The doors that led me here
Recently, I’ve been thinking back over the past year and all the doors that opened - and some that closed - in the journey of writing my first book.
The first open door came from answering an Instagram ad.
Toward the end of 2020, Joy announced she would be hosting a cohort with a small group of writers who were looking to develop a book proposal. I knew enough about the publishing world to know the first place to start when you want to write a book is to write a book proposal. The proposal tells a potential publisher everything they’d want to know about your book, about you as an author and about your creative plans to promote and market the book. Many book deals are inked off of a proposal alone, long before an author ever pens his or her first chapters.
So, I decided to answer Joy’s Instagram ad and apply for her first cohort. I honestly thought there was no way I’d get selected but, much to my surprise, I did! Explaining the cost to Jon, I fully expected him to agree it was too much. But, again, much to my surprise, he said yes. He said he believed in me as a writer and wanted to make this investment in my dream. Door number one had opened. I wrote Joy back and told her I was in.
The second open door came from partnering with a friend.
After 30 days of intense writing, my book proposal was done - all 52 pages of it! I couldn’t believe how much I’d finished in a month’s time.
Throughout the cohort, Joy stressed the importance of growing our network by putting ourselves out on social media more. Gone are the days of publishers carrying the marketing ball down the field for authors. Today’s authors need to have their own (preferably large) social media presence and partner with their publisher to get the word out about their book.
But having to promote myself online felt forced, so Joy suggested I give podcasting a try. As someone who listened to podcasts (and who liked to talk), this felt a little more palatable. She suggested I partner with a friend in creating a show. I knew exactly who to call.
My friend Paige Eavenson is someone who is always up for an adventure. A natural storyteller and a self-proclaimed “friend collector”, Paige can win over even the toughest critic. She added me to her collection of friends when we both lived in Tampa, having served together on our church’s women’s ministry team. She is the Lucy to my Ethel and I couldn’t imagine starting a podcast with anyone else.
We launched our show - The Page of Our Lives - on May 10, 2021. At first, it felt like we were building the airplane mid-flight. Neither of us had ever made a podcast, but thanks to a lot of Google searches we figured it out. To date, we’ve published 38 episodes and had over 4,000 listeners.
In case you’ve never heard our show, here’s a recent episode where I get vulnerable about the journey I’ve been on over the last year. You can also subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player so you never miss an episode.
The next door was one I chose to close.
Over the summer as I jumped into writing my book and building the podcast, I could sense a shift was coming. I was still working full time as a groups director for our church and trying to find time on the side to write and record.
There were so many things about this role that were a perfect fit for me. Yet as much as I loved my job, I found I couldn’t wait to get back to my moments of writing and podcasting. Creating felt effortless and it was bringing me so much joy. I knew it was time to give my full self to the process and see what happened. So, with Jon’s support, I turned in my resignation at church to spend the next six months writing and finishing the book.
The most recent open door came from opening doors for others.
As I stepped through the new door of writing full time, I reconnected with two of the friends I’d met as part of Joy’s writing cohort. All three of us are on similar journeys of writing books and trying to figure out how to get a publisher to take us seriously. None of us are TikTok famous. None of us has thousands of Instagram followers. None of us have ever gone viral. But we have a common desire to see our words in the hands of readers…and we’ve all heard no in one way or another on our quest to get there.
One day, while commiserating about our collective no’s, we came up with an idea to create a way for fellow unknown authors like ourselves to be celebrated and published regardless of platform size.
The more we talked, the more the idea started taking shape. And on March 1, 2022, we launched The Unknown Authors Club, a social community and publishing platform designed to celebrate some of the best authors you haven’t yet read.
Through our Instagram account and our monthly newsletter we will introduce you to some fantastic authors who have yet to hit the best sellers list. And later this year we will publish our first anthology, featuring work from fellow unknown authors.
Sometimes in life you have to create what you want to be a part of. That’s the heart behind The Unknown Authors Club - creating a place for writers and authors to be highlighted, regardless of influencer status.
What door will open next?
As I wrap up this newsletter, I have no idea where the next door will lead. It’s been one year since this journey began. I’ve learned so much walking through each door and the experiences that have come on the other side.
My six month sabbatical as a bohemian writer is coming to an end. I’m almost done with my book (yay), so now my focus shifts to finding a job, and editing and sending my proposal around to a few agents to see if they’d like to represent me in pitching my book to a publisher. And if the answer’s still no, that’s okay. I am going to publish my book. I’m just thankful I won’t have to become TikTok famous to do it.
Keep laughing about the little things,