Even though it wasn’t easy, this writer overcame quite a few obstacles to achieve her dream of becoming a successful author.
by Diane Bator
I’m not going to lie. Writing a book is hard. Finding an agent or a publisher is hard. Even when the writing path is what someone has dreamed of their entire life, it takes a lot of work and determination just to get started, let alone keep going.
When I first became a serious writer, after daydreaming and writing since I was a kid, I had a lot to learn. I’d majored in business in college and had opportunities to use some creativity, but it was strongly suggested by people close to me that I give up writing and find a lucrative career in nursing or financial planning. Numbers and I are not close friends, and I wasn’t a fan of blood. Besides, I could still do both of those careers—as a writer—without the stress and mess.
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Determined to write and publish a book, I continued to work full time at various jobs as I continued writing anyway and honed my skills. Then I married and had a family.
How did I find time to write with three small kids and a full-time job? In fifteen-minute blocks while on lunch breaks, at doctor appointments, while the kids were doing activities, any few minutes I could pull out my notebook and work on my book. Even while cooking dinner. If I’d forgotten my notebook, I’d write on the backs of receipts, on napkins, on any scrap paper I could find. I even joined a writing group for encouragement.
Eventually, I finished my first real novel, a “Franken-novel” stitched together by writing prompts and stolen moments. It took some work—and a lot of edits—to get it to the point where I sent it to a beta reader who, it turned out, was a reader for a new agent, who signed me. My first real break!
Before I knew it, my first book, The Bookstore Lady, was being shopped to publishers. It took a few months, but we struck it lucky when it was picked up by a wonderful Canadian publisher. As a Canadian author, I was thrilled. My U.S. agent wasn’t as keen on the arrangement—mostly for the added financial work for her. She stepped back and allowed me to work directly with BWL Publishing.
Then I needed to come up with a second series to keep my agent busy.
That’s when I created Death of a Jaded Samurai, book one in my Gilda Wright Mystery series, and we found publisher number two in California. After creating a cover I loved, we put the book out there. It didn’t do as well as the publisher had hoped, so they suggested a rebranding. The book was retitled Can’t Keep a Brunette Down and the cover was bright pink. I crossed my fingers and we published two more books, Hardheaded Brunette and Life is Better Brunette.
Eventually, I finished my first book, a “Franken-novel” stitched together by writing prompts and stolen moments.
Then came the day my California publisher dropped me.
I could’ve gone to the store, loaded up on rocky road ice cream, cried myself to sleep, taken a sick day the next day, and beaten myself up over it.
What did I do? I panicked for a solid ten minutes, which was all the time I had left in my work day.
By the time I was heading home from work that Tuesday, I had an idea. I e-mailed my Canadian publisher and asked if they would be interested in picking up my Gilda Wright Mystery series. They were thrilled. Before I even got back the rights to those three books, we had an arrangement in place for the series.
I spent 2018 revising and rebranding my Gilda Wright books and adding a new book to the series. Since then, it’s been forward at top speed. I’m currently writing four series with BWL Publishing and working on future books.
After a couple more attempts at a couple other new pitches with my agent, we parted ways on good terms. I’m always welcome to pitch something new to her again.
My experience in the publishing world has been much different than most writers I know. I’ve been blessed!
Currently, I’m working on a new book for my Glitter Bay Mystery series that comes out in June 2023. I’m also dabbling with a fantasy novel along with a friend, a romance series I may submit to the agent, and more books for my wonderful publisher.
As a writer and book coach, I’m looking forward to creating a self-published book to go through that process as well. I find it to be a great advantage that I’ve been there and done that in order to give solid answers to my clients. I enjoy the hands-on approach to helping other writers not only write their books, but polish them and help pitch their work.
Think you have a book in you? Write it!
Finished a book that you would like feedback on? Find a great book coach and get that dream out of your desk drawer!
Diane Bator is a mom of three, book coach, and author of over a dozen mystery novels and many works-in-progress. She has also hosted the Escape With a Writer blog to promote fellow authors and is a member of Sisters in Crime Toronto, the Writers Union of Canada, and a board member of Crime Writers of Canada. When she’s not writing and coaching authors, she works for a professional theater. No surprise she’s written her first play, which may lead to more.
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