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So You've Written a Book? It's Smooth Sailing From Here...Or Is It?

You've spent countless hours of your valuable time writing this wonderfully earth-shattering piece of literature. Your baby. Your masterpiece. It has taken time away from your family. Time away from cleaning your home, (which now looks like WWIII took place in your living room.) Time away from much-needed sleep. It has consumed your waking thoughts, and even entered into your dreamworld. The dog needs a bath, the laundry is piled high, and your plants are gasping for water. But you did it! As you punch the last key on the keyboard and sit back to stare at your computer screen, a wide range of emotions overwhelm you. Your heart is pounding, tears fill your eyes. Breath comes in shallow bursts.

Next step...publication. Right? Well, yes, but it's not quite as simple as that.

As a new writer, I discovered through trial and error just what I needed to do. My journey may be completely different from another author's experience. I'm not saying my way is the right way, or even the only way. It may not even be what the writing community would consider a success story...after all, both of my books are due to be released in 2018, so my experience is still new. I'm certainly not claiming to be any kind of expert in the field. Far from it. But I'd like to share a little about what I've learned over the past few years on the road to publication. And yes...I said years.


Here is my journey:

The first thing I did when my novel was finished was start querying agents. Each agent you consider for representation needs to be thoroughly researched so that you submit by her specific requirements, and it varies from agent to agent. (Very time-consuming!) Of course, the rejections eventually trickled in after months of waiting. (Agents receive hundreds of queries each month and are very busy, so it took eleven months for one agent to respond...Rejected.)

Self-doubt took over from there. Was my novel terrible? Why was no one interested? Should I even keep trying, or take this as a sign that it just wasn't meant to be for me? The temptation to quit was strong, but instead I squared my shoulders, and began to research. I joined several writer's groups on Facebook and found that other writers are the best resource. I read article after article on the topic. More research. I learned there are many steps that need to happen pre-query that I had skipped. Tsk, tsk, tsk. I had sent a novel that was unedited. Of course, I had self-edited. Several times. But I hadn't had a professional take a look at it. So the next thing I did was hire a copy-editor.

Next, beta readers. Someone to read your book and give feedback. Oh, my husband had read the book while I was writing it (he's pleased to be considered an Alpha reader), and my Mom and sister read it and gave feedback. (They loved it, of course.) Then I once again turned to those writer's groups to find someone in the field to beta read. The feedback was good. After fixing a few issues with point of view, and going back through the entire manuscript myself for what seemed like the hundredth time, I was sure I was ready to send it out into the world once again. And so the process began again, research, gather materials, send. Research, gather materials, send. This time, I researched publishers who would accept manuscript submissions directly from the author, as well as agents.

More rejections. I was over-the-moon excited to be contacted by an interested publisher...only to crash back down again after realizing they were a vanity press (the author is required to pay toward publication.) Six months passed. Seven. After eight months of waiting, I was contacted by a small publishing company based in Texas. I was skeptical. I once again turned to the writing community, asking questions and weighing answers. My husband and I went over every inch of the contract, and when I felt comfortable, I signed it.


This could be just the beginning of a long successful career for me. Or (I'm a realist, after all) my books could fizzle and disappear. No one knows what's in my future. (Of course, my hope is that they'll be on the best seller list by next summer!) But I've definitely learned a lot through this experience, and no matter what, I know I didn't give up. I know that despite the odds, despite rejection, I persevered. This year, I'm living my dream of becoming a published author. And that's not something to take for granted.

If I can do it, you can, too. Finishing the writing of your novel may only be the first in many steps. But it is, after all, the most important step. There wouldn't be a novel without the story. So take a few moments to sit back, relax, and pat yourself on the back. You deserve it. But after a sufficient celebratory period, get ready to dig in.

*Research, research, research.

*Don't be afraid to ask questions of others. That's how you learn.

*Expect rejections. Every book is not a perfect fit for every publisher.

*Don't throw in the towel. It can't happen if you give up.

But it just might if you keep after your dream. Happy writing!

My Favorite Writing Spot

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