My road to publication is rather unusual. I was hired to write my autobiography my freshman year of college and by my nineteenth birthday it was on the New York Public Library’s Stuff for the Teen Age 2010 list. I wrote a YA book over the summer, pitched to literary agents, and had representation before I returned to school. That book sold in a three book deal to KensingtonTeen, which was expanded into a five book deal. It sounds like it all came together so easily for me, which is accurate in some ways and incredibly misleading in others.
The hardest part of the publishing process isn’t finding a literary agent. It isn’t getting an offer from a publishing house. It isn’t desperately trying to promote your work without selling your soul.
The hardest part attacks you at 2am when you wonder what the hell you are doing. When you tell yourself that you’re crazy. Who will really give a shit about what you have to say? Who the hell do you think you are? What makes you such a sparkly little unicorn?
When you have an inbox full of rejections and you feel like crap and anything seems better than handing over your heart for other people to examine, critique and reject.
That is the hardest part.
This job demands faith, not in some nebulous benevolent force in the universe, but in yourself. In your vision. In your story. It requires you to ignore the pile of we liked it, we just didn’t love it rejections and confront the blank page once again. To say, maybe not this book, but some book. Maybe not this story, but the next one.
To write through the numbness and the pain, to ignore the spectre of smug faces who insist that they always knew it was a pipe dream. That you should have become an accountant instead. That you don’t have what it takes.
That’s when you need to text a friend. Take a walk. Drink some coffee. Look at a piece of art. Listen to a song that belongs on your No Shits Are Given playlist.
That’s when you remind yourself of the Wayne Gretzky quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” and get back in the fight. You send out your query letter to another agent. You write another sentence. You edit another page.
You take another shot.
Marni Bates began her writing career at the age of 19 with her autobiography, Marni, for HCI’s Louder Than Words series. Marni was also selected for the New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age 2010 List. Her debut fiction novel, Awkward, has been translated into French, Portuguese, Spanish and Hungarian and has also been optioned by Disney Channel as a made-for-TV movie. She has four other novels with KensingtonTeen; Decked with Holly, Invisible, Notable, and Awkwardly Ever After. For more information, please visit www.marnibates.com or the Marni Bates Author Facebook page. You can also follow @MarniBates on Twitter for the latest news.