The Women’s National Book Association Los Angeles chapter held its annual Great Group Reads event at Skylight Books last week to ring in National Reading Group Month. Along with the announcement of the books we as an organization designated as must-reads over the next year, our chapter welcomed three notable authors to share how they navigated the imperfect road to publication.

The author of best-selling Hello, Sunshine and Eight Hundred Grapes, Laura Dave said though she has several novels now under her belt she had lost her first book to a liquid spill on her laptop. Only the first chapter was backed up. Despite the pitfall, she started over with a new novel while juggling 15 gigs at the time.

Also on the panel was Robinne Lee, an actress recognizable for her roles in the Fifty Shades of Grey series and Seven Pounds, who is experiencing debut novel success with The Idea of You. The top-ranking “romance” novel took her 15 months to complete. How did she do it? She said she lugged her laptop everywhere from movie sets to Starbucks, taking advantage of every free moment to write.

Former celebrity wife and reality star Gretchen Bonaduce gained fame from being married to Danny Bonaduce of Partridge Family fame. So when she decided to write a memoir after people told her she could tell her story in comical way, she said it was hard to get published. Like a lot of writers, she said she didn’t realize the amount of rejection she would see. Weighed down by rejection, she said she looked for alternative ways to publish her book and found an indie publisher for Surviving Agent Orange: And Other Things I Learned From Being Thrown Under the Partridge Family Bus.

The major takeaways from this event:

  • Back up your work – Use programs such as Google Drive to keep your work in the cloud in case your computer or flash drive go missing. Also, save on your computer and flash drive. Have a “receptacle” document or program where you can place extra chunks of work for later or keep notes, then back that up, too.
  • Carve out time – Within your busy schedule, see if there’s a block of time you can take for yourself to write. Anywhere from half an hour and up every day or a few times a week can propel your novel. Treat this time like it’s a fixed class or job, so you can stick with it. When it’s not sticking anymore, change it. Writing time might not be fixed with changing every week, but carve out the time ahead of the week to drop in it into your schedule.
  • Look for alternative avenues – Querying can mean a mountain of rejections. Some authors keep going no matter what while other authors look for indie publishing and self-publishing options. With more and more authors taking advantage of self-publishing models through outlets such as, the traditional route may not be ideal for every author.

WNBA-LA organizes events featuring great women authors who luckily reside in the Los Angeles area. What’s so great about these events is that authors share their adventures and misadventures of trying to get their work out there in the world. These pearls of wisdom could be enhanced with actually interacting with the authors in person, more personal than social media exchanges. Follow @wnba_la on Instagram and @WNBA_LA on Twitter.