Allen Arnold loves great stories, passionate conversations and authentic living. As Senior Vice-President and Fiction Publisher at Thomas Nelson, he spends his days acquiring, reading and publishing world-class adult and young adult fiction written from a Christian worldview. Allen’s favorite way to spend the day is with his family – preferably with a C.S. Lewis book or Superman comic close at hand.
Catching the Publisher’s Eye (used with permission)
How can an aspiring Christian Fiction author best catch the attention of a publisher?
Yes, a well-written proposal is important. There are many sites that share how to create one. But there are even more essential traits that catch my eye. I’m drawn to writers who:
Create stories with intoxicating premises, brimming with rich characters and buzz-worthy plots. ”Stirred” and written well.
Demonstrate their ability to sell ideas by first selling a book agent. If an agent isn’t interested, ask why and keep polishing.
Succinctly articulate their story in a fresh, memorable way. If you can’t – no one else can. Nor will they want to.
Make rooms brighter with their personality and passion. Otherwise, the relationship isn’t fun. And life is too short for that.
Tell their personal story as powerfully as the story they’re writing. Because tribes (fans) are most drawn to those who can.
Listen well. The amount of time you listen vs. talk is your learning bandwidth. And you never learn while talking.
Seek long-term consistency in their Author Brand. Writers tire of a successful brand far sooner than fans. Stay the course.
Engage in blue-sky thinking with the publishing team about how to make their stories bigger, better, more. Always ask, “what if?”
Celebrate victories rather than camping in the land of what didn’t go right.
Understand the definition of success for their story – but don’t base their identity on it.
Pursue their calling by pursuing first things first. Love God. Love others. Then write story. As you’re transformed, the story will follow.
Savor the journey. No one is guaranteed a bestseller or a next story. Remember what we do will echo in eternity. Echo well.
Yes, many of the above are more inner than outer qualities. More about the person than the story. Yet these are the qualities that catch my eye as a publisher. Because inevitably what’s on the inside shines through to the story. May you shine brightly as you pursue this high calling.