A New Author’s Path to Publication

ACFW Advice, Authors and writing, Encouragement, Friends of ACFW, writing 15 Comments

by Frank DiBianca

Today, I am interviewing an author who is very well-known (at least to me): my wife, Kay DiBianca. Kay’s debut novel, The Watch on the Fencepost, is a cozy mystery/romance published by Crosslink Christian Publishers and released in 2019.

Kay, thank you for participating. I’d like to ask you to summarize your learning experience for us in the following areas:


I’ve always loved writing but found little time for it until I retired, and I decided to try my hand at writing a mystery. I had no idea how much work I was in for!


My background is in math and computer science, not fields you associate with novel writing. However, software engineering gave me a love of puzzles, and I’ve found my analytical training to be a great help in constructing a mystery story.


I love studying the craft of writing. I have a small but expanding library of writing-craft books. Starting with a general idea for The Watch on the Fencepost, I watched the story take on a life of its own as I wrote. Characters often did and said things as if they were writing the story themselves. I actually enjoyed the several revisions even more than the first draft as my understanding improved.


I realized early on I needed a professional editor to help me refine my manuscript. I also needed a mentor to guide me through the publishing labyrinth. Fortunately, I discovered The Christian Writers Market Guide. I found both my mentor/editor and an independent plot reviewer there. They molded and polished the final book.


The CWMG also helped me find a traditional publisher, Since I preferred to deal directly with the publisher, my husband, Frank, and I focused on small publishers. I received several publication offers and decided to go with CrossLink.


Following advice to get endorsements from professional authors and editors, I made sure they knew I only wanted honest feedback. Much to my surprise, I received many endorsements from professionals. They’re listed on my website at kaydibianca.com/reviews.

Since the book was released, it’s received very complimentary reviews on Amazon. Goodreads, and other sites. I generally don’t ask friends to review the book online, so most of these are from people I don’t know.


I did a number of enjoyable book signings and talks at libraries and book stores.  First, I showed my book trailer for the book, then  I gave a short synopsis of the plot and characters. Next, since the book is a mystery, I presented the audience with a puzzle to solve. I kept adding clues until someone figured out the solution. Winners got a free copy of the book. I tried Facebook ads, but did not have much success.

But in the last few months, I’ve marketed through book promo sites with great results. I’m thrilled that The Watch on the Fencepost was accepted by Bookbub for a Featured Deal on February 26.


I was fortunate that The Watch on the Fencepost was named a 2019 Illumination Award winner (General Fiction) and a 2019 Eric Hoffer Award winner (Mystery). It was also a semi-finalist in the ACFW’s 2018 Genesis contest.

The book promotions mentioned greatly increased sales in the past few months. Total sales in 2019 topped two thousand books, more than I dreamed possible


One thing I’ve learned throughout my life is that persistence is often the key to success. Never give up!

Kay, that was very informative. Thank you so much!

Persistence is the key to success in writing. Never give up!- Kay DiBianca @fdibianca #ACFWBlogs #write #writetips #christianfiction Click To Tweet

Frank A. DiBianca is a fiction writer and retired university professor. He received a Ph.D. in high-energy physics from Carnegie-Mellon University and later worked in biomedical engineering. Frank lives in Memphis with his author-wife, Kay (The Watch on the Fencepost, CrossLink). He is completing his first novel, a romance.



Comments 15

  1. For a first time writer it takes a lot of courage, especially now in this fast paced world of instant gratification, to invest so much time walking a path that you have never been down. You have to have love of the craft, vision, persistence, and many other qualities to continue when the evil spirits creep in.

    This “stretching” into the future is not guaranteed to produce the results you want either and many fall by the wayside and like climbing Mount Everest the bones of them that didn’t make it litter your path. Then to attempt a second book before the results are in for the first is a curious thing. It is a thing of which Olympians are familiar.

    Is there a single obsession or multiple that drives you on? Does one replace another? Will you eat the bear or will the bear eat you?

  2. The golden path to publication!
    Can you tell me what it took?
    You are such and inspiration…
    oh…I’ll have to write a BOOK?
    Do you mean the publisher won’t
    get someone to write my story
    on my royalty-bought fishing boat
    while I regale with wordsmith glory?
    They’ll want rewrites till perfected?
    I cannot believe my eyes!
    And then I will be expected
    to go out and advertise?
    Suspicions now begin to lurk;
    this all sounds a lot like work!

  3. Oh, Andrew! As usual, you are both entertaining and perceptive — and in rhyme!

    As I’m sure you’ll agree, writing is a great privilege and satisfying to the soul. But it isn’t easy. On the other hand, if it wasn’t hard, why do it?

    Take care, my writing friend. Thanks for stopping by and putting a smile on my face.

  4. Good morning, Mel! Thanks for a great question.

    First of all, I was thrilled that several publishers actually expressed interest in publishing the book. As a new author, I was afraid no one would be interested.

    Frank and I did a little research and discovered CrossLink is often listed as one of the top Christian publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts. We were also quite impressed with their website which includes all the books they publish and comprehensive information about their business. We had a conference call with the Managing Editor, Rick Bates, who took time to explain so many things to these two novices.

    The publication decision is a highly personal one, but we feel we made the right call for our current situation.

  5. Hi Kay and Frank!

    Wow! The Watch on the Fencepost has been recognized even more than I knew. I’m not surprised at all because it’s an engaging and smart mystery, wonderfully told.

    I can’t top Andrew for witty verse – so fun!

    I’ll just say thank you for sharing your journey with us.


  6. Mel, although it was Kay’s decision to make, I can offer some thoughts about what attracted her to CrossLink. They were remarkably well organized, communicative, and professional. That impressed both of us.

    Thanks for your comment.

  7. Paco,

    Very perceptive remarks! I admit to having fallen in love with the craft of writing, so I’m in training for the trek up the mountain.

    Thanks for stopping by and for your intriguing thoughts.

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