…we're keeping our name but expanding our offerings!
Before you were published, what were you doing to scratch the writing itch?
I was writing—so freaking much! Every day, all the time, with gnarled hands and a hunchy spine and bloodshot eyes all that good stuff. And I was reading like a fiend.
How did you end up getting your first book published?
THE SILVERS is my first book under this name, but the very first book I got published was under a different name. I was in grad school at the time, and I had written THE SILVERS but had gotten a couple of rejection letters from agents saying there wouldn’t be enough of a market for it. I think the fear of knowing I would graduate soon and would have to face the real world motivated me to try something new. So I took a break from querying and wrote a BDSM romance. Getting published under the pen name helped me understand the indie market a little better, so that I was eventually able to find a place for THE SILVERS.
Was the process anything like you imagined? What fit the dream? What was different/surprised you?
One of my all time favorite quotes about publication is from Anne Lamott’s book BIRD BY BIRD:
“There is something mythic about the date of publication, and you actually come to believe that on this one particular morning you will wake up to the phone ringing off the hook and your publisher will be so excited that they will have hired the Blue Angels precision flying team to buzz your squalid little hovel, which you will be moving out of as soon as sales of the book really take off.”
She goes on to say it’s nothing like that, so I was warned! But I was still excited.
A few months before my first book was accepted, I actually had a conversation with my mom about how I was afraid if I ever did get published, the experience would turn out to be disappointing. But really, it’s been fantastic. Having deadlines keeps me on track (sort of), I love working with editors, and getting to connect with fellow readers and writers is the best.
What’s different? I definitely had an antiquated idea of authors as hermits who lived out in the woods and were just…always writing. I had no idea I’d have to learn to use Twitter. And continue to do things like grocery shop. I thought once you were published, groceries materialized and your mom would say things like, “Let me do your taxes for you, honey. You’re obviously busy writing.” No dice.
How long did it take you to write your first published book?
My first pen name book took a month to draft and another couple of months of edits and rewrites. It was a very quick process. THE SILVERS took three and a half years—one month to draft, several months of sitting on it, several months of rewriting, and several more months to find a publisher that would take it.
What’s your advice to unpublished authors trying to get their work read?
Can I do the really cliché thing and say never give up? Seriously, walls are coming down all over the place in the publishing world. You can write pretty much anything you want to write and there is someone out there who will take a chance on it.
Is writing not as fun/as fun/more fun once you have your first book published?
Every bit as fun. The only thing that changes is there’s a bit more pressure. You feel like you have to finish what you start, and as you learn a little more about the marketing side, you’re able to tell when you’ve written something that might not make much money. And then you have to decide whether to write exactly what you want, or try to write what sells. Hopefully you find a balance.
What’s next up for you?
A dark, semi-gothic YA about a boarding school that teaches girls not to feel, and a supernatural Western/horror-y thing about a town under a terrible curse and two gunslinging women who get tangled up in the mayhem.
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JILL SMITH’S WEBSITE CAN BE FOUND HERE.