Becoming a published author isn’t for the easily discouraged. There will be many pitfalls along the way, but each lined with a hidden encouragement if you know where to look.
The summer of 2012, I realized that I just had to fulfill my childhood dream of writing. I couldn’t put it off one more day. But I also realized that I knew absolutely nothing about getting published so I started Googling. Four months later, I found myself—picture book manuscript in hand—at the nearby Highlights Foundation for my first writer’s workshop. The faculty spoke to every area of question that I, as a newbie author, knew to ask. I sweat my way through my first agent critique, but found that I loved the feedback it provided, and I heard a keynote that encouraged me to step out and write the novel that I’d always dreamed of. I could do this.
Two months later, the novel idea came. Armed with nothing but encouragement and a pen, I went for it.
Fast forward to today…one KBR webinar, two Highlights’ workshops, four SCBWI EPA Pocono Retreats, seven revisions and numerous Twitter contests later, and I’m still not published. But I’m also not in the least bit discouraged. My turn will come, as will yours if you persevere.
All of the time, energy, and advice invested in my first novel manuscript was not for naught. In fact, I’ve completed three more manuscripts during the “shelving” times of my revision process, and each one starts (and ends) stronger than the last. Because I’ve learned so much and allowed myself to grow as an author along with my manuscripts.
- Celebration 1: I’m a better author today than I was yesterday.
- Celebration 2: I’ve developed lasting relationships with other authors who are also on this path.
Recognizing the Mile Markers
Encouraged by some Twitter contest feedback last fall, this past February, I took the plunge and sent my first novel manuscript out to query. I had two full manuscript bites the first week, two more partials a few months later and one more full by midsummer. Unfortunately, none of those have materialized into an offer, but they each sent me back some very helpful feedback.
- Celebration 3: Contest and query feedback showed that my query letter and synopsis are in good shape! That’s a huge success!
- Celebration 4: The fact that agents are taking time to send feedback means that the manuscript—while not ready for their “yes”—is close enough for them to invest the extra time it takes to send a personalized rejection.
After four years of ferreting out time to write, for the most part I can honestly say that it flows fairly seamlessly with my family and career…though there are times when it still gets backburnered. I have a system. My family understands my need and values my writing time. And there are daily encouragements to keep trying… like the fact that my journal has quickly grown into a career worth of ideas, or seeing those around me find their success as authors, and looking forward to the next Pocono Retreat where maybe, just maybe, I’ll find my “Yes” this year. But even if I don’t…
- Celebration 5: The best is yet to come!