How do you know when you’ve read a good book? They’re the ones you can’t put down, the ones that keep you up late reading, the ones that when they end, it feels like something inside you ended, too. Author, Army veteran, and Army spouse Tif Marcelo says that’s exactly the goal of an author.
“That’s always the hope, that you connect with somebody,” she said.
It’s every writer’s goal to inspire their readers to turn the page. To keep them coming back, book after book. But how, as an aspiring writer, do you get to that point? You read a lot of good books, and you just keep writing.
As a first-generation immigrant, Marcelo’s parents steered her away from a writing career, wanting her to peruse a more practical profession. She did that, enlisting in the Army, getting an ROTC scholarship, and becoming a nurse. But through those years, she kept writing and working toward her dream, something military spouses understand.
And later, after years spent blogging, Marcelo’s mother began to encourage her to write a book. The timing felt off because writing takes time and time wasn’t something she had a lot of with kids at home.
“It’s like everything came full circle. That was back in 2009, and she was encouraging me to write,” she said.
In 2010, after having her fourth child, Marcelo decided to go for it. She started writing, a lot. And in 2011, she queried her first novel.
Querying, in the literary sense, is when a writer reaches out to literary agents. For some, this process can be quick and for others, it takes years. Marcelo continued to write while querying, and five years later she found her agent. Her first book was sold to Simon and Schuster in 2016, and her latest book, “In a Book Club Far Away” is her sixth published.
She’s under contract for 10 books, so readers can look forward to a contemporary romance coming in August and a young adult romance in October. Writing, even when you aren’t being published, is the key to success.
“Don’t be afraid of writing your next book,” she said. “If the first book doesn’t get published, the next one might be the one that gets you an agent.”
Some authors choose the self-publishing route, which can make the path to publication faster. For Marcelo, that wasn’t an option she considered.
“I really wanted the distribution in bookstores. I really wanted distribution in Target, and Barnes and Noble, and maybe one day Walmart, in these bigger stores,” she said. ” I think that there are many genres that do better in self-publishing, but I love being traditionally published.”
Marcelo gets to work with a publishing team that includes editors and marketers. And while she hasn’t ruled out self-publishing in the future, it wasn’t the right fit for her earlier attempts at young adult and children’s books.
The biggest thing Marcelo wants aspiring authors to know is that the disruptions are part of military life and the most important thing is to never let go of your goal. Every time she moved there was a new challenge, she said. Sometimes spouses are working, sometimes they’re volunteering, and sometimes — like for Marcelo — deployments bring you a lot of time to write because you’re not sleeping.
“Opportunities are always around, and sometimes it takes the long way around. If you just keep your eye on your dream and make goals when you can handle it,” she said.
And until then, keep reading, keep writing, keep in touch with books. And when the time is right, you’ll be ready to jump right in.