The Writing Road Less Taken

My Personal Journey Through the Writing and Publishing Process

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

– Robert Frost
Marcie Keithley Writing Journey

Ask any author what they think about the publishing process and they will all tell you the same thing. Writing is hard but getting published is even harder.

Very few writers get into this business to get rich quick. While there is a ton of information circulating the internet about how to become a bestselling author overnight the chances aren’t as high as some of these sites claim. According to Forbes back in 2013, there were an average of 600,000 to 1 million books published in the US. If you think about it, even on the low end that comes out to over 1,500 books per day. Now, that’s a big number!

Fast forward six years later and we also have to include the rise of self-published indie authors to that count. For new authors that means that their beloved story could get lost in the myriad of publications. Which is why I’m taking this publishing business seriously.

The Book

If you follow me on social media or here on the blog, then you know a little bit about my journey. Heck, the doors were blown wide open not that long ago when media outlets were contacting my family regarding our adoption story.

Published on Nov 21, 2017

But as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, it all started with a dog and a shoebox.

There was so much that happened and so much that I went through that once I started writing I couldn’t stop. Before I knew it, I was digging up my past and visiting with all the skeletons I thought I had locked away in my closet. Leave it to the dog to dig up all the hidden bones. But as I was writing an amazing thing started happening. I started to heal. It was slow and didn’t occur overnight, but I could feel the changes occurring.

The Idea

When you focus on healing, you open yourself up to new opportunities. One of those for me was seeing that the words I was writing had the ability to heal others as well. I wasn’t the only person who had surrendered a child for adoption or dealt with divorce and death. There were other women out there dealing with grief and depression. They too had lost loved ones and had been put through the ringer time and again. And so, with that knowledge, my words molded themselves into something more.

The People

I remember the first thing I did after finishing the book was asking myself. “Okay, now what?” 

I knew from self-studying the industry, that writing the story I wanted to share with the world was the easy part. Now the real work truly began. I was consumed with questions, so I made a list:

Do I hire an editor? Should I query now while I have media attention? Do I try and find an agent? What about a website? Should I hire a writing coach to review my work? What about building a platform? Where do I start with social media? Do I self-publish? Do I hire a traditional Publisher? Do I start to blog now or wait?

The Lessons

My brain was exploding with all the questions. However, there were three important lessons I learned during the process:

Lesson Number 1: If you are a first-time author, you need a mentor/coach. Spend the money, it’s worth it. Low on cash? Utilize all the free resources available to you: eBooks, videos, online classes etc. The internet is flooded with information and tools!

Lesson Number 2: Books don’t sell themselves just because the story is good. It takes an agent and a strong platform to get noticed. It took me years to finally land an agent. 

Lesson Number 3: If you don’t already have it, learn patience. Let your agent do his/her job and embrace your rejection letters. (I have mine printed out on my office wall.) Keep moving forward and support your fellow authors!

My Journey Today

Today, I’m focusing on taking an active role in getting my name out there. I’ve been busy building my blog and social media presence. I am finding that there is a great community of individuals on social media who understand what I’m going through. These folks are a great sounding board too. Some have self-published and others have gone the traditional route. All have felt the aches and pains of self-discovery and promotion.

I’ve also received some good news and some bad news during the publishing process, but I recognize the importance of perseverance and patience during this season. These things take time and since I’ve decided to take the traditional publishing route, I’m taking it all in stride. I am constantly learning new things and speaking with fellow authors. Hearing their stories helps me to keep moving forward with my own.

What’s Next on My Journey

Just like any good story, there is always more to come. In my case, I’ve starting coaching and speaking publicly about the things I went through. Finding out that there were so many other people out there who were suffering from grief prompted me to follow my dreams and start helping others. Today I work with men and women alike allowing them the opportunity to grow and heal.

I guess I’m glad that my past happened the way that it did. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be able to offer my knowledge and expertise to others like I do.

Be sure to come back soon for tips on how to gracefully handle rejection (it happens to the best of us), the importance of patience during the process, and what steps you need to take after signing with an agent.

The Shoebox Effect is more than a memoir…it’s a movement.”

– Marcie Keithley

What’s in YOUR shoebox?


  1. Sherrie on March 10, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    Love this post, Marcie!

  2. Tina on September 5, 2020 at 4:40 am

    I love this post and the adoption video is wonderful!! There’s great information for writers starting out to help them with the process.

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