How the Internet Brought Bright Star to Light

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As the release of Bright Star approaches, debut author Erin Swan reflects on the book’s journey from being online to on book shelves.

You can pick up your copy of Bright Star when it hits shelves on August 13.

By Erin Swan

ightstar erin swaWhen people ask me about my journey as an author, and the process of getting Bright Star published, I’m never sure where to start. But, usually, my explanation includes the phrase “a whole lot of luck.” My journey was so very different from the typical path to publication, and it involved a lot of seemingly small events that just happened to steer me in the right direction. Of course, the road less traveled can take you through a lot of unknown territory, but it also allowed me to learn a few things that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

You see, Bright Star got its start as a story that I wrote for myself and shared on FictionPress. (If you don’t know what that is, think Wattpad, but way, way older.) And, while I’d always dreamed of becoming a published author someday, I never imagined Bright Star would be the story that got me there.

So, I wrote my dragon story, enjoyed engaging with the people who read it on FictionPress, and then went on with my life. It wasn’t ever something I gave more thought to than that. In fact, I think when I signed off at the end of the last chapter, I said something along the lines of, “It’s time for me to start focusing on writing something that a publisher might take seriously.” Yes, I’m laughing at myself for that now.

Bright Star remained online for years, and then, in 2015, a FictionPress reader sent me a private message telling me about Inkitt. This then-new, story-sharing site was running a competition, and she thought I should enter Bright Star. I hadn’t touched the story in three years, but I figured there was no reason not to repost it, so I did.

Then came something I never expected. Ali Albazaz, the CEO and founder of Inkitt, sent me an email. He told me Bright Star was performing incredibly well, and that they wanted to help me get published. Now, if you’re an author who’s posted online, you’d probably have red flags going off right then and believe me, I did too. I’d received messages from vanity presses and the like before, and I was definitely wary.

But, something told me to not just delete that email. I spent some time doing research into Inkitt and into Ali himself. It all looked pretty kosher, so I decided to respond. And then the wheel started turning. Edits, promotional materials, presentation decks, Skype calls, and finally, the Frankfurt Book Fair, to put my story in front of major publishers.

And then the one thing that every aspiring author hopes will happen, actually happened: Tor Teen made me an offer. The story that I had written, then written off, was going to be published by a major publishing house. There are so many exciting moments in the publishing process, but that first offer you get is one of the best. Because, finally, you feel like this crazy dream you’ve had all your life isn’t completely crazy after all.

So, you can see why I say my journey involved “a whole lot of luck.” If I hadn’t shared Bright Star on FictionPress, if that reader hadn’t suggested I check out Inkitt, if I had chosen to just delete Ali’s email… Well, Andra’s tale would still just be sitting on FictionPress, more or less forgotten.

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