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Coming Full Circle

Today’s guest blog is from Kim Vogel Sawyer, a best-selling author whose books have topped the sales charts and won awards since 2005, when she left her elementary-school teaching job to write full-time. Her books have won the Carol Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Her stories are designed to offer hope and encouragement to readers. Kim sees a correlation between the writing of a good story and God’s good plan for every life, and she hopes her stories encourage readers to seek God’s will in their own lives. Best-selling author Tracie Peterson says: “Kim Vogel Sawyer is an exceptional storyteller who is sure to please fans of historical fiction. Her attention to detail and love of God shines through.”

In addition to writing, Kim Vogel Sawyer is a popular speaker, freely sharing her testimony of God’s grace and healing–both physical and emotional–in her life. She and her husband, Don, reside in Hutchinson, Kansas, and have three daughters and ten grandchildren. She is active in her church and loves singing, quilting, cats, and chocolate. In September 2020, she celebrated the release of her fifty-fifth novel. Please visit her website. (She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray.)

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In 2002, as my health was crumbling to the point that full-time teaching was no longer a possibility and I didn’t know what I was going to do, my dad–feeling as though I needed a major lift–took it upon himself to make my publishing dream come true. He sent a story I’d written, titled A Seeking Heart, to Steve Laube, who, at the time, owned a self-publishing company called ACW Press. And Steve agreed to help me get it into print.

Thus began a journey beyond the scope of my wildest imaginings.

You see, all of my growing-up years I had held tight to aspirations of being a writer someday. But a series of rejections from publishing companies in the early 1990s convinced me I had no future in writing; so I’d poured my heart into teaching. Loved it, too, and felt secure and successful in the classroom. But God, the planter of dreams, had a different course for me. I truly believe He allowed my health to deteriorate so I would be forced to step out of my comfort zone and take a second look at writing. And He prompted Daddy to reactivate my long-held dream at the perfect time.

A Seeking Heart found an audience, and the feedback from readers gave me the courage to once again submit to traditional publishers. In January of 2005, one of my stories found its way to Bethany House, where Carol Johnson enjoyed it enough to ask Janette Oke to take a peek at it, leading to an endorsement from the “Queen of Christian Fiction” for my first traditionally published novel, Waiting for Summer’s Return. (I still hyperventilate when I think about it!) I contracted with Bethany House in March of 2005 and have been celebrating a full-time writing ministry ever since.

But y’know what? God still had a few surprises up His sleeve. :o)

Between 2002 and 2005, I had arranged with a print-on-demand company to print two follow-up books to A Seeking Heart, creating a three-book series.

Between 2006 and 2010, my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, sent out queries to traditional publishers about the Mountain Lake Series; but none were interested. As much as I wanted these stories–these very special,  straight-from-my-heart stories–to be given new life, it seemed as though it was a dream that would be forced to fizzle. Until now.

Then two things happened: (1) Tamela joined The Steve Laube Agency in 2011 (the same Steve Laube who had a role in placing my very first book into the hands of readers); and (2) Hendrickson Publishers purchased rights to republish the three books in the Mountain Lake Series. My editor for this reprint project was (are you ready for this?) Carol Johnson.

I realize there are some people who would call this coincidence. I don’t. To me, it’s a very clear picture that God is right in the center of my writing ministry. Which is, of course, where I want Him to be. He truly has brought me full circle, drawing me fully into His plans for my writing. Is there any better place to be than the center of God’s will? I don’t think so.

Years ago, I adopted the verse “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4, NKJV). I wanted to delight myself so thoroughly in Him that seeking and following HIS will would become the deepest desire of my heart. Then, whatever He gave me would be exactly what I wanted. When I adopted that verse, I didn’t know where He would take me, but now I can look back and see how my heart’s desires have been met abundantly and exceedingly beyond my expectation.

The rewritten and updated Mountain Lake Trilogy came out in 2012–ten years after the release of my very first self-published novel. I celebrate and praise God for all He accomplished within that decade. He simply amazes me!

May God bless you muchly as you journey with Him!

~ Kim

[An earlier version of this post ran in August 2011.]

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Are You High Maintenance?

by Steve Laube

Last week I was asked to define what is meant when an author is deemed “high maintenance” by an agent or a publisher. The more I thought about this the more I realized how difficult it is to quantify. Any attempt to do so is fraught with potential misunderstanding because most people are looking for specific rules to follow.

Normally “high maintenance” is a description of someone who is difficult to work with or is constantly in need of attention. It can be anyone from a “diva” to a “rookie.” The best way to express the issue is in the following word picture:

When you contract with an agent or a publisher you are granted a large measure of “Good Will” in the form of a bag of gold coins. You are free to spend these coins however you wish during the course of the business relationship. The cover design is completely wrong? Spend some coins. The marketing plan appears weak. Spend some coins. And as time goes by and positive things happen you receive more gold coins for your bag.

However, many authors make the mistake of spending their entire bag of coins the first time something goes wrong. And then the next time they need a favor or a special dispensation there isn’t any “Good Will” left.

I think there are three areas where these relationships can break down.

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Ten Commandments for Working with Your Agent

By request, here are my Ten Commandments for working with your agent. Break them at your own peril.

Thou shalt vent only to thine agent and never directly to thy publisher or editor. Thou shalt not get whipped into a frenzy by the rumor mill fomented by internet loops, groups, Facebook, or blogs. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s success. Be content with thine own contract. Thou shalt not get whipped into a frenzy by the rumor mill fomented by internet loops, groups, Facebook, or blogs.
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How Many Manuscripts Does It Take?

The “Your Questions Answered” Series __________ I was wondering about debut novelists. I think sometimes readers (and writers) are under the misconception that debut novelists are signed with an agent or a publishing house with their first completed manuscript. But the more I read, listen, talk to other writers, I’m learning how …

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A Writer’s “Voice”

A couple months ago I asked some of my clients if there are terms they hear in writing and publishing that they wish someone would clearly and conclusively define. One said this: “Professionals say, ‘Find your voice,’ ‘Trust your voice,’ ‘Embrace your voice.’ I can recognize another writer’s voice, but …

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What if You Get a Book Deal on Your Own and Then Want an Agent?

One of our readers asked this via the green “Ask us a question” button.

What happens if you get a book contract before you have an agent? What if, by some miracle, an editor sees your work and wants to publish it? (1) would having a publisher interested in my work make an agent much more likely to represent me, and (2) would it be appropriate to try to find an agent at that point (when a publisher says it wants to publish you)? My fear is that querying an agent and receiving a response could take several months, but I’d need to accept a potential contract with a book publisher right away (I would think). Is it appropriate to ask the editor to speak with an agent on your behalf to speed the process?

This is a great topic but there are a few questions within the question. Let me try to break it down.

Many times have had authors approach us with contracts in hand and seeking representation (happened just last week). Of course this will get an agent’s attention immediately. But there are caveats:

a)      Who is the publisher? There is a big difference between a major company and your local independent publisher. Not all publishers are created equal (see the Preditors & Editors warnings).

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12 Steps to Publication

It takes 12 strikes to achieve a perfect game in bowling. (See last Friday’s video.) It made me think there are 12 things that need to happen in the publication process. Each must knock down all the pins to achieve publishing success. With that simplistic idea in mind, I came …

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More Favorite Blog Comments

If you read this blog regularly (or, even better, subscribe to it), you already know something about the wealth of free information that appears in this space every weekday, week after week, month after month, by the agents of The Steve Laube Agency. Posts like this one—okay, like the ones …

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