SHE LIT: After Years of Revisions, a Writing Win🏆

It’s Women’s History Month every day here.

After winning a literary contest, how do you prepare to promote yourself as an author?

Ringing in Women’s History Month with my own personal historical achievement: I won in the middle grade/young adult category for the Black Creatives Revisions Workshop.

The program was sponsored by literary advocacy organization We Need Diverse Books and mega-publisher Penguin Random House. After years of submitting stories to fellowships, I finally nabbed a fellowship and won the grand prize!

The workshop lasted four months in 2022 from May to September. My cohort and I submitted our revised manuscripts to Penguin Random House at the end. The application required a completed draft manuscript, as the main focus of the workshop was to prep that manuscript for publication.

While spending those months on trying to perfect my story to the best of my ability, I got married, left a job, started a job, and brainstormed my next idea for a novel.

My manuscript now is being considered for publication at Penguin Random House. The workshop, like many other opportunities, doesn’t guarantee a publishing contract, but I feel much closer to one. I’m still querying literary agents. I have to keep writing because luckily my story ideas keep overflowing like a waterfall.

Though I had submitted to programs in the past, I plan to rev up submissions for short story prizes. Once this thought entered my mind, I noticed Kima Jones post an informational reel about submitting short stories and keeping track of those stories. She is a veteran on these matters: She won the PEN America fellowship in 2013 and created her own retreat with Jack Jones Literary Arts. Her memoir, Butch, is expected to be released this fall.

Boosting yourself up as a future author is hard. You have to be strategic, like amassing thousands of social media followers, a requirement for some literary agents. You have to figure out a media brand when you don’t have a book out in the world. As a journalist, I have hundreds of articles under my byline, but a book is a different beast.

For the same manuscript in a rougher form, I also had the honor to be longlisted by the inaugural Voyage YA First Chapters contest. I didn’t boast about that honor because of the longlisting. I wanted to win the top prizes, but reflecting back, I still should’ve hurrahed louder for the fact my work was recognized.

This blog has given me great insight into the publishing industry. I started the blog after realizing that I had a lot of work to do to become a traditionally published author. Even authors who self-publish still have to research the best ways to get their books distributed and learn how to promote themselves and their books. Those are just the basics.

Most people who have creative writing passion knew that to make a living, they needed a day job. Fortunately, I always dreamed of being a journalist, too, and that dream felt more attainable. Living the multipassionate life is a struggle, but when you imagine yourself as an author, all those actions you have to take become more visible. And it’s nice when your work also becomes more visible.

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What we’re highlighting

Women are publishing more books than men, study finds

Women published only a third as many books as men in 1970, but by 2020, women produced the majority of books, according to a Quartz article. The findings are from Joel Waldfogel, an economist at the University of Minnesota, who also noted that female-authored books seem to be just as enjoyable to consumers as male-authored books.

Earliest known author may have been a Mesopotamian woman

The texts of a priestess named Enheduanna from 5,000 years ago seem to be the first texts found to have been written in first person. The work was discovered in 1927 by British archeologists, but historians didn’t believe the woman from the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, now a part of modern-day Iraq, wrote the texts. Scholars now insist that she is the writer, beating out Homer by a millennium.

Older female authors are being sought out by publishers

Women in their 50, 60s, 70s, and 80s are getting their books published more in recent years, per an article in The Guardian. The reason: More readers are valuing the experiences and voices of older women. And publishers are noticing the “collected, distilled wisdom” of women over 45 means a “lifetime of reading and radicalism that is not possible for younger writers.”

Here are some March book club picks:

Also what’s lit…

Marketing maven Bozoma Saint John marked the release day for her memoir The Urgent Life: My Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by ringing the bell at Nasdaq.

Luckiest Girl Alive author and screenwriter Jessica Knoll talks the importance of preordering books while promoting her third novel Bright Young Women.

Nic Stone is celebrating the release of her 13th book, which is her original “shelved” novel, now out as Chaos Theory.

Huda Fahmy, the author behind the popular graphic novel Huda F Are You?, has a forthcoming sequel Huda F Cares? about the title character’s Muslim family road-tripping to Disney World.

Singer and book club celebrity Amerie shared details about her debut picture book You Will Do Great Things on

What we’re reviewing

What we’re watching

Daisy Jones & the Six premieres today on Amazon Prime Video. The adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s best-selling novel centers on a 1970s Fleetwood Mac-like rock band. With book club celebrity and book-to-TV producer Reese Witherspoon behind the scenes, the miniseries stars Riley Keough of the Presley dynasty as lead singer Daisy as she embarks on a trip with her band to worldwide fame. The fictional band’s album is also streaming on Spotify.

What the plans are

Tucson Festival of Books takes place this weekend on the University of Arizona campus. Expect to see authors like Jemele Hill, Angie Cruz, and Lorna Dee Cervantes, with a Sunday appearance by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Southwest Florida Reading Festival at the Fort Myers Regional Library also happens this Saturday, featuring authors Alka Joshi, Kalynn Bayron, and Meg Medina.

North Texas Teen Book Festival starts today and continues tomorrow at the Irvington Convention Center. Fellow panelists and Whiteout co-authors Angie Thomas, Dhonielle Clayton, and Nic Stone join a roster of other middle grade and young adult writers.

Where the opportunities are

Milkweed Editions needs an advancement director to help the indie press with its fundraising campaigns.

Chronicle Books is hiring three early-career designers for its design fellowship program to focus on books and gifts.

Voyage YA is looking for young adult short story and poetry submissions for its second anthology.

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