Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Debut Author Spotlight ... Catherine West

When They Say No
by Catherine West

A few months ago, my agent Rachelle Gardner wrote this post on her blog: When An Agent Gives Up on a Project. I thought it might be helpful, even encouraging, to share my experience on this with you, and the truths I learned along the way.

When Rachelle first offered me representation, I had just completed a manuscript called Yesterday’s Tomorrow. Rachelle liked it because it was ‘different’. I agreed. I certainly hadn’t seen any books about a female journalist who travels to Vietnam during wartime. Not in CBA anyway. I was excited to finally have an agent who believed in my writing and loved my story as much as I did. After a rewrite and a few plot changes, we had a book that would sell quickly. Or so we thought.

Truth #1 - Just because your agent loves a project does not mean it will sell.

This was the fist lesson I learned. Just as Rachelle said in her post, some projects are hard sells. Looking back, I think there were numerous reasons it didn’t sell. Some editors assured us it wasn’t the writing, so we were left to assume it was the content. I had written a book that was, perhaps, a little too different.

Truth #2 – Listen to Good Advice.

Having a very wise agent is one thing, listening to and taking her advice is quite another. I’m sorry to say I was pretty set against putting this book on the shelf. I was in too deep, too emotionally invested, and I refused to accept that it just wasn’t going to happen. One of the hardest emails I’ve had to read from Rachelle was the one telling me she really felt we needed to stop pursuing publication for this particular project. (How’s that for alliteration?). I’m sure she was just as disappointed as I was, but she was looking at the big picture. I was too busy chomping sour grapes.

Truth #3 – Learn to Let Go.

This is where I get nauseatingly trite and throw the old if you love something let it go saying…in your face. But seriously. Letting that project sit on the shelf whilst working on other things was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done thus far into my writing career. But you know what? It was absolutely the right thing to do at the time. It may not always be the right thing for you, but I know it was for me. The past couple of years allowed me to grow as a writer. I’ve been fortunate to be able to go to conferences. I’ve been learning, writing new books and simply enjoying where I am on my writing journey.

Truth #4 – Sometimes You’ve Got to Go with the Gut.

They say there is a time and a season for everything under heaven. I believe that to be true. You see, that story I let go, well, it wouldn’t let me go. So I attempted one more major rewrite, and in fear and trembling approached my lovely agent with the idea of resubmitting. She agreed, and I’m happy to say my instinct on this one was right. And so was Rachelle’s. It was just a matter of timing, as she so firmly told me two years ago. I’m so glad I listened!


OakTara, March 2011
336 pages

Vietnam, 1967.

Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father's memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother's wishes. Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he's hiding something.

Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

Introducing Catherine

Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine West holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. Catherine and her husband live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, with their two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of Romance Writers of America, and American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a founding member of International Christian Fiction Writers. Catherine’s debut novel Yesterday’s Tomorrow, releases March 15th, through OakTara Publishers.

Website: http://www.catherinejwest.com/
OakTara Website: http://www.oaktara.com/
Blog: http://www.catherinewestblog.blogspot.com/
Trailer: http://youtu.be/vVQUMRlYhkM


  1. Cathy - thank you for sharing your publication journey. You've offered great advice and encouragement for those of us who consistently hear that word No.

    I'm really looking forward to reading YESTERDAY'S TOMORROW. I LOVE books that dare to be different.

  2. Thanks, Brenda and Cathy. Sounds like a good one.