How I Got Published and What I Learned Along the Way presents essays from twenty published authors sharing tips, tricks, advice, and encouragement for other writers. They talk about working through the rough times, making their first sales, and finding success in the publishing industry.
Whether you're traditional, indie, or hybrid; a journalist, novelist, or blogger, we hope their stories provide encouragement for you, wherever you are in your journey toward publication.
Roller-Skating, Backwards, in the Rain
In nearly every profession, aspirants spend months, if not years, learning the tricks and tools of the trade before ever being allowed to fly solo. Dancers, gymnasts, and figure-skaters begin their training at an early age, developing the muscle memory required for their art. Doctors, software developers, and welders go through extensive educational programs before entering their field.
But beyond the rudimentary basics of spelling and grammar, writers are left almost entirely to their own devices to figure out the ins and outs of what the general public considers a solitary, artistic pursuit at best and little more than a hobby at worst – when, in reality, writing is the foundation for much of the entertainment industry.
There's a lot to learn.
One way to illustrate the writing profession is through a metaphor:
Roller-skating = Learn the craft
Backwards = Learn the business
In the Rain = Learn to get out of your own way
Let me elaborate.
If you've ever tried to roller-skate, then you already know that learning the craft of writing is like learning to skate.
We fall on our butts a lot. But there are beginning writers who, through sheer determination, keep getting back up, dusting ourselves off and applying bandages to scraped knees and bruised egos where needed. And then we try again.
It's easier when there's someone around to pack us in padding and help us learn to keep our balance as we learn how to take the worlds and characters and stories in our heads and put them on the page in a way that will make sense to a reader.
I was fortunate in connecting with other writers as a teenager – though I had second thoughts after being told by my first mentor (an established author in children's fiction) that my writing was better suited to adults, and she really couldn't help me. At the time, I thought "writing adult fiction" meant including lots of sex, violence, and swearing in my stories, and I didn't know how to write any of those without it all sounding silly.
But she was encouraging, and promised me the resources were out there, so I kept searching, gradually scraping together my own "how to write" curriculum.
Back in those days, I would have viewed a book like this one as a handhold on that skating rink, reminding me that I wasn't pursuing this whole writing thing on my own; that others had skated on similar bumpy roads and worn a path that, while not entirely bump-free, was definitely much easier to travel.
As I got better at the craft, I discovered countless new worlds. Opportunities to pursue non-fiction and a career in editing, both of which I appeared to have a knack for, lured me away from writing fiction.
Challenges to write in new-to-me genres drew me back.
My fellow "skaters" urged caution, but never one to do only one thing when three more were beckoning simultaneously, I dove in headfirst, drawing on all the resources so freely shared by my writing colleagues.
Breaking into indie publishing and learning about contracts and copyrights and royalties and more was the writerly equivalent of learning to skate backwards. Writing to deadline and to special editorial requests taught me to skate in formation. And when I began building multi-author anthologies, it was not unlike learning to do the occasional literary backflip.
In other words, I learned the business of publishing.
While it's not an exaggeration to say that writers live in their heads (more accurately, in the worlds they've created in their heads), even the most introverted can benefit from being part of a community of like-minded craftspeople. I've never met a group of professionals who are more willing to share what they've learned with both newcomers to the profession and those who are rising in the ranks.
This is where this book comes in.
In these pages, twenty authors at various stages in their careers – from their first publications to seasoned professionals – share their stories. Some of them have worked their way through traditional publishing. Some have made their mark in indie publishing. And several are hybrid, with a foot planted solidly in each camp.
And while you will see similarities and parallels in their stories, you will also find differences. Some of these writers began at an early age, others later in life. They came to writing from a variety of career fields, and have chosen to write in different forms and genres.
They've worked through extreme highs and deep depression. They've juggled work and family and health challenges. And they brought their lessons to the page to let you know that when the stormclouds gather, you're not alone. Like so many others, you can reach inside and find what it takes to get past the challenges. You can learn how to get out of your own way.
You can learn to roller-skate backwards, in the rain.
Read their stories. Learn from them. Take guidance and inspiration and encouragement from their journeys – and know that your own path will be as unique to you as theirs are. Because there is no "one right way" to be a writer.
No single path every career must follow.
Write from your heart. Write from your passion. Write because it brings you joy or helps you purge your pain. Write because you can't not write.
We're looking forward to reading what you create.
– Lyn Worthen
September 21, 2019