Wisdom from the Publishing World with Barbara Britton
The November installment of the 2021 Author Series, where a published author shares the advice they would give to their pre-published self along with what they wished they'd known before they published their first book, features Barbara Britton. I think I met Barbara at my very first writing conference more than a decade ago. Since then, it has been fun to watch her writing career take flight! I have often featured her books, celebrated her book launches, and interviewed her about her publishing journey in this space. I love all of her books--her Biblical Fiction titles are just delightful! Scroll down to see the gorgeous covers--including the one for her upcoming 2022 release--now available for presale!
If you don't know Barbara, here's her official biography!
Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast, Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes Christian Fiction from Bible Times to present day. Her Tribes of Israel series brings little-known Bible characters to light. Barbara is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and Romance Writers of America. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.
If I could go back and talk to my pre-published self, what advice would I give?
I began writing in 2007 and had my first book written one year later. I was elated to finish a book, but two questions bothered me. Is this story any good? And what do I do with it? I was alone in the publishing world without a support system of writers.
I would have urged my pre-published self to join a professional writing organization and attend local meetings early on in the writing process. I would have saved myself a lot of time and query letter rejection.
The Young Adult novel that I had written was 45,000 words. That’s a great word count for a Middle Grade novel, but not for YA. My novel should have been at least 70,000 to 80,000 words. In today’s market, those counts might be low. When an agent saw my genre and word count on a query letter, the letter was deleted.
My novel had several “said” tags on the pages. I hadn’t learned craft techniques such as placing an action beat in the place of “said.” I would have benefited from having critique partners that I could have found in my writing groups.
I wrote four books before one sold to a publisher. Here again, I was trying to sell a Bible story to General Market agents and editors. They liked the story but where were they going to place it on the shelf? I didn’t realize that there was a Christian publishing world that embraces Biblical Fiction. I wasn’t as knowledgeable on the publishing world as I should have been. The internet makes researching publishers much easier now.
What I wish I had known before publishing my book?
I wish I would have understood the value of a series. My first few works of Biblical Fiction were stand alone novels. My publisher put a series name on them “Tribes of Israel Series,” but the settings and characters were different in each novel.
It wasn’t until I wrote “Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey” about five orphaned sisters who requested to inherit their deceased father’s land, and then stayed with the same five sisters through two more books, that I realized the benefit of a series. Readers fall in love with locations and characters and want to stick with them. Publicity and marketing are easier with a series. If a reader likes your characters in book one, they are likely to keep reading and increase your sales.
I’m working on a small-town contemporary novel at the moment and a friend suggested that I write blurbs for at least two more books. She’s right. I’m taking the time to develop a setting, and there are always interesting secondary characters looking to be the star in my next novel.
Launching a book takes an abundant amount of time, money, and creativity. My mantra has always been, it’s not a launch day, it’s a launch year! If you’re going to create towns and characters for a story, you might as well craft three—four—or five books off of it and not just one.
If you are pitching your story to an editor or an agent, you definitely want to have your story blurbs ready for future books.
While the Israelites struggle to occupy the Promised Land of God, Mahlah bat Zelophehad is orphaned and left to care for her four sisters. But daughters of the dead are unable to inherit land, and it will take a miracle for Mahlah to obtain the means to care for her sisters and uphold the vow she made to her dying mother.
Mahlah must seek Moses, the leader of her people, and request something extraordinary—the right for a daughter to inherit her deceased father’s land. A right that will upset the ox-cart of male inheritance and cast her in the role of a rebel.
But, God is the protector of the orphan and the widow, and five orphaned daughters need His help. With God, anything is possible. Even changing man’s tradition.
My next Tribes of Israel novel will release on February 25, 2022.
Defending David is available for pre-order: Amazon Link
When a quiet journey to Jerusalem turns tragic, newly orphaned Rimona must flee a kinsman set on selling her as a slave. Racing into the rocky hills outside of Hebron, Rimona is rescued by a Philistine commander journeying to Jerusalem with six-hundred warriors.
Exiled commander, Ittai the Gittite, is seeking refuge in the City of David. Protecting a frantic Hebrew woman is not in his leadership plan. Although, having a nobleman's niece in his caravan might prove useful for finding shelter in a foreign land.
Rimona and Ittai arrive in Jerusalem on the eve of a rebellion. In the chaos of an heir's betrayal, will they be separated forever, or can they defend King David and help the aging monarch control his rebellious son?
Thanks, Barbara, for sharing your words of wisdom!!