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!