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Professional Writing Grad Breaks into Publishing World

  • By: Grant Patterson
  • Published:
Alyssa Roat

Alyssa Roat was sure she would be a published author from the time she was in the fourth grade. That’s why she chose Taylor University’s Professional Writing major, graduating in 2020. Later that year, Roat and Taylor classmate Hope Bolinger released Dear Hero together, a superhero novel for young adults. Roat also released its sequel, Dear Henchman, and published Wraithwood, the first installment of the Wraithwood Trilogy, in 2021.

The Road to Publishing

“I came to Taylor wanting to figure out how to take on the publishing industry, and that’s what I learned,” Roat said. 

The Professional Writing program uniquely focuses on the publishing industry and how a manuscript becomes a book. 

“When choosing a college, I specifically picked Taylor for the professional writing program,” Roat said. “Professional writing programs were few and far between, especially in the Christian sphere, so I loved what I saw at Taylor. If not for the teaching and connections I received there, I wouldn’t be working full time in the industry the way I am now.”

Roat’s goal was to become an editor at a publishing house while writing books on the side, which requires knowledge of the publishing world—knowledge that the professional writing program provides.

Roat may have just recently published her three books (with more planned to publish in the years ahead), but she has been working towards this goal long before she left college. She completed several internships and took any opportunity that came her way, none more influential than her internship at CYLE. 

“I met Cyle one day because he was coming to guest speak in a professional writing class that I wasn’t even in and I politely ambushed him before the class and pitched myself as an intern,” Roat said.  “My sophomore year, I interned with Cyle Young Literary Elite (CYLE) for my practicum. Right before my junior year, I became a junior agent with the agency and began taking on my own clients. After graduation, I became an associate agent.” 

Roat got an agent of her own around the time she became a junior agent at CYLE. Her agent began shopping her book around to publishers, but it took her two years to get any offers on her book and another year for it to be published. 

Roat knows the importance of having patience when it comes to publications.

“Don’t get frustrated when things take a long time to manifest; I was ready to quit three semesters in, thinking I would never go anywhere and I should choose a different major,” Roat said. "Just as I was planning what major to switch to, within the span of a couple weeks, I got two internships, a job at The Echo [Taylor’s student newspaper], a writing award, and my first national print publication. God effectively smacked me upside the head and told me this was where I was meant to be and I better stop moping and get to work.”

Tackling a Career in Publishing

The publishing industry can be challenging to break into, requiring a significant level of work and dedication. Roat knows that very well, and is adamant about taking every opportunity available even if it is in fields you are not comfortable with or used to. 

“Basically, in publishing, opportunities are few and far between. You can’t wait for your dream job to come along. You have to work for it, make connections, and be ready to pounce when it opens up,” Roat said. “Everyone is connected, so do a good job at one thing and someone will recommend you for another.”

Taylor’s Professional Writing program can help you get there. If you want to take steps towards your publishing dream, check out the Professional Writing major page here.