Posted by: nancyisanders | May 20, 2008

Author Interview: Jennifer Anne Messing

Meet Author Jennifer Anne Messing!
E-mail: Jennifer Anne Messing
Web site: www.JenniferAnneMessing.com

Bio:
JENNIFER ANNE F. MESSING is an author and poet who resides in Oregon with her husband, Michael, and their three children. She has had over 150 articles, stories, and poems published in forty different magazines and book compilations including: Standard, Evangel, Live, Seek, The Secret Place, Bible Advocate, The East County Gazette, The Christian Communicator, FellowScript, The Proverbs 31 Woman, More God’s Abundance, Nudges from God, Families Can Bounce Back, and Romancing the Soul. Jennifer Anne is also the author of a poetry gift book. In addition, Jennifer Anne wrote a monthly family movie review column for four years which was published in two Oregon newspapers. Ms. Messing previously served for four years as president of the Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) a statewide nonprofit writers organization with 350+ members. She has a bachelor’s degree in Christian Education and a diploma in Freelance Journalism. Ms. Messing was born in Manila, Philippines.

When she is not writing, Jennifer Anne enjoys spending time with her family, reading, watching old-fashioned (b&w) romantic movies, home decorating, baking and cooking, thrift store shopping, as well as being creative with beauty and personal fashion. Ms. Messing also serves as Worship Director at the church her family attends.

Featured Book: In the Shadow of His Wings~Prayers, Poems, and Passages to Inspire

108 pages, 2004
Publish America
Paperback $13.95

Jennifer Anne Messing, of Portland, pens this small book of insightful prayers, original poems, inspirational quotes, and Scripture to encourage quiet moments of prayer and meditation. Her book stirs up and enhances attitudes of faith and hope. Many readers say its clarity and calm perspective equips them to stay focused on eternal perspectives instead of daily stress.

Divided into 50, two-page segments, each part carries one tightly-focused theme, titled for easy selection. For example, the segment focused on speaking kind words to others includes two Scriptures from Proverbs followed by quotes from Mother Teresa, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Edgar A. Guest. The Scripture and inspirational quotes illustrate the topic of kindness, why we should speak kindly to others, and how this pleases the Lord. On the opposing page are three stanzas of poetry that bring the beauty of Scripture and quotes together.

Each topic is handled in this fashion. Other subjects feature the Holy Spirit, how to be content, and the reminder to view life from an eternal perspective among many others.

Messing, a gifted teacher, writer, speaker, and current president of Oregon Christian Writers Association, shares her love for the Lord with readers through this heartwarming collection.

– from QUIET, REFLECTIVE MOMENTS ENCOURAGED by Gail Welborn, The Northwest Book Reviewer. This review was posted in the November 2005 issue of the Christian News Northwest.

Interview:
Q: How did you make your manuscripts outshine the rest when you submitted them for inclusion in potential book compilations?
A: The first thing I do when submitting my manuscript for potential inclusion in book compilations is read the Writers Guidelines very carefully, note the word count, the type of story the compiler is asking for – whether a true experience story, a poem, or perhaps a devotional. Then I go to the author/compiler’s website and read a sample story that will be featured in the book. I also take into consideration whether this author is asking for first rights to a story, or if reprint and one-time rights are also accepted. If reprints are accepted, I browse through my manuscript files and see if I have any story already written that may fit into that book. If not, I write a new story which I feel will fit in this book.

Next, I write and rewrite my story until I feel it is in its best form. Then I have some writer friends critique and give me input on my story. If I notice a similar comment or critique given by two or more different writers, I edit and adjust my story according to the input given. I have found that if two writers notice the same flaw or weakness in a certain part of my story, they are usually right and I have discovered that rewriting and editing according to their suggestions often improves my story.

After having a few fellow writers read my story, I have one or two non-writer friends read my story and give comments. I have heard writers say it can be very helpful to let some non-writer friends read one’s story. A non-writer friend is an ordinary person who might walk into a bookstore and shop for a book. These people often have a different perspective about your story than a fellow writer whose goal is to write for publication. Again, I listen to any comments they might have and edit my story if I feel the input they give is helpful and improves the story.

After that, I submit my story according to the specifications given in their Writers Guidelines. Sometimes I tell the author/compiler that if they like my story but want me to do any rewriting I am willing to rewrite according to their needs. If my story might be particularly suitable for a specific chapter in the compiler’s book, I mention that in my cover letter. I include information about my publishing history in my cover letter. I mention I am willing to participate in book signings to help promote the book, and that I am willing to promote the book on my website and at writers’ conferences where I speak and teach.

Q: What are some of the benefits and challenges of writing for the magazine market?
A: One of the benefits of writing for the magazine market is that you get to touch and impact many people because magazines often have much bigger circulation than an author’s first or second book. Many of the periodicals I’ve written for have 150,000 + circulation, whereas an author’s first book printing will usually not exceed 20,000 copies. The company one publishes with will determine the number of copies of the first printing of one’s book. Some publishers may print anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 copies of an author’s first book, some publishers might do less or more.

Another benefit of writing for the magazine market is that you get free editing done on your manuscript. If your manuscript is accepted for publication, even though you submitted a polished and well-critiqued manuscript, there is usually a word or two here or there that an editor might tweak. Most of the time, when an editor has edited my article, I have been happy with the final copy of the article as published. I often find, especially with poems, that an editor might change just one or two words in my poem and yet it makes a big difference in really making the poem read better and truly sparkle and shine. After my article or poem is published I now have a more polished version of it to submit to another magazine editor as a reprint.

Another benefit of writing for the magazine market is that you get to test your ideas and see if editors and readers are looking for more information about that topic based on the feedback they give about your published article. If they are looking for more information about your topic, you can pray and think about it and see if you have enough information to write a book. You may also find that writing/publishing just one or two articles about a topic you feel passionately about is enough to say everything you want to say about that topic and that you don’t want to write an entire book about it.

One of the challenges of writing for the magazine market is really understanding the unique focus and niche of a particular magazine and writing your article or story in such a way as to fit in with their publication. It takes time to research, request sample copies, as well as read several back issues of a magazine to truly understand their slant and style and see how they are different from other magazines targeted at a similar audience. But it pays to do your research. When you see your article or poem in print and know it has touched many lives you will feel the excitement and immense satisfaction of fulfilling your God-given calling as a writer.

Q: Describe the process you went through with PublishAmerica to publish your gift book, In the Shadow of His Wings.
A: I submitted my manuscript electronically according to the guidelines given on PublishAmerica’s website. From the time I first signed my book contract with PublishAmerica, it took six months before I saw my book in print. What I will describe as to what happened next, the publishing process I went through, may be different today since I signed a contract with them several years ago.

About three months after I signed my contract with them, I was sent a copy of my book’s proofs as a pdf file via email. I was asked to look over the final book file and make any editing requests and changes and send them back via email within 15 days. Seeing my the book’s proofs was exciting but my heart also sank when I saw there was quite a bit of editing work to be done. I pored over the proofs for several hours over the next 15 days. I sent my editing requests in by email on the 15th day. After one week my book was again sent to me as a pdf file with the editing changes incorporated. I was then given 48 hours to check the manuscript and send them any last editing requests. Again, I pored over the book manuscript for the next two days and sent in my last editing requests. Every single request I asked for they granted.

I also described to the artist how I wanted the cover design to appear. I did not submit any artwork but I explained what I wanted the cover to look like. Within one week I was sent the front cover and back cover artwork of my book as a .jpeg file. I was also given the opportunity to edit every single word and all the information appearing on the the front cover and back cover of my book.

About one month before my book went to print PublishAmerica sent out a direct mailing announcement about my book to a group of approximately 50 people whose names and addresses I had provided. These persons were given the opportunity to pre-order a copy of the book. Shortly after my book was in print PublishAmerica let me know that I would be given a personal website space (free-of-charge) which I could use for promotion of my book. That website has been a very helpful tool and I have made use of it to promote my book and myself as an author.

Q: Share one tip you would like to give to unpublished writers about landing their first contract.
A: I have more than one tip to share. I hope they are helpful.

As all authors know, study the markets well before you submit your book proposal. It is good to visit bookstores and write down the names of publishers who publish books that you have read and enjoyed. If you can see that your book is very similar to the kind of book a specific publisher publishes, try submitting to them. Read the Author Guidelines of the various book publishers and submit according to their specifications.

A first book is such an important milestone in a writer’s career that it’s worth it to really be sure when you submit your manuscript that it is in the best possible format you want it to be in, that you’ve polished and refined that manuscript many many times. Make sure the book is something you’ll find it a joy to open and reread and tell others about, again and again, even many years after it is published. After all, your name will be on that book and within its pages you’ll be leaving a legacy for your children and grandchildren. Don’t hurry to get the manuscript done, give yourself time to polish your book and present it in the best form it can be.

If your book is being published by a traditional royalty paying publisher, they will have in-house editors who will edit and work on your book until it is in its best form. If, however, you are publishing your book with a royalty paying print-on-demand publisher or you are self-publishing your book, you may want to strongly consider hiring a freelance editor to edit the proofs of your book for any grammar and spelling errors before it goes to print. This is money well spent. Once the book is in print, the typographical, spelling, and layout errors cannot be changed. If you see typographical errors in your printed book you will not be happy and if you’re like many authors you’ll feel like the errors reflect on you. Be sure you are 100% happy with the book you created and produced before it goes to print.

My last tip for authors landing their first book contract is this: Read and fully understand the terms of the book contract you are signing. It may be very beneficial for you to have an experienced writer or marketing expert read over the contract with you before you sign it. Ask them to explain anything that seems unclear.


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