Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tell Someone You Wrote A Book

For a long time, I did not tell anyone I was writing a novel. I was afraid. I didn't want to fail and then be held accountable for that failure. I wrote and kept it secret. Slowly, I told my family members and my closest friends. Eventually, I decided to start this blog, and I officially announced the journey I had been on. That accountability changed my life as a writer. There was no option to fail. I had told people I was writing a novel and there was absolutely no way I was going to go back on my word. I succeeded and it is, in part, because I didn't want to tell my family, my friends, and by virtue of the Internet, the world, that I could not do what I set out to do. I am a very stubborn, persistent, proud person and telling, sharing, became essential to my progress.

When it came time to set this novel free and try to get it published, I experienced the same kind of fear. I did not want to tell people this goal. How many rejections would I receive? How many times would I lose my way? How many novels sit on people's shelves before they get the 5th or 6th or 100th book published? Why would I announce a goal nearly impossible to achieve?

But I thought it through. The first time I started talking, it worked. I finished what I set out to do. I figured it could not hurt to tell people my latest goal. It turns out I was right.

My advice to you is to go tell someone you wrote a book. And here's why:

It came up in random conversation with a co-worker. I told her what I had done. That night she was riding the train home from work and sat next to someone from a big publishing house. Of course, she thought of me. Now I have that person's contact information and a reference I never thought I'd have.

My friend Mike reads this blog (Lord knows why) and his friend from high school is a literary agent. He reached out to her on my behalf and now I have a valuable connection.

I was chatting with a colleague about my novel. Her friend of many, many years, from summer camp is also a literary agent. Another valuable connection I never imagined having.

After chatting with a children's writer I work with at my day job, she told me she was in the process of completing her first novel. I shared that I had just finished one myself. Together, we discussed our writer woes. And she asked me about getting ready to query. She's not sure what her next step should be. I happen to know a little about the next step. After all, I'm in the midst of it. We'll be chatting again very soon, when she has written 'The End.'

What good things have happened to you when you uttered the words, "I wrote a book..." or "I'm writing a book..."?


  1. I discovered some of my best friends when I came clean...Susan Fields and I had known each other for year, then one day I was at her house and saw piles of paper and books on the dinning room table...So I asked...it turned out that she was writing too...I can't imagine my life without her. She is an amazing writer with quite an imagination!

  2. I mentioned I wrote to this published novelist mom while we were chatting at a school function. She said to send her some pages. I sent five. She said to send more. I sent twenty. Then, she asked to see the whole thing and became my very first beta reader. My draft was embarrassingly rough, but her feedback and encouragement meant the world to me.

  3. Hi Melissa,

    I felt exactly the same way! It was physically hard for me to say I'm writing a novel or that I am a writer. I started saying it out loud just because I refused to let fear hold me back. As a result several other writers read my manuscript, my synopsis, my query letter, etc. and gave me useful feedback on all of them. Someone else told me about SCBWI for children's/YA writers and someone else told me about SheWrites.com. The list goes on and on.