Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Growing the Writing Career

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

This post won’t apply to everyone, but it’s one I feel is necessary to a particular group of authors. Those who are published by small houses. 

Let me begin by saying, I work for a small house, and it’s wonderful. We do our best to offer new authors an opportunity at that first published book. Though there are naysayers who advise against publishing with a small house because the sales numbers are small, there are numerous advantages to working with a small publisher.

It’s a wonderful way to learn how to work with an editor, seek out and understand the publishing industry, and discover the importance of what a platform is. Yes, a small press does not have the reach into the market the larger houses have, but that doesn’t mean it’s a career killer—not if you do your job. It simply means, a serious author has to work harder at sales. My thought is, you can sign with a large house and have a book that doesn’t sell or you can sign with a small house and have the exact same thing happen, but I digress. This debate will never be resolved. Still, whether your book comes from the largest of the large or the smallest of the small, you, the author, still must work hard to do your part in selling their book.

So what does this have to do with growing your writing career and why do I gear this post to those who may have one or two books published through a small publisher? Here’s why.

Take the next step!

Though some small houses require authors to have an agent, many do not. Gaining an agent is a must to enter the larger houses. It requires time and effort to query or meet agents at conferences, but if a career in writing is what you want, why would you not take this next step? Keep in mind, it may take some time to land the right agent. There are a number of reasons you may not be drawing the attention of an agent. It could be what you are writing is overdone or not trending. Maybe your grasp of the craft is not quite where it needs to be. You may be seeking an agent who is “client loaded,” so expect it may take some time to meet the right one. Often authors seek an agent before they have work polished and complete. There must be completed work before an agent can shop and sell. There is order to the business. Learn the craft, complete a work, seek an agent, and finally, seek publication.

I frequently see authors who either won’t or never realize to look past the comfortable spot they find in their small publisher. Authors fail to consider stepping outside that house to stretch their wings. Small publishers love publishing your books if you are a good writer who makes an effort and sells books, but often, authors simply assume I’ve been published by ________, they’ll publish the next one.If you are not making the concerted effort to sell your books, small houses cannot continue to publish them just because they published one in the past. Secondly, it’s a joy to see an author take off and fly. It’s a win-win for the author and the small house if you are grow into a larger house. The sale of the book published through the larger house usually jumpstarts sales of your previous book(s). 

Authors cannot grow their career if they never make the step outside the confines of their small publisher. Trust in yourself and your abilities. Competition is always present. It’s how things work, but if you never try . . . how will you ever grow? Have a teachable spirit so if you are not “there” yet, that it won’t take long.

Learn the craft. Pay attention to what is trending. Build your platform. If you’ve been published via a small publisher, work hard to help market and sell your book so your numbers look good when larger pubs consider you. Then take the step to seek out an agent. The rest will come. The work is still there and truthfully, so is the wait, but to grow your career, you have to try.

Growing the #writing career - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Tips on growing a healthy #writing career - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Cindy Sproles is an award-winning author and popular speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions ministries and managing editor of Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Cindy is the executive editor of www.christiandevotions.us and 

www.inspireafire.comShe teaches at writers conferences nationwide and directs The Asheville Christian Writers Conference - Writers Boot Camp. 

She is the author of two devotionals, He Said, She Said - Learning to Live a Life of Passion and New Sheets - Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be. Cindy's debut novel, Mercy's Rain, is available at major retailers. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com and book her for your next conference or ladies retreat. Also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Great post Ms. Cindy. Perhaps it's naive of me to think so, but I am structuring my writing career in a stepping stone fashion wherein each next step leads to the next growth opportunity. I look forward to starting with a small publisher who will give me more individual attention to help me learn and grow. Ideally, they will grow with me as we follow God's will together. Thank you for today's great message.

    1. It's not naive, it's smart and the sign of someone willing to work and grow. Congratulations. I look forward to seeing your success.

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  3. Cindy, You have represented both sides well, the small vss. large publishing house. Thank you for your insights.

  4. Thanks. I want to see writers continue to grow their careers.

  5. Thank you for this post! My third novel (third in a series, includes my first-ever novel) is in edits with a small publisher. I do not have an agent, and I'm considering querying an agent for my next series, but book one is not completed yet. I've had such a great experience with my publisher that I'm tempted to stay, and then you say this: "I frequently see authors who either won’t or never realize to look past the comfortable spot they find in their small publisher." LOL - Don't you just love God's sense of humor? Thanks for the wisdom an encouragement!

  6. I tell writers all the time...grow up in your writing career. It takes time.

  7. Thanks for the great tips, Cindy.

  8. Can you explain how knowing trends help, when the process of writing and publishing are quite a long process? How long do trends last? Guess there's no real answer to that questions, but is there an average? Thanks.

  9. I don't know of an average, but I, for example, write Appalachian Historical, and I began it at a time when cozy mysteries, Chick lit, and romance were the hot topics. Agents turned me away because they didn't think they could sell my work due to trends happening. All I'm saying, is what is trending may hold you back if you don't write in that genre. I didn't but I was willing to hold true to what I am good at writing...so I waited for the trends to shift. Others wrote toward the trends and were published earlier than me. It is something you need to be aware of so you can choose either to adjust or stand firm and wait.