My New Year’s resolution is to blog regularly. It’s been a year since I made an entry here and that’s just too long. It’s not that I’ve nothing to say. I’m chock full of opinions—just ask anyone who knows me well. I’ll try to share some of those thoughts as we make our way through 2010.  Mostly I’ll blog about writing and getting published.  Many of my Facebook friends are writers and I suspect many of my blog readers will be also. But I reserve the right to blog on other topics as it seems appropriate.


Probably the best place to start is to help motivate you to success as a writer in 2010. Every writer I know has faced rejection and discouragement about their writing. I certainly have my share of rejection slips (and am collecting more all the time).  If you’re a beginning writer, rejection slips can be very depressing. (Not that they aren’t depressing to seasoned writers—they ARE). But for new writers, it’s especially hard. You wonder, “Am I on the right track? Did God call me to be a writer? If so, why is it so hard to get published?”  


I could probably blog all year on those three questions alone, but let me start by making three observations about writing success.


1.      Repeated rejection does not necessarily mean you’re not a good writer. In my role as a senior editor at Harvest House Publishers, I reject good writers all the time. I do so with great reluctance, but the truth is that every publishing company has limits to what they can publish.  We know what our company can reasonably publish in any given season and we choose the proposals that we think best fit our goals and are an appropriate fit for us.  Thus, we often have to reject fine proposals that we trust the author will send elsewhere until he or she finds the right publisher.


2.      A successful writing career is probably 60% about your writing and 40% about all the non-writing aspects of your career.  So, if you’re a good writer, you’re well on your way. But are you doing the 40% that will give you a leg up?  That 40% consists of things like knowing the current market, personal reading time, going to writer’s conferences (and meeting with editors), building the dreaded “platform,” belonging to a good critique group, and so on.


3.      For most successful writers, the path to that success was very incremental.  Patience is mandatory for aspiring writers.  If you love to write and desire to succeed, then write down some incremental goals and keep moving ahead.


Certainly prayer is key too. That almost goes without saying. I’ve published nine or so books now and mostly the way they came to be published astonishes me.  At some point in my blogging efforts this year, I’ll tell you how my first non-fiction book came to be published. It was nothing short of a miracle—and that’s often what it takes to get published these days.


Now I’m working on a book that is possibly the most exciting I’ve ever undertaken.  It’s still in the proposal stage, but I’m very hopeful about it.  For this writer, it’s a dream come true. But it almost didn’t happen. That too is a story I’ll try to blog about later in the year (after the proposal finds a publisher and I’m at liberty to write about it).


I don’t want to keep you here so long as to bore you, so I’ll try to keep my blog entries a reasonable length. 


One final thing: I read several blogs myself and I’ve noticed I enjoy it when those bloggers answer questions about writing (or other subjects). So you can help me out by asking questions you think would be of interest to writers and I’ll occasionally use this space to tackle some of those questions.  Email your questions to me at and I’ll try to answer the ones that I think will benefit the most readers.


If you find what I write useful, please send my blog address to your friends. I’d love to build up my readership.  And if you’re not a writer, I hope to blog some things you too will find of interest in the coming months.


Next time I’m going to discuss the editor/author relationship.


Now go work on your WIP (work in progress).


19 replies
  1. BrendaLou Scott
    BrendaLou Scott says:

    Great post, Nick! While I doubt I’ll ever write my novel, even though I think I have a story worth sharing, your blog will be meaningful to me. I don’t have the drive or passion to see my idea to fruition. Give me some cloth, a rotary cutter and a sewing machine and my real passion comes to life. You are one of those literary people I live vicariously through. Continued success to you.

  2. Erin J.
    Erin J. says:

    I love your hints on writing! I love to write but all of the hoops to get published intimidate me. I guess that’s why I love blogging. Instant publish, just hit a button. Maybe someday I can publish on paper too. There are several works on my heart to write, but I certainly don’t have time for the 40%! Guess we’ll work on the 60% and let the other part happen later. 🙂

  3. Rachelle
    Rachelle says:

    I’m glad you’re back to blogging, Nick! I’ll enjoy keeping up with you here.

    Questions… hmmm. Okay, here’s one. How can I get Harvest House to say yes to one of my proposals?

    (Not entirely tongue in cheek. Your readers probably want to know!)

    Happy new year.

  4. BJ Hoff
    BJ Hoff says:

    Your return to blogging is going to be enthusiastically received, Nick. You’re already leading off with some genuinely valuable observations for writers–those already published and those working toward that goal. Will look forward to your future entries.


  5. Richard Mabry
    Richard Mabry says:

    Nick, Welcome back to the blog-o-sphere. Your wisdom and insight have been missed. (Sorry, that was passive voice. Forgot I was speaking to an editor). Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading your posts, anytime you get around to writing them.

  6. Steve G
    Steve G says:

    I have found the author’s life is quite similar to the pastor – except we publish weekly. My craft may be different in approach, but the fear of rejection, the silence of listeners (readers), and the patience to see results (not in publishing but in peoples’ lives – they say it takes 3-7 years for a pastor to be able to do real ministry in a church situation).

    It will be a good year, I think.

  7. Teri Dawn Smith
    Teri Dawn Smith says:

    Could you tell us specifics these questions?

    1. What is Harvest House especially looking for now as to genre, writing, etc.

    2. What are some of the things in a proposal that make you want to request a full manuscript?

    3. What will make you put a manuscript in the rejection pile faster than anything?

    Thanks for giving us the chance to ask!

  8. LauraLee Shaw
    LauraLee Shaw says:

    This was fabulous information. I’m in the platform-building phase, and I’m also beginning to speak. But I especially appreciate your mentioning of prayer. It is only when I seek Him first that I know the direction He wants me to go. Thank you!

  9. Christy Gail
    Christy Gail says:

    Thanks for sharing this perspective! It is good to be reminded that you can be a good writer and still get rejected, and that a lot of different factors play into getting published. I look forward to your future posts!

  10. Michelle at Graceful
    Michelle at Graceful says:

    Hi Nick, Thanks for some valuable insights and much-needed inspiration. I think your words on patience are the best advice there is when it comes to writing, publishing, platform-building, etc. It all seems like such a glacially slow process, and I’m so anxious to push it along faster than it seems to want to go.

    Anyway, my question: I just started on Twitter, but I feel totally out of my element. I’m not sure what to tweet about, and feel like nothing I have to say would be interesting, unique or relevant. What are your thoughts on Twitter and how does it fit in to the platform-building process?


  11. Lynn Dean
    Lynn Dean says:

    When I got two references for your blog on the same day, I just had to come look. So glad I did! I hope you’ll make this a regular habit.

    While I’ve never met you personally, I’d like to say that every dealing I’ve had with your company has been a real blessing–always courteous, helpful, and encouraging. It’s nice to see people living out their faith.

  12. Nick
    Nick says:

    Thanks, everyone. Teri, I’ll try to address that question soon.

    Michelle, I’ve not yet become a Twitter (Tweeter?). I know that some of the people who are new here came because of a Twitter.


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