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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How to Become a Successful Writer--Part 4: Katie Robles

When I first read Author Katie Robles guest blogpost, I have to admit I did a double take on the post's title. If Katie's book is as vivacious and witty as her following blogpost, and I'm sure it is, I'm eager to read it. Read more about her path to publication below.

A Sexy Soupy Path to Publication
by Katie Robles

If you had told me ten years ago that I would publish nonfiction, I would have laughed in your face. If you had told me that it would be a diet book, I would have rolled on the floor in hysterics. You see, I rarely read nonfiction (I find it mostly boring) and have never been a diet girl (because diets rarely involve butter or brownies). Ten years ago I wrote my first novel, a fantasy. Over the next few years I wrote three more novels, all romances of varying subgenres. I attended a writers conference and acquired an agent—or, rather, he acquired me. At the conference that year there was a big emphasis on blogging. If you want to be a writer, you must blog. Blogging is the future! Platform is key to success! I came home and started a blog the next day.
I had no idea what an author’s blog should look like, especially a yet-to-be-published author, but the year before I had lost over twenty pounds and my cup ranneth over with healthy living tips, encouragement, and ways to make weight loss fun. (That’s right, I said fun! Read the blog.) I started a blog called Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating. I figured I could learn this blogging thing and later use those skills to start an author blog. I posted once a week and learned as I went. Some weeks I was brimming with ideas and other weeks I slumped in front of the computer hoping inspiration could be found at the bottom of my coffee mug.
Two years passed. My agent and I had nibbles, but no bites on the novels. I gathered two years worth of Sex Soup posts, edited them into a book by the same title, wrote a proposal to go with it, and shopped it around at a writers conference. I got lots of positive feedback, but no interest from editors. One month later my agent emailed with good news: I had been offered a contract from a small publishing house. The book Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating: Hilarious Weight Loss for Wives is coming out this summer. This is not where I thought I’d be when I started writing ten years ago, but I love where I am.

What works for me:

Beta readers you can trust – Before I submit any articles, short stories, novels, etc. I often have my parents read them and give feedback. Parents as beta readers doesn’t work for everyone, but mine are avid readers and aren’t afraid to critique my work honestly, so it works for us.

Writers conferences – I’ve only been to the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, but I’ve been four times. Conferences give you a look at how the industry works, gives you leads for writing opportunities you might not have considered before (devotionals, articles, etc.-some of which pay, imagine that!), gets you face to face with agents and editors, and connects you to a community of fellow writers.

Blogging – Let me clarify here. Blogging ultimately led to publication for me, but when I signed the contract, I had less than 500 followers, so it wasn’t my platform that attracted the publisher. The value I see in blogging is the discipline of writing a succinct, catchy, interesting post every week. In short, it improves your writing skills. Is an online presence beneficial to writers? Yes. Am I convinced that you must have thousands of followers to succeed as a writer? No. That might be wishful thinking since I’m releasing a book and I don’t have thousands of followers, but it is what it is.

Letting my work breathe – once I have a rough draft revised once or twice, I try to step away from it for a couple weeks or months and then come at it with fresh eyes to do the final revising.

Love what you do – writing is work and success is not guaranteed. It won’t always feel fun, but if you write what you love (and/or learn to love writing what sells and to write it in your own unique voice), then there is joy in the work.



Katie Robles spends her days raising four sons, teaching part time at the YMCA, writing, gardening, and sneaking vegetables into baked goods and entrees. Her blog Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating: Hilarious Weight Loss for Wives can be found at www.sexsoupandtwofistedeating.com

1 comment:

  1. "...I try to step away from it for a couple weeks or months and then come at it with fresh eyes to do the final revising."

    The above is excellent advice. Stephen King, in his surprisingly helpful book, On Writing (the anniversary version, which I did not read, can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Writing-10th-Anniversary-Memoir-Craft/dp/1439156816). If I recall correctly, King recommends letting a completed manuscript sit for three weeks. I found this to be roughly as easy to do as holding my breath for ten minutes; just the same, when I have been able to let a manuscript sit it has proved well worth the wait. The gap in time often leads to the sad, well-known but often beneficial, "Did I really write this?" experience.

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