It seems like every day now I see someone on Twitter announcing great news. They’ve signed with an agent or their book sold at auction. From those on the outside looking in, it may seem like their success came quickly. You saw them pitch on Twitter one day during a #PitMad, and a few weeks later they’re announcing they’ve signed with an agent. Looks can be deceiving though. Do you know how long that writer has been in the query trenches? Is that the first manuscript they’ve written, or the sixth one they’ve queried?
Today, I’ve asked author, Megan Erickson, to share how her journey may have seemed like an overnight success on social media, but really, it was years of work before things started to happen for her writing career.
It Doesn’t Happen Overnight
A Guest Post by Megan Erickson
From the outside, my life the last six months might have looked a whirlwind, like all the puzzle pieces hidden under my couch somehow made it out and slotted into place in a beautiful picture.
And that wouldn’t be wrong. The puzzle might be pretty now. But it didn’t always look like that.
Let me start at the beginning: I started out as a journalist. And if paying my dues meant covering fatal shootings and five-alarm structure fires and a gas explosion that leveled a corner store, well, I paid my damn dues.
But I’d had enough. I’m a happy person. I like happy things. I wanted to write stories where people learned something about themselves and two hundred pages later, were better people because of it.
In 2010, my son was born. And this idea for a story I had niggling in the back of my mind raged stronger. After battling some post-partum issues, in 2012 I buckled down and wrote a book I later titled ANCHOR ME. I liked it. I had friends read it. And then I queried it as women’s fiction.
But really, truthfully, it wasn’t ready for querying. Not at all. Did it have good bones? Yes. Did I know what the hell I was doing? No.
Not surprisingly – resounding rejections. Of course I was upset. But looking back now? THANK GOD. That manuscript was so far from being ready, it isn’t even funny. But I still believed I had a good story and I wanted to work with an editor who could tell me what I was doing wrong. And right (because hopefully I was doing something right). So I began to look into self-publishing. On the advice of another author, I hired a freelance editor. Claire Ashgrove was wonderful. And her first email to me, after she read my manuscript, was, “um…you know you wrote a romance, right?”
Because I did, I realized. I had a familiar trope – little sister and her brother’s best friend. And I had the typical black moment and resolution of a romance.
See? I had no idea what I was doing. I worked with Claire on this book for six months. We got rid of the distracting flashbacks and changed it to dual POV along with many other edits. I was (and still am) so proud of it.
Meanwhile, I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2012. I wrote a New Adult contemporary romance, which I began to query as I edited ANCHOR ME. Again, that querying manuscript just wasn’t ready. I learned so much writing it. But there were a lot of weaknesses. And again, I’m glad no one bit.
In the beginning of 2013, I published ANCHOR ME. At the time, I was six months pregnant with my second child.
And while I basked in the positive feedback, that’s when the idea for a girl named Kat and her nerdy tutor Alec hit me. I scribbled down about 15K words before my second child was born. I took about six weeks off – a “maternity leave” and began writing again. I finished MAKE IT COUNT (this book went through about thirty titles, but none of them “count” anymore, haha) in the summer of 2013.
But this time – I didn’t plunge headfirst into querying. I took my time. I posted my query on writing boards to get feedback. I participated in Write On Con and hooked up with fabulous critique partners. I put my manuscript through a rewrite that made it so much stronger.
And this time – I didn’t query until I was READY. Until I felt like I had a manuscript that fit the genre in which I queried, fit the market and most importantly – fit who I was as a writer.
In August of 2013, I started querying. And in December of 2013 I signed with Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency and a week later, received a three-book offer from Amanda Bergeron at William Morrow/Harper Collins.
I’m ecstatic. I still kind of can’t believe this happened. So, yeah, it seems like a whirlwind. And it IS. It totally is. But to me, it’s a whirlwind after a long, bumpy road. And I get motion sick.
Megan Erickson is the author of upcoming MAKE IT COUNT, a new adult contemporary romance, out 6/3/2014 from William Morrow/Harper Collins. ANCHOR ME, an adult contemporary romance, is available now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Where to find Megan online: Website, Facebook or Twitter.