On taking chances (and some good news)

The best things in life happen when we take chances.

We all know it, and yet it’s still scary to leap into the unknown. During the last two years, I’ve taken a lot of chances. I left a reporting job I loved. I traveled alone in Africa. And I put off full-time employment to write a book. Each time, I was scared. Was I making a mistake? Would I find my way on my own? Was it worthwhile to spend a year on a book without knowing whether a publisher would put it on store shelves?

Now someone’s taking a chance on me. I’ve signed with a literary agent! I’m so excited about working with Rachelle Gardner at WordServe Literary Group. So excited! (I’ll share more about the query process in later posts.)

Since some non-writers read this blog, I should offer a little background here. A literary agent works on the author’s behalf to sell the book to a publisher. Most authors use agents rather than contact publishers themselves because agents 1. have contacts at publishing houses 2. know how to approach those publishers and market the book and 3. have the skills and knowledge to negotiate the best possible book deal. In return, they get 15 percent of what the book makes.

Some agents also play an editorial role, helping authors edit the manuscript and proposal before submitting to publishers. Part of the reason I’m so psyched to work with Rachelle is because she’s dedicated to helping me improve what I’ve written so far. She’ll also support me in my writing career going forward, representing me not only for this book, but for other books I write in the future.

If you follow Rachelle’s blog and Twitter feed, you know she represents books with a Christian slant and makes a lot of sales to Christian publishers. Wait… Did I forget to mention that my travel memoir is about finding God? Kidding! My manuscript touches on spirituality and religion, but on the whole, it’s about as secular as books get. Lucky for me, Rachelle is expanding her client list to include authors who write mainstream books.

Up next: polishing the manuscript. When it’s ready, we’ll submit to publishers. And while I have faith in Rachelle’s ability to sell my book, I know I’ll probably face my share of challenges and rejection before this book hits shelves.

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That’s a risk I’m willing to take. Because we all know the best things in life happen when we take chances.

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