Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Path to Publication (February Theme, Sarah Dooley)

At a shared computer in a mountaintop boarding house, I wrote the novel in seventeen days. The fire in the wood stove crackled while the other tenants flipped channels. Law and Order. The Obama campaign. I learned to write before dawn, for the quiet.

I’d moved to Asheville by the time I revised. That’s also where I started my agent search, in a little brick house to the west. Five queries out at a time. With each rejection or extended silence, I reworked my query letter, tried again. Got a yes, followed promptly by a box of free books. Figured out I was in the right business.

After I moved into the basement apartment, we talked editors. There were two who wanted to talk to me. The other half of the basement was used as the practice space for a jazz cover band. They practiced on Thursdays, and it was a Thursday. I stood out by the road with my hand over my ear, trying to hear what each editor had to say. I was still in that basement when we got a “yes.” Followed promptly by a box of free books. Indeed. Right business.

I was back in West Virginia and staying with family by the time I finished revisions, first with my agent and then with my editor. Things were starting to happen.

Next came cover art. Bound galleys. Reviews. One exciting bit of publishing news after another. From my cold little snowbound house, it all seemed thrilling, but surreal.

In the driveway of my city apartment, holding a box of my very own books – that’s when it sunk in.

“I got … I got this book published!”

“What’s it about?” my new neighbor asked, plucking a copy off the top of the stack. He turned it over and over in his hands.

I couldn’t think what to say. I wasn’t practiced at this part yet.

“It’s about a girl,” I said, “trying to figure out where she wants to live.” 


  1. Hi Sarah! I enjoyed reading about getting your first book published. Sounds so exciting to hold your book in your hand for the first time.