Welcome to the first blog on my new web site. If you haven’t already, please sign up for my newsletter, in which there will be future offers, freebies, and giveaways.

One of the things I most often am asked is, “How do you become a published author?” Here’s an article I’ve written on my journey to becoming a published author:

My novel, TRAPPED, has earned rave, “best-seller” type reviews. The most common thing I hear is, “It’s so different. I couldn’t put it down.” One reader resented having to leave the story to walk her dog.

I was “an Instant success” … or was I? Well, maybe if you consider a 23-year voyage “Instant.”

I started writing TRAPPED in 1990, and finished the first draft in about 6 months. The idea for the main character, Jackee, came from remembering a beautiful young neighbor who suffered an anesthetic accident while undergoing plastic surgery, condemning her to a vegetive state for the rest of her life.

I imagined Jackee, while physically comatose, as still sentient, sharp of mind and able to move her eyes. I knew nothing of the real condition, “Locked-in Syndrome” at the time. Since Jackee was immobile, I decided I needed a side plot … something to provide some physical action.

I spent more months editing, polishing, rewriting, until I had a story I loved. Surely the publishing world would love it, too, so off to the library, seeking books with lists of agents. Reference books had article on how to write a query letter. I listed agents who specialized in suspense fiction, and sent off about 15 queries, confident one or more would find TRAPPED as compelling as I did.

Soon responses trickled back, form letters mostly, with the pretty universal rejection comment, “It’s just not right for me. I’m sure another agent may be interested.”

Unfortunately, none of those other agents were interested, despite several more batches of queries. All the pros urged the “newbie” not to be discouraged. Rejection is part of the game, but … well, it does get to you after a while.

Then a friend’s son-in-law in New York, a literary attorney, invited me to send the manuscript and a synopsis, and he’d see what he could do. Very impressed, he offered the manuscript to friends at a large New York Agency. Things were looking up!

The agent wrote that the novel had promise, but needed professional editing. He recommended Dave King, and I jumped at the chance. Dave was terrific, with lots of good input … and the suggestion I remove the side plot. It detracts from the story, he said. I worked with his other recommendations, but resisted that one change. I’d slaved over that side-plot. The rewritten TRAPPED was resubmitted, but the agent had moved, and no one else was interested.

Off went another battery of queries, and rejections kept coming. I attended several fine writers conferences, met agent and editors, learned how to improve my writing, and eventually did remove the side plot. Meanwhile, I had written three more suspense novels, but kept coming back to TRAPPED, because I felt it was something special.

I started entering fiction contests, and TRAPPED became a finalist in the Florida Writers Association RPLA contest in 2012. Then I noticed a small, independent publisher, was trying to enlarge their fiction line by running “The Next Great American Novel” contest. I was seriously considering self-publishing at the time, as I’d done for my non-fiction fishing book, TOOTHY CRITTERS LOVE FLIES. But I “girded up my loins,” and sent them TRAPPED. What could I lose, other than 350 pages of paper and some postage?

I was so unprepared when Dee Burks, editor for TAG Publishers, called me, that it took me a full minute to realize what was happening.

Everyone here loves your novel,” she said. “You’ll be a winner in our contest if you’ll allow me to edit it and make a few changes. If you’re willing to work with us, we will publish TRAPPED. Are you interested?” What a silly question!

Dee was a great editor and had some fine ideas on improving the novel. Foremost was converting the entire story to the single, 1st person, internal viewpoint of Jackee, a monumental task, but I embraced it. Every chapter dealing with other characters was eliminated, and whatever went on in those had to be discovered by Jackee, locked inside her head. Dee wanted to change the final scene, which I resisted. After listening to my arguments, she agreed, but we expanded and modified some of the last chapters, all to great effect.

And one of the most persistent comments I get is, “I loved the ending.” One reader admitted she reread it 3 times, she loved it so much. So do I!

So, that’s how I became an “Instant hit” … after 23 years of trying. Now I’ve written 8 more 5-Star rated novels and this is my platform to launch from. It’s getting there in the first place that takes all the work … and the pugnacity not to give up.

My suggestions to new authors, if you really want to get published: attend several writer’s conferences to learn what makes good writing; and use professional editors and beta readers (or critique groups) to help polish your work.

Please feel free to contact me with questions, is you wish” info@georgeabernstein.com