THE Key Ingredient for Longevity as an Author

It’s not natural ability. Many bestselling authors didn’t start with that. Not skill. You can work and study until you learn it. Not even stubbornness (though that helps).

Writing is wonderful. But breaking into authorship, whether you choose indie, small press or NY, is an endeavor that will tear you up, break you down, and has killed the love of writing for many. Suffice it to say…it ain’t easy.

From the outside, it looks like a blast. This is what it looks like to others:  You spend your days playing with characters and the story in your head. By the end, you’re published to the sound of trumpets, and the $ and acclaim rolls in.

Not so much. Sure lightning strikes sometimes, but if you do the math, not so freaking often.

See, authors don’t talk about the hard stuff in public. We’ll talk about it with trusted friends, usually other authors who get it.  Well, I’m going to talk about it. Strap yourself in.

It took me 8 years, 3 books and 413 rejections before I signed with an agent. My first book came out in 2013. It won a coveted RITA award, and I figured I’d finally arrived. I contacted my editor and agent, asking what we could do to capitalize on the win with marketing. They told me, ‘Oh, nothing. See, that means a lot to authors, but it doesn’t mean anything to the market, or to readers.’

I kept writing and selling to New York publishers. I never attained best-seller status, but I had a dedicated readership, and I had hope that the next book would hit.

Seven books later I got a new 3 book contract. The editors told me, ‘You can set your own deadline, but then you won’t have a book a year out, and your momentum could fizzle…but really, work at your own pace.’

I wrote 3 books in eighteen months. I was fried. I was bored. I wanted to try something new.

So I began writing Women’s Fiction, and my love of writing was reborn. I’d written one before, so I dusted it off and my agent took FOR ROGER to New York (warning me that if it sold, I’d have to take on a new author name.) After looking at my sales numbers, no one bought it. My agent suggested a respected small press. I wanted that book out, so I said yes.

Well he didn’t want that book. He said if I changed it–suggested something along the lines of Me Before You. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that book, but that wasn’t the book I wanted to write, so I put it back in the drawer, and wrote two other books for him. Due to  unforeseen financial circumstances at the publisher, and despite 4.8 and 5 star average reviews on Amazon, the books didn’t take off in the marketplace.

Sigh. But with no contract on the horizon and no deadlines, I pulled For Roger out of the drawer and rewrote it, and in the process found what I’d meant to say all along. My agent sent it to two of the biggest NY publishers. The one I’d most like to be with rejected it. My agent said my sales numbers weren’t good enough for NY to take a chance on me.

Well, today is my 69th birthday. I didn’t have time or patience to wait any longer. I believed in this book. So I am self publishing it. It comes out tomorrow.

You must think I’ve forgotten what this subject was about–I haven’t. Hang in–I’m almost there.

I gave the book to a big-time reviewer, and chewed my nails to see what he’d think. I took chances with this book – It’s about tough subjects, and though I don’t leave readers in a bad place, much of it is sad.

The whole review is here

But here is an excerpt: 5 STARS Highly recommend. One of his top 4 reads of 2023.

‘Phenomenal. I’m writing this review roughly 12 hrs after finishing the book, and I am still in awe of what Drake was able to do here.’

‘Drake proves herself capable of at minimum holding her own with even the masters of these spaces who only write explicitly within them, such as John Grisham’s legal thrillers.’

‘Drake crafts into a moving and poignant tale of one particular family struggling to navigate these very complicated and delicate issues.’

So I’ve finally come around to the key ingredient for writers to become authors: belief in yourself.

Look, I know this is only one opinion. I won’t know what readers think for a month or more. But that I touched one veteran reader–made him think, made him feel at a deep level–that feels like my belief was vindicated.

And that’s enough for me.




  1. Liz Flaherty on November 25, 2023 at 7:17 am

    A great post. So sad and so true. I’ve loved your women’s fiction a lot and am anxious to delve into For Roger.

    • LauraDrake on November 25, 2023 at 7:22 am

      Thanks, Liz. This is a crazy, rocky road business that leads you places you hadn’t expected…but if you can bend, you won’t break.

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