Because the world needs another aspiring author

April 12, 2009

Three months into writing my first book, a dozen envelopes addressed to literary agents are stacked next to my desk, stamped and ready to go.

But I haven’t mailed them.

Why? It’s complicated. I’m rewriting sample chapters. My professional Web site isn’t ready. And the better I get to know my own book, the more I think I’m going to have to revise my proposal.

This was my deadline! April 1st! The week I planned to mail out those magical one-page queries, letters that would prompt my dream agents to drop whatever they were working on and request my proposal. And then, of course, one would offer to represent me, guide me through the process of publishing my first book.

And yet here we are nearly halfway through April, and those carefully crafted queries are just sitting here in my home office, mocking me.

“You’ll never transition from newspaper journalism to book writing!” They gloat. “Never find your style, your voice! Never piece all these mini stories together to form a themed tale! Never learn to navigate our publishing world!”

Sometimes I believe them. But most days, I muscle through, soliciting advice from anyone and everyone who knows what they’re talking about. Because writing a book, it turns out, is about more than writing.

It's about finding your literary voice. Convincing an agent to represent you. Creating a book proposal that will hook publishers. Figuring out how to fit writing into your schedule. And for me, it's about transitioning from a busy newsroom full of editors eager to offer feedback, to my quiet home office, where self-doubt lurks amidst the silence.

As a first-time (soon-to-be) author, the process can be daunting, like feeling my way around in the dark. Each time I gather a new tidbit of information, I think: Wouldn’t it be great if I could share this with other aspiring authors? And, at the same time, gather advice from authors who have already been down this well-traveled road?

That’s why I’m inviting you on my quest to write a book and get it published. As you laugh at my mistakes, I’m hoping you’ll also offer ideas and advice, words of wisdom for this newbie. By the end — who knows when that will be — this blog should boast a published book!

UPDATE: To answer questions I’ve gotten already — Yes, some agents still prefer snail mail.

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    0 Replies to “Because the world needs another aspiring author”

    • you are an author the minute you write the manuscript; publication may seem like validation but is not necessarily the end point (I know I also fall into that trap)…my goal always being “get published for PAY”…

      I have never sought an agent; I have always submitted directly to lit mags & publishers (I do write mostly fiction which I know is a diff animal)

      best wishes and looking forward to watching your career grow!

    • writingherlife says:

      I love that you done this. I can’t wait to travel on this road with you. We’re in a similar place and it’s always nice to have other people to bounce ideas off and garner support from.

      Looking forward to what’s ahead…for both of us!

    • Sandra Wegmann says:

      If you traveled around Africa and thrived as a swf then you sure as hell are going to get the story on paper. This is inspiring.

    • Another one that will read and follow your path. Me too I’m in a similar place, and love to get through the process together 🙂
      Problem agravated by writing in Spanish, and pub houses and agents are not as helpful as your equivalent in the US and UK. But I’ll eventually get there, I promise 🙂

      Go, and congrats on being so brave and standing out!

    • Gerry Boyle says:

      Good for you, Alexis! I was there once. It takes discipine, self-confidence, and belief in the value of what you’re writing. I know you have all three.

      When I set out to write my first crime novel, I had incremental goals. Finish the first draft. Finish the rewrite. Find a publisher. Get the thing in print.
      And when scoffing skeptics reminded me that every reporter has “a manuscript in the desk drawer,” I responded that books were published every day. There was no reason why mine couldn’t be one of them.

      Same applies to you.

    • Very nice information. Thanks for this.

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