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  • Jessica M. Simpkiss

What does it take to be a published writer?


Hi, I’m Jessica, published author and submissions coordinator for a prominent literary agency. Recently, the rights to my first traditionally published novel reverted to me (woohoo!) which got me thinking about where I started compared to where I am now and where I want to be in the future. While my journey has been relatively short in comparison to some (only six years) the wealth of information and knowledge I have attained along the way is staggering, even to me. And so, in the spirit of giving, I want to share what I know with you and help other writers. I don’t know everything, but I do know some things and I want to share them with you.


First, a little bit about me. I hold a Bachelor of Art History from George Mason University. I am the author of two full-length novels, The Spaewife’s Secret(traditionally published) and Bone in the Blood(self-published). I have also published short stories and poetry both online and in print literary magazines throughout the US and several international publications. I have interned and worked with The National Gallery of Art and the National Archives in Washington DC, as well as several smaller galleries and museums in Washington. I was the co-Editor in Chief of the Cat’s Tales Literary Magazine for two years and recently I’ve taken a position as submissions coordinator for a prominent literary agency. When I’m not writing or reading, I do yoga (occasionally), I love to garden and as a family, we love to camp and wander.


But enough about me, let’s talk about what I’m going to be doing this month. For the whole month of December, I plan to post a daily affirmation of sorts, which will be part writing advice, part publishing advice with some quippy anecdotes about my experiences, what I’ve learned along the way, and what I would have done differently, along with some of my favorite story starters for anyone suffering from writer’s block or just need a jump start. It’s going to be a hodgepodge of writing and publishing information that will hopefully be informative and helpful.


So here we are on Day 1. And today I would like to share with you a thought that recently occurred to me about writers and becoming a published author with one of the BIG publishers (we all know who they are). Publishing is a LONG journey. From writing a novel which can sometimes take years, to searching out the perfect agent who then searches out the perfect publisher who then sends your manuscript through the wringer and finally slates it for publication in their catalog, the following year (or longer!), publishing is a LONG journey. What occurred to me recently is that those coveted authors we read and love, the ones whose books we see at the top of the bestselling lists, the ones we aspire to be one day, are they really better writers, or are they just the most persistent? In a discipline that is highly subjective on its face, is it the squeaky wheel that gets the grease? I don’t want to discount or diminish anyone’s abilities, but I have to believe that those writers who are prepared for the long haul, the ones who do not get discouraged easily, the ones with the most patience, are the ones that make it to the big times.


This is just a random thought I had the other night lying in bed, thinking about writing when I should have been writing (ugh).


My personal experience with my first novel and a small independent publisher was relatively quick from submission to publication, I believe about 5 months total. And there were so many red flags that I didn’t see at the time, that I see now, that I cringe. That’s part of what I want to talk about this month, and hopefully spare some of you those cringe worthy moments.


What are your thoughts? Do you think success is all talent or are the successful authors we look up to the most persistent ones of the bunch?


I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Stop by tomorrow for Day 2, So you think you've written a book, steps that must be taken before you start even thinking about submitting to agents or publishers.


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