By Amy Parker
At a book signing not too long ago, a woman approached and asked the seemingly innocent question I’m asked at almost every event. “So, how did you get published?”
Over the years, so many people have so generously provided guidance for my career, and I’m always happy to pay that forward by sharing my experience with other writers. I took a deep breath and tried to give her the short version.
While working as a contract editor at Tommy Nelson (the children’s division of Thomas Nelson), the publisher said in passing, “We’re looking for a bedtime book.”
I couldn’t believe what she had just said. I blurted, “I just wrote a bedtime book!”
“Well, send it to me,” she said, a little unsure. I was an editor, not a writer. Not yet.
Probably to the surprise of us both, the publisher liked it, she published it, and it’s been a hit! The strong sales of A Night Night Prayer paved the way for the book after that and the book after that and the book after that. . . .
That snippet of my publishing experience apparently satisfied the woman’s curiosity. She sneered, “Oh, so you did it the easy way.”
I blinked. I wasn’t quite sure how to reply—and she didn’t stick around to hear it anyway.
Had she lingered, I would have offered her the full version, my step-by-step formula to getting published the easy way:
- Have the good fortune of two parents who exemplify faith, hard work, and an indomitable spirit.
- Write poems throughout elementary school.
- Read everything you can get your hands on.
- Pour your heart into English and writing throughout high school.
- Take a full-time course load in college, while working and taking care of your family.
- Accept an internship (and internship pay) at a local publisher (while continuing #5).
- Fall in love with publishing. Abandon the job security of a teaching career.
- Graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English, minors in Writing and Education.
- Search for months for an editorial job—any editorial job.
- Accept position editing healthcare education courses.
- Accept dream job as a children’s book editor.
- Be informed that your dream job has been eliminated.
- Begin working as a contract children’s editor.
- Ride the roller coaster of freelancing.
- Read everything you can get your hands on.
- Pretend to be a writer. Pounce on every writing job you can get.
- In a delirious 2 a.m. stupor, write the words inspired by your three-year-old’s sleep battle.
- In similar delirious stupor, send that manuscript to the publisher.
- Feel the joy of an accepted manuscript.
- Feel the pain of the editorial process.
- Feel the joy of a printed book—with your name on it!—in your hand.
- Stalk children. Read at every kids event that will let you through the door.
- Try every crazy promotion idea you can think of. Fail at half of them (if you’re lucky).
- Repeat steps 16-25 ad infinitum.
I’ve been entrenched in the publishing industry for almost two decades—as an intern, a proofreader, a copyeditor, an editor, a copywriter, a ghostwriter, and an author. And regardless of what spectators may say, there is no “easy way” to get published.
Every path to publishing is different. But I can promise you this: it won’t be easy. Nothing worth doing is. But if you are sticking around to hear my reply—then you may just be dedicated enough to take that path anyway. And I would be honored to walk it with you.
If you haven’t already signed up for the Write2Ignite Conference in April, I highly recommend you do it now. It’s the only conference that I’ve seen specifically for Christian children’s and YA writers, and it is full of experienced presenters.
I’ll be there, giving three different workshops:
- The Publishing Process, Step-By-Step
- Both Sides of the Desk: The Editor & the Author
- Rhythm, Rhyme & Musicality
I’m also delivering the keynote on The Plans God Has for YOU!
Come join us, and we’ll talk about your path to publishing, wherever you may be along the way. It will be a sneer-free zone, full of people who know the difficult path ahead—and choose to walk it anyway.
Amy Parker has written more than thirty books for children, teens, and adults, including the best-selling A Night Night Prayer, Thank You, God, for Mommy, and Thank You, God, for Daddy. She has also collaborated with authors ranging from New York Times bestsellers to her very own son. Two of these collaborations—Firebird and Courageous Teens—are recipients of Christian Retailing’s Best Awards. But Amy’s greatest reward is being a wife to Daniel and a mom to their amazing sons, Michael and Ethan.
Connect with Amy at www.amyparkerbooks.com.
4 thoughts on “Get Published the Easy Way!”
Not so easy, for sure!
Linda, spoken like an experienced writer! 🙂
Great post, but oh my goodness—the woman that sneered at you! People never cease to amaze me!
Your delightful post inspires me to keep pressing forward. It’s amazing what God can do with our trials. I”m glad He prompted you to use your 2 a.m. sleepless night as a springboard for a wonderful book!
I’d love to take your classes but I’ll not be able to be at the W2I conference this year. I’ll follow you elsewhere.
Praying for your continued success,