Julie Zine Coleman did what most writers dream about — she signed a book contract with a major publishing house for her first book! But she also did something else…she put a lot of time and work into making that manuscript shine!
Today, Julie’s going to share some of her tips and secrets with us. Welcome (and thank you!)
What do you write? How did you pick your genre?
I am a Bible teacher, so my goal in my writing is to teach the Bible! For twenty years, I taught in Christian Schools (mostly fifth grade) and my favorite part of the day was teaching God’s Word to my students. I was also given many opportunities to speak for women’s events and retreats and loved doing that with all my heart. One year, I was given a big teaching award and was booked to speak for several area educator events. As I returned to my seat after speaking for one of them, the lady next to me commented, “You should do this for a living.” I told her I would love that, but had no idea how to get started. She told me, “You need to write a book.”
She got me thinking. I went home, opened my file for a recent retreat I had just given, and made each session into a book chapter. That was the beginning. And I’ve never looked back.
What’s the most difficult part of writing your genre? How do you work through those challenges?
I’ve never been a natural at academics, so the intense research required for a book is always a challenge for me. I had to develop a system of notetaking and footnote recording that would keep me from hours of trying to find a source later in the process. I needed to create outlines to keep me focused and on point. The hardest thing was creating the needed space in my schedule to get a project finished. I’m still learning organizational skills and will probably always be challenged on that part of writing.
How long does it take you to: write the book? Edit it? Finalize it?
My first manuscript took about six months, not including the chapters already written for my proposal. The next one was a compilation of devotionals from 72 authors, which was a different kind of challenge, which ended up being no easier than writing a book myself! That was done in about seven months. My recent release again took about seven months before I sent the initial manuscript off to Kregel.
My husband is my best editor, and he and I went through the entire manuscript three times, chopping, adding, fixing, etc. There was also a great deal of editing after that initial submission, back and forth to Kregel for a couple of months. I sent in the first draft in September, and we did not have the final draft until March or April of the following year.
However long it takes, editing should be embraced. It makes our work clearer, cleaner, and takes it to a new level of professionalism with each pass. Worth every minute. Many eyes make for the cleanest finished product.
If you’ve written multiple books, which was harder: the first book or the following books? Why?
My most recent release was definitely the hardest. Each chapter was an in-depth teaching on one of the passages traditionally used to limit women. I had to leave any preconceived notions behind and start fresh with every passage. I didn’t want to read into what was actually there in black and white.
What I found was pretty stunning for a girl who wore a head covering to church and kept her mouth shut. So many of those passages have been taken out of context, then grouped together to form a doctrine that none of them were meant to mean to begin with. I struggled to be extremely accurate in my interpretation, because I didn’t want to put words in God’s mouth. I’ve never prayed so hard over a passage as I did with these!
But God was faithful, and I believe what he led me to write on each one. I hope you will feel the same after you read it!
How did you find and pick your agent? What tips do you have for others looking for an agent?
I had a meeting at a writer’s conference with a publisher who expressed an interest in my manuscript. She recommended me to a guy who was just setting up an agency to take on new clients. I emailed him my manuscript, and he wrote back the next day and said he would take me on. He pitched to 12 publishers, and Thomas Nelson made an offer. I was his first sale!
For those out there still hoping for representation, find out who you know that has one. They can write introductions for you. Writer’s conferences are your best shot to meet people face to face to get the best impression of them. And PRAY. God can lead you to just the right person.
What’s surprised you the most about the publishing process?
I was amazed at how long it takes to get a book published. I started pitching in 2004. I had the first hard copy of my book in hand in 2013.
What advice do you have for new authors?
Be patient. Learning to publish is a process. Listen to the feedback that you get, especially the professionals in the industry. Do what they say. They know what they are talking about!
How do you self-edit your manuscript?
Never ever dash something off without 24 hours before sending. Go over it again and again, then wait for a time and go over it again. Get other eyes on what you write. Did they understand it? Could they find the main point? What didn’t they understand? Their input will bring clarity to your work.
Many Christian women are torn between how the church has taught traditional gender roles and the liberty they see secular society afford to women. But what if the church’s conventional teachings on the place of women aren’t really biblical at all?
On Purpose is a serious study on the verses in the Bible that have often been interpreted to define the role of women in the church, at home, and in the workplace. Each chapter focuses on a single passage, considering what it meant to the original recipients, understanding each author’s intent, and applying its true meaning in today’s cultural setting. With each chapter, Julie Coleman thoroughly reveals how the timeless principles in the Bible actually teach freedom for women. In fact, when rightly understood, these verses are a wake-up call that we are handicapping the church’s role on earth by limiting women unnecessarily. Instead, men and women should be working side by side for the advancement of the kingdom of God.
Written without anger or judgment, and with no agenda but to delve deep into the Bible, On Purpose is an enlightening study offering a fresh, scriptural perspective. It’s time to set women free to answer God’s call on their lives–and set the church free to function the way God truly desires.
Julie Coleman dedicates herself to helping others understand and know an unexpected God. After an award-winning teaching career, she left the classroom behind to earn a M.A. in biblical studies from Capital Bible Seminary. She now spends her time writing, blogging, professionally editing, and teaching at New Hope Chapel.
Julie and her husband have four children and six grandchildren and live in Maryland. You can learn more about Julie at www.juliecoleman.org.