My Book is Coming Out This Month. Here are Ten Things I Learned on the Way to Getting Published.

My Book is Coming Out This Month. Here are Ten Things I Learned on the Way to Getting Published.


For all you writers out there currently embarking (or getting ready to embark) on this potentially soul-battering journey, I hope this helps you get your book on track. At the very least, just know you’re not alone in this. 


By Luisa Colón


My horror novel, Bad Moon Rising, is coming out this month. How many years have I waited to be able to say those words? I can tell you exactly, because I’ve been counting. It’s been almost eight years since I started writing my book. The path to publication, while ultimately resulting in the most rewarding creative project I’ve ever done, has been, quite frankly, torturous. Here are some things I learned along the way that might be helpful. 

  1. Get ready to play the long game. You’ve probably read those stories about writers who dashed off their first novel and signed with an agent mere days or weeks after sending out their first query. This is rare, and unlikely. Also infuriating. 


  1. After I sent out queries, a lot of people advised me to get to work on my next project. I did—it’s a good way to creatively move forward without being anointed by an agent or publisher. But I didn’t move on entirely; I also made sure to stay on top of my book’s queries and rewrites. 


  1. Also, you might not need an agent. I queried over a hundred agents and received over a hundred assorted rejections. Then I finally signed with agents, but it didn’t work out. I ended up reaching out to Cemetery Dance Publications all by myself and blessedly connected with Kevin Lucia there.


  1. If someone—publisher or agent—wants to change your book, are you willing to change it? If so, how willing are you? You may bristle against even the slightest suggestion, but is there a point where you should listen and maybe even implement those changes? Why, yes, there is. 


To kill or not to kill: my sister’s story  

My sister Suzan Colón is the (published) author of books that include the fabulous non-fiction Yoga Mind and the also fabulous romantic fiction Beach Glass. In the latter, Suzan did something that I thought was pretty rad (note: do not ask me for advice on making specific changes in your book!): she killed off one of the book’s heroes. “As the writer’s saying goes, ‘Kill your darlings,’” Suzan recalls. “I’d created this hero who was so good…maybe too good… My publisher, my editor, even my mother, who didn’t speak to me for a while because I’d killed this great guy, begged me not to do this,” she continues. “I claimed artistic license and went ahead with it, thinking that if everyone hated it, I must be on to something new and different.” The result? “Readers loved the book…and hated that I killed my hero,” she says. “They were so disappointed that, a few years later, I wrote an alternate ending where—surprise!—he lives, and I gave the new chapters away for free on my website.” 


  1. I made some changes to Bad Moon Rising after receiving some consistent feedback. I had gone into a lot of detail about one characters’ family; agents and publishers made it clear that it wasn’t interesting to them. Of course your own novel feels like family, and I cared about these characters. It was so difficult to let them go. But at a certain point, if you hear something enough, it’s a good idea to stop and listen and think about if the feedback has some validity. 


  1. Some other consistent feedback about my book was that it was too disturbing. After careful reflection, I toned down some of the icky parts, but held steadfastly to others, because I decided they were important to me and important to the book. 


  1. Having said that… if someone is telling you your book is too disturbing, and your book is in the horror genre, then wave goodbye to those people and keep driving. Enjoy the sight of them receding in your rearview mirror. The most insane shit happens in horror novels. I really can’t possibly fathom that you, or anyone, has come up with stuff that is “too disturbing” to publish. (Hi, Splatterpunk? This is Too Disturbing calling.) If they have, I certainly don’t want to read it, but I’m sure there’s an audience!


  1. Ask yourself this: “What is more important to me, sticking to my vision? Or increasing my chances of being published?” There’s no right or wrong answer, and no judgment here. But it’s a good idea to decide on your priorities so you can make things happen. 


  1. Remember, you are your book and your book is you. So above all else, to thine own self be true. (With a hat tip to William Shakespeare.) You are the only person who can ultimately decide what you want—for your characters, for your story arc, for yourself as a writer. 


  1. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, many many times, but maybe the biggest piece of advice I can give not just to fellow writers but as a general life rule, is to find your people. It’s like what people say about being in a romantic relationship—if your partner wants to change you, or makes you feel bad about who you are, they are not the partner for you. Similarly, if you are committed to your book, and to your vision, find the people who will commit to your book and your vision, too. You and your creative work deserve it. 

About Bad Moon Rising:

Synopsis: In Gravesend, Brooklyn, sixteen-year-old Elodia is an outcast at school, at odds with her father, and longing for her mysteriously absent mother. Lonely and isolated, Elodia knows that something unspeakably terrible has happened to her—she just can’t remember what.

Miles away in upstate New York, a young man named Gabriel occupies his time by killing sparrows and searching for his birth parents. Gabriel wants to show them what a good son he can be, well-behaved and helpful and no trouble at all—until a savage betrayal plants an ever-growing seed of revenge within him.

Desperate for the promise of their past lives and future dreams, both Elodia and Gabriel are broken and scarred, their lives shattered. Their wounds run deep—and that kind of damage is irrevocable. Unchangeable. Irreversible.

… Isn’t it?

BAD MOON RISING is available for pre-order/sale at the Cemetery Dance Publications website and Amazon!

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