I told my mother I wanted to be a writer when I was 2 years old, and sixteen years later as a senior in high school I began my first novel, “Home.”
From the first paragraph, I knew it was going to be my first published work. I wrote about a girl visiting her estranged father for the summer and reconnecting with her childhood best friend, and I worked on the story for eight months (March-November, 2013).
I was so exhausted when I finished that I didn’t look at my manuscript again for two months. But after an intensive round of edits, I started my search for an agent.
I did my first pitches at a writer’s conference in April 2014. It was nerve-wracking as I stumbled, stammered and felt like an idiot. But one agent out of the three I contacted asked to see a sample from my book. A couple of weeks later she asked for the full manuscript, and within a month she’d made an offer to publish.
I turned it down.
Turning down an offer to publish my book was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I liked the agent and I wanted to get my book in print, but the terms of the deal weren’t what I was looking for. So I said no and kept looking.
At the time, I was arrogant. I thought I would get an offer in no time – maybe even multiple ones. But according to author John Green, “The world is not a wish-granting factory.” I got a cold, hard dose of reality – fast. Most of the agents I queried said no, some didn’t respond at all and the few agents who read my full manuscript didn’t pan out.
By April 2015, I received a “no” from my last contact, and I was desperate.
I entered the vast world of self-publishing in June through Amazon subsidiary, CreateSpace. I got an account, spent a few weeks talking to my project team about design and layout before taking some time to build my cover and do my final edits.
On July 21, “Home” was officially out there.
The day it went up was anticlimactic, though. I clicked ‘publish’ then watched an episode of “Malcolm in the Middle.” It sold a grand total of one copy in the first week it was available, and has only sold 10 overall.
But I’m still an author. And I believe in what I wrote.
“Home” is not a high-concept book. It’s a simple story about a young woman finding love and becoming an adult. Still, I believe it’s a story that should be heard. It’s about being young and unsure. They’re feelings everyone has, and I can reach people by writing about them.
I became a writer because I wanted to make people’s lives better the only way I know how. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. If my book resonates with just one person, then I’ve done my job. As a kid, I turned to fiction when I needed strength or cheering up. As an adult, I want to give others that same gift.
When I wrote “Home,” I did it because I had something to say.
And to anyone out there who wants to be a writer but doesn’t know where to start, my best advice is to do just that – write when you have something to say.
My father told me this long before I self-published “Home,” and I had to struggle through years of writer’s block and half-finished manuscripts to see how right he was. When you have something to say, it will fall into place.
It did for me.