typewriter, I wondered: Where will I be when I find out someone wants to publish my
book? What will I be doing? And, of course—will it ever happen?
The answers: at home alone on a sunny day in May; having nicotine fits; and yes.
The surreality (is that a word? I’m making it a word) started in mid-morning and lasted
well into evening because not only did I get one offer from the Big Six, I got TWO!
So I actually had to choose. Me. Choose. Between two of the biggest publishers in
publishing house history. I spent much of the day staring at the computer, phone and
wall, wondering: HOW DID THIS HAPPEN AND WHY DO THEY WANT MY
BOOK? Because no matter how hard I’d worked, no matter how many years I’d written,
no matter how many books I’d read or how many small successes achieved, it still
seemed unbelievable to me that someone – someones! – actually wanted to publish my
It was a long journey for a girl who wrote her first book at seven (my 10-page debut,
“The Two Orphans,” was critically acclaimed by Mom and Dad), but it didn’t feel like
an arduous one because I was doing something I loved. Even when all the NOs came
in from agents, I didn’t cry, pull my hair or shake my fists at the air. I just kept reading,
learning, hoping – and, most importantly, writing. I kept going until someone said yes.
Eventually, someone did.
When I went on sub, the cycle started again, except now the NOs came from editors who
sent feedback along with their chorus of rejections: I couldn’t relate well to the main
character / I loved the main character, but … / The characters aren’t well-developed /
The characters are wonderfully developed, but …
Meanwhile I waited. And wrote. And waited. And wrote. I allowed brief moments of
panic and frustration with each rejection, but then I wrote.
And then the news came. I paced, called people, panicked, fidgeted, asked questions. I
signed contracts, saw my listing on Publisher’s Marketplace, got an actual check. But
until I see that book in my hands, it still feels unreal.
I’ve learned that patience is an extremely valuable skill in this craft, perhaps just as
valuable as being a good writer, because things move slowly. People in publishing say
this all the time, but you don’t really appreciate it until you’re one of the people waiting.
I waited years for someone to publish my first short story. Then I waited months for an
agent to pick up my novel. Then many more months for an editor to pick it up. Now I’m
waiting until the day when I can hold an actual copy of my book – the same book I wrote
at the kitchen table of my apartment. Now THAT’S surreality.
Meanwhile, I write. Always.
Psst... Erin is on Twitter too... here's her handle: @erinkellytweets