I was talking recently with a new author, someone who had just completed her first book and was cautiously trying to figure out what to do next. One of the things she said was that she had decided that in order to get published she was going to have to know editors, and since she didn’t know anyone she figured there was no way she would get published. I was really surprised by this because while it’s probably a common thought among new authors, I had never heard this line of thinking before and frankly, I think it’s a cop-out.
When I was 22 years old I had a dream of living in New York City. I had no idea what I wanted to do there and I had never been farther than Memphis, Tennessee. I was a small-town Midwestern girl from Minnesota. And I was determined to chase my dreams. So after college graduation I packed my little Honda Civic (red, very cute) and made my way to the big City (via an internship in Newport, Rhode Island).
I remember walking out of Grand Central Station for the first time. It was Spring in New York and I was wearing a very ill-fitting, awful, ’80s-looking interview suit. I was going to a headhunter’s office to meet with someone about possible jobs in publishing and advertising (I’d already ruled out newspapers and magazines after a variety of hated jobs). I wandered out of Grand Central and down Park Avenue. I walked to 40th Street and asked a stranger how to get to Lexington Avenue (one short block to my left for those who don’t know the City). He looked at me like I was a little crazy, or maybe that was the suit, and pointed me in the right direction. Telling this story now gives me heart palpitations. I was so out of my element, so scared, so overwhelmed and so blown away. This was me, small-town girl in the big city, and I was doing it. Step by step through those city streets I was going to meet people who were going to make those dreams happen. Or so I thought.
After a series of fruitless interviews through the headhunter’s office, all in really cool advertising agencies, I struck out on my own again and spent a day in the library poring over the LMP. I made a list of all the publishing houses that included the actual names of the Human Resources contact (because I didn’t like sending resumes “to whom it may concern”). I went home and I sent out five resumes. I once again made my way into NYC for two interviews and finally got the job of my dreams. Yes, wearing the ill-fitting suit.
It was scary, it was out of my comfort zone and yes, I probably looked ridiculous. But the truth is I had a dream and no one, nothing, not one heart palpitation was going to stop that dream from coming through.
Do you have a dream? Do you really want to get published? Then quit with the excuses, get off your butt, and make the dream happen.