Every writer takes a different path to becoming published. Some are long, some are short, but all of them are inspiring. If you'd like to add your writers' journey to Write Attitude, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I started writing my first book, A KILLING TIDE, in 2003. It took me a year to write it, about 9 months to acquire an agent, and another year after that to sell it. It has taken another year to sell its sequel, PHANTOM RIVER. Of course, it took me about 20 years before that to decide to try to get published, LOL! But it paid off--A KILLING TIDE has finalled for a RITA this year.
I wrote for twelve years and collected 250 rejection slips before getting any fiction published, so I guess outside reinforcement isn't all that important to me.
I refuse to count or even look at the rejection letters I collected in the five years it took for me to sell a book. Had I taken some of the remarks to heart, I would have quit writing a long time ago. Putting the right story on the right editor's desk at the right time is easier said than done, but you can't make a sale if the manuscript isn't on an editor's desk.
My best friend in the world, who is also a writer, once told me that the secret to selling was to hit rock bottom first. I didn’t necessarily believe it at the time, though it had certainly been true for her and a few other writers I knew. I had somehow hoped that maybe my path would be a little less rocky. That wasn’t to be. Read more
I wrote my first book in college computer labs and at work after hours. It took me two years to finish it. I started sending it out to agents and editors, but the form-letter rejections poured in. The next book I wrote only took two months. It won first place in four romance-novel contests, but it, too, gathered more rejections. Then I won the Silhouette Yours Truly Hook, Line, and Sinker Contest with a one-page synopsis, only to have my finished novel rejected by the editor. Five years after I started writing and trying to sell, Hard Shell Word Factory published my second novel. It took another six years, and winning the Writer's Digest annual writing competition, to get a literary agent and to sell to New American Library.
It took me 12 years to sell, and the book I sold was the sixth full manuscript I'd written.
Here are the details: I wrote steadily for about six years, getting lots of rejections on full manuscripts and partials. I was doing well in contests, though, (placing and/or winning pretty regularly) but not selling. I finally got discouraged and gave up for about three years. Read more
I had been writing for six years, and had completed my fourth manuscript, when I finally decided to quit. I felt my family had put up with my pipe dreams long enough. I’d given it a real go: I had been nominated for a Golden Heart for my third novel, but couldn’t sell it. My first two novels had been deemed “wonderful” but “unmarketable” for their outside-the-box historical settings. I’d just lost my beloved mother, and I decided I was focusing all my attention on the wrong things. So, on a Sunday night, I quit the writing biz. On Monday morning, I got The Call. I figured that was a sign from above, and I promised myself I’d never quit again, no matter how discouraged I became. I’ve since sold both those “unmarketable” manuscripts, by the way. *BIG grin*
I wrote my first complete ms. at age 25 while I had two preschoolers at home. Another one followed. Both soundly rejected. After my boys entered school and I began a real job, the writing declined. Got serious again when the oldest boy was getting ready for college. Read more
I wrote for 16 years before selling, and my "first" book was the eighteenth I'd written.
I've been writing since before I could write. I've been telling myself bedtime stories since I was a child. I didn't actually put pen to paper, other than school assignments, until I had children. I tried writing children's story when oldest was small. Anthropomorphism was out and reading level was key. It wasn't my genre. I finally started writing seriously when I was on bed rest with my fifth child. I completed six manuscripts (seven if you count the children's book) and tried to publish. Read more
I used to save all my rejection slips because I told myself, one day I'm going to autograph these and auction them. And I lost the box.
I always say I was rejected by every editor in NYC. The fact is I submitted before my writing was of publishable quality. And the inspirational market that my voice 'fit' was still forming. Writing is addictive in spite of rejection. Don't start if you don't realize that.
How to become an overnight success in twenty years. give or take a decade or two.
Way back in 1976 I read my first Harlequin Romance. It was Leopard in the Snow by Anne Mather. I still remember that book, not so much for the content but for the light bulb flash of inspiration that I, too, could write a romance.
Some day, when the kids were older. Read more
Never ever ever give up. If I had quit submitting any time during those 15 years, I would never have made the New York Times list. I'd never be writing full time and, frankly, I wouldn't have gobs of money. It's a tough business, but persistence is definitely rewarded.
I sold my first book as part of an editor appointment at the 1999 RWA national convention in Chicago. It's rather funny. I never owned a watch, so I showed up early like they say you are supposed to, checked in, and when some rather harried and stressed out volunteer told me to get in line and go in, I did. I was so nervous that I asked the editor if I could read her my pitch. Before I began, she said, "What line?" in this rather tired tone. Read more
I never counted rejections. Didn't save them in a file. Didn't let them get me down or stop me from writing. I read them, then tossed them--and kept writing. My first published book sold to a small paranormal press, and, less than three years later, I sold to New York. I'm proud of every sale that I've made--big, small--they're still sales. When I got the call from NY, I was so excited that I felt like I was in serious danger of hyperventilating--because that's what it feels like--that wild, heart ripping, breath-stealing rush of pleasure and joy (or. at least what it felt like for me!) when a long-standing dream comes true.
I actually got over 200 rejections all together for Karma Girl. I quit counting after about 217. If you add those rejections to the others I got for all the other books I sent out, I'm probably well over 500. It took me seven books and about seven years before I sold. It'll happen for you one day too.
My good friend who has published seven novels and STILL deals with professional rejection (after all, publishing success can have a jagged trajetory), always reminded me as I kept bashing my head against what seemed like the impenetrable publishing wall: The last woman standing wins the publishing contract. Read more
The path to publication runs smooth and straight for some, but for me it’s been a 23-year trek with some potholes and detours along the way.
That’s right, 23 years. In January 1984, I joined RWA and a local chapter, thereby committing to write for publication. On February 21, 2007, I got The Call from Leis Pederson of Berkley at approximately 11:30 a.m. Read more
You know those authors who start their bios with, “I’ve been writing since the age of two. I wrote my first full length manuscript at the age of eleven. It was about little furry people who lived in a redwood forest, wore leaves as headdresses, and liked to dance, and I really think it would’ve sold if George Lucas hadn’t come out with RETURN OF THE JEDI and his Ewoks that year. That’s not me. I never thought about writing until the age of thirty-five. Read more
It took me thirteen years, nine novels and boxes of rejections before I made my first sale. I'd hit that depressing black hole where I feared I'd never sell and should probably quit trying when I sent the third novel I'd written to a publisher. Two weeks later, the editor offered me a two-book contract.
We have to talk about our Writer's Journey, huh? Geez ... let's see. That began so many years ago. I'm 46 years old right now, so I guess I have to say that my journey began when I was 10. I was a voracious reader and was fascinated by the fact that people actually wrote the stories that I consumed. I would copy simple stories into a notebook and pretend that I'd written them. It was a short leap to actually beginning to create my own tales. In those days it was mostly about horses and other critters. I wish I could find those notebooks now. I'd love to see what I attempted to write so many years ago. Read more
I didn't discover category romances until I was in my early twenties, when I happened across a huge rack of them at the Donnell Library in midtown Manhattan. I was on my lunch break from the Museum of Television & Radio, which has got to be one of the few places in the world where you can watch eight episodes of, say, MacGyver, back to back and call it a day's work. Once I found that rack of well-thumbed paperbacks I became hooked on Silhouette Desires, Harlequin Presents and the now-defunct Bantam Loveswepts. Read more
In summer 2006, I was looking back over the history of my first MS and pursing my lips at the missed opportunities and nearly-but-not-quites. I prepared to mentally put the MS under the bed, and that made me sadder than it should have done.
I’d started writing in 2001. In 2003, I’d won an online, “Most Likely to Sell in 2003” award. But by 2006, I was seriously contemplating giving up pursuing publication. I was worn out, frustrated and convinced I was just going to keep on failing. Read more
The Agony and the Ecstasy (or how I got The Call)
What a difference a year makes.
Last year at this time I was a bit depressed about my writing career, and, as you'll see, I had some very good reasons. I had thought the premise of my third manuscript, a Victorian historical, would be highly marketable. It was witty. It was sexy. It was a finalist in the 2006 Golden Heart contest. Read more
My adventure into writing began as a way for me to find a profitable occupation while staying at home with my kids. Go ahead laugh. You have my permission. It was 1995, my youngest was eighteen months old. I figured I could probably achieve my goal by the time she was in first grade. Ha! It took twelve long years, seven manuscripts with many rewrites, and me pretty much writing full time to reach my goal. When I'm not writing, I'm reading about writing and studying the craft. Writing was new territory for me, since my background is in visual arts. I had so much to learn. The only edge I had was a mother with a Masters in English Literature who had been correcting my speech for forty years. Read more
I sold almost exactly ten years from the day I sent my first completed manuscript to an editor. I will admit, though, I did a lot of submit and wait, then stick the rejected ms back to revise and send it out again literally years later. Had I actually kept after it, I probably would have sold sooner. My former agent had my manuscript for THIRTEEN months before offering representation. Yes, you read that correctly. L It should have set off warning bells, but I was pathetically needy--but that's another story. Read more
A Writer's Dream Come True
Yesterday morning at around 10:20, while sleeping because I was suffering from a sinus infection and a fever, I got The Call. My agent called to tell me I'd sold my first two books, young adult titles, to Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin. How did this fabulous event come about? Here's the skinny.
Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away...Read more
Under my real name, Pat Pritchard, I sold my first two books, both short contemporaries, to Meteor's Kismet imprint in 1992. The first one was released in 1993, but unfortunately, Meteor closed its doors a month before the second book was released. Although I later resold it as a Precious Gem, it was over six years before I sold a new manuscript, this time writing American West historicals for Zebra. I now write my Paladins of Darkness series for Pocket as Alexis Morgan.
It's Never Too Late!
I awoke this morning thinking of our profession, and the journey we've chosen. There is not a career anywhere, I believe, that promotes such growth and diversity as the creative field. We're constantly stretching ourselves, and learning life lessons from the experience. The reward system we face is different from the norm, we actually do our craft free for many years in some instances because, well, we must. Read more
I’ve always loved to create, but I’d never seriously considered being a published author until I was out of high school. I wrote my first historical romance novel to prove to myself I could. I enjoyed it so much I kept going, writing several full length novels before even trying to get published. It was with the love and encouragement of my family that I finally submitted. I received a few rejections but finally managed to sell a Victorian ghost story romance, one of my first forays into the paranormal. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind ride. Some of those first books have never seen the editor’s desk, but one of them did go on to win the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award.
STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
A Personal History of Rejection
I hate to brag, but my first manuscript was rejected only once--chiefly because I sent it out only once. It was a standard form rejection letter from Silhouette. Not what we're looking for at this time. The bottom dropped out for a few hours. I mean, my mother and sisters had loved it. What was the matter with these editors? Rather than discourage me, though, the rejection spurred me on. From the start of this journey, it's always been my habit to begin a new project as soon as I send a proposal out. I knew that my writing was changing and growing and that my voice was slowly developing. The rejection stunned me for awhile--I think everyone dreams of hitting the mark the first time out--but I already knew I could do better. Read more
It took me about a year and a half to sell my first book-and I had plenty of rejections.
As my story of perseverance begins, I was an aspiring author who'd been writing for about 14 years and had three completed manuscripts.
Things at my day job were insane, to put it mildly. I was working very long hours at the office and bringing work home. My stress had triggered a hellacious and enduring case of insomnia. Between personal and professional commitments, I thought I was going to lose my mind. And then there was my writing. Read More
I wrote one horrendous ghastly mess of a first book, a second comedy too dark for Harlequin, and sold my third book to Harlequin Duets.
Persistence as a Writer
Being a writer is hard work, and there can be a lot of disappointment along the way to that first sale (and the next and the next). I'm a late bloomer. I've been writing a long time (since I was in high school!), but I didn't make my first sale until 2003. Please don't make me tell you how many years that is, but it's a loooooong time (okay, it's on the wrong side of twenty). Read more
It’s not a razzle-dazzle story. It isn’t a turn of luck, or a hardship case. It wasn’t one of those epiphany type moments when I knew what I had to do. Nope, mine was pretty text book.
I can sum it up in one word: perseverance.
I’m a goal orientated person. I set a goal and work hard until I achieve it. No secret formula.
Always a reader and a sometime dabbler in writing, I made the decision I wanted to be New York published almost 7 years ago. Read more
I had many rejections on short stories. I began at least three novels, but never finished any until I took a class from a published writer. I'd started a gothic and he encouraged me to finish it. When I did, he sent it to his agent, who sold it. So, though I did sell my first book, I had a lot of practice along the way, and a pro's help in editing while I wrote it.
My Rocky Rejection Road to Publication
When I was twelve years old, I wanted to be an astronaut. Motion sickness (never put me in the back seat of a car, let alone on a roller coaster) killed that career before it got off the ground -- pun intended. So I turned to my next love, Broadway theater. There was only one problem: Broadway isn't interested in singers who can't sing and dancers who can't dance. So I went to art school and over the years have had a fairly successful career as a designer. Read more