Road to Publication (Paved in Book Events)

Louisiana Book Festival

Books displayed at the State Library of Louisiana during the 2011 Louisiana Book Festival

Today’s guest post is by Darrelyn Saloom, who I first met in December 2008 at a Writer’s Digest event. Her career reached a major milestone over the summer: a book deal with Glasnevin Publishing in Ireland, which has now released My Call to the Ring, the life story of boxing champion Deirdre Gogarty.

While collaborating on a memoir with boxer Deirdre Gogarty, I never doubted we would find a publisher for the book. Captivated by her story, fear evaded me until I typed THE END and had to compose query letters to agents. I held no MFA in Creative Writing. I had no grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. My Facebook About page read: “Dropped out of high school. Hitchhiked to Oregon and picked beans on a farm. Came home. Married a few good men. Had three sons. Went to college in my thirties. Fell in love with writing.”

Not exactly résumé worthy.

I did have one chicken feather in my cap. I’d been guest blogging for former Writer’s Digest publisher Jane Friedman since I met her at a conference in 2008. So I mentioned that in my post to agents and added the manuscript was a true story of how Deirdre Gogarty became the undisputed world featherweight champion of women’s boxing in 1997.

With my letter-writing task complete, I faced another conundrum. Where to send it? I scanned long lists of literary agents and broke out in a sweat. Prone to anxiety attacks, I bailed and hired Writers Relief to choose specific agents and mail three or four batches of 25-30 query letters over I-don’t-know how many months. It was not a good time as I stretched my legs on a daily trek to the mailbox to collect rejection Post-It notes. Most were kind, prompt, and professional. The rest were not. A year’s worth of queries spurred numerous letters of encouragement but no contract.

Perhaps I should’ve noted to agents the workshops and book events I had attended. My favorite was Rick Bragg’s WordShop “Writing in Color” at the 2009 Louisiana Book Festival. For seven hours I sat enamored as Bragg taught how to evoke emotion and bring words to life. His stories made me laugh. They made me cry. And he left me with the best advice: “Be humble,” he said. “Just tell the damn story; don’t try to impress.”

In the end, writers’ conferences and book events paved the road to publication for Deirdre Gogarty and me. The journey began at our first conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, with Jane Friedman, who taught me about building platform, and ended (after a short detour) with a single query letter sent by Deirdre to Glasnevin Publishing in Ireland, where her story began.

Deirdre and I plan to travel to boxing clubs and independent bookshops in and around Dublin in the fall, so we will miss this year’s Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge. We will be featured authors at next year’s festival. And I hope you will join us in 2013.

In the meantime, I highly recommend you visit the grounds of the Louisiana State Capitol on October 27. Promethean novelist, short story writer, playwright, columnist, essayist, and New Orleans native John Biguenet is this year’s recipent of the Louisiana Writer’s Award. And Rick Bragg, the world’s best storyteller, will return to teach another WordShop.

You never know what might happen at a book event. Friendships are made and lessons learned. With hard work and a bit of luck, a conference may lead to your own publication and future spot in a beloved library’s colorful display.

Posted in Darrelyn Saloom, Guest Post.

Darrelyn Saloom is co-author of My Call to the Ring with champion boxer, Deirdre Gogarty. It was released in summer 2012 by Glasnevin Publishing in Ireland. Most of her time is spent south of I-10 in Louisiana, on a farm with her husband, a cat, a blind dog, and thoroughbred racehorses.

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[…] Find out by following the link to my guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog, Being Human at Electric Speed. […]

kathryn magendie

I do believe it was the 2009 Festival where I was there as an author – it felt so wonderful and yet so weird, since I’d attended as a “reader” and supporter before – one of my “teehee” moments was when Wally Lamb’s wife attended the panel I was on with another author and later Mr Lamb came to my signing and bought my book!

I am so happy for you Darrelyn – such exciting news. Does it seem surreal sometimes? A happy dream *smiling* congrats!

Darrelyn Saloom

Good morning, Kat. I remember when you were there but didn’t meet you until a year or so later at another book event. I did bump into Wally Lamb in a hallway. He was surrounded by staff but his good energy was palpable. His buying your book must have been more surreal than having it published. So far, Deirdre and I have been working too hard to enjoy seeing the book in print (and on my Kindle and ipad). I am hoping that begins to change at the launch party this Sunday.


What an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing. The book is terrific. I encourage everyone to buy it and be inspired twice.

Darrelyn Saloom

Thanks, Shirley. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book.

Richard Gilbert

This is a great story and an inspiring one all around. It shows the importance of working, learning, and just plain trying. You must have a story you really believe in to hang in there, of course. In a way, that’s the ultimate test on the journey. Not does everyone else believe but do you?

Darrelyn Saloom

Thanks, Richard. After years of rewrites and edits, I never tired of the story. I’d laugh, I’d tear up, and I’d cheer as I revised. I believed in the story and persevered, but it helped to collaborate with a true champion.

LL Barkat

Still nothing like meeting in person, yes? 🙂

Someday? I hope to meet you, Darrelyn. Though that hope began with a single tweet: yours 🙂 That led to Jane, which led back to you. And here we are. (Okay, what conference will we meet at? 🙂

Darrelyn Saloom

I know, it’s so wonderful that we met with a single tweet. I will be a featured writer at next year’s Louisiana Book Festival. I’d love for you to join me. If we attend a conference sooner, let’s find one with Jane. And Porter. Btw, Deirdre and I leave for Ireland Sept. 26 and return Oct. 8 (possibly later).

Charles Duhon

Maybe I need to rethink my strategy. I’m one of those reclusive writers, and I believe it has hindered my road to publication. Perhaps I’ll attend the Louisiana Book Festival this year. Thanks for sharing your experience and for posting the festival’s link.

Darrelyn Saloom

Charles, I highly recommend you attend the Louisiana Book Festival. Take a look at the writers on the list! It’s an amazing event. Sign up for a WordShop if you have time. Or just walk around the beautiful grounds and pop in on authors telling their stories and generously offering advice. There will also be a huge tent set up for book signings. You might meet the one person who can change the course of your life.

Jenny Fickey

I have two new heroes. Deirdre’s story has inspired me to follow my dreams, no matter what the world may think of them. And so have you, Darrelyn. This post gives hope to all writers. You have proven that a writer doesn’t need fancy letters to follow their name. They need passion, dedication and hard work to succeed. These qualities are at the heart of both of your stories. You have both accomplished tremendous feats. Congratulations D & D! I hope to meet you at the Louisiana Book Festival next year.

Darrelyn Saloom

Nothing wrong with fancy letters next to your name, Jenny. I’ve just always done things like the contrary Indian rode his horse in the film Little Big Man: backwards.

Glad you stopped by and left a comment. Thrilled you’re inspired to keep writing. Hope to see you at the festival next year. That would be great!

Dave Malone

@Richard, no doubt. Darrelyn and Dee really showed that–really believing in the story. And it is such a captivating one. You don’t have to like boxing to like this story (though I believe the sport of boxing will grow on you). You don’t have to be Irish to like this story (though I believe there are things about the Irish that will grow on you–but of course a guy named Malone is gonna say that). @Charles, I have been to my share of conferences though I’m so reclusive these days–but it has made the difference. And it made the difference… Read more »

Darrelyn Saloom

Thank you, Dave. Your suggestions were a huge help along the way.

Dave Malone

My pleasure. 🙂

Cindy Bullion

I’m not a writer but a huge fan. I love the book, and I am inspired by the perseverance of both of you! Thank you and Congratulations again!

Darrelyn Saloom

Thank you, Cindy. You’re a reader, a writer’s best friend. So glad you enjoyed the book.

cynthia martin

I do love your resumé : ) And I love the book too. What a story-both the one in the book and the road to publication. So excited for your Irish book tour.

Darrelyn Saloom

Aw, thanks Cynthia. It took me a long time to write my bio on Facebook. And the trip to Ireland will be a dream come true. I’ve been imagining it for six years. I can’t wait to meet the people in the book.

Ayse Su

The trip was surely worth it (for you and Deirdre both)! I can’t leave the book aside, but I don’t want it to end at the same time. I hope I can make it to the Louisiana Book Festival next year.

Darrelyn Saloom

That would be lovely, Ayse Su. I’m so glad you dropped by. I want to congratulate you on your two recent BBC headlines. Great job! I’m so proud of you.

Darrelyn Saloom

P.S. Still hoping you’ll be able to meet up with Dee and I in Dublin. Fingers are crossed. xx

Darrelyn Saloom

P.S. Still hoping you’ll be able to meet up with Dee and I in Dublin. Fingers are crossed. xx

Jamie B

Can’t wait to see you at next years Louisiana Book Festival

Darrelyn Saloom

I plan to hold you to that, Jamie. I now have it in writing. 🙂

Darrelyn Saloom

I plan to hold you to that, Jamie. I now have it in writing. 🙂

Carolyn Patin

Enjoyed reading about your road to publication.
Looking forward to reading about your trip to Ireland when you return to the USA.

Darrelyn Saloom

Thanks, Carolyn. I’m sure there will be plenty of stories to share. Can’t wait to see you at the book launch on Sunday.


I actually remember meeting you at last year’s festival. I can’t wait to see you there in 2013!

Darrelyn Saloom

Hope to see you there, too, Leah. Be sure to come by and say hello.

Charlotte R Dixon

Enjoyed reading of your road to publication–similar to mine, at least as far as the rejections go. 🙂 Congratulations!

Darrelyn Saloom

Thanks, Charlotte. Hang in there, and try book events. They’re much more fun.


Great story! Great luck with your book in Dublin. We’ll be there next month on a vacation. I recently contracted with a publisher for my first book and concur–persistence and faith in your book are key to getting published no matter which way you go. Another publisher will always appreciate what the one before her did not. Just putting one query in front of the other gets you there. Query ’til you drop.

Darrelyn Saloom

Good luck with your book. Perhaps I’ll see you in Dublin.