When I was writing my first novel, I often wondered if I'd ever get published. The process seemed so daunting, and at times, even impossible.
What helped inspire me (and keep me motivated) was reading how other author's went about it. I liked reading about their struggles, set backs, and even insecurities. So, I figured I'd tell my story to help shed some light on the process for anyone curious or just starting out.
This will be a blog series about my road to publication.
Here's my story:
In 2008, I gave birth to my son, and because of my son, I found myself in a bit of a career crisis. I owned a couple of dance studios and my hours were crazy long. I missed my baby. I missed putting him to bed. I missed holding him, and suddenly, the things that used to make me so happy (dancing/teaching/choreography) no longer did.
After lots of debate, I decided to leave the dance industry so that I could be a full time mom. Talk about a career change. It wasn't easy, but it is the one decision in my life that I have never regretted. Not for one second.
Once I was home, and adjusted to my new life, I realized that I needed a creative outlet, even if it was something small. I'd always loved to read, and even as a young girl, I remember wanting to be a writer. I had just finished Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga, and my obsession with YA literature was in full swing.
So, I decided that during nap time, I'd start a novel. It was a romance. It even dealt with past lives. But it was horrid. Of course, I didn't know it at the time. I thought it was fantastic.
Ugh, when I think about it, I cringe.
After I finished that first manuscript, I edited it, and did some research on obtaining a literary agent. Once I had my query letter perfected, I sent it out to agents thinking that I would FOR SURE find representation. I mean, how hard could it actually be?
Ha. Ha. Ha.
Needless to say, I waited and waited...and waited, but an agent never called. I sent out more query letters. I waited some more. And when that didn't work, I repeated the process again. I think I sent out a total of 65 query letters for this manuscript, and I had one agent in all that time request a partial manuscript. Of course, it was politely turned down.
I'll be honest. I was a little heartbroken.
I thought about trying again, but by that time I had a toddler, and my life was pretty chaotic. I decided to give the writing thing a rest for a while and put that manuscript in the desk drawer.
For about seven years.
During that time, I gave birth to my daughter. I learned to quilt, and that became an obsession that fed my creative side for a good long time. And then 2015 rolled around and the writing bug bit again. I decided that I would participate in NaNoWriMo to get my butt back into gear.
While I didn't complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, it did get me started on a story idea that I loved. It took nearly a year to write and edit. And this time, I really worked at the story line. I worked on the characters. I worked on arcs and emotions. I worked on making this the best thing I'd ever done because if I went down in flames again, I wanted to know that I'd tried my hardest. That I'd done everything I could.
Around the time I finished writing my query letter for DRIFT, I entered a contest for query letters. My goal was to get feedback because I wanted to make sure my query was hitting all the right notes. When the finalists were announced, I was shocked that my query letter was one of the top 4. With some constructive feedback, I made some corrections, turned in my final copy and hoped for the best.
I didn't win the final round, but one of the final judges was also a literary agent and she requested to read the manuscript. I was jumping for joy. Someone actually wanted to read this thing!
This gave me the courage to send my query letter out in the world. I picked 10 literary agents that represented my genre and emailed my letter plus sample pages.
Four hours later, I had an agent from that group email me with a couple of questions. We went back and forth a few times over the next few days and she requested a partial manuscript--I think it was the first 50 pages. Two days later, she requested the full.
Now, I'm sweating. She informed me that she was super slow to read full manuscripts so not to expect to hear from her any time soon. Well, a couple of days later I walked out of the gym, checked my phone, and saw that I had a phone call from a New York area code. My heart was beating out of control because I just had this feeling...
And I was right. The call was from Michelle at Wolfson Literary and she offered representation that day. I think it was two weeks from the day that I sent out the initial round of queries. Out of respect for the agent that requested my manuscript after the contest, I emailed her and informed her of my offer. Two weeks later, I accepted representation with Michelle, and I haven't looked back.
Writing is scary. Putting yourself out there for other people to judge is scary. But ultimately, the scariest decisions I've made were some of the best.