Meeting two authors in one night is an amazing treat, but when they drop knowledge, it’s even more amazing. That knowledge: build your reputation as a writer before your work comes out.

Jade Chang of The Wangs vs. The World and Natashia Deón of Grace spoke together at a Women’s National Book Association meeting last Wednesday night at Skylight Books in Los Angeles.

At the event, the authors dove into what inspired them to write their novels and how being a woman writer — especially women of color writers — affected their work. They spoke about their past experiences and how it took them both about eight years to get to the finish line for their debut novels. 

It turned out they both completed the same fellowship. After the talk, I went up to Chang to tell her how much I adored her book, which I had conveniently finished earlier in the day. Then I went to Deón to buy her book since my daily attempts to win a Goodreads giveaway seemed to be fruitless.

They suggested applying for the literary fellowships that would be convenient to your life, e.g. you can keep your day job if necessary, to learn about the publishing industry and how to navigate it. If you don’t have a masters in fine arts in creative writing, these fellowships can help lessen the barriers of entering the publishing industry.