Monday Meet-Up, December, 14, 2015
Author & Speaker, Kathy Bruins
- Please tell us a little about yourself, and how you became an author.
I have always loved to write. I bombarded my 3rd grade teacher with rhyming poems … she was so sweet to encourage me. As I grew older and was encouraged to be educated for a “real” job, I trained and had administrative jobs for many years. I always felt unsatisfied with those kind of jobs. After receiving Christ at the age of 22, I had a passion to serve Him. I knew nothing about Christianity, so I took some free classes at a local Bible college to learn. I loved those classes and wanted to be involved in ministry, so I served at my church in volunteer roles for many years. I was also taking business classes to complement my “real” job at the time. Later, I decided to drop the business classes and take ministry classes for a degree at the Bible college. When I graduated I went on to seminary. I stopped going to seminary when I decided I wanted to share Jesus through my writing. I was “nudged” to begin a writing career. So I intentionally looked for writing jobs. I came across a local publisher that was asking for submissions to become part of a team of writers for a new curriculum they were developing. Never really expecting much from it since I was new, I thought it would be good experience to submit. After submitting, I was hired to be part of the team. This was a huge job that paid well and lasted four years.
While I was writing the curriculum, I submitted bids for jobs on Guru.com. I was hired for a job where they were looking for a ghostwriter. I asked them what a ghostwriter was. It turned out to be a celebrity figure who I continue to write for to this day. I also developed my ghostwriting cliental along with collaboration and authoring my own books.
As I grew and learned more about the writing business, I discovered a passion for helping other writers. I became a member of Word Weavers to learn and give. I am now the President of the Southwest Chapter of Word Weavers.
- What do you wish aspiring authors knew about the book industry? (Maybe things you wish you had known, or things you had learned the hard way…)
Writers are normal people that have a passion and language understood only by other writers. That is why it is so important to gather with other writers. I highly recommend writing conferences to learn, share and celebrate the work you are all doing along with having many networking opportunities.
Writing is a day-to-day job. If a writer waits until the muse hits them, they are not committed to writing. Writers must always work at improving their skills … there is always something new to learn. I parallel it to the Christian journey in that it’s never ending while we have breath in us.
- What are some of your projects that have been released that you are excited about?
Because of my involvement with human trafficking, I am excited about my recent book written with a survivor, Malynda Osantowski Hughes. Exposing the Darkness is the story of her life knowing sexual abuse from when she can first remember as a child and being sold as she grew up. Shining the light on this evil is the only way people become aware and will do something to rid it from our society. It is the fastest growing crime because it is a money-maker. Drugs you can sell once, but a human you can sell multiple times.
Another book I wrote with Kim de Blecourt entitled The Book Proposal: 7 Easy Steps to Writing a Successful Book Proposal. Kim and I have taught many workshops at writing conferences regarding creating a book proposal. We have seen the fear in the eyes of writers to do this task and we want to eliminate the anxiety for writers. We decided to take all we have learned from creating book proposals and what we heard from acquisition editors and agents of their expectations of a book proposal and put it all together for an easy to read and apply writer’s tool. There is no fluff in this book just “this is how you write a book proposal.” It’s a quick read plus we added a link to get a book proposal template that the writer can simply fill in the blanks for their proposal and print it out.
- Is having an agent important? Why?
I think it depends on what kind of a writer a person is. If a person is writing to be published in the traditional market, an agent would be very important. Agents are writers’ biggest cheerleaders, plus they know the market. They are able to get the best contract negotiations. When you think about it, if an agent picks up your manuscript to sell, you know that it is sellable. An agent probably wouldn’t take on a client if they showed signs of not being able to write well or not committed to working on writing.
When looking for an agent, make sure it is someone you feel you can work with in the long run and that they have your best interest in mind as they serve you. You should never have to pay an agent anything for they work by commission.
- Is self-publishing just as good as traditional publishing? What actions should an author take before making this decision?
The publishing market has changed so much over the years and is still changing. I believe there is value in both modes of publication. Marketing your book will be the writer’s greatest responsibility in both ways of publishing. A publisher most likely won’t sign on a writer who isn’t willing to market their book. I remember hearing in my earlier years of writing that self-publishing a book meant certain death in trying to be published traditionally. That is no longer true. Look at the fabulous books that started out by being self-published, like The Shack. Today, anything is possible. I do highly recommend getting a book edited before self-publishing. That is crucial. You want to make the best impression on both the readers and publishing houses that may look at it in the future.
Some actions a writer may want to take in making the decision is finding out about the market for their book. Is it for a wide-audience or a focused group? How much control do you want on your book? Once it is sold to a publisher, it’s theirs. Of course, there may be some control for the writer depending what is in the contract. Writers need to look at the royalty possibilities. Could they do better through a publisher or by self-publishing?
- What is the most important piece of advice that you can think of to give to aspiring writers?
If you feel called to writing, don’t give up. Never take it personal when an acquisitions editor or agent turns your manuscript down or gives you advice. Consider the advice priceless. You may or may not follow it, but to receive it is a great gift. When your manuscript is rejected, it may mean that it doesn’t fit what that publisher is looking for, it may need some work, or a numerous amount of other reasons. It’s not about you (unless you are extremely obnoxious and rude, then it may be about you). So many writers have thought that being rejected or accepted at a conference during their meetings with editors and agents means they are accepted or they are a failure. Totally not true. More than likely, the turned down manuscript just hasn’t found the right home yet.
Thank you, Kathy! Find out more about Kathy and her books at www.kathybruins.com