By Trish Milburn
Yesterday morning at around 10:20, while sleeping because I was suffering from a sinus infection and a fever, I got The Call. My agent called to tell me I'd sold my first two books, young adult titles, to Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin. How did this fabulous event come about? Here's the skinny.
Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away...
Okay, so it was really the 1990s, and I was in Kentucky, but whatever. I began writing my first romance manuscript when I was in college at good ol' Murray State University in Western Kentucky. It wasn't an everyday kind of endeavor at that point because, well, I had a lot of studying to do and typically held two jobs while I was at it. I continued to piddle after I graduated in 1993 and started my first job as a newspaper reporter while the hubby did the grad school thing. The piddling continued when we moved to Tennessee in 1995 and I began working in the marketing department of an insurance company.
But in 1996, my local RWA chapter formed,I became a member of RWA, and I started learning more about the business and craft of writing. I continued to write when I left the insurance company and went back to journalism as a writer and editor at a magazine. I left that job 2 1/2 years ago to freelance write and edit, believing I was on the verge of sale (one of those that fell through.) Now, 11 years after beginning to submit to publishing houses, I finally have sold my first two books. Not the first two I wrote. Those are safely tucked away in the deep recesses of my computer and on floppy disks (yep, floppy disks). I've written 18 full manuscripts since beginning to submit to editors, and there have definitely been days when I got rejections or felt I was "thisclose" to selling only to have it fall through that the thought of just chucking it all occurred to me. I'm so glad I didn't. I will forevermore be the queen of preaching perseverance to other writers. After a point, if you are getting good critiques and finaling in or winning contests, you've got the grasp on craft you need to be published. You just have to find the right editor at the right time with the right project while continually studying the business side of the industry and endeavoring to always push your writing to the next level.
I'm, of course, not the only writer who has taken the long and winding road to getting published. My good friend Merrillee Whren, who writes for Silhouette Love Inspired, wrote for 15 years before getting published. Super YA and paranormal author Stephanie Rowe, like me, wrote 18 manuscripts before selling, and now she's a multi RITA finalist. I owe Stephanie a lot because she encouraged me to write young adult books, and that's what got me my agent and, three years later, my first sale. She also nearly hyperventilated on the phone when I called to tell her and sent me these beautiful flowers today.
I have so many friends who are in the boat I was in two days ago -- they're super talented, they've finaled in and won lots of contests, and they've completed lots of books. I'll do whatever I can to help them climb from that boat into this new boat. I'm hoping they get that wonderful, unbelievable call very soon.