How to Get Published is a continuing feature at As the Pages Turn where we ask authors to tell us their publishing stories. Was it a rocky road or did it come easy for them? Did they start with an agent and get a NY publisher interested in their book or did they self-publish? What words of wisdom do they have for all of us who would like to be published one day?
Today’s guest is Karen Simpson, author of the contemporary speculative fiction novel Act of Grace .
When I finished my first novel, I promised my character Grace that I would find her a good home. I kept my promise, but it didn’t happen the way I always imagined it would.
After about ten years of writing, critiques groups and workshops, I queried and finally got an agent out of New York. I was hopeful, she was hopeful. She did her best to sell the manuscript, but it seemed that while many of the editors loved my work they turned Act of Grace down because they didn’t think there was a market for a speculative fiction novel that dealt with issues of race.
“I’ll keep trying.” My agent said; however, I could tell she was discouraged.
Now, I knew I was suppose to wait on my agent to do the magic that agents do, but as the rejections from editors continued to piled up I realized I was probably going to have to do something different to pave the way to publishing success. I knew I didn’t want to self-publish my book so I began to consider the option of finding a small or independent publisher.
One November morning my agent sent me a flurry of rejection emails from editors and I got angry. I typed “African American Literary Publishers” into Goggle and up popped the name Plenary Publishing.
Sometimes you have to take a leap off the cliff into the unknown and trust that God and the ancestors will throw you some wings on the way down. I followed Plenary’s detailed submissions directions, pressed the send button and waited and waited and waited. I waited so long I almost forgot that I had submitted to them. Great blessing sometime come to those who wait. On May 13, the day after my birthday, I received a request for the full manuscript of my novel Act of Grace. A month later I had the contract in my hands.
The editing of the novel went smoothly. Of course, there were the general delays that come with any publishing project but I am very happy with my novel and have received excellent reviews.
My advice to new writers is if you are serious about getting published, work at writing as you would a career or job. Learn the craft by become a part of critiques groups, go to as many conferences as you can afford. Read all kinds of novels and writing books, but, in addition, read books and blogs about how to conduct the business side of writing. A good book to start with is The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry.
Karen Simpson is passionate about the craft of writing fiction, the art of quilting, and the discipline of historical research. She received her bachelor’s degree in Animal Husbandry, M.A. in Foreign and International Trade and a M.S. in Historic Preservation. A historic preservationist trained in heritage interpretation and administration, the subjects and themes of her fiction are often taken from the stories she discovers while doing research for museum exhibits. In 2009 Simpson was awarded the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Older Writers Grant. She is lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Act of Grace is her first novel.