As promised, today I have an interview with blogger/writer Elizabeth Newsom who has agreed to discuss the beginning of her writing journey, what she is doing to get her first book published, her motivation to write, and her experience sharing her manuscript with readers. She has an inspiring story you won’t want to miss!
Elizabeth Newsom is a romance writer, who manages to find time in between school assignments to work on her novel. Her love of romance is evident on her blog, elizabethnewsom.com, where she posts weekly book reviews on clean romances along with writing tips and spiritual insight. In addition to this, she’s one of the writers for a YA fantasy group blog, LandsUncharted. Elizabeth finds it strange and Gollum-like to speak about herself in third person, but does so when necessary, such as in her bio at the beginning of an author interview.
Are you planning to self-publish or find a publisher?
I intend to find a publisher, though originally I did intend to self-publish. Self-publishing seemed like the shortest route to get what I wanted, but I changed by mind after reading Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft into a Published Novel by Jill Williamson and Stephanie Morrill. You only get one chance to have your first novel published. If you mess that up, agents and traditional publishers won’t want to take a chance with you. To quote the book:
“But if you want to have a career as a novelist—if you’re serious about this thing—then wait. I’m not kidding. At least wait until you’ve spent a few years trying it the regular way. Why? Because you need to put in the hard work of learning. If you don’t, you cheat yourself of becoming a great writer. You cheat yourself of the journey.”
Of course, self-publishing obviously works for some people, such as Karen Tomlinson, and I don’t disrespect that in the slightest. I know I’m new to the writing industry, and I’ve got dreams way bigger than I am. I want my cover professionally designed, my manuscript professionally edited. I want to reach a huge audience. And to do that I need a team.
Eventually, I might consider self-publishing, since there are a few drawbacks to publishing traditionally, like smaller royalties than if you’re self-published and less freedom.
What steps have you taken/are now taking now to get your book published?
One of my first steps was reading the book I mentioned above. While reading, I discovered that the best way to get traditionally published is to go to writers’ conferences and to have an agent. So I did my research and went to the 2015 ACFW conference, where I met Patricia Beal. All three of the agents I talked to were interested in seeing at least a portion of my manuscript, so currently I’m in the process of editing my story.
Or trying to.
I’m in high school, so it’s becoming harder to balance writing with family and school. I sent the manuscript to Nadine Brandes a few weeks ago for an editorial review, and I’m currently reading several books she recommended. I’m hoping to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo in July to rewrite some of my manuscript. I hope to have it rewritten by this year’s ACFW conference in August.
What motivated you to take these steps?
I’ve always loved reading and writing, but I didn’t consider it as a career choice until two years ago. I started with writing fan fictions, and one story really took off. I’d never completed a story before. It was empowering.
A few months later, I began writing an original story. As I was writing, I saw how stories could touch people, how they could impact lives. It was this combined with my love for writing that convinced me that God wanted me to pursue a writing career.
Something else that’s motivated me is seeing all the romance books people are reading. I love romance, but there’s so much filth out there. Everyone needs love, but according to our society, love is more reckless passion than selflessness. I see an opportunity there to show people otherwise.
Have you shared your manuscript with anyone and how was that experience?
Oh, yes. Many, many times.
First of all, I published it online. I was okay with receiving opinions from a bunch of strangers, but the thought of letting my family and friends see my story was terrifying. For the most part, I got extremely positive reviews, though there was one person in particular who was passionately opposed to what I wrote about God.
Since then, I’ve had critique partners through ACFW read it. I’ve entered it into both the First Impressions Contest and the Genesis Contest. Several of my friends have critiqued it. I used to read it aloud to my family before we went to bed. Even my brothers kept on asking me to read more, which I thought was particularly impressive, considering that it’s a romantic fantasy. And, as I mentioned earlier, I sent it to Nadine Brandes for an editorial review.
At first, sharing was embarrassing and terrifying. It’s hard to be vulnerable and to risk the bad opinion of loved ones, but in the end it’s worth it. Altogether, everyone’s been extremely supportive and helpful. Critiques are also very hard to take at first, but you can’t write a book without them.
Altogether, my writing journey has been extremely hard. As a high schooler, I’ve had to sacrifice some things. I can’t do as many extracurricular activities as I’d like to, and oftentimes I miss out on movie nights with my family, since I have to get to bed early if I want to write/blog the next morning. I am homeschooled, which is a huge blessing, since I’m responsible for managing my own schedule and free time.
But my journey has also been rewarding. I’ve met some fantastic writers, learned so much, and grown closer to God. I couldn’t ask for a better life.
If you have any questions for Elizabeth, please comment below on this post. Also, make sure you check out the link at the top to her blog to read more from her.
“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”