Old Guy Takes Over High School Class

April 18, 2013 | By | Add a Comment


Old Guy Charles Dickens

Old Guy Charles Dickens

 Old Guy Takes Over High School Class

My daughter’s high school teacher asked me to come into her Creative Writing class this week. The students had already learned all the basics of how to write. Now, she said, they needed to learn what it takes to snag a contract with a publishing house. This lady knows what she’s talking about. She’s an ACFW writer.


I signed my first contract on January 25, 2013 with Howard Books (Simon & Schuster) for Friend Me, my second novel.  You will search in vain for novel number one. It wasn’t good enough to discuss here.

My Path to Publication


  • A business card. I handed out my author cards in class. We all need them.
    Eye-catching graphics, name and website address are all important.
  • A One-Sheet. This is a single sheet of paper designed to give editors and agents a snapshot view of what you’ve got to offer. Here’s mine, the very same one I took to the ACFW conference in 2012. I’ll confess that my one-sheet content is based primarily on the things agent Steve Laube wanted in a query letter.
  • A pitch. I pitched the story to the students exactly the same way I pitched it to adults I was trying to interest.
In November of 2011 I’d just had the idea for Friend Me. I wanted to try it out on a real-life editor. I found such an editor from one of the major houses at the Indianapolis Christian Writers Conference. I sat down with her, told her I was just getting started with the story, and then pitched it to her. I asked, “If I had this novel done, would you be interested?”
She was over-the-top enthusiastic. “If you had it done, I’d want it right now!” Then she called an agent (whose name you’d recognize) over and said, “Listen to this. It’s the coolest idea I’ve heard all year!”
Why tell you that? Because I never got another word from her again. Absolutely ZERO response to phone, mail or email queries!


Lesson: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, or, “For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:7). If you’re a Christian writer, and you’re writing to please Him, then He’s going to steer you where you need to be. Forget what people say. Kind of.


I got the book finished, looked it over real well, and realized I wasn’t seeing my mistakes any longer. That’s not good. I needed help. I want to make a living at my writing, but I had a book that I wasn’t sure anyone would want to buy. What to do? Pay a professional to help me out.


Now, when I tell you I spent almost a thousand dollars on an editor, some of you reading this will gasp, and say “I can’t afford that!” So, let me ask you a question. What leaves you better off financially of these two choices:
  1. Don’t get help, and don’t get published. And particularly, don’t get an advance.
    Bingo! You’re like the unworthy steward that buried his talent and did nothing with it.
  2. Invest in yourself, pay a professional to give you professional help (yes, I know that sounds redundant).
    Voila! Some happy editor offers you $5000, $7500 or more in an advance for your edited work.
    Now: Deduct $1000 from $7500 and you still have $6500 you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Seriously, for me that was an easy decision. I made the investment, and it paid off.


Coming Next: Part 2, “Getting the manuscript in front of an editor who’ll love it.”

Category: Writing

About the Author ()

Suspense fiction writer. I have a wife whom I love, and five children ranging from college to middle age. I love each one. I've worked a day job as a senior software developer since 1999. Previous to that I spent nearly thirty years as a foreign missionary in Vietnam and China. Yes, I speak Chinese as a second language :-)

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