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  • Writer's pictureKelsey Kicklighter

How I Got My Publishing Contract

Spoiler alert: I'm still trying to figure that out myself.

Anyone who has ever looked into publishing knows there are tons of pathways that can get you there. But if you're focused on traditional publishing, the first basic step is to find an agent through the querying process.

I... kinda skipped that part. But more on that later.

It's then your agent's job to pitch your manuscript to publishing houses. Once your manuscript finds a home, your agent will be the one negotiating to get you the best deal.

It is an excruciatingly long process that is guaranteed to garner at least one rejection, probably dozens more. Each one will be gut-wrenching. This has always been a terrifying concept for me.

When my job turned into a work-from-home situation in March of 2020, four days before my 30th birthday, I took it as a sign. If I was ever going to take my writing seriously, it was then - or never. (I said this while holding my then three-month-old son. I was clearly delusional.) I gave myself a two-and-a-half month deadline to finish (and polish) my manuscript so it would be ready for an event that I'd been lurking on for about two years: PitMad.

If you're on Twitter and in any writing circles, you may have heard of PitMad, the online event where writers pitch their manuscripts in 280 characters or less. Agents can then come along and request that an author send them their work by 'liking' a tweet. If you want more info on the contest, definitely check out their website, which I've linked above.

I'm not really sure how I managed to pull it off (except that I have an amazingly supportive partner and ex-gifted kid syndrome).

Actual footage of me trying to reach that deadline.

I agonized over my pitch for weeks, but was lucky enough that it caught the eye of one of the acquiring agents at The Parliament House. I was querying two other agents when I sent Parliament House my sample pages. One of the other agents I never heard back from, and the other declined (I was right; it was devastating), but Parliament House was the first to ask for my full manuscript, and extend an offer of publication. That moment was pure elation itself - I was giddy and light-headed and mostly just couldn't believe that someone took a look at my weird little faeries and decided their story needed to be told.

Now that I'm actually in the publishing process, I had a few folks on Booktok ask me what it's like - so I'll try to keep you as updated as possible while we bring Of Beast & Burden to life. But fair warning, what I've learned so far is that publishing is a long game.

Be sure to let me know if there's anything specific you want to know - I'm always happy to answer questions!


Of Beast & Burden is a Young Adult Fantasy novel coming May 10th, 2022. You can add the book on Goodreads or pre-order it on Amazon.

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