Become a Fan
After receiving the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer 2000 PEN Award for "Façades," Alex Marcoux was asked to write an article regarding her experience of becoming published. The article, "The Heart and Soul to Becoming Published," was in the January 2001 edition of the Rocky Mountain Writer.
In the mid-90’s, while on a quest to understand my soul’s purpose, I learned that I could fulfill part of my mission-in-life by writing. This surprised me because the thought of writing a letter horrified me, and while I was in high school and college the only subjects I did not excel at were English and Writing. I also didn’t believe I was creative enough to develop a story worthy of publication. After years of denying my fate, the universe kindly suggested (as kind as it gets) that I try… and since that time I haven’t stopped writing. In a very short period, I was able to write my first novel (Façades), attract a mid-size publisher, and now my second novel (Back to Salem) is being released next summer.
I’m often asked, how did I find the secret handshake so quickly and become published? It’s not a handshake– it’s the heart and soul.
Before I wrote Façades, I had heard that becoming published was very difficult. I never realized just how difficult until I had finished Façades and I attended my first writer’s conference. It was then I knew that I needed to abandon the facts. I refused to believe that I would become a statistic. I knew that Façades was somehow part of my soul’s purpose and believed it would be published, and soon. Three weeks later, I received a lead. The Haworth Press, which was traditionally a scholarly press, would introduce fiction under a new imprint, Alice Street Editions. Using my best detective skills, I learned who the new acquisitions editor would be, and her address. My manuscript arrived before any other manuscripts…five days after I mailed the manuscript to NYC, I heard from the editor.
Yes, my story is about being incredibly lucky. But it’s also about believing. Knowing that Façades was part of my soul’s purpose helped me not buy into the difficulties of becoming published. Many of us fall into the trap and accept the premise that becoming published is a next-to-impossible feat. When we do this, it becomes our reality. Is that the power of suggestion? Perhaps. Manifestation? Possibly. Instead of accepting the difficulties of becoming published, ask yourself this–do you have the desire to become published? Can you see it? If yes, then you must believe it.
But why do you write? Is it money? Fame? Fortune? Probably not. I don’t believe even the most successful authors write because of money. Do you write because it’s an unexplainable drive? A passion? A sense of purpose? I think most write because they are called to write. It’s somehow part of our soul’s purpose. Whether we know this purpose or not, that’s not important. What is important is that we believe in ourselves, and our work. I don’t believe any of us are meant to fail.
Of course believing in ourselves is not enough. We do need to go through the process of getting the words on paper and into a commercially acceptable form, and somehow attract a publisher. How we accomplish this is the heart to becoming published.
We need to develop habits of discipline. Before I started to write, I had nurtured Façades in my head for three years. I knew the story was good, but I had an overwhelming fear of failure. At the time, I believed that if I were meant to write this story, the universe would bless me with an incredible allotment of free time. As it was, I was in a committed relationship; I had a toddler; and an ongoing business with my partner. Free time was truly a scarcity. Yet, I couldn’t shake my story. Then I made a commitment. Every morning I got up two-hours earlier and wrote, and at night after my son was in bed, again, I wrote. I would never have finished Façades if I didn’t adopt this routine, and to this day I still use this schedule.
Exhaust your resources and your leads when writing and seeking a publisher. I hate clichés, but go the extra mile and take pride in your work. I wouldn’t focus on writing within the trends of market, because by the time your project is completed, what was hot won’t be. Write about what turns you on, what you are drawn to, and what is drawn to you. Don’t just write about things that you’re familiar with; do research, it’s fun. In my second novel (Back to Salem), I had the mystery climax during a five-day rafting trip through the upper Grand Canyon. Guess what I did for vacation last year?
Somewhere along the line, I realized that the universe was at the heart of my stories. The universe not only helped develop and write my stories but also guided me to my publisher. Don’t only pursue logic, follow your gut and your intuition, and listen to what the universe is telling you. After my publisher approached me I checked them out, as I had some concerns since this would be the publisher’s first shot at fiction. While at a conference and pondering this, three people named Alice were introduced to me within an hour. I interpreted this, as the universe’s way of saying Alice Street Editions would do a good job publishing my book.
Since I’ve started to write, I’ve experienced more happiness than ever before. Things just seem to be coming together. It’s very confirming that this is what I’m supposed to be doing. When things are clicking for you, ask yourself–what are you doing right? When things aren’t clicking, be open to change.
For everyone that is seeking to be published–use your heart and soul. Do the best you possibly can. Have the desire to become published, see it and believe it.