How to Get Published When You’re In Denial
by Sharon Ashwood on January 7th, 2009

I am living proof that slackers sometimes do stumble into success. If there was a prize for Author Most Unprepared, I’d have won it.

I’m deadly serious about the quality of my writing. Absolutely. All hail the excellent phrase! But the business side of publication …. Not my thing. I ignored it for as long as possible.

I mean, really, who plans to get published? I knew how hard it was. I had years of real-world non-fiction articles to my name and all the cynical indifference that comes with …. Well, never mind. I didn’t have a clue. I also didn’t have any rejection letters because I’d never submitted anything. I wasn’t sure what an agent did, but never bothered to ask for details. It sounded complicated, and I was busy.

A while later I entered a contest because it was my chapter contest and entry was free. I won. Cool! And I forgot about it.

Then one of the judges started pestering me. So, because I felt guilty, I bundled my winning chapters off to the editor in question, along with a few breezy statements about other books. And I forgot about it. I mean, nobody really gets a contract out of these things, do they?


I finally got the call one afternoon when I was at work. For a split second, I actually ran down the list of my mischievous friends and wondered who was having a laugh at my expense.

I don’t recall most of the conversation. My editor was patient and kind and spoke in slow, brief sentences about percentages, rights and other arcane mysteries. (so THAT was what agents looked after! I instantly wanted one!)

Lots of people talk about squealing and bouncing for joy when they get the call, but not me. I was going to be published, and I had to get with the program. And I knew nothing about what I was supposed to do. I was shocked and panic-stricken.


My boss, one of the truly good people on this planet, hugged me and told me everything would be fine. She was right. It was.

In truth, there has been a very steep learning curve. I think it’s going to go on like a twisty roller coaster for the rest of my writing career because publishing is an ever-changing industry. I’ll never have the chance to get bored, and that’s the biggest push to stay creative.

The moral of my story? Never say never. Fate loves to tease a cynic.

Oh, and to all those aspiring authors out there—trust me, it pays to do your homework! Don’t make my mistakes!

16 comments to “How to Get Published When You’re In Denial”

  1. 1

    LOL, Sharon! Denial indeed. But what a wonderful story. It just goes to show you we all have a different path to take.

  2. 2

    My deepest um, congratulations/sympathies. Good luck on the roller coaster.

  3. 3

    Ha! I love the deer’s glowing eyes. :shock:

    one of the judges started pestering me

    Okay, there goes the oft-repeated statement that New York won’t come and steal the manuscript off your hard drive. What a great story.

  4. 4

    Wow! That’s amazing! Thanks for sharing and I’m hanging in there with the pre-published crowd. Trying not to get my hopes up but still working hard.

  5. 5

    Uhm, this kind of has nothing to do with your – brilliant – post but holycrap, who is the HOTTIE on your header! :shock: lol. Niiiiice.

  6. 6

    This is amazing, but you know we all go through learning curves everyday and don’t know it sometimes. With me sometimes its just something that I have done that was really stupid.

  7. 7

    Hey, Kerri, DO keep hanging in there. I honestly think that although there is a lot of luck and timing involved in getting published (sometimes in spite of ourselves!) good writing is the element we can control. The rest–cover art, reviewers, technology, and the marketplace–is just one big adventure.

  8. 8

    That is a great story. :smile: Congratulations. Love the deer in the headlights :lol:

  9. 9

    Learning is a never ending process.

  10. 10

    I love the deer! Who among us doesn’t feel like that from time to time? If it weren’t for my writer friends, I’d still be stumbling in the headlights.

  11. 11

    Loved the deer. Great post on this.

  12. 12


    Lol! I remember when I shared the news of my first sale with some friends, one of them said, “Well, you don’t seem very happy about it.” Like you, I was a bit shocked and panicked.

    Great CALL story!


  13. 13

    Wow! It really was a roller coaster ride for you, but it was definitely worth the ride… right. While luck is maybe involved I think you still have to be a good wirter with a vivid imagination and a love for doing it to stick with it. Congratulations and thanks for the post.

  14. 14

    Inspiring post. Loved the deer in the headlights. :smile:

  15. 15

    LOL! Yours is a great story and if only all of us unpubbed could be so lucky! Congratulations!

    Great deer picture. :)


  16. 16

    I understand what you mean about forgetting about it = it’s like a mental block to help you keep from going crazy waiting!

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