Publishing Your Book: BURN THE BOATS
Updated: Aug 11, 2021
Dear lovelies –
As many of you know I’m getting my first book, Blood Orange Night, published in June 2022. While part of me feels all kinds of fancy pants about now being a Simon & Schuster author, the truth is I’m beyond grateful. I don’t know if my luck is just the luck of working my arse off or being in the right place at the right time, but I’m giddy about the whole thing. I’m the kind of giddy that may embarrass my editor once in a while, but I’ve warned her I’m a naturally effusive person. I love BIG. And I adore her.
And the reason I’m telling you all this is I imagine you’re wondering what happens when you get a fancy pants editor?
I know that as I was working on my book, I wondered this all the time. I dreamed of working with a team whose goal was to get my book out in the world.
And I’ll tell you this: I never thought it would happen until I decided it WOULD happen.
It’s as simple as that. But not simple at all, because I did work my ass off. Every weekend without the kids, every 5am morning, every night after the kids were in bed. But none of it felt like work, you know? Because there was a part of me, post-divorce that one day just … DECIDED. And then, it was like that story of only being able to take the island if you burn the boats. I had that feeling. I was standing on the sandy beach of my own ambition and heart longing, and I knew there were no boats to crawl back to.
So I busted my butt. I busted it for so long and hard that friends gave me repeated birthday wishes that involved some version of them emphatically toasting me and telling me that my work should be out in the world and that they believed in me even if it felt like on the other line (that line being agents and editors) it was just ... CRICKETS. "Hello?" (Cough).
"Hello illustrious agent to whom I am sending the query I have written and rewritten for over a YEAR now. I have this book...".
“THIS YEAR IT WILL HAPPEN!!!” my friends would sing (for the second and third year in a row), and I’d stand, knowing my boats were burned, knowing I wouldn’t give up but occasionally wondering if I was just this side of delusional.
And then then it happened. In the space of four months, I got an agent AND an editor.
JUST LIKE THAT.
I BURNED THE BOATS AND I WORKED AND I WORKED.
AND THEN I TOOK THE ISLAND.
And my editor happens to be AMAZING. Her name is Rebecca. She looks to me like she should be in some fashion ad somewhere with her long, ocean hair and wide, gentle eyes, but no, she’s my editor and she’s smart as a whip.
(I’m so damn lucky. Have I said that?)
And I was going to tell you about the edits, because we just finished our second round, but I there’s not that much to say unless you want me to ugly cry. Which, no. I won’t.
What I will say is that it’s a gift to be edited by someone who is brilliant. She said “no” to my periodic poems (interrupts the narrative and yes, she’s right). She said “no” to my footnotes (hilarious, yes, but also an interrupting to the narrative.) In each case, I knew she was right. I LOVED saying funny and illuminating things in the footnotes, but she was RIGHT.
And, after two rounds, we’re done. It felt easy. It felt delicious.
For those of you out there with a book either in your heart or on your computer or in a leaf of pages—I believe in you. Your story is beautifully, perfectly your own. Burn the boats to find yourself and your book. When you do, finding the editor will be easy.
With so much heart,
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