My First Year as an Author

A year ago this month I had just turned in final edits on my debut novel PRETTY AMY. It had taken me ten years to get there. Ten years that included: an MFA program, writing—LOTS of writing, a full-year of agent rejections before I finally got signed, that agent not being able to sell my book and then after all that being dropped by said agent. Then came: a year of wound-licking, writing another book, finding a new agent and finally selling it to Stacy Cantor Abrams as her first official acquisition for Entangled Teen. After all that struggle, I'd figured things would have gotten easier. A year later, I should have gotten the hang of all this and be so blissed out from being published that all my problems disappeared. I had achieved my goal. Finally. But what I've learned this year is that being published does not make things easier, if anything, it makes them harder.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Writing is a job now. I still have a full-time job, but now I have another one with deadlines I need to adhere to and quality and quantity levels I need to fulfill in order to keep being published. This is still something I am trying to wrap my brain around. In what feels like another lifetime, I worked in publishing. I was a Marketing Assistant at Dell. I loved it and hated it. LOVED: Being around books all day and helping to make people excited about books. HATED: That it made me realize that publishing is a business, and the calculated way we had to decide which books got attention and which books got less attention. I left because I wanted to be on the other side. I wanted to be on the creating side of books, where I thought I could leave things like caring about the business of books behind.

Guess what, if you're in this business, or want to be in the business you have to care about the business of books. It is unavoidable and has been one of the hardest things for me to come to terms with in this first year.

I know I would still be writing even if I hadn't been granted the very awesome luck of finding an editor who believed in me, but now my writing is a lot different. I write because I want to, but I also write because I have to. I can't wait for inspiration to strike. I wrote my second novel in four months. I am very happy with it, but I still feel like I would have liked more time with it. I don't have the luxury of time anymore. If I want it to come out within a year of my first it needs to be written, yesterday.

If I want another one to come out in a year, I need to sell it to a publisher now.

Don't get me wrong, I would not trade it for anything. Being published has gotten my work into the hands of people it has touched. I have made amazing blogger and author and bookseller and librarian friends(one of the best parts) but when I was unpublished I saw being published as the light at the end of the tunnel. I now realize the tunnel is a lot longer than I thought and the light at the end doesn't really exist. Passing the threshold to published feels a lot like being on a treadmill. The business keeps moving below you and if you want to keep up, you have to keep moving too.

I hope I can be here next year and tell you, I kept moving.


  1. Congrats on your first year!!!! Yeah, the whole business side of things is a game changer, but it's still pretty awesome. (((hugs)))

  2. I can totally relate to this (although I am a bit behind on the path). It used to bug me that it was taking so long--the journey to publication--but now I'm grateful to have had the time. All those years writing and revising and reading and studying the business and absorbing rejections...this is sure paying off now! --signed your partner in NOT overnight success

  3. Congratulations. Pretty Amy is a terrific book. I bought it, read it, added it to the library I manage and have encouraged numerous YA patrons to check it out. I look forward to being able to do the same with your next one.

  4. I'm with Jody! I can relate as well to the long journey to publication. And I know exactly what you mean, Lisa: When you start writing, a pub deal seems like the ultimate goal. Now, it just seems like Step #1!

    1. Holly, here's Meg Rosoff's brilliant take on this very subject:

  5. Thanks for the comments all- one of the best parts of this is knowing that there are so many others who have gone through/ going through the same thing (((hugs)))

  6. Congratulations on your first year and getting published! And thank you for the insider information. As a writer myself, I appreciate that you took the time to share your experience so others can, at least mentally, be prepared.

  7. Many congratulations on your "instant success!" Been there. Sometimes the road ahead can seem overwhelming, but you've accomplished so much already. Best of luck!


Post a Comment