Thursday, November 3, 2011

Author Journey ... Nicole Petrino-Salter

by Nicole Petrino-Salter

Let's face it, there's still very little "respect" associated with self-publishing. If a writer proclaims--sheepishly or proudly--that they're self-published, most royalty published authors (and wannabes) form a condescending smile and their immediate thoughts rush to "She's impatient" and/or "No one would publish her work because it's inferior." The success of The Shack stunned some writers because it's no secret the little story that sold millions demonstrated that less-than-perfect writing sometimes has little to do with selling novels.

I wrote my first novel because God told me to write a Christian novel about horse racing, the industry in which my husband and I worked for over 30 years. It's a not-so-inside joke to professionals in the Christian publishing industry when they hear the mantra, "God told me to write it." This little phrase makes the Top Ten Things of what not to say at conferences or in any communication with professionals, the reason being that the instruction itself does not insure the individual who speaks it can actually write. And my first novel is very much a first effort. A huge tome that took 8 and 1/2 years to write during seven days a week of working at the track, homeschooling our son some of those years, and lay ministry at church. There would be six to nine month periods of no writing whatsoever. All the writing I managed was longhand in spiral notebooks. When it came time to decipher my handwriting and transport the story to the new computer my son received from my parents for graduation from high school, the "editing" began. Obviously that process only refined Hope Of Glory (yes, the O in of was capitalized on purpose) to a point since the saga wound up being 744 pages in a very tight template. Lots of unnecessary words in there and sooo many horse names.

Then the search for publication ensued, thinking once the book was written it could get published. Uh-huh. Silly girl. And very unschooled in the "biz". I don't know how to describe the sense that lurked in the background about self-publishing. Now some of you are laughing out loud. How else could a 744 page Christian novel about horse racing ever get any kind of traction from a Christian publisher - or any publisher for that matter? You're right. Not gonna happen. So I found an outfit that advertised in a Christian publication and followed up on it. As I look back, I figure they'd publish just about anything. I'm sure they've grown in their business practices since then, but suffice it to say, the end result was much inferior (with the exception of the cover) to my two novels produced by WinePress (The Famous One and Breath of Life). I won't wave the pricey tag in your face for Hope Of Glory because I don't want anyone accusing me of giving them heart palpitations. And this was after I received 1000 novels with two critical errors in them which the Lord showed me the next morning after they were delivered. I can't describe the sick feeling after all the jubilation. Those 1000 novels ended up at a recycler and the book took years to pay off. Hope Of Glory holds some interesting testimonies for all its clumsy construction, and I give away copies as ministry novels to racetrackers, friends, and strangers.

My second novel came as a result of a powerful prayer burden for an actor. Simultaneously with that heavy prayer for his salvation, The Famous One formed. When I'd learned significantly more about the biz, I submitted it to a well known Christian literary agency and the story made it into their final process for acceptance or rejection. Since it eventually ended up self-published, you know what they decided. A few years later I inquired at WinePress and purchased a package for the book which I should mention exceeds the norm for CBA novels in length (word count) which is why it's more expensive than most. To participate closely in the process after having the work edited by a professional (and surprisingly left mostly intact) proved to be rewarding. The marketing factor is the only downside to the experience.

And so it happened that before WinePress changed their packages, my latest novel Breath of Life got locked into an inexpensive package, and the process began again. And also again I'm in the uncomfortable position of attempting to market my work. Believe me, by this time I've heard all the positive reasoning for selling one's books. However, I've never heard any concrete facts given for what truly works - other than word of mouth which can take a very long time if you write a niche novel.

My journey in self-publishing satisfies my independent spirit but really it's all about the road God has chosen for me. And don't expect me to tell you why because I can't. Marketing is not my best suit. In fact marketing makes me feel like I'm standing exposed in my underwear. I can tell you I love the stories I've been inspired to write. I can talk about why they don't fit comfortably into some of the current CBA publishers' requirements. I can discuss the characters with you because I love them. But push you to buy a copy of one of them? Not so easy for me.

So why do it? Because nothing in this life is incidental. The Lord has His reasons for our directions even when they don't necessarily make sense to us. Apart from Him, I can do nothing. I've completed seven novels and have three more in progress. I keep going because He gives me characters and words to accommodate their lives. This is my journey. For what it's worth.
Nicole Petrino-Salter


WinePress Publishing 2011

Breath of Life tells the story of embittered, wounded, and divorced Michael Jamison, who, after a prolonged period as the casual observer of a lovely woman, discovers his attraction to her supersedes remaining a stranger. With a smarting ego and nothing to lose, he figures out a non-threatening way to introduce himself and is overwhelmed with her pristine beauty and is challenged to change everything about the way he's lived his life so far.

Praise for Breath of Life:
A bestselling novelist hiding her loneliness behind a pen name, Shay is more of an innocent than her stories let on with only two vices: shoes and cigarettes. When one of them attracts the attention of another lost soul looking for love, Shay's story takes an unforeseen turn. In Breath of Life, Nicole Petrino-Salter proves to be a minute chronicler of the human heart. She imbues her tale of second chances with a quiet emotional intensity that builds page after page." J. Mark Bertrand, author of Back on Murder and Pattern of Wounds.

Nicole Petrino-Salter writes love stories with a passion. She's devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ, her family, friends, and her pets. You can find her most days on her blog: where she welcomes your visit.


  1. Nicole, I'm very glad you *listened* when God told you to write that first book, and every book since then. You have a unique voice and outlook to share with the world that needs to be heard.

    And I'm glad that you're taking the risk of self-publishing. There are innumerable paths to publication for those who are called to write, and traditional royalty publishing is only one of them.

    Thanks for sharing your journey, Nicole.

    BTW - LOVE your book cover! If that's sitting on the shelves at a bookstore, I would no doubt pick it up.

  2. You're the best, Brenda. Thanks for posting my convoluted journey. Although many still disdain self-publishing, it's gained a little ground in recent times.

    Thank you, too, for your generous spirit in posting these author journeys. The unique paths designed by our Lord for writers gives all kinds of present and future authors hope to continue.

    So glad you love this cover. And blessed that you appreciate my voice and outlook. Thank you, my long-distance friend.