If you’ve checked out any Christian fiction blogs lately, you’ve probably seen some interviews or guest blogposts by the sweet and bubbly Katie Ganshert, author of debut novel Wildflowers from Winter. It’s a fantastic breakout (or break-in?) novel, and I really love that it’s set in farm country! Katie’s next book is already in the works–Wishing on Willows.
So today, I thought I’d dig a little deeper and pepper Katie with those niggling questions we, as authors, contemplate quite frequently in the course of our writing careers. Katie was a gem and answered all my questions, no questions asked! This interview was so refreshing to me personally, and I know you’re going to love it! Let’s roll!
HG: WILDFLOWERS FROM WINTER is your debut novel. Is it the first novel you’ve ever written to completion?
KG: Nope. I wrote two novels before this, but haven’t showed either to my agent.
HG: How did you land your agent, Rachelle Gardner–querying/conferences/other? Is she heavily involved in the early editing process?
KG: I went to the ACFW conference in 2009 and pitched to her during one of my appointments. She asked me to submit the full manuscript and two months later, she called and offered me representation. It was a VERY exciting day. You can read about it here: http://katieganshert.com/katie-ganshert/i-got-the-call/. Rachelle is a great editor, but she must have felt my story was ready to submit because we didn’t do any early editing. We submitted to pub houses pretty much right away.
HG: Speaking of editing, once Waterbrook/Multnomah signed you up for publication, how long did the revisions/edits take till that final draft was sent out?
KG: The draft I sent Rachelle was the same draft we sent Waterbrook/Multnomah. However, the draft I sent Rachelle went through some significant rewrites and revisions. I think I spent more time revising and editing than I did writing the rough draft.
HG: And speaking of publishers (I know, I’m nosy!), how long did it take from the time your proposal went out till you got an acceptance? And speaking of proposals, was that an easy process? Did you have a one-page sell sheet all ready to go?
KG: Oh, that was a loooong journey. After submitting my full manuscript to my publisher, we heard in March that it would be going on to Pub Board, which is the big, important meeting. It’s basically the final step to getting a contract, where everyone gathers together from the pub house and discusses the pros and cons of the book and the author. My book didn’t actually go to pub board until October, so I had several months of waiting. I got the phone call from Rachelle in late October that I had a book deal. Another VERY exciting day. You can read about it here: http://katieganshert.com/katie-ganshert/a-wait-well-worth-it/.
As far as proposals…they can definitely feel intimidating. I personally do not like the comparable titles section. I never know what books to compare my work to. But Rachelle had a template that I used to write mine up that was very helpful. I did make one sheets. They were a very handy tool when I went to the conference.
HG: I imagine your agent/publisher is very interested in building your platform. What are some specific tips they’ve given you to broaden your reach?
KG: My marketing director is a great help when it comes to ideas for building my platform. I know my publisher was very happy with my online presence before they contracted me, so I think it’s important that pre-published authors make an effort to get their name out there. After I got the contract, I discovered that a lot of people at my publishing house were reading my blog. So be careful what you throw out to the world wide web! You never know who might be reading.
As far as specific tips….I think I learned most of those through observation and experience. Be about conversing instead of advertising. Be about community instead of competition. Ask questions. Start a conversation. And offer something that will be of value to readers.
But keep platform in its proper perspective. Because here’s the truth: the BEST thing novelists can do is write a great novel. I think I had/have a pretty decent platform and I think I did some pretty creative things to get the word out, but my efforts were a drop in the bucket compared the publicity and marketing my publishing house provides. It’s so easy for us, as authors, to put the entire weight of our success on our shoulders. But at the end of the day, things outside of our control have to happen for our work to succeed.
HG: I know you’re a writing Momma, like so many of us. How do you balance your schedule, now that you’re writing, editing and blogging?
KG: It’s always a challenge! Especially when revisions come. Revising is a very intense time for me. I feel like I need to stay immersed in my story world. It’s hard to jump in and out of it and stay in any sort of a groove. Thankfully, I have an incredibly supportive husband and family that lives in the area. So they help me with Brogan. I also have to let go of the house and accept the fact that laundry and dishes will pile up and that’s okay.
On a typical day, I make sure to get up early. Spend time in the Word (gotta start the day off right). Then get some writing-related tasks done before my son wakes up.
HG: What are effective ways to grow a loyal blog following? Your blog is so inviting!
KG: I wish I knew! I think the biggest thing to realize is that it takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. Some tangible tips would include:
- Write blog posts that will in some way help the reader. In other words, be reader-oriented.
- If you want comments, always ask a question at the end so readers will have something to discuss.
- Interact with your readers.
- Visit other blogs and leave comments.
- Post links to your blog with a catchy hook on Twitter and Facebook.
- Have fun! Because really, if it’s not fun, it’s not worth it.
HG: Finally, any parting thoughts for authors who haven’t landed agents yet? Or authors whose proposals are out on submission?
KG: Patience, grasshopper. I know it’s the hardest kind of waiting. I know sometimes you’ll check your email for the five-hundredth time that day and want to crawl out of your skin because you still haven’t heard anything. I know the rejections sting and the insecurity can be brutal. But if stories burn in your heart and if this journey is drawing you to your knees, closer to God, than keep on keepin’ on. Published authors do not share the same level of talent or the same number of connections. What they do share is their ability to persevere and the will to get back up again.
Katie Ganshert was born and raised in the Midwest, where she writes stories about finding faith and falling in love. When she’s not busy plotting her next novel, she enjoys watching movies with her husband, playing make-believe with her wild-child of a son, and chatting with her girlfriends over bagels. She and her husband are in the process of adopting from the Congo. You can find her online at her blog and on Facebook.
Wildflowers from Winter:
Bethany Quinn was happy to leave her small town ten years ago to create a new, successful life. But when tragedies strike at home, she is forced to return and face the pain of her childhood. Out of options, Bethany tries to find a place where love and faith make sense again.
****Oh, my word, if you’re like me, you got SO MUCH out of this interview! I was surprised to realize that publishing houses do follow writer’s blogs, even pre-publication. I was also surprised at the 7-month wait Katie had for her manuscript to go to the publishing board (must’ve been completely nerve-wracking, Katie!). Do share what you got out of this post today!
AND…if you liked this post, would you be a dear and click the “follower” button for my page? I’m looking for loyal followers who enjoy my writing and want to buy my book someday. I know lots of you follow me on my FB page, but I lost blog followers when I switched to a new blogspot name.