Margaret McGee is the author of Stumbling Toward God and Sacred Attention: A Spiritual Practice for Finding God in the Moment.
My first book, Stumbling Toward God, came out in 2001 from Innisfree Press, a small spiritual/religious publishing house that has since gone out of business. Innisfree’s publisher, Marcia Broucek, then became the acquisition editor for SkyLight Paths Publishing. Bless her heart, Marcia took me along with her, and SkyLight Paths published my second book Sacred Attention: A Spiritual Practice for Finding God in the Moment in late 2007. Currently I’m under contract with SkyLight Paths for my third book, which I hope will be published later this year.
What has been the best part about being published?
I love having someone come up to me and say – ‘Until I read your book, I thought I was the only one who felt that way! (about the church … or religion … or faith … or whatever.)’
I think part of my mission is to say out loud what’s hidden in many hearts. At one time or another, we each feel like a heretic, and we’re all afraid that we’re the only heretic in the pews. It’s deeply healing when we realize we’re not alone.
I also like it when someone says, “Your book made me laugh!”
What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your book?
I hope they carry with them that the God of life and love is found in their own ordinary, everyday human lives—warts, wounds, and all.
What do you wish you had known when you first started out as a writer for publication?
I wish I’d known that persistence is a thousand times more important than talent. I’d been told that many times, but somehow I still hoped that my overflowing talent would make persistence unnecessary
I also wish I’d known that editors and publishers don’t really hold all the cards. I saw them as all-powerful beings who render judgment on me and my work. But no editor is God, or even a demi-god. They are all working under guidelines too. Given the chance, they’d all rather say “yes” than “no.”
I had to stop seeing myself as a powerless supplicant and instead recognize that, with the help of the real God, I could partner with editors in serving the needs of readers. That’s a hard turn to make when you’re desperate for the validation of being published. But after making the turn, I more easily matched my work to a particular periodical or publishing house and actually got published.
Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?
Bumpy, largely because of that problem of hoping I could avoid the bumps and have smooth sailing. If I’d embraced the hard work and bumpy road from the beginning, I might have had more fun along the way. A bumpy ride can be scary-awful or scary-thrilling, depending on your attitude.
For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?
For Sacred Attention, I signed a contract in December, delivered a final manuscript in May, and the book came out that November.
If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?
I would hire people to help me. First a publicist to help me with book promotion, and then a personal assistant to help with the business side of being a professional writer.
Oh—and if money were really no object, I’d hire a housekeeper who’s also a good cook!
How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?
These days, an author’s efforts to promote her book are as important or more important than the publisher’s. I promote my books on my two web sites, IntheCourtyard.com and margaretdmcgee.com. I work to get speaking engagements and always ask if I can bring books to sell. When I get a gig, I provide images of the book covers to the organization for their event promotion. I’m always happy (and grateful) to do an online interview such as this one.
If I spent a lot more time on promotion, I’d probably sell more books … but then, when would I write those books?
Where can readers find a copy of your book?
My most recent book, Sacred Attention: A Spiritual Practice for Finding God in the Moment, is available through major bookstores, online retailers, and from the publisher, SkyLight Paths (www.skylightpaths.com).
Readers can purchase a signed copy of my first book, Stumbling Toward God, directly from me by going to my author web site, margaretdmcgee.com.