Author Betsy St. Amant knows a thing or two about navigating a deadline. Or more accurately, deadlines. She just revealed the cover for her upcoming Christmas (!!!) novel, Their Holiday Secret, in her newsletter and has a number of other exciting writer-y projects in the works.
Now get to know how Betsy makes it all work in our Q&A. We discuss everything from her approach to social media, to how she helps aspiring authors tell their stories with her editorial services, to which of Rory’s three boyfriends—Dean, Jess, or Logan—was the best match. Yes, Betsy and I both wildly enthusiastic about Gilmore Girls.
Christa Banister: If you would, tell us a little bit about your writing journey and how you manage to pull off the magic trick of penning so many books for so many publishers without losing your sanity.
Betsy St. Amant: Thank you! Sometimes I have to remind myself its okay to stop and eat, but for the most part, the multiple deadlines work. I’m grateful that means I have a lot of contracts! But I never said I kept my sanity! Ha!
So, my writing journey in a nutshell: I started writing when I was 7, these totally plotless semi-memoirs about a girl and her dog, then moved into fan fiction without realizing fan fiction even existed. I just knew I wanted to decide what Claudia was going to wear to the next Baby-Sitters Club meeting.
During my teen years, I discovered a novel by Robin Jones Gunn under a damp towel in my sister’s room and realized these stories were different than Saddle Club and Sweet Valley. These stories were romantic and entertaining and drew me closer to the Lord. I decided then I wanted to write Christian fiction too! So I got serious about it at the age of eighteen and attended my first conference in Texas.
Award-winning author Gayle Roper was teaching the fiction track, and she introduced me to the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). I joined, went to their conference a few years later, got my agent, and she sold my first Love Inspired novel to Harlequin a few months later when I was 24 years old.
Now here we are, twenty-five novels/novellas later! God is so good! I’ve written for Zondervan, Revell, Harper Collins, Barbour, and my first nonfiction book is coming out with Kregel in January 2024. I also write devotionals for Crosswalk and iBelieve.
Regarding the deadlines and sanity, honestly, I’m a very disciplined person. I homeschooled for most of my school years growing up, which I think really helped. I’m a “make my bed in the morning or I can’t function” person, so I’ve learned to push through and get it done, whatever the task is at hand. Also, coffee helps (so do Nerds). But mostly, it’s the Holy Spirit empowering me to do what He’s given me.
Christa: For those reading who might be querying right now in pursuit of literary representation, how did you secure your agent and what advice would you have for writers who are trying to stay positive in the face of hearing their work isn’t the right fit?
Betsy: I got my agent through a referral from a fellow author, and we connected at the ACFW conference. Tamela Hancock Murray and I have been together in agent/client partnership for 15 years now! We are the perfect fit, and it’s worth waiting for. My advice to writers getting discouraged is to remember to keep trying, and that a lot of the time, rejections (be it from editors or agents or even personal relationships) are a form of the Lord’s protection. Don’t try to force things—go with God and His perfect timing. Trust the path He’s carved for you!
Christa: If being an author wasn’t keeping you busy enough, you also share your expertise with editing and author coaching through Storyside Services. Tell us a little about what Storyside has to offer and how that might help an aspiring author in particular.
Betsy: I am OBSESSED with coaching and mentoring and encouraging other authors. It brings me so much life and joy! My website has a Storyside tab where you can contact me for quotes and custom packages, as well as learn more about what I do. Basically, I can edit anything you have, from a query letter to a full manuscript, create one-sheets for your conference pitch appointments (or edit one you’ve already created), and of course, coaching via Zoom for literally anything you have going on! Want to practice your pitch? I got you, boo. Need to discuss the pros and cons of indie vs. traditional publishing? Let’s do it. Need help mastering a particular craft issue? We got this! I’ve even had a few clients go on to sign with agents in this past year.
Christa: You have such a fun, relatable, and engaging social media presence. How can writers of all stripes (aspiring, established, and otherwise) best use social media in all phases of their career? How do you decide what to post and what not to post?
Betsy: Thank you! I try to keep it real, because social media is fake enough. That’s my biggest piece of advice – be relatable on your social media platforms, be relevant, and don’t make it all about your book. Show your real life, promote in pieces, and especially promote other creatives. Pepper Basham and I will be teaching on the topic of social media this upcoming August at the 2023 ACFW Conference in St. Louis, if anyone wants to attend! 😊
Christa: One of many things you and I have in common is an undying love for Gilmore Girls and their beloved Stars Hollow. Here’s what I’m dying to know. Were you Team Dean, Jess, or Logan for Rory and why?
Betsy: Jess. Forever and always. He started out not good enough for her, then actually became too good for her (ducking – don’t hate me). I love how the writers gave him a success story. I think I favored him because he seemed like he “got” Rory the most out of all her love interests. Every time I re-watch the show, I warm up to Logan a little bit, but I still think at the end of the day he was a bit too spoiled. Dean was a good first BF, but that was it. He needed to go. He and Rory had NOTHING in common. OY with the poodles, already!