About a year ago, I was blogging on a topic that had defined me. My goal was to get a conversation going with others who had similar experiences. I never dreamed where this would lead. I am not a writer -- at least I didn't know I was about to become an author.
Within two weeks, a publisher, agent, and popular talk show producer emailed me from my site -- wanting to cover my "story." I wasn't even clear on what my story was, so how could I share it? I was overwhelmed, and certainly not an aspiring author, so I declined all offers because it simply didn't feel right. Then, inspired by an unforeseen life event, a book purged out of me. Literally, it purged out of me, in a matter of weeks. I lost all concept of time or space, and the words took on a life of their own flowing from my fingers onto the keyboard. Oddly, the day I finished my first draft, the Arnold Schwarzenegger story broke about his saga that mirrored my very subject.
Next, I was led to a book coach, Lisa Tener, who gave me invaluable resources. She put me in touch with a book architect, Stuart Horwitz, and a Website/PR/Digital Marketing/Social Media firm, Shelton Interactive, who represents varied authors. I contacted Rusty Shelton and hired his company to build my website. Stuart, the book architect, agreed to polish the story structure while I found a book designer to create the vision of a cover that was embedded in my brain. I didn't know why I was telling my story; especially a story based on the shame of merely existing -- but something inside me was unstoppable.
I ordered one print on-demand copy before formally publishing my uploaded manuscript and cover on Amazon. Although I found several typos, my instincts said to send that one copy (filled with stickers of corrections) to the Barnes and Noble Small Press Division in New York.
Meanwhile, a freelance writer, Colleen Oakley, contacted me to pitch my story to magazines, and Redbook bought it (due to advertising cuts, it never ran). Shortly thereafter, a writer in the UK contacted me and sold the story to one of their magazines. Next, Barnes and Noble sent a letter asking for the publisher information to purchase copies for their stores. Luckily, I still hadn't published the book online with Amazon, which was remarkable considering that if I had, it would have prevented me from being able to sell directly to B&N.
The next month, a television production company contacted me to film a documentary on my story as part of a six episode series for a cable channel. Their idea aligned with my message, so I agreed. That will air next month. It didn't stop there. Next, Dr. Phil's producer emailed, inviting me on as his "expert guest", followed by an appearance on "Dr. Drew"! How did this happen? I wrote my first blog for the Huffington Post, and now an agent is looking at the story as a potential film.
This has all come to me practically effortlessly. No PR or representation. Why is that? I don't know very much about publishing, however, I have learned this is not the norm. I have to believe that it is due to following my instincts, and sticking to my motive for writing, which was two-fold: Hoping to have my experience help others, and to get a conversation going that is not often, if ever, discussed.
Interestingly enough, I deplore cameras, as a person who typically deflects attention and is more comfortable empowering others. Seemingly, this was my time to break through that limitation. The same week I was scheduled as the expert guest on Dr. Phil's "Children of Affairs," Arnold was on his media frenzy -- which teed it up for my story perfectly. Dr. Phil promoted my book at the end of the show and on his website.
My book is "Ellen Who? Story of a Secret Love Child".
Has all this been mere coincidence, or was it just meant to be? I don't know, but more will be revealed...
Follow E. O'Neill on Twitter: www.twitter.com/A_Love_Child