Saturday, March 25, 2017

5 Steps to a Novel Contract

Edie here. Today I'm so excited to introduce you to debut novelist Elva Cobb Martin. Her first book, Summer of Deception, released yesterday. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom to see the details. Blessings!

by Elva Cobb Martin 

Here are the five steps in a nutshell for those of you who may have a baby crying, or your washing machine walking across the floor, or something burning in the kitchen. . .
  1. Never Give Up
  2. Hone Your Craft
  3. Attend Writers’ Groups and Conferences
  4. Help Other Writers on Their Journey
  5. Learn How to Submit to Editors and Agents
Step 1 - Never Give Up
My debut novel, Summer of Deception, releases March 24, by Pelican/Prism Book Group. I wrote the first draft almost 30 years and 26 rejections ago. (Of course, the draft did spend some of that time up in my attic while hubby and I answered a call into ministry). At retirement I went back to work on it. I submitted it to a Prism (now Pelican Book Group) editor at the May, 2015, Blue Ridge (BRMCWC) conference. This resulted a few months later in the following email from Susan Baganz:

Dear Elva,
Paula Mowery met you at Blue Ridge and asked me to look at your Summer of Deception. I did and I couldn’t put it down. I loved it! Attached is a publishing contract that includes eBook, print, as well as audio publishing.

Many may reject your manuscript, but if you don’t give up, someone will love it.

Step 2 – Hone Your Craft
Learn how to plan, plot and edit a Novel. Here are some great resources I’ve used:
The Author’s Boot Camp Manual on the Seekerville blog site.

The Snowflake Method By Randy Ingermanson.

Ron Benrey’s classic how-to manual The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Christian Fiction

Jill Nelson’s Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View

Great writers’ blogs like this one of Edie’s and some others:

Step 3 – Attend Writers’ Groups and Conferences
I discovered that writers’ conferences are a worthwhile investment. I pray over which ones I should save for and attend. I am an officer and member of the American Christian Fiction Writers’ South Carolina Chapter. I’ve made many great writer friends and have had some good critique help with my manuscripts. This kind of networking is vital.

Step 4 – Help Other Writers on their journey.
You only have to be one step ahead to lead someone in that step. Help critique, proofread, do book reviews, and give computer help if you can. Share writer goodies. Pray for and rejoice with others’ successes and console for rejections. We writers are in this together.

Step 5 – Learn How to Submit to Editors and Agents
This means learning how to study submission guidelines, write and present your short pitch at conferences, design a One Sheet and write a query letter. You can find samples of all these on the internet or at various blogs. I have instructions of how to write a query letter and pitch on my web site at I plan to add a One Sheet sample, also.

In conclusion, here is a scripture prayer I want to leave with you. May the Lord make your words “like a gushing stream, [sparkling, fresh, pure, and life-giving]” Proverbs 18:4b Amplified Bible.
Or as Randy Ingermanson would say, “Go write a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.”
Thanks for stopping by. Have these steps helped you in some way? Would love to hear your comments.

Elva Cobb Martin
PS There’s more information on these five steps in my personal blog archive

5 Steps to a Novel Contract - @ElvaCobbMartin on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

The dream of becoming a novelist can be achieved with these 5 steps from @ElvaCobbMartin (Click to Tweet)

Summer of Deception
Determined to unearth the truth about her DEA agent brother’s reported death, Rachel York takes a position at an historic Charleston, South Carolina tea plantation, but she finds she is ill prepared to deal with the plantation’s new owner. Luke Barrett may be handsome, but he is overflowing with bitterness and distrust. Widowed and wounded, former Marine Corps Special Forces operative Luke Barrett has enough to handle with his little girl and an historic property to upkeep. The last thing he needs is a feisty, stubborn woman with whom to contend. Yet, Rachel’s determined spirit awakens something in Luke that he thought died a long time ago. Luke begins to capture Rachel’s heart until the night she uncovers evidence he may be keeping his plantation solvent by allowing cocaine to be smuggled along his coastline. Devastated by the possibility, Rachel must decide whether to confront him, even while she conceals secrets of her own. When all the deception rips asunder in a hurricane, will love or faith survive?

Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (2014-2017). She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried her articles. Summer of Deception, her debut inspirational romantic suspense novel, is to be released March, 24, 2017, by Pelican/Prism Book Group. Her second novel, the first in an historical romance series, In a Pirate’s Debt, is slated for release by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in May, 2017. She has published a Bible study, Power Over Satan, available on Elva is represented by Jim Hart of Hartline Literary. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives with her husband Dwayne and a mini-dachshund writing helper, Lucy, and a parakeet named Tweetie, in upstate South Carolina. She would love for  you to connect with her on her web site, her blog on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Lynette, and be assured your help and great writer classes were a blessing to me on this journey. Hugs, Elva

  2. I just finished reading "Summer of Deception" and must add my congratulations, too. Romance aside, I found the story to be a great read and can easily stand as a mystery. My kind of plot - lots of twists and turns and kept me turning those pages. The Epilogue truly was "the icing on the cake." This was easy to follow (some are not) and full of intrigue from the get-go (some are not). I thoroughly enjoyed it. To your other points, I'd like to underscore step 4. I've learned so much just trying to help others and I would not be where I am on mine had not others done the same for me. It all works out. I wish you HUGE success. Your time has come.

    1. Jay, thank you so much for your comments! And, you're right, helping other writers is an important step in our writing life. So many have helped me. Now I want to mentor in return.
      Elva Martin

  3. Great post, Elva. And congratulations on your novel release. I pray the Lord blesses you with lots of sales.