Zero to Published in Eight Months

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What a roller-coaster ride these eight months have been! My title kind of gives away my great news, but let’s rewind and pretend you didn’t see that yet. There are two very important reasons why I wanted to become an author, and they are my Grandma B. and my Grandma W. I’ll be writing another blog detailing how I got started on the path to writing a book and all about my inspiration and support system, but for now let’s visit my timeline and explore the actions that lead me to being published today.
Eight Months
Melody, my best friend and talented cover designer, and I had built our Bucket Lists together, and writing a book had been on mine since the beginning of time. One evening, eight months ago, I took it off the list and put it into motion. I sat down at my kitchen table with Mel and we talked about a story concept I had in mind. Melody grabbed a spare notebook and labeled every few pages with a chapter number. I tossed out ideas and she wrote them down in the notebook as we went. After a brainstorming session the notebook now held a rough, okay – very rough, storyline.

Takeaway: That’s how it starts. Get your story out of your head and down onto paper. Don’t worry about the flow or perfection, a rough concept and outline is better than nothing. Some people can just sit down and write, and that’s great, but I felt that for my first book I needed to see it exist somewhere other than in my imagination in order to give me the push to actually write it. If this is hard on your own, sit down with a buddy and do it like I did. This gives you another push because they are now invested in you, so you better be just as invested.
Seven MonthsWriter's Storyboard
On my own now, I took that precious notebook and I flushed the concept out a bit more on the wall next to my computer. You can see from the photo on the right that I may have a slight Post-It note addiction. I posted that photo with the caption, “It’s fitting that Tigers Stadium, the birthplace of hopes and dreams for many, is now holding all of mine as well” on Facebook which added to being serious about it. Now all of my friends and family knew that I was writing a book. Then, I began writing.

Takeaway: Tell the world what you’re doing, and if not the world, then certainly friends and family. They help you stay accountable and every time someone asks how your book is coming along you’ll feel like it’s more reality than dream. It’s also really easy to let yourself down and justify it by saying you didn’t have the time to write or keep writing, but when you have others waiting for a finished product it’s harder to let those excuses slide. You’ll write the book if for no other reason than people besides you are waiting for it.
Six Months
I stalled out after a solid month of writing. A first-time writer will hit this wall. Heck, an experienced writer may still hit this wall. You’ve been writing, thinking, dreaming 24-7 about this book for four long weeks and you are burnt out. I was burnt, I was toast and I quit. There was a month-long writing challenge approaching (NaNoWriMo), and I told myself I would jump back into it during that time. So when it rolled around I was ready to, and those first few days I sat down at my computer and opened my lonely MS and wrote. The problem? It felt like a chore and I wasn’t enjoying it. So, once more, I stopped. I turned my energy towards building my author platform – just another way to make sure I finished this darn book. I built my website; I became active on Twitter and connected with a ton of authors, publishers, agents and more. I embraced the writing community.

Takeaway: Don’t quit. It becomes easy to, then you’re right back where you were all those months ago. You can devote time to things besides writing, especially when the writing needs a break because it’s becoming forced. Your author platform, making those connections and learning about your market are important steps to being published, so spend time there when you’re not writing and you’re still pushing your dream forward.
Five Months
I found a pretty neat site, Ladies Who Critique, and went off in search of a critique partner. I thought that finding someone who was going through the same process as I am would help motivate me to get back to the writing. We joke now that the Universe brought us together, but I ended up finding a talented author right here in Michigan on that website, and since connecting all those months ago – have become inseparable. CS Kendall has become an invaluable part of me finishing the book and then getting it published.

Takeaway: Your family and friends want to help you, and they can, but finding someone who is going down that same road to publishing as you are is a different kind of support and help that I think every writer needs. A critique partner can be your best friend and your biggest supporter, and when you don’t write for a week because of –insert lame excuse here- they will kick your butt back into being motivated. CS inspired me to get back to writing, and we did together.

 

Four, Three, Two MonthsBarnes & Noble
These months were a blur of writing, spending time at B&N with my best friend and a table full of books, writing, doing Twitterchats, connecting with groups on FB, writing, reading and critiquing CS’s MS (which is awesome by the way), researching, building my website, going away with CS for a writer’s retreat in which we spent a weekend doing nothing more than writing, reading each other’s, and brainstorming our plan on action (as in timeline to send a finished MS to betas, make edits off their feedback, query and hopefully become published). During all of this I connected with Patricia, a fabulous author and now friend, during a Tweetchat. She was looking for an author assistant and I thought helping her with her marketing could get me better acquainted with the publishing world. I’ve been helping her with her book launches and her marketing/promoting ever since.

Takeaway: Writing isn’t the only thing you need to be doing when you’re hoping to become published. People who have never been where you are think it’s just a matter of writing a book. “Oh, piece of cake!” they say and think, and you know it’s anything but. It’s okay that it’s hard because one day all the hours and energy put into building your platform and connecting with readers and other authors, and researching your market will pay off and make sense.

 

One Month
I work full-time in marketing, and part-time with Patricia on her book marketing. Marketing is a close second behind writing when it comes to what I’m passionate about. I understand that breaking into the author scene with a publisher is tricky business for a first-time author. I knew there had to be a way for me to get my foot in the door by leaning on the experience I have, and that is in marketing. I had already begun to do that by connecting with Patricia, but I began to do it more by seeking out publishers and following them on Twitter. Publishing houses and their authors need marketing, so that’s where I looked. Thanks to a wonderful author published by Booktrope, I was able to earn the name of who I should email and after doing my research on Booktrope, I did just that. I took a chance and emailed them. I recently joined their team as a Book Marketing Manager for their authors. That was my foot in the door. When Booktrope asked internally for their staff and current authors to recommend friends for submissions – I submitted CS’s manuscript and my own. After an agonizing wait, I received this:

 

“Hello Samantha,

Thanks for submitting your manuscript, Broken Beginnings. We are happy to inform you that Booktrope would like to move forward with publishing your book.”

 

CS got the same acceptance letter. Wow. That’s incredible, and now we get to continue on our writing journey together.

Takeaway: It takes one small chance; one small window of opportunity to get your MS out of the slush pile. Look for ways to get your name circulating in the publishing world before sending your book in. Do you have some hobby that could cross-over? Marketing, cover design, editing, proofreading? Get out there and connect with publishers and agents on Twitter, and participate in the contests on social media that get your MS in front of someone’s eyes. It only takes one, so find those opportunities and build on them.

 

Today my contemporary romance is about to go to my editor and sometime this Fall you’ll be able to buy my debut novel. It started with a dream and become my reality, and it can become yours too. My tagline on my website is “Because Love Takes Work” and I believe that whole-heartily. Whether it’s romantic love, love for your job, love for your dreams, they all take work. Don’t sit back and watch time pass – go seek them, work for them and the Universe could surprise you.

 

I’d love to hear your publishing goals or your writing progress. What work are YOU doing right now to make that dream come true later?

 

And don’t forget to follow along on my crazy journey! Shoot me a FB Friend Request. You can read more about my debut novel by visiting my bookshelf.

 

 

Tweet these Tweetables!

  • Get started. Get the story out of your head & onto paper. You can't finish what you don't start.  Buffer
  • Telling friends and family you're writing a book helps keep you accountable & those excuses at bay.  Buffer
  • You don't have to write every day, but you do need to always push forward.Think research & platform...  Buffer

8 thoughts on “Zero to Published in Eight Months

  1. How exciting for you! I have used Ladies Who Critique as well and what a fabulous site! Thanks for sharing so much of your experience with us!

    • S.K. Wills

      Thanks for the comment, Samantha! Ladies Who Critique is an awesome site, so I hope you found a great critique partner on it like I did. :)

  2. This was so inspiring, SK! I’m very impressed with all the steps you took to get to where you are now. Congratulations on your publication offer from Booktrope and welcome to the close family of Booktrope authors! Your writing is beautiful and I cannot wait to read Broken Beginnings!

    • S.K. Wills

      Patricia, my favorite quote is “where there’s a will, there’s a way” and that’s such truth. If you want something in life (and don’t we all?) you have to be aggressive and strategic. Do your homework, research, and formulate a plan to make it happen. There’s another modified quote I like very much and that one is, “good things come to those who go get them”… haha! Okay, I have a bit of a quote problem. 😛

  3. Charis

    Beautiful post!! I still am so floored and excited!! (Does that every subside)? Plus, since becoming a part of Booktrope, the talent (yours included) is so impressive, I still can’t believe I get to be among all that…and with you! Yay! So many excited days ahead!

    • S.K. Wills

      Charis, you and me girl! Can’t wait. What an exciting journey for both of us. And my mission to read most, if not all, of the BT author’s books as well. So much talent!

  4. S.K. Wills

    Thanks for the comment, Ally! I look forward to the day when we can work together. I think that would rock!

  5. What an inspirational story! I admire your go-get-it attitude. Best of luck!

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