After eight years of working as a book publicist for Bethany House Publishers, Amy Green ‘13 has transitioned to working as an author full-time.
Green has published three historical fiction novels with Bethany House in the past three years: Things We Didn’t Say, The Lines Between Us, and The Blackout Book Club. Each novel takes place during World War II.
Green has taught marketing classes at writer’s conferences, such as the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, the biggest conference in the Christian fiction world, as well as the Taylor University Professional Writers Conference. Green loves to encourage both established and aspiring authors in their publication goals.
The Taylor Writing Community
According to Green, the Professional Writing major community was just as valuable as the classes.
“Not many people have that kind of community, especially from a young age, and that gave me a jumpstart over other writers to have those people,” Green said. “My college roommate, Ruthie, is still my critique partner.”
A Career in Book Publicity
After graduating, Green started working in the marketing department of Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing Group). She’d always wanted to work in publishing, but while she had done an internship in editorial work while at Taylor, she realized such a detail-oriented job wasn’t for her. She wanted a people-oriented job, and marketing fulfilled that need.
The classes she’d taken at Taylor in web copy, content marketing, design, and writing were exactly what Bethany House was looking for. “Through classes that I had taken in the Professional Writing major, that had caused me to be really aware and familiar with the steps that a book would take to get through publication,” Green said.
As a fiction publicist, her job was to introduce all of Bethany House’s fiction books to readers in ways that weren’t paid advertising. She found it was an excellent fit for what she wanted to do with her writing degree, doing something different every day and marketing 50-60 books per year.
“I would do things like setting up media interviews with authors, book tours, review copies going out to different publications or individuals who review books, things like Instagram tours, or running Bethany House’s social media, and answering author questions about how they can market their books on social media,” Green said.
Passion for Historical Fiction
Green’s interest in historical fiction began when she moved to Minnesota and explored the local history to get a feel for the area. She began learning fascinating stories from her visits to historical sites, such as German prisoner-of-war camps and a secret Japanese language school where Japanese Americans trained to be spies and translators for the war.
She wanted to find a way to combine these two intriguing pieces of history, and that’s where the idea for her first novel sparked from. As she researched, more interesting things popped up, which is where the idea for her next book emerged.
“Before I start to write a book, I will do a lot of preliminary research,” Green said. “I read a lot of books, try to find some primary sources, and then I start writing, and as I go, I look up things that I think will be important to the plot that I didn’t find out before.”
After she starts writing, if Green comes across something she missed that needs researching, she’ll put in a placeholder and return to it later to keep momentum as she writes. And when her editors go over her full manuscript, they often find and correct more obscure historical facts Green wasn’t aware of.
Gospel Truth in Storytelling
Green cares deeply about exploring the “intersection between faith and fiction.”
She found that the Bible classes at Taylor helped shape what she believed, discovering she could then apply her faith to the things she wrote. It was also beneficial to be immersed in the Bible as a writer because she believes Christian writers should have the edge in storytelling.
“If you are writing a story that accurately reflects the consequences of evil, that people are made in the image of God and also fallen, it’s going to ring true,” Green said. “Some of the deepest themes in literature involve sacrifice because they’re a reflection of the gospel story. The more you know the big story—the story of redemption—the more you can tell honest and beautiful stories of your own.”
Green’s ultimate goal in storytelling is to make people think—about God, about justice, about how to live well in the world—then have them talk out those questions with the believers they know.
“I write historical fiction that has lighter faith themes, so somebody’s not going to pick up my book who isn’t a Christian and feel offended by it. But there are characters who have faith and that impacts their life. There is usually a question that I’m wanting the reader to consider, even if I don’t necessarily provide all the answers; it puts me in a unique spot because there are a lot of people who aren’t Christians who read my books. And sometimes, I get questions from readers.”
One day, Green was approached by a woman after she gave a book club presentation at a library to people of all different backgrounds.
“[She said,] ‘You know, I was very intrigued by your book. I just want to know, what do Christians believe about grace?’” Green said. “I was like, ‘All right! Let me tell you what Christians believe about grace!’ And that was a really cool opportunity that I didn’t necessarily know I was going to have. In the writing that I do and when I speak to people about my books, I want to raise questions that readers can talk about with the actual people in their life.”
Full-Time Writing and Parenting
After she and her husband had a baby in 2022, Green found that working as a publicist, writer, and mom was going to be too much on her plate. To create a better balance for herself, she decided to end her job in publicity and move on to write novels full-time.
Begin Your Publishing Journey
For students who are interested in publishing, Green advises following the type of writing or genre they are interested in and being aware of what's getting published today. She recommends visiting bookstores to see what’s selling and talking to booksellers and librarians to ask what certain people or age groups are reading. Knowing what’s current and trending in the publishing world when applying and interviewing for jobs will give students a big step ahead.
Taylor University’s Professional Writing major equips aspiring authors, publicists, editors, and more. Learn more about our program and schedule a visit! Want to go deeper into your writing journey this summer? Taylor's Professional Writer's Conference July 28-30 is open to writers who want to hone their craft, including teens. Register here.
Photos courtesy of Amy Green.