All writers dream of getting published, but not everyone realizes that getting that first book published is just the start of the journey. Staying published is hard work. Author Tracey Lyons shares some of her insights from her years of experience as a successful novelist.
Thank you for being here! Let’s start with talking about what you write.
I write Amish fiction for Harlequin Love Inspired. My agent suggested I try to write in the genre because the historical market was fading. I’m previously published in historical romance with several different publishers. She felt my voice would be a good fit for the Amish genre.
What’s the most difficult part of writing your genre?
I have to say the most difficult part of writing in the Amish genre is there’s so much to learn about the culture. They are a fascinating group of people. And every single community is different in how they dress and the things they are allowed to do. I also struggle with being authentic to the culture.
How do you work through those challenges?
I do my best to research the area where my books are set. In this case, I traveled to Clymer, NY and drove around the area taking pictures and visiting shops along the way. I try to put myself in the world of being Amish so my characters come across as the real thing.
How long does it take you to: write the book?
It usually takes me two to three months to write the book.
Edit the book?
The editorial process is shared with my agent and the editorial staff at my publishers. And that takes another two to three months. There are a lot of phases a book goes through. You have your copy editor, your content editor and a line editor. The final process is exciting because I get to see the effort of my team come to fruition in the finished product. So overall from start to finish it’s about a 9-12 month process, give or take.
Which was harder to write: the first book or the following books?
The first book is fun to write because let’s face it, what do we know about writing when we first start out? LOL! We have a story we want to tell and that’s pretty much all we know. There’s a sweet innocence to that first book. But I would have to say the next book I write always seems to be the hardest. When you’ve become multi-published and hit a few best seller lists, the expectation that my next book has to be better than the last one is always in the back of my mind.
What’s your writing day like?
I’m for the most part a morning writer. I start my day with my mug of tea and I find my favorite chair to sit in. I look out the window while I’m drinking the tea and think about what I’m going to work on that day. Then I get to work. Sometimes I write in my office, but most times I sit downstairs in the kitchen or in front of my fireplace and work. Then around noontime I take a break. I might nap after lunch. And then I do edits and work on marketing. Nothing too exciting!!
How do you combat writer’s block?
Let’s face it, writer’s block sucks. And even the most prolific authors suffer from it at one time or another. This past year I had it the worst it’s ever been. I decided to think outside the box. Instead of beating myself up every day sitting at my laptop, staring at that blinking cursor on the screen, I took some in-depth writing classes. One was on strengths for writers. I have to tell you it was so refreshing to look at my career from a different angle. And it really bolstered my confidence as a writer and now I’m back at my work, writing on a daily basis. This is a tough business, but if it’s what you were born to do then you will find a way to make everything work and to find happiness in putting those words on the page.
How do you prepare to write your books: pantser or plotter?
I’m a bit of both. I usually start with a seed of an idea. Like a movie clip, it plays over and over in my head. Then I write the first three chapters and a synopsis. If that makes sense, I then move on to a plot board. This is something I’ve done the past few years. Prior to that I was doing outlines and timelines. But I really like to be able to move my ideas around. And post-it notes on a tri-fold project board work best for me. I also love to do research. So, I have to throw in time for that. I do a combo of books, internet and traveling to the places where the book is set.
If you have an agent, how did you find/pick your agent?
Believe it or not, my agent and I first met years ago when we were both starting out. At that time, she rejected me. Then over the years I published without an agent. Then I went through three agents and kept querying Michelle. She rejected half a dozen projects of mine. When my former agent and I parted ways, I sent Michelle Grajkowski an email telling her I’d left my current agent and would she be interested in repping me? She said yes and the rest is history.
What tips do you have for others looking for an agent?
Know what your writing style is. Have a clear concept of where you want your writing to go. Don’t ever discount a lunch where you’re chatting at a table with an agent because you never know when the timing will be right and you’ll end up working together.
How do you self-edit your manuscript?
I don’t have a huge process, but here it is. I write the first draft as free flowing as I can. However, I tend to edit as I write. Meaning when I sit down in the morning, I look at what I wrote the day before. I make adjustments where needed and then I write the new pages. After the book is complete, I do a read through to make sure it all makes sense. I look for grammar issues, and plot points that might not make sense. I also want to make sure I have clear goal, motivation, and conflict for both the plot and the characters. Then I have a beta reader go through it. My agent reads through it and then off it goes to my publisher for their editorial process.
A Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author, Tracey sold her first book on 9/9/99! Tracey’s books have been translated into several languages. She holds membership in American Christian Fiction Writers and Novelists Inc. A true upstate New Yorker, Tracey writes small town, sweet and inspirational historical romances. She is a National Excellence in Romance Fiction, The Greater Detroit Booksellers best, and OKRWA’s Reader’s choice awards finalist.
Learn more about Tracey and her books by visiting her website at www.traceylyons.com. Or by
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