I've been asked about my path to publishing so many times in the last month, that I decided to blog about it. If you've published a novel, then sit back and laugh. If you're currently writing, sit back, preferably with coffee in hand,and take note. I'm going to write this in a three (or four, or possibly ten) part series, because there is too much to tell. I really want to detail the pain and the joy of writing, querying, and publishing, so please bear with me if you feel ripped off that I have not completed the journey in one blog post. Who knows, I might even reveal my marketing strategies as well. Let's go with the flow and hope that I don't bore you.
For those who don't know me, I'm the author of MEGAN'S WAY (2011 Beach Book Festival Award Winner, 2010 Next Generation Indie Award Finalist, and currently being adapted to film) and CHASING AMANDA. Both MEGAN'S WAY and CHASING AMANDA are currently nominated for Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards. I'm currently querying my third manuscript, COME BACK TO ME.
Before I began writing my first manuscript, I did what many wanna-be writers do. I sat down at my computer one day and began typing–furiously. A few months into writing it dawned on me that I had no idea what to do once the manuscript was done–and what did "done" mean? I wondered what I didn't know, and rather than turning to the internet to research word counts (I had no idea there was such a thing) and genres (never dawned on me to check these out, either), I emailed Jodi Picoult and asked a few questions. After all, if you're going to write a book, and you have questions, why not go to the queen of women's fiction. Jodi turned out to be as gracious as I had envisioned. Twenty-four hours later, Jodi had kindly responded!
"How many pages (note "pages" not "words"..such a novice) should I write?" I asked.
"Write at least 300 pages," Jodi responded, "because much of it will be cut during the editing process."
The queen had spoken! I now had a goal! I had to write 300 pages. Being the go-getter that I am, I did just that–single spaced. I was so pleased with myself! I'd written 160,000 words, 600 double-spaced pages! Wow! I had done it. I'd written a novel!
Then, I took that enthusiasm and began calling agents. Yes, calling! Who knew that was inappropriate? I had written a manuscript and surely it was awesome! Someone would be thrilled to read it and sign me on, and to make things even better, I was sure that I was the next Jodi Picoult! Laugh as you might, there is something to be said about believing in yourself.
It took about a week of unanswered messages, and finally one agent's harsh response, "We do not accept queries by phone!" for me to realize that I needed to ask Queen Jodi more questions–What is a query, and what am I doing wrong? Now, I picture Jodi rolling her eyes and thinking, "Another one?" She was kind enough to point me in the right direction of researching agents and researching the querying process in general. Right at that very moment, I promised myself that if I were ever a published author, I would always make the time to help aspiring authors. Thank you, Jodi, for taking the time to answer my
ridiculous important questions. I was about to embark on one of the most frustrating, demeaning, albeit exciting, journeys of my life.
What I learned from getting my toes wet:
Research your endeavor before you jump in feet first. This may have saved me a lot of time and frustration, but had I realized what was yet to come, I might never have written the first manuscript. Besides, I was honored to have received responses from Queen Jodi, and I will forever be in her debt, although she gets so many emails each day that she probably doesn't know I exist.
Stay tuned for Part II: The Curious World of Querying.
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To learn more about me, see my interviews and articles.
To check out my books, click HERE.