My Long Journey to Publication – And it’s not over Yet

Guest post by Susan Sands, Author and Change Agent for Better World Books

When embarking on the journey to publication, there are things you should know. First, write a great book. Really. This sounds like a no-brainer, I know. But, it is hard—no, extremely hard, to successfully pen a novel-length story, submit your work to literary agents and/or editors at New York publishing houses and achieve your goals without first facing crushing rejection. It hurts every time. Growing the thick skin of an elephant is a near necessity to survive some of the harsh feedback. Not because you stink as a writer, but because the bar has been set incredibly high by today’s incredible authors. I’ve learned along the way to use critiques and rejections as a tool for learning how I may improve, continuing to edit my manuscript with persistent hope.

You may possess the talent of Hemingway and a blockbuster idea, but without a solid foundation in the craft of writing fiction, sadly, the world will never experience your brilliance. At least not the way you envision—on best seller lists at major book outlets. Your book must be engaging enough to make it past the slush pile on an agent or editor’s desk.

If you really want to see your story in print, put the hard work and time in learning the craft. Hundreds of books on writing are available teaching everything from plotting, pacing, story arc, character evolution—you get it. There’s a lot more involved in creating a book than just telling a story. So, do it well—well enough that it’s received by those who guard the gates of publishing with something other than, “Oh, another newbie.”

I do have some very specific advice for new writers:

  1. Join a local or online writer’s group in your genre. Writing can be a lonely undertaking. It’s great to have support from others in the trenches with you.
  2. Attend writers’ conferences. Check online. Conferences are great for networking, professional craft classes, and learning the industry.
  3. Have realistic expectations and plan for the long haul. Don’t quit your day job just yet. It’s a tough business, so suit up.
  4. Butt in chair. Ink on paper. Write every day! An unwritten book will never be published.

Most best-selling authors are rejected many times before making their first sale. I continue my journey toward publication, learning something at every conference, by reading about writing, and actually writing. Your book is your best training ground.

Self-publishing is a different subject for another day!

Are you writing a book? We’d love to hear about it. Have you been published yet? Post the link to you book on Better World Books below so we can check it out!

*Note* The above guest post is from a friend of Better World Books, Susan Sands. You can check out her blog here. This content does not necessarily reflect the views of Better World Books (as our lawyers make sure we say). We love having guest bloggers and invite you to email if you are interested in covering a book or topic on the BWB Blog. Thank you, Susan, for candidly sharing your journey in becoming a best-selling author in the making!


  1. Thank you for selling my children’s book, Little Bird You Are Perfect! I would love for you to check it out!

  2. Pamela Herron says:

    Great advice! I’ve published but mostly work-for-hire. Now that I’ve completed my MFA in Creative Writing and written my first novel, I’ve revised and edited and collected a nice stack of rejections. Writers groups and writers conferences are a great way to hone your craft and make connections. Meeting a publisher or an agent at a conference just might be the edge you need to get your novel to the right person. I would add – do your homework about publishers. Don’t bother to send your work to a publisher whose list does not include books like yours. It’s a waste of your time and theirs!

  3. clare vaught says:

    Yes, I’ve written several books . The one I want to publish needs editing but, not sure whom to trust. My subject is of a spiritual nature.

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