April 19, 2017

Pitch to Publication: 3 Things Learned

By Leigh Ann Thomas

Heart pounding double-time and palms slightly moist, I sat across the desk from an acquisitions editor and pitched my book idea. Under her scrutiny, I feared my one-sheet and sample chapter lacked the power to grab her professional attention. My internal dialogue was off the charts: She’s going to love it. Wait, who am I kidding? She’ll hate it. Why didn’t I prepare more chapters? I’m so out of practice. Maybe I should’ve…

And then…laughter. The editor was smiling. And laughing. As she perused my sample chapter, I felt like the big brother in the old cereal commercial, “He likes it! Hey, Mikey!”

This spring, almost two years after pitching that idea, the completed manuscript will be released as a book of inspiration for mothers of the bride.

Worth the stress and hard work? Absolutely.

This has been a time of intense growth as a writer. I’ve learned to push through seasons of dryness and doubt, fear and uncertainty. I’m more appreciative of the creative teamwork required to bring a book to market.

Through it all, three things stand out as vital for an author in the publishing process:

After snagging interest for my idea, I returned home and got to work. Difficult work—without the guarantee of acceptance. Even after a contract, it was crucial to maintain excitement and vision for the project through lulls in activity—weeks and months of waiting, editing, and more waiting.

Author involvement is critical to the success of a book. Upon release of my first books (over a decade ago), I could sit back and be a spectator to the publishing process. Now, an author must be hands-on in every step from editing to marketing. There’s no room for timidity, especially in the marketing and promotion of our work. I’ve devoured crash-courses and on-the-job training in social media, virtual book launches, Thunderclap campaigns, and more. An ongoing job!

I must remain teachable—especially in the editing of my “baby.” There is a thrill in learning from mistakes and using newfound knowledge in the next project. Also, publishing houses have their own preferences and styles and we may have to let go of beloved writing habits (mine was the overuse of italics). There is always room for growth. My work strengthens as I listen and learn from the best in the business.

Passion, involvement, humility—what would you add as integral for an author in the publishing experience?
Leigh Ann Thomas is the author of three books, including Ribbons, Lace, and Moments ofGrace—Inspiration for the Mother of the Bride (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). A columnist for, she has also written for,, and Power for Living. She is a contributing author in ten books and her work is included in two editions of Southern Writers Magazine's Best Short Stories. You can find Leigh Ann on her front porch daydreaming story plots or blogging at

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