No writer has the same path to publication, and there is no right or wrong way to get published (aside from getting snagged up in a vanity press scam I'd say).
My path to my first publication begins in college. As a student studying creative writing I submitted to my college's literary magazine and ultimately ended up with two poems and a short story accepted and published before I graduated. I can still remember the total rush with that very first acceptance letter that sent my heart pounding. I could hardly believe the words and wanted immediatly to feel it again.
After I graduated, I kept submitting my work, but writing started to fall to the side as I struggled to find a job and a stable life outside of college. In 2011 I made a New Year's Resolution to focus more on my writing and decided to kick that off by attending a convention with what looked like a great set of panels about writing. In February I went to Connooga and attended almost every panel on writing. I met a lot of new friends and had an amazing time, learning and asking questions.
I went to a few more conventions with writing tracks that year and eventually got brave enough to ask one of the writers I'd met, Sean Taylor, to read over my work. He enjoyed my short story enough to recommend me to Pro Se Productions, a publisher looking for writers for a new character, The Pulptress. I accepted and fell in love with the character, and the world of pulp writing.
I learned a lot while working on my first story for The Pulptress collection. The biggest lesson was recovering from disastor when my drive corrupted and I lost 80% of my story and had to start over with the deadline on top of me. The editor, Tommy, worked closely with me on the story, and when the book came out I could hardly believe it was real. Me with my name in a book on Amazon!
Around this time I made the decision to hide on to graduate school for my MFA in Poetry. The Pulptress did well and I was approached about writing two standalone books about the characters I'd introduced. I couldn't say yes fast enough. Again I learned a lot of valuable lessons as I struggled to balance writing my first digest novel, The Bone Queen, with grad school. I dropped out of the MFA program and switched to an MA degree where I could spend more time researching. I got a dreadful stomach flu that knocked me out for nearly two weeks. Crisis hit, and I just barely turned in a draft ahead of the deadline.
And boy it was a bad draft!
Rather than tossing me out on my butt, Pro Se worked with me and together we came up with a digest novel I love. That digest novel wouldn't be what it is without all the time and effort Tommy put in with me and I'll always be insanely proud of it. The cover turned out incredible and for the first time, I really felt like an author. I sat on panels as a panelist. People asked me questions; people could buy my books at conventions. It was a dream come true.
The next digest novel went smoother as I learned more about writing under a deadline. I finished grad school, got a new job, moved, and found a routine. I sent out short stories, and started working on more projects. By the time my next digest novel, The Pulptress versus The Bone Queen, came out I felt more confident as a writer and had started to figure out myself as a writer.
Writing taught me a lot about myself, and a lot about how I operate. I've learned I'm tough and that I will do everything in my power to meet deadlines. I've learned how to take critiques and roll with them to make a better story. I'm still finding my voice, but I feel much more sure in it than I ever have before. While I've move into other genres, I'll always be thankful to the start the pulp, and Pro Se gave me. I wouldn't be the writer I am without the time working with some amazing editors and publishers.
It seems appropriate starting a new year by looking back at where I've come from as a writer and I'm amazed at how far I've come since just 2011. It's only been 5 years but I feel like an entirely new person.
Here's to seeing where 2016 takes my writing and my life!
Happy New Year!