Welcome to What I Learned While Writing a Novel.
Last year, the day before Mother’s Day, I finished my first novel. I surprised myself by finishing it a week early, and celebrated with a chocolate- and strawberry-topped liège wafel from the Wafels & Dinges truck that occupies my street corner on Saturday mornings. It was a good, good day. But it wasn’t the end of the story. It wasn’t the beginning, either.
Before I even sat down to write that novel, I’d worked as a bookseller at Borders, a publicity intern at Candlewick Press, a marketing and publicity intern at Abrams Books for Young Readers, an assistant at the Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency, an editorial assistant at Atheneum Books for Young Readers and Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing Division), and started my own freelance editorial company. Before all that, I studied English and German at Boston College, where my senior thesis (my first longest written work), What Is America Reading?: The Phenomena of Book Clubs and Literary Awards in Contemporary America, explored the multifaceted merits of contemporary novels penned by women that had not only been published, but had also achieved acclaim of one sort of another.
That’s a lot of capital letters in one paragraph. Moral of the story: I’ve seen publishing from just about every side. I’ve been the one to read and reject submissions. I’ve been in the acquisitions meeting and then negotiated an offer with an agent. I’ve sent reviews to authors and organized parties to celebrate their successes. Finally, I am in the seat I’d most dreamed of all along—I am an author. Not a published author yet, but it’s what I’m working toward next.
I also hope that my sharing what I’ve learned along the way about process, craft, and business will help someone else learn a little more about this sometimes (okay, often) mysterious industry. If nothing else, I hope I tell a good story.