How I Finally Opened the Publishing Door


The press that will print my book. Kidding.

On Monday, I told you that a small publishing house has agreed to publish my novel.  Today, I'm going to tell the story of how it came about.  (It feels a little weird to be writing so much about it, seeing as how all I know so far is that they have agreed to publish the book.  But I'm determined to share the entire process with you guys, so on I go.)

 Years ago, after I got my MFA, I returned to my alma mater, Spalding, to be a graduate assistant (also fondly known as a grad ass).  Part of my duties were to assist in the workshop.  I had the honor and pleasure of helping my dear former mentor Julie Brickman, but that's another story.   In that workshop I met a wonderful man named Dan, who lives in Key West.  He asked me to read his novel, Three Furies, which I did, and fell in love with.  I loved, loved, loved this novel and told him so repeatedly. (I'm not ignoring him by not linking to him, he doesn't yet have a website.)

Dan and I fell out of touch for a few years, but last Fall he wrote and told me the exciting news that Three Furies would be published by a small press.  He was excited.  I immediately looked up the press.  Turned out I loved what they said about publishing literary quality fiction and focusing on the "anti-heroine," as I previously noted.  I was pretty sure that fit my protagonist, Emma Jean, she who sleeps with handsome younger men, gets drunk on airplanes, and pretty much says whatever she pleases.  And so, on a whim, I submitted to them.

Now, the website information says they'll get back to you in six weeks.  Dan said he heard back from them in two weeks.  So when I didn't hear I pretty much forgot about it, figuring it was yet another no-go.  Until Saturday, when the cryptic email came saying that they want to put my novel on the list for 2013.

What's the lesson here?  Well, the obvious one is that who you know counts.  Please note here that I didn't ask Dan for a recommendation (though I've not hesitated to ask others in the past) and he didn't even know I was submitting to the same press.  But, I never would have known about this press if it weren't for Dan.  Networking is vital for sharing information.  Also, let me just say that I've had personal recommendations to agents that have put me on the top of their piles.  It all helps.

Tomorrow I'm going to publish my "lessons learned" post.  But another one that occurs to me as I write today is that patience is definitely a virtue.  I ofen joke that you could get married, have babies and die before hearing back from some of these folks in the publishing world and there's a ring of truth to it.  So don't enter this business if you're looking for instant gratification!

Create a successful, inspired writing life: Find a way to make some new writing friends.  Join a local writing group.  Start commenting on a forum online.  We're lucky to live in a time when it is easy to get connected.

Please comment.  How have you made connections in the writing world?  Also, if you liked this post, please feel free to Tweet it or share it on other social media.


Photo by rammag.


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12 Responses to How I Finally Opened the Publishing Door

  1. J.D. 03/14/2012 at 04:58 #

    I’m happy for Dan, though I don’t know him, and certainly for you. I’ve read all sorts of publishing stories. They are unique, I think, because there is no set path and it is often a gifted story teller giving us the account. Isn’t it interesting that a connection from so long ago set you on your path. Then, unlike with Dan, they waited as if they were teasing you. It’s almost magical.

  2. Zan Marie 03/14/2012 at 06:24 #

    While we know it depends on who you know a lot of the time, it helps to read how that works in clear language. Good for Dan and you, Charlotte. ; )

  3. Don 03/14/2012 at 07:10 #

    I know two things for sure: one, I would absolutely love to read your book; two, I hate the idea of having to wait until 2013 to do so!

    Oh well, it’s something to look forward to, for both you and your fans… and includes little old me!

  4. Charlotte Dixon 03/14/2012 at 08:50 #

    J.D., I’ve been talking to Dan about doing a guest post or an interview here when his book comes out so you can get to know him! And yes, it did feel almost magical, making me realize that a lot goes on behind the visible scenes!

    Thank you, Zan Marie, for your loyal support of me!

    Ahh, thanks, Don. I’m a big fan of you, too!

  5. Lisa Novelline 03/14/2012 at 14:56 #

    Patience & perseverance… hmmph okay. :) Inspirational post… as always!! Thanks Charlotte!

  6. Charlotte Dixon 03/14/2012 at 15:13 #

    Lisa, I think that patience is definitely the hardest part!

  7. Suzanne C. Robertson 03/15/2012 at 08:42 #

    Darn that need for patience! Yours is sure paying off. This is so exciting!

  8. Charlotte Dixon 03/15/2012 at 10:18 #

    Believe me there were times when I thought all was lost, especially when I’d send out ten query letters and not hear back from anyone. I was pretty determined to get this novel published and I guess that is what it takes.

  9. Cheryl Reifsnyder 03/21/2012 at 20:36 #

    How EXCITING!!! The road to publication can be soooo long and convoluted, and once you bring your writing skill up to a certain level, luck plays a huge role in where and when you finally make the publishing connection. I’m so happy for you, and can’t wait to hear more about your publication process!

    And, strangely enough, I might be doing a series on small publishers on my blog once I wrap up the coaching series…hmm, maybe I’ll have to bug you for input on your experience :).

    I hope you’re celebrating daily–before all those rewriting deadlines kick in!

  10. Charlotte Dixon 03/22/2012 at 06:34 #

    Thanks, Cheryl. You might be interested in the press for your series (I love the series that you do) because it goes beyond genre and has an interesting list. Plus that whole “anti-hero” thing really appeals to me. So far I’ve met my editor by email and she seems really cool, so life is good!

  11. Julia Munroe Martin 08/13/2012 at 12:16 #

    I know I’m late to the party — but was just referred here by a friend. I’m in the midst of the query process with a novel and another almost complete… and I am so happy to read your success story. I’m off to read the updates, too. Thanks for the encouragement!

  12. Charlotte Dixon 08/13/2012 at 17:52 #

    Never late to the party at my house, Julia!  I'm always happy to get comments.  I hope this post was in some way encouraging to you–it was a long process for me, but I'm so happy with how it ended. Good luck with your search.

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