Confession: When I heard that I'd be doing a guest post on my road to publication, I felt intimidated and overwhelmed. Like many writers, the journey from "aspiring writer" to "published author" was long, arduous, and full of false starts and self-doubt — and in the end, it was only through a series of marvelous coincidences, helpful interventions, and some very good luck that I made it there at all. Also, in my case, it took six years, which is a really, ridiculously long period of time to cover in a standard, essay-style blog post.
So, in an attempt to not bore the pants off everyone and/or put you all to sleep, I've instead taken a look back at the whole process and condensed it down into a handy how-to guide -- one that shows how a person might go from laboring in miserable obscurity to having a real, actual book on the shelves at your local bookstore.
And by "handy", I mean "not handy at all", and by "a person", I mean, "one person, who is also me."
How to Become a Published Author in 37 Easy Steps
1. Move to New York with no intentions of being a writer. Work in publishing. Read lots of books. Date various guys until, out of loneliness, you settle for the one who isn't evil.
2. Join the corporate softball team. Meet a tall, handsome managing editor. Tell him you have a non-evil boyfriend. Kick yourself for being so damn committed.
3. Leave your publishing job for a job in PR. Tell everyone how excited you are. Tell yourself that you're really on the road to the career you're meant to have. Tell yourself that the tall, handsome managing editor isn't really that tall and handsome.
4. Begin to suspect that PR is not, in fact, the career you're meant to have. Begin to suspect that PR is kind of awful. Feel angry and stifled.
5. Start a secret blog. Spend your downtime at work writing an essay about that time your dress blew up in the Fulton Street subway station and a bunch of Japanese businessmen laughed at you. Be delighted when people comment and say that they liked it.
6. Begin to suspect that your non-evil boyfriend is kind of awful, too. Meet up every couple of weeks for beers with the tall, handsome managing editor when your boyfriend blows you off.
7. Admit to yourself that the tall, handsome managing editor really is that tall and handsome. Feel guilty.
8. Get blown off by your boyfriend for fantasy football pick night. Vow not to call the tall, handsome managing editor. Go home. Open your laptop. Write a short story out of boredom.
9. Send the short story to a writer friend. Tell her she's crazy when she tells you it should be a novel. Tell her you could never write a novel. Tell everyone you could never write a novel.
10. Start working secretly on a novel.
11. Discover that your crappy-but-at-least-he's-not-evil boyfriend is, in fact, SUPER FREAKING EVIL. And also, cheating on you on the internet. Dump him. Write a blog post about it.
12. Write lots of blog posts. Write a post about Harry Potter. Write a post about elevator conversations. Write a post about having maybe possibly sleepwalked out into the hallway of an apartment building you do not live in wearing nothing but your underwear.
13. Get five comments.
14. Get twenty comments.
15. Get an anonymous email from a person you've never met who tells you to please, please think about being a writer.
16. Feel empowered. Feel crazy. Quit your job in PR to work part-time as a copywriter. Freelance for magazines. Shriek the first time you see your by-line. Tell everyone you're going to be a writer.
17. Marry the tall, handsome managing editor.
18. Lose your job. Be despondent, until you realize that now, you can work on your novel ALL DAY LONG.
19. Finish your novel. Be very excited for one whole day.
20. In the cold light of the day-after-novel-finishing, become completely and totally despondent. Tell your tall, handsome husband that your novel sucks ass.
21. Tell him you're going to delete it.
22. Tell him that no you will not let him bring it in to work because it sucks ass and you're deleting it.
23. Repeat steps 20-22 for the next two weeks. Use the words "sucks" and "ass" as frequently as possible.
24. Well, okay, maybe he can show it to someone at work.
25. But only if he promises to show it only to the lowliest, most bottom-rung-of-the-ladder editorial assistant there is. Make him promise. Make him promise several times.
26. He lied. You are going to kill him.
27. Receive email from the publisher. She has read your draft. She thinks your novel has promise. Agree to do a rewrite. Grudgingly thank husband, but reserve the right to kill him later.
28. Get another copywriting job. Spend your days proofreading manuals for personal electronic devices. Collect freelance gigs. Work on your revision at night.
29. Lose your job again. Believe it's a sign from the writing gods. Become a hermit. Work on the revision all day, every day.
30. Send your completed revision to the publisher.
31. Wait. Wait. Wait.
32. Bandage the small, gnawed-looking stumps where your fingernails used to be.
34. Run into publisher on the subway. She is going to email you tomorrow.
35. Because she is going to buy your book.
36. And she does.
37. When your crappy, evil ex-boyfriend emails you to say congratulations, tell him to go suck an egg.
About the Book!
An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent.
Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.
Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.