Monday Meet-Up, December 28, 2015
Inspirational author & speaker, Lori Wagner
- Please tell us a little about yourself, and how you became an author?
Since I was a young girl, I have been an avid reader. Although I don’t recall it in my own memory, my sister says I used to entertain myself reading the dictionary. My Barbie dolls “lived” on the apartment I made on the bookshelf. I have always loved books and letters. Numbers, not so much; but I love, love words.
One of my favorite novels growing up was Little Women. Being the second of four girls, like the family in the book, I related to the heroin, Jo, who squirreled herself away with her books and dreams of writing. I never really imagined becoming a published author, and I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to share my work with others.
Honestly, I don’t know that I would have become a published author if I hadn’t suffered the loss of my first husband. It was after his passing I prayerfully reevaluated my life and felt direction to pursue the possibility of writing.
- 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…)
I don’t have a magic key to unlock the door to an aspiring writer’s dreams, but I will say that if you believe you have a story worth hearing, a message worth sharing, be willing to invest in getting that out. You may not get your first manuscript published by a traditional publishing house with a beautiful contract and an expense-paid book tour, but start some chatter. Submit some articles. Do some blogging. Don’t be afraid to self-publish so people can become familiar with your work.
- What are some of your projects that have been released that you are excited about?
I have titles in different genres, and I am excited about every one! Specifically, I am very pleased to have recently finished Marigold, the last book in an inspirational historical romance trilogy set in my home state of Kentucky in the 1860s. I was also very thrilled with the last year’s release of a small group resource entitled Wisdom is a Lady. The set includes a student book, leader book and a DVD of me teaching four lessons on the importance and role of wisdom in our lives. Coming out in 2016 is another new venture, a devotional prayer journal entitled Arise, and I am currently working on a project called The Scent of Hope.
- How important are literary agents? Should an author secure an agent first?
I worked for some time to get established with a literary agent. I was successful in doing so, but after two years and no contract with any traditional publishing houses, we agreed to part ways.
If you can get a good agent, by all means do so. I’m not saying mine wasn’t good, but perhaps it wasn’t the right fit or the right timing.
- Is self-publishing just as good as traditional publishing? What actions should an author take before making this decision?
Hm. “Just as good as?” That’s definitely a personal call. There are benefits to self-publishing, certainly. And there are benefits to traditional publishing. I have done both and will likely continue to do so. Why? Because as a public speaker, what a publishing house might not be interested in, my loyal followers might scoop up with big smiles.
With today’s technology, it is not necessary to do a print run of thousands of books. It’s possible to do small print runs and provide resources that a publisher might not want to invest in.
That said, you have to be able to afford self-publishing. If you choose this route, I highly recommend hiring a skilled graphic designer for your covers and interior layout. It doesn’t matter how wonderful the content is if the project looks like a fifth grader pulled it together. The pros to self-publishing are complete control over content, inventory and copyright as well as a higher profit margin. The cons are paying for everything yourself, marketing on your own (or hiring that out), and there is a learning curve you will have to navigate as you learn the ropes.
As for traditional publishing, I love the ease of it. I love that I send in a manuscript that is evaluated and edited by skilled people who polish it and make it better. And who doesn’t love free? The fact that all production, distribution and marketing costs are absorbed by the publisher is wonderful; however, the profit margin is much smaller, and you will likely have to wait a year or more between the time the manuscript is submitted and actually receiving a royalty check.
- What is the most important piece of advice that you can think of to give to aspiring writers?
Work. It takes work. It takes passion and drive and commitment and work.
Become the best writer you can with the resources you have. Take classes if you are able. If not, go to the library. Read everything you can on improving your writing and self-editing skills. Make sure to read books published in the genre you want to be published in. Join a writers group where you can bounce your writing off others. Attend a conference if you have the resources. Then work. And then work some more.
The bottom line is this. Writers often must say “no” to themselves and others in order to say “yes” to the work required to fulfill their dreams. So get to work.
Thank you, Lori! Check out her list of nonfiction titles, as well as her fiction at www.affirmingfaith.com.