Real advice for real writers (and those who want to become one)

Your Story Can Change the World

In working with authors for Relevant Pages Press I (Stephanie) have come across some amazing writers who have a wealth of insight, knowledge and experiences. I believe they can be a valuable resource for you on your writing journey. So, for the next several weeks I will be posting a few interviews I have done with the authors currently on the Relevant Pages Press Authors team. If you have any follow-up questions please leave a comment in our comment section.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Joan Gallagher and I am a Christ-follower writer, speaker, blogger, wife, mom, storyteller, and both a mentee, (I have so much to learn) and mentor. Recently I became a contributing writer for Sweet Jesus Ministries (A ministry devoted to pointing women towards Jesus). My blogs can also be found on Bible as a reference for those wanting to dig into scripture a little deeper.

My devotion for mentoring stems from the rich stories of women's lives and how God uses those stories to pave the way for those who are either just beginning their journey or find themselves at a spiritual crossroads. It is my intent to empower women to know that their stories can be used to make them into God's kingdom changers for others.

I’ve been married for 32 years to Ed and we live in beautiful Northeast Ohio. We are blessed with 3 adult children: Adam, Andy and Meagan; and son-in-law Zach. We are also very excited about our first grandchild – a girl arriving in August. I’m a big sports fan, especially if the team is from Ohio – Go Bucks! What really fills me up is the time I spend with my family, and close friends.

What is the title of your book, what’s it about, who should read it and where can we buy it?

Hope-Markers: How hope marks your story and changes your world. The most beautiful and God-inspired moments of our lives can be found in our heartaches, triumphs, struggles, and everyday experiences. Our story matters and can be used to impact the lives of others. We can see this in mentoring relationships when we take the opportunity to use our stories as connectors, both as a mentor and a mentee, as a way to draw closer to God, with each other, and the world around us. This book is written with a certain woman in mind – A woman who is struggling with her story and/or how she fits into God’s plan for meaningful effective relationships that help shape their lives as well as others.

How did you come to the decision to write a book?

For most of my adult life I have been a journaler, in fact, I have stacks of them! With Ed’s job change and a move back to Ohio I wondered what God had for me after being a church staffer and athletic coach. I wasn’t sure what He wanted. One night, before our move actually took place, I shared with Ed my struggle in knowing what God had for me next. He looked at me and said, “I think you should write a book. There is a lot of God’s story in your life in those journals.” After praying about it and spending time with wise counsel I realized this is what God is calling me to in my life. Writing the book has been coupled with speaking and I am leaning heavy into Jesus for his leading!

What challenges did you face during the writing process and how did you overcome them?

Since this is the first time I have written a book I really had no context for the process. The first thing I did was I needed to get down on paper what God was laying on my heart. The second thing was I went to a writer's and speakers conference called She Speaks – where I received a wealth of information and direction for the whole process.

Some of my biggest challenges included discouragement, struggle, and lack of motivation when things felt dry. The one major thing that is my constant go-to for encouragement direction and motivation is Relevant Pages Press and Stephanie and Jennifer. God has done wonders in me through this process and learning to rely on Him and who He has placed in my life for direction is one of the things I’ve learned through this process.

One piece of advice that Stephanie gave me that really made a difference for me in the daily writing process is how I use each hour. She suggested I write for 50 minutes with all “gadgets” off with my focus only on what I’m writing. The last 10 minutes of every hour I can do what I want – answer texts, walk down to the mailbox (I have a long drive-way), make a cup of tea, whatever I want. Then, I am back at it again for the next hour. There are times when I have been in a writing groove when the time ends so I may go over 15 or 20 minutes, but then I take my 10 minute break and feel refreshed to back to it.

There is one other very important thing I do when I sit down to write. I pray. I pray for God’s guidance and His will, that what I write will draw people to Him and not me. I pray God will lay His hands on top of mine and guide them as I type.

What's one thing you would tell yourself to do differently before starting to write it while writing?

This is in easy question for me – I would have made a more organized, detailed outline! It was good for me to just start writing but as thoughts came together and I really saw God develop the concepts He wanted me to write about an outline would have helped me stay on task and not go off on tributaries. Now that I have taken the time to make a more organized detailed outline I feel more confident about my writing and am more motivated by the process.

Why did you choose to self-publish?

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to self-publish initially. Any of the options I saw were so expensive and also made me feel as if I was going it alone. Publishing companies make it very difficult to even get in the door, it's so competitive. If you don’t have a huge platform they really won’t even listen to what you’ve got to say. If they do go into contract with you, you are still responsible for promoting your book AND they keep the majority of the profit. Also, once you sign with them they control what happens with your book. IF I want to do a follow up Bible Study, I can only do so if they approve. But then I found RPP. It is the best of both worlds. I still have control over what happens with my book and at the same time I have incredible support and encouragement. I’m also given all the tools necessary to build my platform, write a quality book, and have all of the resources to write, produce and publish a book that honors God. On top of that, I keep the majority of my proceeds. Stephanie and Jennifer have filled an amazing niche in the publishing market, especially for those of us who don’t have a well known name behind them.

What's one thing about the self-publication process that surprised you? Why?

The cost! When I looked at some of the other companies it was an unreachable cost for me. RPP champions the writer and the dollar.

What promotion strategies are you using to help sell your book? Why? How are they working?

I am on social media regularly- in particular, Facebook and Twitter. I write guest blog posts whenever I can. I also am speaking to women’s groups – I’m actually more of a speaker who writes rather than a writer who speaks. : ) I also create “Bubbles” on Bublish – another resource from RPP.

What, in your opinion, is the most crucial part of the:

Writing Process?

Just write! Make an outline. Have a support system. Most importantly, trust God for guidance.

Publication process?

Have quality resources – competent editor, professional graphic designer, interior layout designer, and quality printer.

Promotion strategy?

Be confident about your calling and put yourself out there! If this is your passion, what your called to do, then get your name, your book, and your passion out there. Speak about it, use social media and take opportunities to share it with others.

Free giveaways are a great way to promote and follow the advice of Stephanie and Jennifer. Jennifer has great insight on meta data, creating a title and tagline and other ways to promote your book

Are you planning on writing another book? If so, what changes will you make in each of the above areas?

Right now I have a couple of ideas for future books. I will take sometime when I am finished with this current project to pray and seek God’s calling for what is next.

What’s some advice you can share with other authors who are just beginning their writing and publication journey?

I think this question is best answered in the previous questions. The only thing I would add is be open and flexible so you can learn new concepts about writing – in other words, don’t be thin skinned. Those who truly care about you and desire to see your project flourish should give constructive criticism that lets you know when correction and redirection is needed.

#JoanGallagher #writerslife

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