Becoming an author has always been my ‘dream’ job, but it never seemed like an attainable goal. Instead, I studied finance at Washington University, worked on Wall Street, earned my MBA from Columbia Business School, and became an overqualified stay-at-home mom who was losing her mind, day by day. I decided to start writing as a creative outlet. I wrote a first book during nap times and after putting my baby to bed. I was thrilled—I wrote a book! I pitched it to agents, had some interest, but it never went anywhere. Then I got pregnant with baby #2.
After baby #3, I wrote another book and decided to self-publish, because everyone was self-publishing. But I didn’t know the first thing about how to actually market and promote a book. It was a disappointing experience.
In 2015, I decided to educate myself about the business of writing by attending the annual conference the Romance Writers of America. For four days, I immersed myself in craft workshops and meeting other writers at all stages of their careers. On my way home, I wrote the outline of a series and began writing the first book. I finished it six months later, queried two dozen literary agents and had two offers of representation from highly respected agents within one week. A few months later I was deciding between three of the “Big Five” publishing houses, ultimately signing with St. Martin’s Press.
If you want to become a published author—just keep writing and don’t ever give up! Penthouse Player was my third book. It took ten years from sending out my first query (a chick-lit novel that will probably never see the light of day) to actually signing with an agent, in my case Jessica Alvarez of BookEnds. As soon as you send that first query, start working on your next book (not the next one in the series though, as your publisher will likely have suggestions they expect you to incorporate). And take advantage of the many opportunities to study the actual craft of writing and network with published authors. For me, RWA (www.rwa.org) was a fantastic resource. There are also virtual alternatives through social media such as Facebook groups and Twitter chats.
Best of luck with your own publishing journey!