Student Spotlight: How She Went From First Draft to Landing Her Dream Agent With Jamie Varon

success stories
This image shows a copy of Jamie Varon's novel titled Main Character Energy. This blog post showcases an interview with Jamie Varon about what it was like to write a novel.

I recently sat down for a conversation with one of the most inspirational people I know, Jamie Varon. And in our conversation, Jamie shares so many nuggets of wisdom about things like how she handles feedback (especially critical feedback), how she looks at writing (and especially the querying process) like a business not a hobby, and also the importance of celebrating milestones (no matter how big or small). 

You’re also going to hear her talk about what it was like to get some really tough feedback from her literary agent—and how this feedback led Jamie to seek representation elsewhere. Spoiler alert, Jamie went on to land her dream agent, so this story has a happy ending, don’t worry. 

And she also shares her experience on what it was like to work with different industry professionals like from a book coach to an agent to an editor at a publishing house and even what it’s like working with a screenwriter who’s turning one of her books into a movie. Yes, one of Jamie’s books is being turned into a movie and it’s super, super exciting. We don’t dive too deep into that, but if you’re like me, you’re going to absolutely love hearing about her experience.

So, this is a jam packed episode with my lovely and inspiring friend, Jamie Varon, and I’m so excited to share her story with you. If you want to listen to this episode, click here or search for the Fiction Writing Made Easy podcast in your podcast player of choice.


Transcript: How She Went From First Draft to Landing Her Dream Agent With Jamie Varon

SAVANNAH: Hi Jamie! Welcome and thank you so much for coming on the show. 

JAMIE: Hi. Thank you so much for having me. Excited to get started and talk about all the good things. 

SAVANNAH: You have a really fun story, and I wanted to have you on the show today because I think you're a great example of what's possible for writers, and you're so good at sharing, you know, the highs and lows of writing and life, like very publicly on your Instagram. Which I just adore you for. And I know you're gonna inspire so many people by sharing your story. So thank you again for being here. 

JAMIE: Of course! I mean, I love talking about the real stuff. We need to be talking about it more. So yeah. I mean, this is what I love doing, so I'm so excited.

SAVANNAH: Yeah, I agree. I think we need to talk about the real stuff more, even if it's messy—that's how we're all gonna get to a better place. Right? 

JAMIE: Exactly!

SAVANNAH: So, let's start at the very top. Can you tell people who you are, what you're all about, what kind of books you write, and things like that?

JAMIE: Yeah, I write all sorts of things and I'm kind of a multi-hyphenate. I have a memoir/self-help book that was published last year called Radically Content that has a journal companion now that was published in April. And then I have a novel, which is more like Women's book club fiction coming out in the fall. And now I'm, you know, kind of switching to, mostly focusing on novels, but I still write all my… Basically on Instagram, I write reminders to myself about just how to human, and how to exist, and how we just like navigate life… And I don't have it all figured out. I just write those things to remind myself. I'm like, remember this lesson that you learned that you're gonna forget in like two weeks? And then you'll come back and be like, oh yeah, that's, oh, I already had the answer to this. Cool. So that's what I do. I mean, I also have a course called Live With Intention, which is essentially my signature course of like, when people ask me, “how do you do all the things that you do?” I'm like, this. This is my process. This is how I do it. I went from being a very inconsistent start and stop type of person to now I finish things, which is really lovely. And I keep my promises to myself. And so, yeah, I mean, I do a lot of things. I used to be a designer. I still do that for, you know, some select clients and have built websites. I just, you know, whatever my little soul says to check out, I do it. 

SAVANNAH: That's awesome. 

JAMIE: So that's where I'm at. I'm very creative and artistic.

SAVANNAH: Multi-hyphenate indeed! We're gonna talk about all of that, but we're mainly gonna focus on your novel, which is called Main Character Energy, correct? 

JAMIE: Yes. 

SAVANNAH: And that's an awesome title. I know when we were working on it together, we just called it Poppy and Oliver's story, right?

JAMIE: Yeah, well, because it's so character driven. I called it Poppy for a long time cuz that's the name of the main character cuz I was just like, this is her story. And then funny enough, I thought of the title, Main Character Energy, because I was like, oh, I made Poppy the main character, like for real. And women like her don't usually get to be the main character. So, yes, it's called Main Character Energy. But when we first started working on it, it was very much, we didn't even know where it was going, you know? Which I love and it has changed so much since then. 

SAVANNAH: It has, and it hasn't. And that was one of my notes I wrote that we'll get into a little later that it kind of feels like the original story you started, but there have been like, you know, things that changed through the process. But it's funny, because “main character energy,” that's kind of what Poppy's learning throughout the story is how to step into that. So, it's the perfect title. Let me give listeners a highlight reel of what we're gonna talk about and then we'll dig into when we first met. Sound good? 

JAMIE: Sounds great!

SAVANNAH: Okay. So Jamie and I met in August of 2020, and we started working together on her novel, Main Character Energy, and we really put her idea through the ringer. In less than a month, she went from having nothing but an idea to having a fully fleshed out and pressure tested outline. And we'll talk about this, but we were pretty tough on that outline because we really wanted to make sure it was solid before Jamie started writing. And spoiler alert, our hard work did pay off because she was ready to go off and write her first draft on her own. So then by the end of that year in November, which was about three to four months later, Jamie had a finished first draft, which is amazing. And we're going to talk about that. We're also going to talk about what editing looked like and how she knew it was time to start querying agents and things like that. So, inApril, 2022, her memoir/self-help book called Radically Content came out—and if you haven't read that, it's a very fantastic, very inspirational book. So, I highly recommend grabbing a copy! Then, fast forward to a year later, which is April 2023, and the companion journal for Radically Content Is officially out. And I'm so excited to get mine on Thursday because not only is the cover of the journal just beautiful, but I also really love the book Radically Content. So, then finally in September of this year 2023, Jamie's novel, Main Character Energy, will officially be out in the world and ready to purchase. So that's pretty dang exciting. Right? If we just look at the timeline from 2020 to 2023, Main Character Energy will make the third book that Jamie has published. So again, very exciting. Now I want to quickly read the back cover, copy of main character, energy for my listeners. And then we'll dig into the details about your journey. 

JAMIE: Sounds great!

SAVANNAH: So here we go. Poppy banks would rather be writing mysteries than listicles for her dead end job at Thought Buzz. But after a series of rejections, she's ready to give up all her big aspirations and settle like her mom encourages her to do. The only person not ready to give up on Poppy's dreams is her Aunt Margo, whom she has secret lunches with each year. But everything changes when her beloved Aunt Margo dies and her last request is to have Poppy travel to her Villa in the French Riviera. There she'll discover her aunt has laid out an intricate plot—that Poppy can inherit her palatial estate and continue to host the prestigious writer's residency, The Colony, that her aunt Margo founded if she finishes a draft of her novel within six months. Uncertain she can live up to her Aunt Margo's expectations, and her own, she turns to her aunt's journals for solace. The brooding Oliver who thought he was being groomed to take over the colony is none too pleased that Margot left her legacy to poppy. And two tech bros would love nothing more than to buy the colony from Poppy and turn it into a literary spa. Poppy has six months to decide what to do about the Villa and discover if she has the courage to be the main character in her own fantastic life. 

SAVANNAH: That is so cool! And, oh my gosh… I just got goosebumps reading that because it is so similar to the version of Poppy and her story that I first met. And I just think it's so cool when I see a published book that so closely resembles the author's initial idea. Okay. So Jamie let's time travel all the way back to 2020, I know it's gonna be probably hard because that's what, three years ago now. But how did you know this book needed to be written, and how did you finally decide to commit to writing it? 

JAMIE: Yeah, so I would even time travel a little further back cuz I feel like we don't talk about this enough as authors. I did write a different novel before that and it was not where it needed to be, which is how I found myself with you because that was sort of, I look at it now as like that was my tester. Like, do I even like writing novels? Is this something I care about? And it, you know, when I got my notes back from my agent and like looked through it myself, cuz I did have an agent at that time I was like, this isn't where I want to, I don't wanna work on this book, but I do wanna get better at writing novels, you know? And so that's how I came to you. 

JAMIE: And I remember some of our first calls, I was just like, I don't wanna know how to write one book. I wanna know how to write several books, right? So I want a system, I want something that, you know… I wanna understand the structure of story and, you know, I'd read some of the structure books like Save the Cat and things like that. But it's very different when you start applying it because all that is very theoretical until you actually have things to put in there. And for this story, you know, I'm of the Elizabeth Gilbert “Big Magic” belief. Ideas are like sent to you as little, you know, like you're the one that's supposed to do it. And so when I get an idea, I’m so glad that I read that book because I didn't think of ideas that way before and I used to really battle with myself. But now when I get an idea, and especially at that time, it was a very fertile time for me where I was like, I've been given this idea for a reason. 

JAMIE: And it was, I mean, I would say by the time that I got to you, there was a lot of the details to work out. But I kind of had the whole thing in my head of like where it's going, where it was gonna start, how it was gonna end, and things like that. And so I felt like any idea for me, I know when I have a good idea is when I keep getting more ideas. So if I say it specifically about a novel, because I've written several drafts and several things since then, if I start getting ideas for scenes, like, oh, they could go there and they could do this, and then this could happen and this could happen, I'm like, oh, that's an idea, rather than. This is just a good high concept plot, right? That is not gonna go anywhere because like there's a real big difference between, there's plenty of things that I've gotten like, oh that would be cool. And then I'm like, where would it even go? What's the conflict? You know, if you start out with a perfect person that you love, like this perfect character that doesn't do anything… 

JAMIE: So that was really big for me, knowing that there was something to explore there. And I think also knowing that I really wanted to be a good novelist. Like I wanted to work at it and I wanted to practice at it because of that first practice novel that. You know, I think rejection will really show you whether you want something or not because sometimes, you get rejected. You're like, all right, I'm done. Thanks. You know?

SAVANNAH: Yeah. Thanks for that. 

JAMIE: Yeah. Like, this isn't for me. And then other times you get rejected and you're like, wait a second, I wanna get really good at this and make you rue the day you rejected me. 

SAVANNAH: And that's kind of the energy you came with, because I remember you were very clear like, I want a system because I know I'm gonna write more. So kind of take, help me take this idea, show me a system, and then kind of show me how efficiently I can do this. Right? 

JAMIE: Yeah. I mean, I didn't know that I could write that fast. And you know, and I think some people are different. I like to do a quick and dirty draft, like just get it out. And then, because I do like the editing process and I think that that's a really beautiful way of shaping a story. But for me, the way my brain works, it's so fast. Like I need to just get it out. I spent a lot of time in my twenties and even into my, you know, early thirties not writing. I mean, I was very inconsistent. There was a lot of starts and stops with my writing. And so really I was just, I came to you as like, I just need to know how to get words onto the paper. I need to understand how to take my ideas and actually write them out. Part of it too was I liked showing you my things, you know? 


JAMIE: I liked sending it to you because that was really fun for me. I kind of thrive on feedback, so that was a big part of working with you and getting that out into the world or like getting it out of my head because that was really… You know, to have a dream where like, I want to write books, but then I cannot consistently write. It was like painful for me. Not know how to show up and do this with joy and excitement and all of that. And now I feel like I am in a totally different place. Like, I don't even question whether I can take action on a new idea. I just know I can. 

SAVANNAH: That's awesome! That's a dream I think for so many people. And I think you've said some really important things so far. Like, one of them is if you do get rejected or if you find out your story doesn't work you know, don't give up. If you really wanna be a writer, don't give up. It sometimes just takes a little elbow grease and digging in and figuring out why something doesn't work, you know, to make it successful. But the other thing I think that you said too is like, It's really hard sometimes if we don't know how to write novels, which like 99% of us don't, right. We don't get taught that in school.How are we expecting ourselves to sit down and write a story that works if we don't have a framework or a process? 

JAMIE: Right. Exactly. And you know, it's like I could always write a first page. I was like killing it on first pages and then it was like, wait a second. How do you get through once you're like at 40%? That's when you really start going… Oh my God, this is a long thing that I'm doing. 

SAVANNAH: And then you question yourself and you think it's you that's the problem. 

JAMIE: You know, for me it became way less about, you know, if you sit down and you're like, okay, you got a blank page, you got a title. Maybe you have a title, maybe it says working title right up there, and you have “a novel” by your name. And then you sit down and you're like, I gotta write a number one New York Times bestseller right now. Like, all right, good luck. You will spend, like me, a decade not writing anything. 

SAVANNAH: That's a tall order.

JAMIE: It's a tall order. But we do that to ourselves, you know, like we really do. And so I think that was the big part of, you know, working with you. But also, where I was before that, which was like when I said I wanna do this, like I wanna write multiple books, I don't just wanna write one thing. And that was something that I was really focused on because I had spent a lot of time sitting down and being like… How am I gonna write the next Great American novel in one day? It's like, okay, I need to just figure out how to write anything. Just a piece of something to start.

SAVANNAH: I think you're right about, you know, we can't have these expectations of looking at a published book, because I used to do this too, where I'd look at my favorite published books and be like, I can't believe this person made this. And mine is so bad in comparison, but we have to think about how many iterations that published book has gone through and how much help has been going on behind the scenes, you know? 

JAMIE: Yes. It's a very different thing. It's like apples and oranges. I now know that, you know? And what sucks is when you haven't published a book yet—you don't know what published authors know, which is that it’s gonna go through so many iterations and it's okay! Like it, it's okay to let it be shaped. It's okay that it's not gonna be perfect right away. I finally got to the point where I was like, there's actually nothing to shape if you write nothing. So you have to write something and then work at it. 

JAMIE: And you know, I think some people, maybe by like book 10, they're writing maybe cleaner drafts, I don't know. But we're not at that point yet. So to have the expectation that your book is going to read exactly like your favorite published novels, it's, you know, you can't have that belief. I listened to this, I believe as I was writing Main Character Energy for the first draft, and I listened to this podcast from the editor who acquired Where the Crawdads Sing and she talked about how of course there was a lot of potential in the book, but it got rejected a bunch. It wasn't some big auction, some splashy thing. And what they ended up doing with the book was, it was completely different. Like I, I don't really remember the book, cuz I read it so long ago. 

JAMIE: But essentially what we saw as the finished draft was absolutely gutted in editing. Like they, they changed the whole thing. Something with the like lawyer or the law, you know, the courtroom stuff was like totally changed. I mean, and when you think about. It's like that requires so much work on the part of the author, you know? And of course it paid off. That's a really successful book. But even that, you know, it's not like the finished version we saw is the one that she submitted. It wasn't even the one she submitted to her agent. So there's just so much that goes into it that keeping that in mind, you can't have that pressure. I really do think that that pressure is what causes the writer's block. 

SAVANNAH: Two things I wanna say about that. I'm just tapping into the listeners when they hear this, they might get nervous, like, oh my gosh, if I submit to an agent or an editor or whatever, then they're gonna change my book. And some do, but they do it for many reasons, right? It could be like the market, it could be to make your story better. But sometimes it's like, okay, what's your vision and how can we help you make it that? Right? So it's not always… I don't want anyone to worry hearing that thinking like, oh my God, they're gonna take it over and make it something different.

JAMIE: Well, yeah, and that's part of the process. I mean, if you do end up getting an offer for an agent or an editor you wanna make sure that they're not gonna make it unrecognizable. You know, this is getting a little ahead of it, but I got some feedback from my novel when we were on submission with editors and there was one that, it was one of those really big publishing houses a very respected imprint, but the way that she wanted the story to go, what elements she wanted me to turn up and which ones she wanted me to turn down, I was like, that's not the story I'm telling. So it's not a fit for me and I'm not going to focus on, you know, doing a revision for that person. So, you have to know where you're gonna be flexible and where you need to stick to your guns too.  

JAMIE: And I've done that. There was something in the editing for Main Character Energy when I was finally working with my editor at HarperCollins—and, in theory, it sounded like a really good thing to add, but as I started working on the draft, I was like, this doesn't make any sense to add actually. And I had to tell my editor, you know, this doesn't make sense. I didn't add this in and I had to really stick to myself with that. So you know, that's why it's good to really… We want things to happen so fast, but actually like knowing ourselves and feeling really confident in our draft and you know, as confident as you can feel. But feeling really good about it is very important because there will be times where you have to say, no, I'm not willing to change this. No, I'm not gonna take a deal with somebody. You know, especially, I mean, especially when you get to the agent part, if they have ideas that you don't resonate with, that's not gonna be a great agent for you, you know?


JAMIE: And it's not because their ideas are bad, it's just you're not vibing on the same level. And so I think, yeah, you're right. People do get kind of worried that like the train's gonna start moving and then they're like, oh no, I'm gonna have to agree to those changes too… 

JAMIE: I will say that I was really worried about the editing process because I'm so… I need creative control so much, but actually being able to lean on someone to give fresh eyes, where like at this point I've read Main Character Energy probably 25 times. I don't have any fresh eyes. It's hard to edit it at that point. So it's like you gotta rely on someone whose taste you trust to tell you what needs to shift. 

SAVANNAH: Right. And how was that when you pushed back and said like, this doesn't feel organic to the story that I wanna tell? What happened? 

JAMIE: She agreed and she was fine! You know, that was really important to me. I think at my age… Like, it's so funny because as much as I wanted to be a published author at like 21 years old and be, you know, I wanted all that, but now I see the wisdom in having had some time to know myself because that wasn't like a worry for me because back in the initial conversation before I signed the deal when we were getting to know each other. That was something that I wanted to make sure was gonna be, you know, that there was a mutual respect and it wasn't, you know, me just being, taking orders right from the editor—that it was like we're both going to, you know, say, I respect your opinions, you respect mine. We both have a mutual goal. We wanna make this book as the best that it could. And make this story like so beautiful. But if certain things don't fit and they don't work, then we have to be able to tell that to each other. And, you know, I don't think that if I had done this when I was younger and maybe more insecure and not as I guess convicted about what I want and how I want certain things to go, I probably would've just forced it.

SAVANNAH: Right. And I think a lot of writers get in that position because they're afraid and they're like, if I don't do it, they're gonna drop me. Or if I don't make this change, they're not going to even be interested in my book. So I think it is really important to, like you said, know what you're willing to work with and know what you wanna hold firm.

JAMIE: Yeah. And I mean, I'll say the publishing industry is tough. It's not for the faint of heart. And it sucks because the best writers are the faint of heart! You know, like the sensitive souls. It's like, oh man! It's hard. It's a hard business. So, you know, you really do have to know yourself and know when to be flexible, when to hold your ground and when to say, okay, I'm being stubborn and there's something bigger that needs to come through. It's tricky. It's really hard. You feel a lot of pressure, there's a lot of anxiety. And then like I said, I mean, the thing that's always going to be hard is once you write the book, you can never read it the way that a reader does. It's impossible to know how someone who's just reading it for the first time, picking it up, starting at the first page is going to feel and interpret and experience your story. Which I have found personally the most challenging thing, because I'm like, how do I know? Are they gonna get what I'm saying? Is it too much feelings? Is it not enough? Is it showing enough? Not telling?

SAVANNAH: And I think that's what you said earlier. It's so important to find the right fit. Because once you trust somebody, whether it's a book coach, an editor, an agent, whatever it is, you have that trust where you know, okay, they get my vision, I like their style. We're on the same plane. Right. And then it becomes kind of this, let's just make it the best it can be together, you know? 

JAMIE: Yeah, exactly. 

SAVANNAH: So that's kind of like the ideal situation, right? 

JAMIE: Yeah. And I will say that working with you was such a good kind of tester for taking feedback, being able to hear ideas that weren't my own, and incorporate those. And, you know, I loved that process of being so collaborative. And something that you are just so good at is you really honor the story that the author is trying to tell instead of trying to make it… I mean, not, not that I would ever think that a book coach would try to make it what they want it to be, but I don't know, sometimes, even as a designer  you know, I always had to honor what the person was building for themselves, you know? It wasn't, “I think this is cool, so you should live with it.” So I felt like you were really good at that, of being like, okay, I'm offering ideas, I'm offering feedback, but at the end of the day, I wanna make sure that this is still your story that you're telling.

SAVANNAH: Right. And I think you said the key word, it's a collaboration. And I think sometimes, you know, if you're in a situation where I'm talking to the listeners now, if you're in a situation where you feel like a book coach or an editor or whatever is trying to get you to go in a way you don't want, it's just possible they're misinterpreting what you want too. So, you know, sometimes communication is key because I think a lot of editors and book coaches, they want to help. But if they're misinterpreting something, then it makes sense that, that two-way street of feedback would be a little bit off.

JAMIE: Absolutely. And also everyone's human. I don't know. You kind of forget that. Like, and everyone, I mean, something that I always thought about with like rejections and agents and editors and all the submission processes that you have to go through. It's like it has to line up on so many levels. Like that person has to be like in a mood for that book. I've read books where I was just not in the mood for it, right? So I didn't appreciate it, and then I read it again and I'm like, wow, this is actually really good. What was I thinking? You know, so everyone's human, and I do think that like for some reason, as opposed to other artistic endeavors, writers tend to be not as forthright as they need to be. And a little bit more timid. 

JAMIE: Like, my brother's a producer, a music producer, and he, I mean, everyone in the music industry, they're not timid obviously. They're gonna be performing on huge stages, so, they bring that into sessions where there's not this like, “Yeah, whatever you think.” It's more like they need to be collaborating. And I just like would, encourage listeners to be aware that even though the process is kind of daunting and there is rejection, like you still have something that is a product and is valued. I think like we have to know our value even without an agent or a publisher is saying it. And that's how you kind of can move through it. Because otherwise, if you're like waiting for someone to tell you that, “Yeah, your book is good.” It's like, yeah… You could be waiting a long time and it might not even be something to do with your story.

SAVANNAH: Right. You know, like you said, it could be an agent doesn't have a spot on their roster. It could be a mood thing, it could be a market thing. I mean, I've seen this happen before where it's like a story is great and this kind of happened with you in a way too, where it's like we felt really confident about your story and not to get too far ahead, but the first agent you brought this to didn't wanna represent it.

JAMIE: Yeah. That was a blow. It was actually my agent at the time. 

SAVANNAH: Right, right. 

JAMIE: So for your own agent to reject your story, I was like, huh. Okay. Yeah. And she even said, she was like, I can't even give you notes on this because it needs so much work. And I was like, I'm not sure that I agree. 

SAVANNAH: Right. And we didn't agree. I remember we talked about it and we were flabbergasted because both of us were like we love this story! We think it's in great shape! And to get that feedback was really hard. 

JAMIE: It was so hard. I mean, I was so upset. And so that was a perfect example of I had to sit there with myself and go, okay, am I gonna believe her or am I gonna believe myself? And then I started doing a little digging and I was kind of paying attention to… When I got my agent in 2019, that agent at the time was for my non-fiction work. So we hadn't really discussed novels yet. And I started to look at her previous clients and her current clients and I was like… We don't have a genre overlap—and that's a big thing. I mean you talk about genre a lot, right? And in the publishing world, I know people don't love it. I know writers don't love it because it's like, “Don't put me in a box!”

JAMIE: But genre is vitally important. A reason you could be getting constant rejections is because your book might not fit into a genre. And that's impossible in the publishing industry because everything is based on, if you like this, you'll like this. And you can't do that if you're not fitting into a genre. 

JAMIE: So, you know, I was looking at my agent at the time and her roster, and I was like, these books are not what I'm writing. And so I don't think this is a matter of my book's not good enough. It's more her taste. And I gave her a chance to kind of tell me that. And she didn't, which I thought was like… That's not the kind of agent I want. I want an agent who can say, “You know, this might not be my taste.” Instead of, “No, my taste is the only taste that matters.” 

JAMIE: So, I ended up leaving her and breaking off the engagement. And it was a really good move because I didn't change a single thing about the book at all. I did not edit it at all. And I submitted it to like three agencies that I thought had all the books that I love. And there was one in particular that I went to their website like every single day just to look at the books on their roster, Root Literary... I was like, oh my God, Emily Henry and like Jasmine Guillory and like all these people. And I was just like, this looks amazing. 

SAVANNAH: Those are your people!

JAMIE: Yeah, these are my people. I don't write dark twisty, super heady thrillers yet. We'll see. Who knows? And I have a long life ahead of me, so there you go. 

JAMIE: But yeah, I ended up signing with an agent from Root, and that's like a very good story, obviously, but I'm like, okay, I might not have gotten a hundred rejections to my novel from agents, but like I got rejected constantly for two years and then to have suffered through rejection from my own agent at the time. I was like, I DESERVE THIS.

SAVANNAH: That's right. You do! And I think that carries a lot of weight—if we're like comparing getting, let's say a hundred rejections, I think getting rejected from your agent feels just as darn heavy as that, so… 

JAMIE: Right. It was!

SAVANNAH: If not maybe a little worse!

JAMIE: It's like getting rejected by a parent—like your mom—and you're like… You’re supposed to love me, right? I mean, you know, if you have that kind of mom, but like yeah. I was like, you're supposed to like this! This is your job to like this. And for me, as someone who has struggled with self-doubt… For me to leave that agent and say, “No, I believe in this book too much.” And this is obviously, this is not about my skill or this book. This is about us not being a fit. And to turn around and, you know… The reason that I only sent the book to like three agencies wasn't really because I had this belief that I was gonna get signed with any of them. It was more like I just needed to get it out there and like for myself, show myself that I believe in it. I didn't think any of them were gonna sign with me, especially Root Literary! Because they say, they're like, we get thousands of requests. And I was like, oh man, they're not gonna…

SAVANNAH: You're like, here's 1001!

JAMIE: Yeah. I'm like, here's another one on the pile. Good luck. You know? And it took a long time. I waited months to hear anything and it was more like… Because at that time, that's when I got my book deal for Radically Content. So, I was like, I guess I'll just focus on this and if the novel is meant to be, it will be. And you know, I kind of just sent it to those first three agencies as like, let's just see. And then if I really feel compelled, like if I get rejected and I feel compelled to edit the book or something, I'll do that. But for now I'm just gonna focus on Radically Content. And I think that was good for me to have something else to focus on.

SAVANNAH: And I remember we talked about it too, because like I said, we were so flabbergasted by the, you know, I can't even give you feedback on this story. And we were like, what? We love this story! And we talked about, you know, let's just put it out there and see what happens, because either we're gonna get the same feedback or we're gonna get something completely different, and that'll kind of, you know, validate what we both felt about it. Right. So, I mean, I think that's really brave. And I know actually other writers who right now are probably listening to this episode where they're with their current agent and it's not quite working and they feel the gut feeling already, but they won't walk away. So I'm just curious if you had any words of wisdom for them?

JAMIE: I mean, you know what? Everyone told me, “Oh, it's so hard to get an agent. You better like, keep an agent, da, da da.” And I was like, I'm not gonna think that way. Sorry. That's essentially like saying to someone, “Settle in your relationship and your unhappy relationship because like, it's really hard to date. So like, stay with that person forever and be miserable. Great. I'm just not a person that will like, give into that fear. because for me, and this is kind of like woowoo, but I think there's, there's like, you gotta have certain beliefs in, in what you're doing. And I was like, I'm not gonna go through my career being afraid to move on from something that's not working just because it might be hard to find the next thing. You know, because you look down the line and you're like, this is not gonna get better. And I gave it a shot to get better.

JAMIE: You know, I had a writer friend at the time, published author and I loved her book. And she just like, generously gave me a couple hours of her time to talk through all this. And she was just like, “At least try to express how you're feeling, you know?” Because we don't always express how we're feeling because we're scared that like they're gonna retaliate or something. So I was like, I'm gonna put it all on the line. And then I walked away from that conversation feeling like she said all the right things, but I didn't feel that I was supported. And I was like, well then that's it. And I also, you know, I had the benefit too of having a friend at the time that I was talking to a lot who worked in like children's book publishing, but she knew a lot of people in publishing and she had told me so many stories of people who leave their agent of five, six years where they were just languishing doing nothing and then get someone new and all the things happen. And that was like a very common story. And so, you know, I wouldn't say every time you should leave. But if it's really not working, a lot of times we take it on as like, it's us. We did something wrong. But really, like, that's kind of their job, you know? 

JAMIE: And they have to be able to at least explain why something's not getting picked up or why things aren't moving the way that you want them to. And if they can't and they're not gonna take any kind of responsibility over that, it's like, well then we're not actually collaborating because you're just, that's how I, that's kind of how I felt like I was doing everything wrong. My book proposal wasn't good enough, and that's why it wasn't, you know, that's why it wasn't happening... And then I finally was just like, no, I just think this is not a good fit. Like, and it wasn't like bad feelings. I was just like, yeah, it's just… That's the reality, right? 

SAVANNAH: That's so important. It has to be the right fit, has to feel like a collaboration. And I think the most important thing, because a lot of the writers who are in a similar situation that I talk to, they know something in their gut. It's just the fear that's keeping 'em from going one way or the other. 

JAMIE: Of course. And it is scary! I'm not gonna say that it isn't, because, you know, you go, well it's gonna get delayed and this, but it's like it's already getting delayed. You know, you gotta think a year from now if I didn't make a change and I'm still in the same position and still feeling this way with my agent, am I gonna be happy about that? Is my future self gonna be happy about that? Or are they gonna go… You know what, a year ago I wish you would've left and tried something. And gone after someone else. Also, the thing is, is that like, I don't know, sometimes, you know, we grow and we change and things change and all of a sudden what someone seemed like a good fit two or three years ago… They don't anymore. And this is honestly something that I feel like almost every author has a story of. Like, they had multiple agents. I had an agent in 2016 too. But it didn't, you know, that was kind of my own thing, but like, it didn't go, we weren't meshing on ideas and then, you know, so… People don't wanna talk about it, you know? They feel like it looks bad, but I don't, I think it looks good.

SAVANNAH: Yeah. Or it's like, “I should just be grateful for whatever I get.” But that's not really the best way to go about things. I mean, yes, grateful, but don't sit in because you think you don't deserve better. 

JAMIE: Exactly. Like, of course, if you feel… There's a difference between like, oh, I'm expecting too much and I need to be grateful that I have this person on my team, versus they're not really meeting my expectations and I'm too scared to say anything. And you know, I just think you have to be willing to maybe have some hard conversations. Like, I especially think a lot of women look at their writing as sort of like a hobby and it's like, it's not a hobby. Like I look at it as a business, right? Like I'm in the business, otherwise I just write for myself. So I have to treat it like a business. And I'm like, so then you're my agent business wise. You know, like I gotta look at that differently and I gotta kind of step up to that energy versus this is just my little hobby. And I don't know, I'm not spending this much time on a hobby, let me tell you.

SAVANNAH: Right. And I think that's… It's a good point too, because you know that the people on the other side of the fence, whether it's an agent or an editor or whatever, they're coming at it from a business angle, so it makes sense that we would as well.

JAMIE: Yeah, exactly. And I think there's like something empowering in that. You know, and it is tricky when you're turning your passion and something you love into a business. So it's something to think about and hope that it doesn't change that for you. But you know, that's how I looked at it. That's how I was able to craft a really good query letter when I sent those to those three agencies. Like, because I was like, this is a marketing document, you know, that I know, that I understand of like, get, like, this book has a brand, this book has a personality, it has an energy. So I need to bring that, you know, I didn't use like some templates for the query letter, but I really kind of went out of the box and did something different to just grab attention. I'm like, okay, so there's a thousand requests in an inbox somewhere. How do I stand out? You know, and instead of going, “Oh, no. How am I gonna stand out? I'm like, how am I gonna stand out?!” Like, I gotta…

SAVANNAH: Challenge accepted, right? 

JAMIE: Yeah. Like, I gotta challenge myself. I gotta figure this out. And I know that can be tricky if someone doesn't… You know, I have the benefit of having my own business. I’m in branding, I'm a branding expert. So, you know, I know that I have some things that are helpful in that regard, but just changing the thinking on it the same way you can change the thinking on like, genre, you know, I started to get really interested about genre. I was like, cool. That makes it easier for people to know what to read. It makes it, it's like a language, right? It's like, okay, if you like romance books, you're gonna like this. Or if you like women's fiction, you're gonna like this. But if you try to, you know, reinvent something that doesn't need to be reinvented, then you're kind of like putting yourself back a little bit. And creating confusion. Instead of looking at it like, this is a business. My book it needs to be viable. Like people, that's how they invest in you. Like a book advance is an investment into you and these things can sometimes turn people off, but I think if you look at 'em differently, you're like, this is empowering knowledge to know. I'm not at the mercy of just this like, subjective artist. It's like, well, or I can, you know, make sure that I have really solid comps with what I'm working with. I can make sure that I'm, you know, marketing myself and doing what I can to really make this an easy Yes. For agents and editors and all of that.

SAVANNAH:  Right. And I think actually that's a great point is thinking of how do I make this an easy “yes” versus going at it from a place of fear and like, you know, “I'm probably not gonna stand out. This is so hard. This is awful.” You know, I, I love that you said that. Make it an easy yes. I'm gonna use that. I'm stealing that.

JAMIE: I mean, that's like my philosophy on a lot of things. That's how I ran my business for so long. Like, make it an easy yes on clients. You know, make it easy for people to opt in and care about what you're doing. I don't think that's like... I think people maybe think that's kind of selling out and it's like, it's not selling out, it's just, you know, there's a lot of noise. How do you cut through helping you get what you want? Right? It's the same way that like, you know, of course, do we want people to judge a book by its cover? No. But there's also millions of books. So people need to have a way to discern between how they're gonna choose one book from the other? If all the books are just like a black cover.. It's like all of those can be empowering parts of the process if we look at it that way, as opposed to looking at it through like a fear lens. 

JAMIE: I just think like publishing, if you do look at everything with publishing through fear, it's gonna be a real hard process. Because like I wrote Main Character Energy in August, 2020. It's three full years before it comes out. Like I cannot be in fear for three years. Like that's not worth it to have my name on the cover of a book. I gotta like have fun with it. 

SAVANNAH: Yeah, have fun with it. 

JAMIE: And yeah, I really think that that's something you bring to the table a lot because I do think there is a lot of fear of like, it's going to be so hard to write your book and this and that, and like, you're just like, no, let's make it fun! Let's enjoy it! Because like, that's why we got into this. We all got into it because we're nerds and love reading and writing, you know? And I say nerds in the most fond way, you know? Like we grew up reading books, that's probably what we did. Like we read Babysitters Club and Goosebumps and all those things. Like that's how we got into all this. So to bring the fun back and make all of this empowering, even as it's, there's parts that are out of your control. There's a lot of waiting. There are hard points. I just think like, I'd rather figure it out and make it enjoyable as much as I can, versus always leaning towards, “oh, no, it's not gonna work out. And fear and, oh no, da da.” Because like, you really can't control, like some people… 

JAMIE: I mean, Two perfect examples. Casey McQuiston. Red White, and Royal Blue. First Book takes off like a rocket. On the other side, you have Taylor Jenkins Reid who, she wrote three books that were very mid-list before Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo took off like a rocket. Iit was like three years after that book was even published that Seven Husbands did not get on the New York Times Bestseller list until years later. It did not debut there. Right. And then, you know, she's had Malibu Rising, Daisy Jones and The Six, Carrie Soto Is Back… But she had three books. So that's, you would say, years, years of time and energy before things really took off to all the adaptations and all of this. Like now those books… One of them is being adapted from her, like the three books that she wrote first, and, but that's years later. And so you really can't say one way is better than the other. I mean, so I think like that's another thing of just knowing that it's very, an unpredictable industry and there's many different paths to where you probably envision yourself going. 

SAVANNAH: And two things I wanna say to that is, is one, I think what you said earlier about having fun and even like writing your query and your synopsis in kind of a different way, it's almost like, you know, this is why I love having frameworks, whether it's genre or story structure or a query template. Because those things, it's like a proven thing that will allow you to put your creativity and your fun into it. You know? So that's, a lot of people think of things like story structure or genre as limiting and like it handcuffs their creativity. But I'm curious, did you feel any of that? 

JAMIE: Not at all. Yeah, not at all. In fact, I found it kind of nice because, well first I actually found it really nice because when we started talking about the difference between like a women's fiction book and romance, it was really clear to me that I didn't wanna write a romance novel, right? And I love romance novels, but it's not the story that I wanted to tell. So if I had tried to write a romance novel it wouldn't have fit in romance. Like, that's not the editors that were gonna take Main Character Energy because it's not a romance novel. And I found that really encouraging because I was like, oh, there is actually some order to things.

JAMIE: I like that, you know, like romance has to go a certain way and then this genre has to go a certain way and it has to hit certain things. It's not like lawless land and you have no idea what things to hit. And as we see, there's a million different ways to go about it. I mean, I had like for my query letter, I hit the few things that you need to put in there. You know, like you have to put the comps, you have to put the word count, things like that, the genre. But I weaved it in, in a really creative way. I mean, this is gonna be your first impression to an agent. You're a writer. It better be compelling, right? If your query letter is not compelling. Your book's not compelling. Well, it could be, but it's, you're not gonna get to that point because they need to be compelled in the first…

SAVANNAH: To read it. 

JAMIE: Yeah. To read it. Right. A lot of agencies, they only want the query letter, so you're not even able to see, they're not even gonna see a different impression. They're just gonna go off of that first impression. And so, you know, I found it encouraging to figure out a way to be creative within some sort of structure because otherwise it's like, “Just be creative!” And it's like, right, what does that mean? What do I include? What do I do? There's like a million things to include then.

JAMIE: And instead having something more focused and then you're like… Oh cool, I can like work around this. I can make it stand out. And make it like really interesting. Because Instead of having to feel limited by some, like, just some structure things or different points that you need to hit within genres.

SAVANNAH: And I think some writers think that it's not gonna be fun when they follow the framework, but I've found that people who embrace it actually have a lot of fun and then get further than with if they didn't embrace it. 


SAVANNAH: The other thing I wanted to say too is you keep saying, “It's probably going to take a couple years… Realistically, I think for some people—what I teach on the podcast is like, we need to figure out what your why is. Because if you don't know why it's worth going through all this effort and having the patience and getting rejected, it's gonna be really hard to sustain that motivation. And I know this is probably an area of your expertise. Do you have any feedback on that or any thoughts? 

JAMIE: Oh, I completely agree, and I think the why needs to be, this is something I teach in my course that yeah, everything you do needs a why because you'll lose motivation or just sheer willpower is not enough. And the why… I always frame it as like, it needs to be something positive that you're going towards as opposed to sometimes we have whys that are like a negative, like, right? “Oh, I'll feel like a failure if I don't publish a book.” It’s not very motivating. It's like, God, ouch. Yeah. You know, believe me, I've been there, so don't think I know. I only know this because I know it. Yeah.  But you know, the why has to be like… You're going towards something like what am I looking forward to with, and, and it could be small things like… That's something that I've had to learn on the publishing journey is like, the big moments are really few and far between. So you have to look forward to like… When I see the cover for the first time. Or the conversation with someone who gets my vision and wants to talk about it like that is the most fun when someone comes… That's a win. Like when my agent now from rude came to me with like, she, we got on the phone and she was like, can I just tell you all the things I like about your book?

SAVANNAH: You're like, let me go get a cup of coffee. Sure!

JAMIE: I'm like, can I record this, please? So, you know, it's like things like that where you're, you're going towards something, you know, even like going towards things that, you know, don't even have to do with any kind of milestone moment. But yeah, you really do have to have, I mean… I wish I could tell you, oh, it's not gonna take a couple years, but even if you've got a book deal today, it would still take 18 to 24 months for the book to come out. That's just, they're publishing schedules. In general. I mean, I know it sucks because we, most writers feel like, I wish I was published yesterday. But we have to trust in the timing. We have to trust that it's all gonna work out the way that it is. And yeah, having that why and having a couple even a myriad of whys is really important because it is very easy to lose motivation, especially when you face rejection, which you most likely will. But even that, like my why for rejection was positive. I was like, at least I'm in the game. Like, I'm not sitting on the sidelines anymore, watching other people publish books. I'm like, right. At least I did it. You know, like I did it. 

SAVANNAH: Yeah. And there's something cool about having done it too, because even if you're getting rejections, that's still such a big, brave step in the right direction. You know, that's something a lot of people won't do. 

JAMIE: Right. So, and that's, and that keeps us from doing the things. And it's like, I think if you can get comfortable getting rejected and having things not go your way and even failing at things, it's like you're unstoppable. You can do whatever. 

SAVANNAH: Right. And on that note, I was gonna ask you earlier how, because I know you said that you like getting feedback and there are some authors that feedback is scary and it feels like I'm gonna just be, hear all the things I'm doing wrong. So what are your thoughts or how do you look at getting feedback? 

JAMIE: Well, I think we all need to allow ourselves a tantrum from time to time. Like, it does suck sometimes. Right? Especially if the feedback isn't glaringly positive. There are things you're like, Ooh, that stings oof. But I look at it as it's serving the greater story and it's not about me, and no one expected me to be perfect at this right away. And you know, you also have to… Like we were talking about before, do you trust the person that is giving you feedback?  

JAMIE: I had something where I got like some really harsh notes from someone as a beta reader, and I was like, I'm not gonna take these on. Like, it sucked, but it was like, oh, this isn't, this person was expecting a different book, you know? And a lot of these notes would take away from the heart of the story. You know, like I had a very specific purpose of what I wanted my book to be. There's so many ways you can go with a book, you know, but I was like, I wanna write a hopeful, uplifting book. So if you're expecting it to be like a really dark literary fiction, it's not gonna be that, you know?


JAMIE: So it's important to go through that a little bit and then also recognize, I think once you actually implement the notes and get the feedback in, and you can really take it as not like a slight against you and you see how much it really does reshape things and make things better... The next time the feedback is easier because you're like, okay, I see what we're doing here and it's not really about getting it right, right away. I think like a really big block for people is trying to get it right right away. And it's like no one is gonna give you extra credit for that. 

SAVANNAH: Well, and it's probably never gonna happen.

JAMIE: Yeah. And it's not gonna happen. So like let's, I mean we don't have to have that expectation because we're not gonna meet it. And I now find that really freeing. And you know, because I'm now working on my option book and I was talking to my agent and I was like, “Do I have to have it all figured out in the book?” Because there was still some things, you know, you write a draft and then you go, is that character supposed to have a sister? Do I need to kill her off? Where do I do, you know, you go, you create this idea in the beginning and then by like page 200, you're like, I don't know if I want her to even have a family. You know? 


JAMIE: There's so many things that you start thinking of. And my agent was like, no, it's actually like really collaborative of shaping the story from the beginning. So it's better to have less fixed ideas. And I was like, ooh, that sounds amazing. Instead of in the past I would've been like, no, it needs to be perfect. And no one's expecting it to be perfect, so I'm like, wait. What? It's nice hearing that. And you know, I think that that's really refreshing. And once you get past that whole… I'm gonna get rejected or I'm not a good enough writer because that's the other thing I really had to come to terms with. There is no good enough. Like there really isn't, because art is completely subjective. 

JAMIE: Like we look at, we have Colleen Hoover on every single list ever. And there are some people that truly do not like those books. You know, and they're not like high brow National BookAward finalists. They're very genre fiction that people really can't put down. And so what's good? Is the good book the one that wins the Pulitzer? Or is it the one that you know..? So it's so subjective. And actually we need to look at that as like so freeing because there's just… It’s the same way, like you go into a museum and say like, this painting is better than this. Right. How, who gets to decide? Yeah. And I mean, sometimes I go into a modern art museum and I'm like, that's just blue on a canvas. What is that? And I'm like, all right, someone gets this that I don't get, but yeah. Cool. To each their own. It's in a museum, I guess. So, you know, it's like, I think that that's a really cool thing to recognize and be humbled by that. Like, this pursuit of good enough. It's like who gets to decide? It's so subjective that that's why we get so enamored with it because there's no way to measure it. And then you just go, wait a second. Actually, that can be really freeing to let that go. And just make art for yourself and write books for yourself, you know?

SAVANNAH: Especially with a story like yours, it's going to find its people you know… And that's who you want to read it anyway. 

JAMIE: Right. So it's like… Make it for you. Make it for the people like you and you're, you've got a win-win. I love this quote, I don't know who said it, but it, I think it was a tweet and someone was like, make sure you do write the story that you wanna write because you will read it like dozens of times. And it's so true.

JAMIE: I think, yeah, you have to really go based on like what you like to read and what you love and instead of what's like just popular right now. Or what you think you should be. Yeah. And what you think you should be writing because like I will say that that's like a really… That's gonna keep the motivation up. Whereas it's really easy to abandon something when you're just like, oh, I wrote this just to get a book deal. And then it's like your heart's probably not in it. 

SAVANNAH: Yeah, exactly. And so, to back up, for anybody who doesn't know what an option book is, can you explain that?

JAMIE: Yeah. So some I don't know if it's with every publisher but if you get a multi-book deal, that's when they'll buy like your, two of your books or three of your books, like your next books. A lot of publishers, they want you to give them the option to take your next. And so they have like sometimes 30 days to decide on it. And you don't need to have like the full draft written. It's more like you have a pitch, right? The first three chapters and then like a synopsis. Like intense synopsis. And then you go from there. And I mean, from what I understand most publishers want to do the option, you know, they like to stay with an author. And so, you know, that's, that's what my agent told me. So also, if your debut novel does well and well is very relative, but like, if it sells copies then you're in a good place. And I find this process a little bit uncertain, but I'm just like trusting it, you know? There's a lot of pros and cons to multi-book deals too. It seems very nice to have that kind of certainty, but it also means you're kind of if one of your books does really well, you're still now in a deal from your debut time where they didn't know how it was gonna perform yet. And so there is a lot of, there's kind of like good and bad things to each of those, just the same way that like, there's good and bad things to like the auctions and all the thing. Yeah. Any deal, anything that looks like it's cut and dry. It's usually not. 

SAVANNAH: Yeah. It depends on your goals and what you want for your writing career and things like that.

JAMIE: One thing I'll say is, you know, we really do kind of fixate on the advance, but it truly is in advance. And from what I understand with publishing, it's actually the worst thing that can happen. Like, and not the worst thing, but like it's a really not great thing that if you don't earn out your advance. So you don't sell enough copies to earn out your advance. Like that actually is the thing that'll affect your ability to publish more books. Right. So sometimes it is better to take like a lower advance and make sure that you earn out and then kind of build from there. Because I know we all love to get on Publisher's Marketplace and see what everyone's getting and go to the little key and see… But it's sometimes a lot of pressure to have a big advance and then you have to earn it out. And you don't always know because then you have to earn out on top of it. Like their costs, they apply those against your sales, like the cost to marketing and all of that. So it can start adding up quite a bit. 

SAVANNAH: Right. And think about it from their perspective too, from a business angle, it's like, what looks better? Right? Someone who got this giant advance that didn't earn out or someone that got maybe a lower advance that did earn out and exceeded expectations. So just, I don't know. It's fun to think about things from the opposite point of view sometimes, but, okay… 

SAVANNAH: So I had a question for you about Radically Content, because this was the book that was published last year, and this is your non-fiction memoir, inspirational book, right?

JAMIE: Mm-hmm. 

SAVANNAH: Are we getting a movie? 

JAMIE: I meannnn, it's in the works! Yeah. 

SAVANNAH: Is that something we can talk about? 

JAMIE: Yeah, of course. It's public. I've shared as many details as I can share, but yes, I have a producer who optioned it. We are working with a screenwriter. She's wonderful. She currently is a writer on Family Guy, so she's hilarious. And I, yeah, I mean, we are about a week out from receiving like the treatment, which is the outline for the script. 

SAVANNAH: That's so fun!

JAMIE: Yeah. And then by summer, I think we should have like a first draft of the script and yeah, it was a really cool process. I mean, I talk about knowing myself. I felt like I should have adapted it. Like I, I mean, I had that thought, I'm like, should I be writing the script? And then I was just really honest with myself and I was like, I'm just too close to it. I can't see myself as a character in a book, you know? Radically Content is very much my story. So a lot of it is being pulled… You know, it's weird to be sitting in meetings of like, “Yeah, the character that's based on Jamie is gonna be doing this…” I'm like, huh? 

SAVANNAH: You're like, you're talking about me!

JAMIE: Yeah. I'm like, me, me. That's me. 

SAVANNAH: Yeah. That's so, that's so fun. Yeah. And it's so, it's really exciting.

JAMIE: I mean, it's a lot of waiting. There's a lot of, in between times. Things take a long time. So I don't know when it'll hit the screen. But so exciting. It's really, really exciting. 

SAVANNAH: Did you ever think this would get turned into a movie? 

JAMIE: Oh, no. I was, I thought for, I mean, I was like the novel. Yeah, that'd be really exciting. But I was like, who's gonna make Radically Content into a movie? You know, like, that's wild. And then it's just, the way that it has come together is really magical and I'm just like, I guess we're making a movie! Let's do it! And it really is that kind of feeling of like, let's just do it. Let's just see how it goes. You know, two, like three, three women just working on it and I love it. You know, we wanna keep it just us for now so that we don't get into those boardrooms where they start telling us here's how we need it to go and here's how it should be. And yeah. So it's going really well. It's really fun. And. I'm just like trusting the process completely because yeah, I'm not the one writing the script, which is, which is actually really cool. Like I get to see the process and how it's done exactly. And I get to have this screenwriter interpret it on her own. And, you know, I have known her for a while and she ended up… She read the book before I even like, got in touch with her about this and I was like, that's what I always wanted. Like, if we were gonna do this and hire someone, I wanted someone that was already a fan of the book and not someone that would've had to read it for like a job. And so yeah, she was already ready. She was already in it and yeah. I mean it's… It’s definitely the dream, I will say. But it also, I will temper that with like, there's a lot of, in between times you know, so it's a lot of patience, like so much patience. 

JAMIE: And I, for one, am working to get comfortable with a lot of patience in all of these things that I'm doing. It sounds like such a simple thing, but patience is very hard. The days feel really long when you're waiting on things to happen. Like we all know how it feels when we're waiting for that email. It's like, why is an hour feel like an entire day?! That's nuts. 

SAVANNAH: Oh my gosh. I know. But it's such, such exciting stuff, so it's worth it, right? 

JAMIE: It definitely is.

SAVANNAH: Well, I'm gonna ask you one last question then we can wrap this up. What's one piece of advice you would give to writers who are just starting out? 

JAMIE: Ah, believe you have something worth. Like, yes, writing is an act of self-belief and just believe you have something worth saying. There's always gonna be so many books, so many people, so many things, so much art. But like, it's the process of believing in yourself and bringing something to fruition that's on your heart that matters the most. Like let all the publishing and all of that worry go away and just believe in yourself, because that's like where confidence really comes from is doing it for you first.

SAVANNAH: I love it. Okay. That's beautiful And that's gonna be a big takeaway. Believe in yourself, have confidence. I love that. Well it has been super fun kind of going down memory lane, talking about your journey, and I know all of this is going to inspire other people to take action and get their books written and put themselves out there. So thank you for sharing. And where can people go to find out more about you and your books and follow along on your journey?

JAMIE: I'm at Jamie Varon on like every social platform, or you can go to I have all my stuff there. So yeah, plenty of stuff to look around and, you know, feel free to message me on Instagram and I'll shoot you a link to whatever you need too. 

SAVANNAH: Perfect. Okay. And we'll link to all that in the show notes too. So thank you again, Jamie, for spending time with me and I can't wait to see what's next on the list of things you're gonna create. So good luck in all your endeavors and we'll have to have you back someday for movie talk or Main Character Energy release or something fun. 

JAMIE: Sounds great! Thank you so much for having me! 

SAVANNAH: You're welcome!

Final Thoughts

I hope this conversation with Jamie has inspired you to keep going no matter what. My favorite take away from this episode was that Jamie stayed true to her vision for this story even when she had some doubts and even when she got feedback asking her to change certain things that didn’t match her vision. Jamie is SUCH an inspiration, and I feel so lucky to have been part of her writing process!

To learn more about Jamie, and to get details on her novel, Main Character Energy, check out her website or go follow her on Instagram @JamieVaron. 

If you want to learn more about my Notes to Novel course—and how it can help you finish your first draft—you can click here to get all the details!

Savannah is a developmental editor and book coach who helps fiction authors write, edit, and publish stories that work. She also hosts the top-rated Fiction Writing Made Easy podcast full of actionable advice that you can put into practice right away. Click here to learn more →