Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Tenacity Interviews - Jennifer Allee

Say "hi" to Jennifer Allee, author of the upcoming book The Pastor's Wife. As we wrap up the Tenacity Interviews at the end of April, I'm amazed at all I've learned from the authors who have shared their amazing stories with us. Not only have I learned to hang on and be tenacious about my writing, but I've learned so much about the industry as a whole. One thing I've gleened is that there is no "one way" to go about becoming a published author. Everyone has a unique story, a unique way they were able to find their way through those doors.
It isn't an easy business to break into, and it's even more difficult to stay in once you break down those publishing barriers. I hope you enjoy this interview, and the next couple of weeks too.

How long did you wait from when you first started to when you were published? I dabbled for quite a while, but from the time I got serious about writing a novel till the time is sold was about four years: One year completing the manuscript, two years looking for an agent, another year for her to sell the book.

It sounds like you have a story about your second book as well. Give me a short sketch of what happened - My agent and I parted ways because she wasn't very excited about selling Christian fiction. I believe God put us together for a season, but the season was definitely over, so it was an amicable, mutual split. A few months ago, I read on Camy Tang's blog that there was a post on Brandilyn Collins' blog about Abingdon Press and their new fiction line. So I bopped over to Brandilyn's blog and read her interview with Barbara Scott. Normally, the only way I could have submitted to Abingdon would have been through an agent (didn't have one) or by being requested after a conference pitch. BUT, Barbara said she'd take submissions from anyone who let her know she'd read about it on the blog. Since "The Pastor's Wife" was completed and ready, I jumped on it. But technology conspired against me... the firewall at Abingdon does NOT like Hotmail addresses and I couldn't get my proposal through. Finally, by communicating through the blog, I was able to get through to Barbara. There were several more incidents like that, times when I could have just given up. For example: After sending my sample chapters, I waited three weeks and thought "Well, she must not have liked it." Then I checked the blog again. Turns out, Barbara had posted a comment that if anyone couldn't get through via email, they should just snail mail the info and gave the address. I thought it would be good to give that a try. Thank God I did, because Barbara emailed me (I can get them from her) and let me know that she never got the sample chapters and she was so glad I'd sent them through the mail.

Also, how many rejections did you face? Hmmm... from agents or editors? I probably queried about ten agents (some of which I've met now at ACFW conferences). For the first book, my agent sent it all over. I think it got rejected about eight times before Five Star bought it. As for the book I just sold, I pitched it to an editor last year, and she rejected the idea because it wasn't right for her house. But the first time I actually sent it anywhere was to Abingdon, without an agent, and they bought it. So that one suffered considerably less trauma!

Right now, I'm working on two more manuscripts (not contracted by anyone, but two editors showed interest at the ACFW conference). I'm also praying about an agent and when to pursue that again. I know who I'd LIKE to approach, but again, just waiting to make sure the timing is right.
You can visit Jennifer at:
The Pastor's Wife - coming Spring 2010 from Abingdon Press
The Love of His Brother - Five Star, November 2007
I would love to hear from you about what you've gleened from these interviews. Please take a minute to share your inspiration with the rest of us!
I bid you good writing.

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