Sophie Littlefield, award-winning author of 24 books (16 of them published), says she found publishing success through reading, writing and community.
“I’ve been writing my entire life,” she said. She quit her day job in the early 1990s to raise her children but continued writing as a hobby, finishing one book a year. “I submitted to agents and have hundreds of rejection letters.”
A beginning agent named Barbara Poelle (now with the Irene Goodman agency) pulled Sophie’s query about her ninth book from the slush pile.
“I wanted a career, and so did she,” Sophie said. “We both worked like fiends.” Barbara placed Sophie’s first novel in 2009, and they’ve sold 16 to date. “I was writing full time but not making a full-time salary. When I got divorced, it put urgency to my need to make a living with my writing.”
She started building her community of colleagues and readers, and full-time pay followed.
Sophie’s most recent book is House of Glass, a chilling tale of a family surviving a brutal home invasion. It’s based on a true story and earned a 4.5 star Top Pick with RTBookReviews.
She also writes young adult books and has another coming out this spring. She says the difference with this genre is that the audience wants non-stop action.
“You can’t dwell on anything too long,” Sophie said. “Don’t overstate your theme. Young readers are very sharp and get it quickly and want you to proceed with the narrative.”
Advice to Aspiring Authors
- Know your genre. Do that by reading lots of books.
- Write a lot. Sophie aims for 5,000 words a day but knows successful people who aim for 100 words a day. Discover what’s comfortable for you and discipline yourself to reach your goals.
- Find a community where you can thrive. “I don’t mean to promote yourself,” Sophie said. “I mean community for the purpose of helping and guiding one another through the publishing landscape. You need someone to remind you that what you’re doing is worthwhile.” She recommends critique groups along with organizations like Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, etc.
Finding Joy in Everyday Life
Sophie finds joy in following her own advice. “For me, it’s a combination of reading, writing and being in community. I love to get lost in a good book, and I’m buoyed by my Thursday writing group.” And she writes a lot of books!