Digging up dead bodies had lost its charm. I’d been an archaeologist for several years and while the thrill of discovery remained, career advancement entailed an increasing amount of office work and earning a Ph.D., neither of which were very attractive to me.
I’d always liked writing and had contributed to many small press publications, and now realized I wanted to write books for a living.
Journalism school and a stint at the New Delhi bureau of Reuters got me experience and killed writers’ block forever (you can’t agonize over words when your deadline is half an hour away), but my big break came when Globe Pequot needed someone to update their Insiders’ Guide to Phoenix. I called up the editor, told her my writing experience and how I had lived in
While only a coauthorship of an update, the project showed publishers I could do a book. That combined with my archaeological background led to a contract for Byzantium: An Illustrated History (Hippocrene, 2004). Hippocrene liked my work and since I lived in
In the meantime, I kept on pitching to magazines, gradually (read, slowly) building up a core group of regular clients.
In less than ten years I went from occasional appearances in the small press to publishing six books. I did it by building on my strengths, developing relationships with publishers, and submitting clean, accurate copy on deadline. Oh, and that