Linore Burkard

Linore Rose Burkard was born and raised in New York City, where she attended the City University of New York (Queens College), earning a magna cum laude degree in English Literature. Ms. Burkard now lives in Ohio with her husband and five children. She homeschooled her children for ten years, and still has a heart for homeschooling families. An avid fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, Linore delights in bringing the Regency alive for Christian readers with light-hearted adventure, faith and romance. Her first novel, Before the Season Ends, will be re-released in a new edition from Harvest House Publishers in December, 2008. Linore also writes articles on many subjects for web-based organizations, publishes a monthly ezine, (free, at her website and, aside from writing, loves to spend time with family, research the Regency, meet with friends, swim, and sing in the choir.

Making the Leap

(From Self-Publishing to Traditional Publisher)

I took every course on marketing and promoting books that I could possibly fit into my schedule...

Linore Rose Burkard has experienced one of those rare publishing success stories: landing a contract from a major publisher without half trying. Now, don’t jump to conclusions and interpret that to mean she didn’t put hard work, sweat, and even tears into her journey. But Linore’s leap from the POD (print on demand) publisher she used for her first novel, Before the Season Ends, to a two-book contract with Harvest House Publishers happened outside the usual route authors take to get published.

Maybe her story can help you land the publisher of your dreams.

I always wrote stories late at night, after the kids were asleep. But when I prayed about becoming a professional writer—taking my writing as a career and calling—his answer was always the same: My family was my ministry. So, between changing diapers and homeschooling, I kept plugging away at writing when I could, usually at night, alone in a basement study. I had fun writing the sort of Christian regencies (romances) I wished I could find on the bookstore shelves (they didn’t exist at that time).

Little by little, one story in particular took shape, Before the Season Ends. This was the late nineties, and I felt very strongly that the Jane Austen craze was only going to keep growing and that more women would welcome a Regency romance from a distinctly Christian perspective. Bethany House expressed some interest, but turned down my manuscript after seeing three chapters and a synopsis. I set to work doing some serious self-editing, but life with children, homeschooling, Christian schools, and moving to another state kept me plenty occupied. Then my grandmother needed a place to live, so we welcomed her into our home. Just as things were settling down, I discovered I was pregnant (at age forty-two!). My hopes of focusing on a writing career dwindled even as my unborn child grew.

After the birth of beautiful Grace Elizabeth—child number five—and between nursing and changes and feeding, I attended to projects—like my book—that I never thought I’d be able to do.

I was ready to be published. Again I prayed about this and got no check in my spirit—In fact, I felt a big “green light”! I researched publishing. I loved my book. I was confident. But I was also well aware that the clock was ticking, and seeking a publisher the traditional way was time-consuming.

I’m very much a free spirit, and I wanted more control of my project, so it was an easy decision to self-publish. I studied my options (a very important step) and eventually settled upon a Christian POD company after buying a couple of their books to check the quality. I didn’t go with the cheapest looking one, and because I controlled my project, I made a lot of changes to the galleys to make a better final product.

By the time my baby was a little over two years old, I had my first book in my hands. My next step was to register for online classes, and I took every course on marketing and promoting books that I could possibly fit into my schedule. Then I spent the next two years largely putting into practice what I learned, experimented with techniques, and developed a monthly e-zine. I collected subscribers—a small “fan” base—and was enormously gratified when I realized that people loved the

book! I had a “five star” rating on! Letters trickled in from people who had been touched; who couldn’t put the book down; who had to pass it on to their mothers, sisters, or friends after reading it.

I mention all this because the very first thing you need to have in place if you want a publisher, whether you’re self-published or not—is a good book. A very good book. A book people won’t want to leave until they’ve read the last word, and even then, a bit sad that it has come to an end.

My story continues when, after two and a half years of plugging away online and offline, my (now) editor from Harvest House Publishers contacted me. He said he kept running into me and my book all over the Web. Music to my ears.

The senior editor said he was interested in publishing a Christian regency. I sent him a copy of my book, and he eventually offered me a two-book contract. Not only would Harvest House republish Before the Season Ends, but they would publish its sequel, too (The House in Grosvenor Square, coming in April 2009).

My “success” was a by-product of all the hard work and effort I’d put into my book and other writing since I’d used a POD. But I now give presentations at conferences and workshops, sharing with other writers the techniques and “building blocks” they need if they want a publisher. Even though your book has to be top-notch, publishers today are looking for authors who are “out there,” who have a platform, a good Web presence. In many cases, it is not just about the writing. You need to demonstrate to them that you are a good prospect—you’re a savvy marketer—that you will help them sell your book.

The work does not end when you land your contract. I encourage writers to approach marketing as part of the writing life, not a necessary evil, but a great way to shine their light on the hill. We write so others will read our words. Don’t hide under a bushel. If you think of yourself as an introvert—change. You can do it. I did. God’s grace is no respecter of persons. And if he has given you your message, your underlying premise of hope or love or truth, then he is all for helping you to share it with the world. He never gifts us for ourselves, alone.

Before The Season Ends