Charlee Harris on Publishing

Author Charlee Harris

Author Charlee Harris

Today I’m pleased to interview Charlene Harris, though she prefers to be called Charlee. She’s both an artist and writer, and previously wrote for a local newspaper, reading and critiquing books by established and new authors.

Many moons ago, Charlee was the first female basketball official for her section of the Eastern conference in Alabama. But her dream has always been to be an author.

Her favorite quote is by Cyril Connolly who said, “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

Charlee, at what point in writing your book did you begin to look for publishers?

I was looking by the tenth revision. North to Absolution was not in perfect shape, but it was as good as I could make it on my own. Some chapters took a week to revise, which to me is where the talent begins to show. Our job as writers is to edit and rework our novels.

How did you choose the publishers you queried?

I followed the advice of Bill Manville, when he turned me on to Noah Lukeman. I worked two months gathering a list of agents I felt supported my genre, as well as publishing houses. I gathered all the material I could about them and the authors they supported. Taking my list, I matched them on Predators and Editors and dropped a couple because of their ratings.

How are you tackling marketing your book?

  • I began by talking to my dearest friends who live across the country. They have become my word of mouth because I shared my book with them.
  • Searching online for outlets where promotions are the company’s forte.
  • Finding and setting up interviews.
  • I wrote critiques for our local paper, and will use that relationship to get my own work reviewed. Our local news is wonderful about promoting local authors’ works.
  • Books a Million is also another source to be used for book signing by their local authors.

What was the worst thing to deal with in the publishing process?

Every agent or publishing house has different rules for submissions, which can be a pain. You must read the guidelines and send your query exactly the way they want it, or you end up in the slush pile, or garbage can.

What was the best?

The best part is generating interest and receiving positive feedback. At the same time pay attention to the letters of denial if you’re told why you were denied. It can turn into invaluable information in submitting your work going forward.

What advice do you have for writers concerning finding and gaining a publisher?

  • Do your homework on the ones you wish to query. Know as much about them as you do your work. Once the lines of communications open, be patient. Publishing is a difficult job, and disturbing the agent or company with frivolous emails is not a good idea.
  • Always check Predators and Editors. It could save you grief down the road. Don’t give up.
  • A must is to learn how to write a query letter and synopsis.
  • I would check out Amazon for Noah Lukeman’s books, and get them. Some of his books free. As an agent he knows his job, knows what someone will be looking for, and knows how to get you there.

What advice do you have for writers about publishing?

Be patient, and if they ask for money, run.

What did you know going into this whole publishing process that helped you the most?

Last year I got involved with Bill Manville’s writing class, Writing to Get Published. Bill and my classmates shared their knowledge with me. As I said, Bill turned me on to Lukeman, and he must be right, or I wouldn’t be having a book published. Once I made that leap and was successful, Bill had done his job. I would, and have, recommended his class for anyone who wants to be in a position to take that first frightening step. It’s not easy to expose your soul to strangers. Bill has cut his apron strings with me to allow me to enjoy the process.

The second thing would be my work ethic. If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, keep in mind it’s a business, not a hobby. Read as much as you can to study others’ styles and genres. Last but not least, write as much as you can to search for your authentic voice. I found mine in a place I never thought possible. Once you find it, own it. It’s your key to being the best writer you can be.

What did you learn—good and bad—through all this that you’ll apply to the next time?

I’ve learned how to take criticism. I’ve learned how to take what I want from those criticisms, leaving what I can’t use behind. Learn that all people will not like your work. You will never be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s nothing personal, so don’t take it that way. Write from the heart, and study your craft. Like I said, for the serious writer, this is a business. Be willing to treat it as such, because you’ll be treated in the same fashion.

That’s terrific advice, Charlee. Criticism, even when it is constructive, can be hard to take. Thanks for being here today. You’ve given my readers some food for thought. I wish you all the best as your books become reality.

Charlee’s upcoming book, titled ANJU, is about a young Mormon woman who finds herself at odds with her own culture versus the Comanche. Anju is set to be released in the winter of 2016 by Robin Tidwell of Rocking Horse Publications.

Want to get published but don’t know where to start?

Maybe you have a finished manuscript or just an idea stuck in your head. Email me today at Deb [at] DebraLButterfield [dot] com, and let's discuss how I can help you reach your dream of publication.


  1. Thank you Charlee for giving those who are too afraid to publish an insight on how it could be possible !

  2. Enjoyed this interview, Deb. Very inspiring insights, Charlee! Thank you, both 🙂

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Melody. Charlee has some advice that isn’t the typical you hear, especially about how she handles the criticism and the work she put into searching for a publisher.

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