Mary DeMuth is a busy writer. Not only does she produce fiction and non-fiction books, but she mentors new writers! She will be teaching at Mt. Hermon this April - jump on a plane and join her there.
Author and speaker Mary DeMuth loves to help folks turn their trials into triumphs. Mary’s most recent parenting book is Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, and her next novel releases this month: Daisy Chain. Mary also loves to mentor writers through the publication process at The Writing Spa.
Personal blog: http://www.relevantblog.blogspot.com
Writing blog: http://www.wannabepublished.blogspot.com
Daisy Chain blog: http://blog.myfamilysecrets.org
1) How long have you been writing? By this, I mean seriously writing with intention for publication – include the years of struggle before publication.
I wrote for ten years in obscurity while my kids were very young. I intended to get published during those years but didn’t have the time or tools to do so (or the understanding of the publishing business). I did publish a newsletter and wrote curriculum. But I seriously pursued publication starting in 2000. By 2003, I had a regular weekly newspaper column, articles in several magazines, a literary agent, and two book contracts. It happened pretty fast.
2) At what point in your writing journey did you begin to think of yourself as “successful”?
When I held my first book in my hands. It’s still a marvel to me when I hold a book. It had been a dream for so many years.
3) What were the top three obstacles you encountered on the road to being published?
One. In the beginning I knew nothing about the publishing business. I sent in articles instead of queries, and I did a lot of shotgun submissions, not reading guidelines. Two. Being new. I simply wasn’t known in the publishing world, so that worked against me. Three. In the midst of five books under contract, our family was moving to France to be missionaries. I was sure I was giving up my publishing dream. On the contrary, everything worked out fine. And I believe the lessons I learned in France about humility, submission, following the Kingdom of God no matter what, truly informs me today as a writer.
4) There is a difference between tenacity and being “bull-headed”. How have you been able to move your dream forward without turning agents/editors off?
Yes, I believe so. I tried to start each conference with this prayer: Lord, help me to minister to people here. Show me the needs. At one conference, I was able to pray for a lady who had been really struggling. During our prayer, she had a huge breakthrough. I counted that conference a success. I hope that my focus is on God’s Kingdom and not advancing my own. Now that I’m published and have good relationships across the industry, I’m so thankful I didn’t view editors like Amway prospects. They are people, and now they’re my friends.
5) How difficult was it to find an agent?
I completed my first novel in 2003 and attended my first major conference that year. I didn’t even know I needed an agent. I met with one well-known agent who said he wasn’t taking any more clients. So I chatted with him and walked away, trusting God. A week later, he emailed me and sought to represent me. I’ve been with Alive Communications ever since. So, in my case it wasn’t hard to find an agent, but remember that it took ten years of hard writing labor before I wrote the book that wooed an agent. It’s great writing that gets us audience with agents.
6) Is tenacity something you learned along the way? Or does it come naturally to you?
I’ve been a tenacious one from the start. In the sixth grade, I decided I would be Valedictorian of my high school. I was. In the middle of that journey, I met Jesus, and that softened me, thankfully. As I wrote in obscurity, I gave myself increasingly harder deadlines, then made myself reach them. By the time I had real deadlines, I had already trained myself to meet them early. I hand in my books and articles early now, much to the surprise of my editors. So, I am tenacious, but I also came to be more tenacious by vigorous training.
7) Where will your tenacity take you next?
I recently started a new business called The Writing Spa (http://www.thewritingspa.com) where I mentor writers through the publication process. Fitting that into my regular writing schedule has been a joy and a challenge. But it’s been such a privilege to raise up new writers who will write for a generation I may not see. What a joy!
Don't treat editors like Amway prospects - some really great advice there! I've seen editors at conferences looking like deer caught in headlights because they have to dodge so many emotional bullets.
If you are planning to attend a conference this year to pitch your work, it's a good idea to practice your pitch over and over, and then pray that you will be calm and allow God to guide your steps. First impressions are important!
I bid you good writing.