s truly the Lord’s grace, there. Now, I remember quite an anticipation about selling this story. How many editors rejected your proposal before it interested someone?
Jennifer: Funny thing, I think I only sent the proposal to one other editor, and they asked to see the full manuscript. The other editors I’d dealt with asked for the full upfront. I believe that’s because I met them at a conference with a string of contest placements under my belt. I actually received two contract offers on this novel, but turned the first down knowing God was asking me to wait on my publisher.
Marji: Wow. And the waiting must’ve been tough! So how did you get “the call.”
Jennifer: I’d been conversing with Dr. Andrea Mullins, the publisher for New Hope Publishers, for some time, so I sensed it was coming. But honestly, I wasn’t sure. During the conversation, she asked me about my future book ideas, my blogging habits, and my faith walk. But even after the call, I still wasn’t sure I’d receive a contract. Honestly, I can’t remember if she told me I would, and of course, I worried my answers might not have sufficed. Plus, I’m one of those, “Let me see the ink on the paper” kinda gals.
Marji: Ha! I can relate! What was first reaction, though, when the contract finally did come through?
Jennifer: Got busy! It didn’t take long for me to realize:
1) I’d need to make major and very necessary changes to my manuscript.
2) Leisure writing was over. This was now my career, and I was accountable to my publisher.
3) I had a marketing campaign to plan.
Marji: Oh, yes. Marketing campaign. I can see how all of that would be come a fast focus. But what did you do to celebrate?
Jennifer: My husband took a picture of me signing my contract which I posted on Facebook, and with all the congrats, it felt like a virtual party. Then our family went out and gorged ourselves on frozen yogurt.
Marji: Yum! Did you do anything for your editor at that time?
Jennifer: In regard to my editor… Oops. Was I supposed to? I worked on substantive edits. Does that count?
Marji: YES! I bet she appreciated it beyond measure! How did that call open other doors for you?
Jennifer: I’d been sensing for a while that New Hope Publishers was where God wanted me to be, so it felt really good to be resting in His will. Since that initial contract, they’ve offered me two more, and I’m really hoping this is the beginning of a long-term relationship. Though the waiting was hard, especially when I received a contract from another publisher, I’m so glad I waited. This whole scenario only serves to remind me that God’s way is truly best.
Marji: Did getting that publishing contract change things for you? Like how does a published novel affect the way you interact with your fans?
Jennifer: Um… fans? I’m not sure I have those. I have lots of very encouraging friends, and I cherish them dearly. Though I suppose I could say my husband and father are probably my biggest fans. My dad’s adorable! He’s often shouting out my books to his friends. And my husband reads almost everything I write. In fact, he’s read several novels twice. Now that’s dedication!
Marji: Good on you both, Hubby and Dad! I’m so glad we could share together today! And I’m looking forward to your devotion on Thursday!
Jennifer Slattery writes Missional Romance for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it at this link. Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.
Your Turn: Missional Romance. Have you heard of that genre? Either way, you can read a great sample of Jennifer’s debut, at this link. Beyond I Do asks the question, “Will seeing beyond the present unite two people or tear them apart?”