As an aspiring author, I never passed a “How I Got My Publisher/Agent” article without scanning for a magic key. That one thing I was missing that would cast open the doors to the world of being a published author.
I cringed every time the interviewee said, “my journey didn’t come by traditional means”. I love a solid plan with clear direction. How could I possibly read, map and implement a plan of action based on happenstance? And so, I continued to query—and obsessively review interviews!
Then, one day, it happened. I received an offer of publication. How did it happen? Well…um, not by entirely traditional means.
My 2015 NaNoWriMo project was a young adult (YA) bootlegger novel. After revisions I began to query it and entered some on-line contests. In 2016 I was selected as an alternate and had the great opportunity to revise my manuscript and query letter with the help of two wonderful authors and an amazing editor. I’d become acquainted with one of the authors in online groups and the editor in another contest.
In the meantime, I met a local author who also worked for a small press. I went to her signings, asked endless questions at SCBWI events, and joined her book club (all of this was not nearly as stalker-ish as it sounds). Even though we became friends, I didn’t submit to her because I didn’t want her to feel I “expected” anything from her—except the information. During an online pitch contest she favorited my pitch and I submitted my YA bootlegger/romance to her. The publisher ultimately passed on my novel, but with good feedback.
A year later that publisher, Crimson Tree Publishing/Clean Teen Publishing, started a romance imprint. I was asked if I was still seeking publication for A Shine That Defies the Dark (I was!). I re-submitted my manuscript to the managing editor and—after a few changes to make my novel better suited for a new adult (NA)/adult romance—I received an offer of publication.
Getting the email of acceptance was a surreal experience. Although you dream about the moment, once it happens it really is like waking up from a dream.
So, for those of you skimming this article looking for the magic key, I’d say the important lessons I learned in my path to publication are:
- Make real connections with people. Ask questions, support others, take an interest in their non-writing lives as well as their writing/editing/publishing/agenting.
- Consider the advice/feedback you’re given. You don’t have to take it all, but you should consider it, especially if you’re hearing it from several people.
- Reconsider your genre. With a few changes would your novel be marketable in another genre? I’d never considered my YA bootlegger novel to be an NA romance. And yet…
- Query widely. Consider agents as well as small publishers.
The best of luck to all those who are still on their journey and a heartfelt “Thank you” to everyone who helped me along the way.