How I Got Published: Kate Hilton


I wanted to feature Kate Hilton in this series because her self published novel was picked up by a traditional publishing house.

Kate is the author of two novels, THE HOLE IN THE MIDDLE and JUST LIKE FAMILY (2017).  She is also the author of the non-fiction blog THE PEN PAL PROJECT.  For fun, Kate organizes stuff.  At the moment, she is on the Board of the Writers’ Trust of Canada, and is Deputy Control Freak for Authors for Indies, a grassroots event celebrating independent bookstores in Canada.  Kate lives in Toronto with her two sons, where she is working on her third novel.

I got published in three stages: I self-published, I published in Canada, and then I published in the US.  I still feel as though my own publishing story is unfolding, having entered the US market at the beginning of January.

Before you publish, as we all know, you have to write.  I wrote my book, The Hole in the Middle, while I was working full time.  It took me about three years to come up with a draft that I believed was worthy of publication.

Sadly, not everyone agreed with me.  I submitted my manuscript to 17 agents in Canada and the US.  Most never wrote back.  A few sent kind rejection letters.  Two agents asked for the full manuscript; one ultimately rejected it and the other broke off all communication with me.  In truth, the process was totally demoralizing and I thought seriously about giving up on it, since what had started as a midlife empowerment project was becoming the exact opposite.

I put the book away for a few months and licked my wounds.  Then, in January 2013, I took it out again and read it with fresh eyes.  I still liked it.  I still believed that it could find an audience.  But I knew that I would have to commit to self-publishing if I wanted to get it out into the world.

The logistics of self-publishing aren’t that complicated, and there are many online resources to help you through it.  The biggest hurdle in the self-publishing process for me was that initial decision to put my work, and myself, on display without the protection of a traditional publisher. All evidence to the contrary, I’m a fairly private person. But self-published writers have to force themselves on the reading public and insist that they pay attention to you.

I have a background in public relations, and I created a social media campaign using a variety of tools.  I timed the launch to coincide with Mother’s Day, since The Hole in the Middle is about an overburdened working mom.  I have a pretty extensive network, and I asked everyone I knew to help me promote the book via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and an electronic newsletter.   The result was that I had 13,000 downloads in the first month.  It was so unexpected, and so gratifying.

In the course of all of that self-promotion, The Hole in the Middle fell into the hands of a fellow writer, who gave it to her agent, Beverley Slopen. Beverley loved the book, and invited me to sign on with her, which I was thrilled to do.

Within a week, she had sold it to HarperCollins. HarperCollins released The Hole in the Middle in November of 2013, and it went on to become a bestseller in Canada.

And then we waited.  Almost a year later, Penguin Random House bought the US rights for The Hole in the Middle (along with a second novel), and released it in January of 2016.

At every stage, my writing career has been an exhilarating, frustrating, nail-biting, throwing-myself-on-the-bed-and-weeping, screaming-with-joy thrill ride.  All of it at once.  Except when it’s boring, which usually happens around Chapter 16 for a few pages.  You can skip that part.


Twitter: @katemhilton
Facebook: Kate Hilton Author

Read my review of The Hole in The Middle. 

53 thoughts on “How I Got Published: Kate Hilton

  1. This sounds like a book I will thoroughly enjoy….and I love Kate’s tenacity, which of course is what any one in the arts needs…..However, I always believe that ultimately, cream will rise to the top….and clearly this is what has happened for Kate. Thank you, Carol…Wishing you a beautiful weekend…Janet:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, both, for this interesting and helpful discussion. It’s really good to know the paths other people take towards publication; I’m learning a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great story Carol and I believe Kate is right about marketing our book means stepping out into the unknown and out of our comfort zone. I think creating a variety of platforms to promote our books is also important. Very inspiring. Well done to Kate. 🙂

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  4. How I loved reading this. I found myself nodding my head, having experienced much of the same (at least in the indie side of publishing). I’m an introvert also, and promoting myself and my books has been a huge challenge. But I’ve learned so much, and my writing has improved because of it, and my readership spurs me own. Thanks for this great post!!! Keep ’em coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Super inspiring. Lately I’ve decided not to take rejection as that- and to just see it as something much less stop-me-in-my-tracks like. I love how this story literally had a happy ending. Congrats to Kate on her success!

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  6. Thank you, Carol for hosting Kate Hilton here. Kate, Wow! What a rollercoaster journey and your perseverance and ultimate success is an inspiration to all budding writers. The first months download figure is phenomenal and I am not surprised you were quickly picked up by traditional publishing house. Thank you for sharing your story with us and you’ve given me a real lift today! 😀 wishing you continued success in your writing and look forward to reading your book. Warmest wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Annika, Thanks for your warm wishes! The novel isn’t available in the UK. I hope it will be at some point, but there are no immediate plans for that market. If I ruled the world… Yours, Kate

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am glad that Kate was willing to share her uphill battle to get published in a unique way. The book sounds Ike your books, Carol in a mixture of humor with great characters. I admire people who do what it takes to get published.
    Awhile back in the 70’s, my Dad wrote a book which he paid to have published by Vantage Press. It sold locally, but his goal was to get his ideas published so he could have a time stamp on his concerns about nuclear reactors needing careful monitoring and bolts checked while his second half of his book led to great inventions in science and space exploration. He was a NASA rocket and nuclear engineer. I am proud he chose to write and publish this, since it is an innovative book. Congrats to Carol and Kate: 3 Cheers for getting your works and words out there!! ☆☆☆☆

    Liked by 1 person

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