ROW80 Check-In 10: Rae Carson’s success story

Hello gentle reader and fellow writers,

This week I have been hearing a lot about a British teenage writer who got a 6-figure book deal in less than 2 years. As dreamlike as these publishing stories are, I wanted to highlight another author’s story today.

Rae Carson is a YA High Fantasy author whose first book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, came out in 2011. It was a nominee for the Andre Norton Award and the William C. Morris YA Debut Award. It was also an ALA (American Library Association) Top 10 Best Fiction for Young Adults honoree in 2012. The second book in The Fire and Thorns Trilogy, entitled The Crown of Embers, is coming out on September 18th 2012. Her third book, The Bitter Kingdom, will be published in 2013. In June 2012, she sold a new romantic fantasy trilogy set during the American gold rush to HarperCollins’s Greenwillow Books.


Rae’s journey into publishing is interesting because it was slow. She became serious about writing back in 2004, and it took her 7 years to get a book published. Along the way she sold a couple of short stories, wrote a first book which is still in her drawer, then in 2005 she wrote the first draft of The Girl of Fire and Thorns. She got an agent, and never sold the novel to a publisher. So she revised it and decided to go with another agent, who managed to sell the book within 24 hours. It took then another couple of years to have the book sitting on bookshelves in bookstores.

Here is what Rae says on her website:

I graduated college with a degree in Social Science–which qualified me to flip burgers–and a mound of education debt. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up.

Well, that’s not true. I did know. I wanted to be a novelist. But that just wasn’t practical, and I had to come up with something else. I had to have a Plan B. So I tried bank tellering, secretarial work, customer service, inside sales, substitute teaching, data entry, logistics, and even machine shop-ing. I didn’t enjoy any of it.

In 2004, after quitting a very high paying job in a very toxic atmosphere, I decided to get serious about writing. It was the only thing I kept coming back to, the one thing that had held my interest over time and distance and lots of life change. So I joined the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror where I met my future best friends, my future husband, and my calling.

I spent the next few years happily writing awful stuff. During this time, I got to know C.C. Finlay online, and after going on three real-life dates, I moved from California to Ohio to marry him. The writing became a lot less awful, and eventually I sold my first novel to Greenwillow/HarperCollins.

Hindsight is easy, I know, and writing about the awkwardness of adolescence is way easier than living it. But I can say unequivocally that although growing up is hard, it’s totally worth it. It’s possible to become your better self. And dreams, no matter how impractical, are made to be pursued.”

So do you find this story inspirational? Do you believe the traditional route to publishing is too slow? Or does it guarantee great books from great authors for readers? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comment section!

You can find Rae Carson on Twitter and Facebook.

To write this post, I have used:

My ROW80 update for this week:

this week I have tried writing a short story AND revising my WIP The Last Queen. The reuslt is that I have a unfinished short story and I’m late in my revisions. So for the last week of this round, I need to focus on revisions.

How are you other ROWers doing? Here is the Linky to support each other!

12 thoughts on “ROW80 Check-In 10: Rae Carson’s success story

  1. Shah Wharton says:

    Gloom – revisions! Mine are never ending 🙂 Good luck X

  2. S. J. Maylee says:

    Revisions do seem to never end, I try to be writing something else at the same time, although that’s hard to do. I just read an author say she only does 3 or 4 passes on a WIP before sending it to betas. Interesting, she puts a limit on her fixing, she says she doesn’t want to write out her voice.
    Love Rae’s story and I have not read her books yet, they are going on my TBR list. Love this, It’s possible to become your better self. And dreams, no matter how impractical, are made to be pursued.”
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. I can get sucked in by revisions – to me, they’re so much easier than writing it in the first place! Good luck on yours, and thanks for introducing me to a new author!

  4. EM Castellan says:

    Thank you and you’re welcome !

  5. Tessa Sheppard says:

    An inspirational story. Thank you. I hope to have success like hers someday.

  6. EM Castellan says:

    Don’t give up on your writing dream and I’m sure you will! Thanks for following my blog 🙂

  7. Juliana Haygert says:

    I love reading about happy publishing stories! Thanks for sharing, EM!

  8. EM Castellan says:

    I know, right? They always make me feel better 🙂

  9. Julie Glover says:

    I love that story! I think it’s far more typical than the outliers we often hear about–for writers to persevere, learn, and grow before they are published and successful. I also relate entirely to the feeling that being a novelist seemed so impractical. I would have been writing years ago if I had thought I could actually do something like that!

    Best wishes with the revisions! Hope it’s been a good ROW80 for you.

  10. EM Castellan says:

    Hope you had a good ROW80 round too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s