Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: agents


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers


Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers

Happy Friday, Seekerville!

I'm delighted to be back with y'all today. I've taken a break for the last few months as we dealt with some family changes. My father died in December, so I've of course been working through my grief and figuring out how to do life without his hugs or his steadiness. Then my father-in-law moved here to Georgia from Kansas after some significant medical challenges, and the tentative new normal we'd established after my dad's death was altered again. So needless to say this year has been one of adjustment, but I'm happy to say that I finally feel able to breathe again đź’ś

When I first started blogging here at Seekerville (gosh, that feels like just yesterday and forever ago, all at once) I had ZERO intentions of ever publishing a book. There were several reasons for this, but the main reason is that I am almost exclusively a fiction reader and I don't have any stories clamoring to be written. I'm content reading the ones that authors like my Seekerville sisters write - and then talking about them to whoever will listen haha

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers
But in the middle of this crazy year of hard changes, I was invited to participate in a special project - a non-fiction book written by four authors - each a 'gatekeeper' of the industry - to help aspiring AND multi-published authors learn how to win the hearts of agents, publishers, editors, and readers. (That last part is where I come in.) Did I have time to write a book - even a fourth of a book? Nope. LOL. Did I decide I had crossed the line into 'insanity' more than once during the process? Yep. But ultimately I agreed to write my section of Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers because I knew it was one more way for me to do what I love most - help authors get their words read! 

And thus a book was born. 

What can you find in Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers

1. Candid conversations from an agent (Hope Bolinger), a publisher (Linda Fulkerson), an editor (Rowena Kuo), and a reader/influencer (me) on how to align yourself, your platform, and your writing in ways that will make you an appealing author to each of these gatekeepers. 

2. Among other practical tips you'll learn how to work with your agent as a team, how to polish your manuscript before submitting it, and how to build a platform that publishers AND readers will gravitate toward.

3. Behind-the-scenes insight to make you more aware of what it's like on the other side of the aisle, such as the work that goes into your manuscript from agents, publishers, and editors ... and how to find and approach influencers.

What can you find specifically in my section of the book? 

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers
I love that Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers doesn't only address issues and questions that aspiring authors might have - I get to continue the conversation for published authors with topics such as:

  • where to find readers of your type of book
  • prioritizing your focus instead of trying to promote in all the places
  • how to determine which influencers truly want to help & which influencers are only in it for the free books
  • how (and how not) to approach influencers
  • what makes readers try a new-to-them author
  • the importance of cover, blurb, and author website must-haves in making a good first impression on readers
  • how to make word-of-mouth work for you
  • the importance of community in reader engagement
  • why your story matters

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers
I am so grateful for the sweet endorsements I've received from authors, including these from some of the Seekers!

Carrie Schmidt is someone I've learned knows more about Christian fiction and how to promote it, than anyone I've ever known...certainly more than me. For Carrie to gather her knowledge together in one place and share it with the world is a true gift. I can't wait to get my hands on this book and keep it close. – Mary Connealy, author of The Lumber Baron’s Daughters series

What author hasn’t wondered how to reach readers? Carrie Schmidt speaks to writers – not only the successful and accomplished author, but the introverted and overwhelmed author – giving them tools to engage readers in authentic and personal ways. From tips on participating in a successful blog tour to finding and retaining enthusiastic readers, Carrie gives the author the tools they need to reach those most important of all people – the readers they long to share their stories with. You will be putting this book on your “keeper shelf” and referring to it often! - Jan Drexler, author of The Sign of the Calico Quartz 

Carrie Schmidt not only draws from her years of involvement in the bookish world and her love of books, but also her heart of readers and authors alike. As she’s done so well in her blogging and social media outlets, Carrie continues to use her encouragement, knowledge, and passion in helping build a bridge of understanding between readers and authors so that we can all tell one big and beautiful story together. ~ Pepper Basham, author of The Mistletoe Countess and Authentically, Izzy

Want a copy for yourself? 

Getting Past the Gatekeepers is available for preorder (releasing October 11th) in ebook & paperback, with hardcover & audiobook versions coming soon!

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers
Remember when Dorothy finally reached the Emerald City only to be halted by the Gatekeeper, blocking her hopes of seeing the Great and Powerful Wizard? 

The path to publication is like that. Agents, and Editors, and Publishers, oh, my! Each one is a barrier between you and a publishing contract. 

But what if you understood what agents, editors, publishers, and readers really want? 

If you’re struggling to get past the publishing gatekeepers, this book will give you a behind-the-scenes peek at how to win the heart of each type of publishing professional. In fact, Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers won’t just give you a peek—it will give you a guided tour. In this book, four publishing professionals—an agent, a publisher, an editor, and an influencer—share what it takes to unlock each “gate” within the publishing industry. 

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers is a must-have resource for all aspiring authors, and it offers insights to help multi-published authors as well.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository

Subscribe to the Publishing Gatekeepers newsletter and receive a tip sheet on 12 ways for getting past the gatekeepers.

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers

Starting today, you can read the introduction to each section (a new one releases each day) in the four (!!!) days leading up to release day! You can click the preview graphic above or go to

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers is also on tour with JustRead Tours this week, and by leaving a comment on this post you can gain an entry when you fill out the Gleam entry form!

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers 
Leave a comment & then enter the giveaway here
Which section of Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers
do you think will be most helpful for you - agents, editors, publishers, or readers? 

Getting Past the Publishing Gatekeepers
Carrie Schmidt is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She also loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. Carrie started the popular blog in 2015 and since then has had the honor of co-founding the Christian Fiction Readers' Retreat and JustRead Publicity Tours. In addition to these endeavors, she is a regular contributor to Seekerville and has written for magazines such as RT Book Reviews and Christian Market. Carrie now lives in Georgia with her husband, though her roots range from East Tennessee to Central Kentucky and northern Illinois. 
Connect with Carrie by visiting to follow her on social media or subscribe to email updates.

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Cynthia Ruchti: When Considering an Author's Proposal

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Cynthia Ruchti: When Considering an Author's Proposal

Good Monday morning, Seeker villagers! How is it already the middle of June? Goodness! Anyway, I (Carrie) am here to introduce today's guest for this month's 'One Thing That Works For Me' series. Please join me in welcoming one of my very favorite people, Cynthia Ruchti, as she shares one thing that works for her when she wears her agent hat :)  

ONE THING THAT WORKS FOR ME…when considering an author’s proposal

Having written my own proposals for a bunch of books (many of the more than 36 now in print) and after reviewing a number inching close to a thousand proposals from clients and prospective clients in four-plus years as an agent so far, I can pinpoint the moment when I know “this might work.”

Can you guess which of these almost equally important strengths in a book proposal rises above the rest in making me want to dig deeper as an agent?

a. Title
b. Hook
c. Synopsis (fiction) or Chapter Summaries (nonfiction
d. Author Bio
e. Target Audience
f. Reader Takeaway
g. Comparables
h. Marketing Strategies

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Cynthia Ruchti: When Considering an Author's Proposal
Extra whipped cream for your pavlova for those who answered “h.” As valuable as are all the other options, if the marketing strategies section of the proposal catches my eye, in a good way, I’m more likely to consider the project worth further consideration.

Does that sound like backward thinking? (Not the pavlova. What could be wrong with that?) It’s actually forward thinking—a hope-giver for an agent or editor reviewing the proposal. In many ways, it is a reflection of the strength of all the other elements listed.

Many marketing strategies are like obligatory and clumpy powdered sugar when you were expecting whipped cream. Statements like these reveal that the author may be working with an old, tired recipe or is unaware of the power of a true “strategy” for marketing their book. 

  • I’m willing to participate in a world-wide book tour. (Who wouldn’t be? But world-wide—okay, even state-wide book tours—are a thing of the past, for the most part. For all the parts.) 

  • I’m willing to do whatever the publisher asks. (Again, a given. If you’re NOT willing to do what the publisher and its marketing team asks, you may not be ready for traditional publishing.)
  • I’m willing to speak to stadiums full of people to talk about my book. (Yeah, so which is actually less realistic—booking space at a stadium or over-filling it with potential readers?)

The “I’m willing” parts of those supposed strategies gave away a hard truth. The author isn’t well-informed about the role of the publisher’s marketing team versus the role of the author. It also reveals a misunderstanding about whose books even qualify for a world tour these days. They’re reserved for…well, for… Nope. Can’t think of an author whose publisher jots “world tour” into their marketing budget. 

Another list of tell-tale statements from a not-so-swell book proposal:

  • I plan to get a website. 
  • I hope to start a newsletter. 
  • I’m fixin’ to work on building a platform this summer as soon as I finish writing the book.

A marketing strategy isn’t a place for wishin’, and hopin’, and dreamin’. It’s for did and done. Authors are sometimes wise to hold off submitting their proposal until they have already created an active and engaging website, have a solid base of newsletter subscribers, and have built a platform that can bear the weight of the work it’s required to do.

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Cynthia Ruchti: When Considering an Author's Proposal
What qualifies, then, as a meaningful marketing strategy? As an agent, I appreciate one thing that works when I see it—CREATIVITY. We can’t shut off our creativity and move solely into business mode when putting together a stand-out marketing strategy. Creativity should be the driving force behind what we include in that section of our proposals. 

The best marketing strategies are ideas that will make the marketing team at the publishing house lean forward and say, “I wish we’d thought of that!”

They reveal that the author knows his or her audience well, inventing marketing ideas that tap into reader needs and preferences. They show that the author understands how to connect the book’s themes with specific strategies, like a premade list of potential guest blog post topics related to the story or potential online articles that connect the story to current culture. They engage potential readers/purchasers, not just rabid fans…and I use the word rabid loosely.

Those creative ideas have “legs” that reach an untapped audience.

They tie into the reader takeaway of the book (a companion devotional guide about grief, for instance, or a downloadable map of the imaginary island, or a Top Ten list of ways to be kind to a curmudgeon). 

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Cynthia Ruchti: When Considering an Author's Proposal
They capitalize on the book’s hook. What giveaways or promotional concepts can emerge from that stunning hook it took a month to create? 

They aim for discoverability and actual book sales. Discoverability alone—informing the public that your book is releasing—is only half the battle. Persuading them to purchase is the end game. (Extra points for those who recognized that as a mixed metaphor disguised as a legit metaphor because a game might well be a battle! I give you Twister and the SuperBowl.)

In a nutshell (see image), a marketing strategy deserves and needs the same level of creativity it took to write your book. Not kidding. It’s definitely one thing that works for me. 

(Photos provided by the author via Pixabay)


One Thing That Works For Me with guest Cynthia Ruchti: When Considering an Author's Proposal
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-Hope through novels, nonfiction, devotionals, and speaking events for women or writers (or both). Her books have garnered a number of industry awards including reader, retailer, and reviewer honors. She is the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, and serves as a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management. Her latest release is the novel Facing the Dawn (Revell--a division of Baker Book Group). Watch for this fall's release of the nonfiction Spouse in the House: Rearranging Our Attitudes to Make Room for Each Other (Kregel Publications). You can reach her at or

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Cynthia Ruchti: When Considering an Author's ProposalOne Thing That Works For Me with guest Cynthia Ruchti: When Considering an Author's Proposal

 Thank you, Cynthia, for such a great post & valuable insight! 
What questions do you have for Cynthia about including marketing strategies in your proposal?
Getting Past the Publishing GatekeepersOne Thing That Works For Me with guest Cynthia Ruchti: When Considering an Author's Proposal

Report "Seekerville: The Journey Continues"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?