What is that thing they say about luck? That it’s when preparation meets opportunity?
Then yes, this is the lucky story of how my novel, The Goddess Twins, found its path to publication.
When I finished my novel, there was no sudden feeling of completion. I was mentally exhausted and dizzyingly proud, but I knew it needed to be edited. Then edited again. Then possibly another fifteen rounds of more edits. I attended the AWP conference in Tampa and remember a panelist mentioning that when she was done writing, she found herself editing her manuscript over and over for the next five years. I knew I didn’t have that kind of patience, but I also had no idea when I would know my book was ready to be shopped for publication.
I had been slowly gathering names and emails of agents that I thought may be interested, but I was too afraid to actually send one my query. I had done several rounds of professional edits, including beta readers, but I still felt uncertain about my book. Imposter syndrome was flaring up, hard. I felt like my manuscript wasn’t ready and if I sent it out, the entire publishing industry would know I couldn’t hack it, and the rejections would come and I would die under the weight of them.
Around this time, a friend sent me a link to a writing contest. Though it wasn’t an ideal fit, I ended up down a rabbit hole and eventually found the She Writes Press STEP Scholarship. This was a fit for my manuscript in genre and word count, and they were seeking to publish authors of color! She Writes Press had a strong reputation in the boutique book publishing realm, and the winner of the contest would receive a complete publishing contract!
I knew I wasn’t going to win the whole publishing contract, but I thought, if I can get my full manuscript done enough to submit to this contest, then I’ll know that it is ready for shopping an agent. Months later, I applied to the contest and began sending my query to agents I had either met or connected with online. For the next eight months, I played the game of waiting, fielding rejections and a few requests for the manuscript that turned up empty.
One day, I received an email from She Writes, but it wasn’t a rejection, it was an announcement that my book made it into the top 5 for the contest! I had something special after all! I continued contacting agents, confident the next one would be the one. But then, I received another email from She Writes. I did not win the scholarship. It was because my book was more Young Adult. And so they moved my manuscript to SparkPress, their imprint, and would be publishing it as the winning STEP Scholarship novel for 2020!
I am honestly still in a place of happy bewilderment over the path of publication for my debut book. I feel so very lucky that The Goddess Twins will have the chance to emerge very soon.
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