My Novel Path to Publication

I’m frequently asked about my publication timeline from the start of writing my first novel to publication. I’ll outline it for you right here, right now:

Early 2012 – (Actually it was a few weeks shy of 2012, but let’s not get technical) – I submitted the first chapter of a work-in-progress, a historical novel set in the Middle East, for a contest to win a scholarship to attend a West Coast Writer’s Conference. A month or so later, I was notified that I won. I attended the Conference, garnered lots of interest, but had nothing to sell. Takeaway: always have something ready to pitch. It’s helpful if that something were…say…a completed manuscript. Live and learn.

Early 2012 – (February/March) – I begin writing the first draft of a mystery novel based on my former lawyerly life. I revised that draft about 100 times before I was confident enough to call it finished. I used beta readers along the way.

~June 2014 – I won the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America Scholarship Award (that included $$) for my manuscript.

Up until November, 2014 – I submitted the manuscript to agents and publishing houses and was rejected, mostly.

November, 2014 – I was offered a contract. The editor of the publishing company completely won me over. She loved my manuscript and was so utterly a pleasure to work with that I was happy to sign with them. 

May, 2015 – The scent of spring was in the air, as was the push for marketing my release, which was coming up mid-September. I watched and learned from bigger authors. If I had to do it over again, I would have trained myself earlier and started marketing about six months in advance.

My book marketing continued through most of 2016. I visited libraries, bookstores, and conferences; a few wineries, book clubs and I appeared on podcasts. I had more fun than I imagined. 

Takeaway: set a writing goal and do your best to reach it. If you slack off a day or two, or even a week or more, stay calm. The important point to remember is you’re writing because you enjoy it. Do nothing to take away that splendid feeling of satisfaction as you get closer and closer to completion. It’s a miracle every time.

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