Michelle Buckman on Landing her First Publishing Contract

Michelle Buckman on her first publishing contract.
Author Michelle Buckman’s  journey to landing her first publishing contract must have seemed more like a roller coaster ride! But as you can see from today’s guest on How I First Published, it’s been well worth it.
Now, here’s Michelle: 

What was your first published novel?

 
My first novel published was A Piece of the Sky, but it was not the first novel I wrote. I threw away the first manuscript I wrote, which was a romance in which a girl searched out a man to father a baby, but that was way too racy for 1988. My how things have changed! I never wrote another romance. After that, I wrote several novels–women’s fiction–that I filed away (and later edited and sold) before writing A Piece of the Sky.
 

Was it a traditional publishing contract or did you go indie?

A Piece of the Sky was published by a traditional Christian publisher, Cook Communications. (The week my book came out, a new CEO stepped into the company and renamed it David C. Cook.) 
 
A Piece of the Sky has been out of print for several years, but another publisher has expressed interest in picking it up. 

How did that first publishing contract come about?

I attended a conference where I arrived late for the lunch as did a NYC agent. We found seats together and after talking, she invited me to submit by manuscript to her. She called me a week later to say she’d reached page 175 and had to get back to work on other things, but couldn’t until she’d secured a contract for the book. Of course, after years of writing, I was thrilled beyond belief. 
 
Unfortunately, after six months of shopping the manuscript around to publishers, she handed it back to me and told me to find an agent in the Christian market; none of the editors liked the bit of faith woven into it. 
 
The Christian market was a whole new ballgame, a whole new set of people and rules to conquer. I had just moved to another state, had four young children I was homeschooling, and a 150-year-old house that needed a ton of repairs, so this news really threw me into a depression. I made a New Year’s resolution to spend the year devoted solely to selling my manuscript rather than writing anything new. I researched publishers, agents, and editors till I understood who was looking for what, and then a friend introduced me to a published Christian author who told me about his agent and editor. At his suggestion, I traveled to ICRS, met with several editors, and his agent. Of course the process of waiting for answers was long and nerve-racking. By Christmas week, with less than a week till the end of my self-appointed deadline, I was ready to admit I just wasn’t going to write anymore till the kids were grown. But God had other plans. On Christmas eve, an editor called me as he was running through the airport. He said he’d read my manuscript on the plane and wanted to buy it. Oh, what a joyous Christmas that was!
 

How did this make you feel? Has it been as good as you expected, or a letdown, or exhausting, for example? 

I am thrilled every time I sell one of my manuscripts. I haven’t sold everything I’ve written, but I’ve learned to write what I want to write, what I need to write, because when I’m writing from the heart the lives of the characters pouring onto the page always have a positive impact on my life. I am actually most satisfied with the books I didn’t think I’d ever sell.
 

Tell us what’s happened with your writing journey since.

I have published six novels:
 
A Piece of the Sky
Pretty Maids All in A Row (co-authored)
Maggie Come Lately
My Beautiful Disaster
Death Panels
Rachel’s Contrition
 
I took a long break after the last one because I had a late-life baby and I moved again, but I am back at the keyboard and bursting with more stories and words than I can get down on paper. Stay tuned for new novels!
 
Michelle Buckman is the author of six novels, including the award-winning novel Rachel’s Contrition and Christy Award finalist Maggie Come Lately. She is an international conference speaker renowned for her dynamic discussions on writing and faith. She has been a featured author at the Catholic Marketing Network trade show, International Christian Retail Show, Southeastern Independent Booksellers Association, and the South Carolina Book Festival. She was born in New York, raised in Canada and has lived in the south for over forty years. She loves walking on the beach; it’s both her inspiration and her favorite pastime.
Keep up with Michelle and her writing at www.MichelleBuckman.com
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