This post is part 2 of a series centered around attending a local author fair at the West Osceola Library in Central Florida. This intimate event had several self-published and traditionally published authors in attendance. The highlights for me were the two guest speaking sessions by three different types of authors. Each one shared stories of their writing and publishing experiences that were helpful to me and hopefully to you, too. If you missed part 1, you can check it out here!
The second session I attended was hosted by two traditionally published authors with diverse backgrounds. Their session centered around their publishing journeys, and how they got to where they are now, and how to get a book published for the first time.
The Trunk Novel
The first author to speak was Jan Eldredge. Jan’s book Evangeline of the Bayou, a middle-grade adventure novel, was published back in 2008 (and it has an awesome cover). Jan shared some great tips and tricks that helped her along the path to publishing, but the most interesting thing she shared was the idea that everyone should have a “trunk novel.” Maybe you’ve heard this term before, but it was a first for me. Jan described a trunk novel as an author’s first finished work. Where does the trunk come into play, you might ask. Well, the trunk happens to be the novel’s dark and dingy home for the remainder of its days.
Jan shared that, in her experience and in talking to other authors, most times when you finally sit down and finish that first book, it’s total crap. While I might not advocate that you effectively throw your hard work into the garbage, more often than not, she’s probably right. Writing, like anything else, takes practice. You most likely aren’t going to be J.K. Rowling the first time you take a crack at it. I think the general sentiment around her words is that when you read back that first draft, don’t get discouraged. It’s probably not very good. But don’t give up! If you keep at it, you are most certainly going to get better.
The next author to share her publishing journey was Debbie Viguié. Debbie is a New York Times Bestselling Author and has published upwards of 50 novels across a variety of genres. Her publishing story was fascinating. She got her start by helping out a well-known author with a story when the author was spread too thin with different projects. Debbie hopped at the chance to be a ghostwriter for this project and knocked it out of the park. When Debbie’s friend tried to get her a contract with the same publisher, they initially said no due to the fact that she hadn’t been published before. But then the friend shared that everything they liked in the last book was Debbie’s handiwork and they changed their tune.
Hearing Jan and Debbie talk about their publishing journeys was fascinating. They had wildly diverse paths to getting published, but they had a couple of things in common, they worked incredibly hard and they didn’t give up. Any aspiring author will do well to develop those two character traits.