Samantha Downing: Writing for Publication - Writer's Digest

Samantha Downing: Writing for Publication

In this post, Samantha Downing shares how the process of writing her second novel (He Started It) differed from her first (My Lovely Wife), her one piece of advice for writers, and more!
Publish date:

Samantha Downing is the USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of My Lovely Wife, which has been nominated for an Edgar award. Her next book, He Started It, was recently released. She currently lives and works in New Orleans. Learn more at

Samantha Downing

Samantha Downing

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In this post, Downing shares how the process of writing her second novel (He Started It) differed from her first (My Lovely Wife), her one piece of advice for writers, and more!


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Name: Samantha Downing
Literary agent: Barbara Poelle at Irene Goodman Literary Agency
Book title: He Started It
Publisher: Berkley/PRH
Release date: July 21, 2020
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Previous title: My Lovely Wife


Elevator pitch for the book: Three siblings, and their spouses, have to go on a road trip to secure an inheritance from their grandfather. Along the way, they have to navigate through old grudges, rivalries, and buried family secrets.

What prompted you to write this book?

I love road trips—not only in real life, but in fiction. Road trips open up so many possibilities. Plus the idea of being confined in a car with the same people for long periods of time…it's a thriller waiting to happen!

How long did it take to go from idea to publication?

I wrote the first draft of this book in three months and then went through about six months of revisions with my editor. At that point, we were about nine months from publication. It still had to go through copyedits, sending out advance copies, early reviews…but the writing part was done.

The original story never changed, though some details and storylines did. As any writer knows, books are a long process no matter how many you've written!

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

This is my second book and it was a much different process than my first. My Lovely Wife was written before I had an agent, much less a book contract, so I had a lot more time to write and revise it. For the second book, I had a deadline and a schedule to keep. 

(6 things writing a second novel taught me.)

Transitioning from writing as a hobby to writing for publication has been a journey! Mostly it's been a change in my mental process and how I think about it.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

No surprises other than having a shorter amount of time to write it!

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I love reading a book that is so engaging I can't put it down, and I have to know what happens next. This is the kind of book I try to write, and I hope this is the kind of experience I can give a reader.


If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Keep writing! Concentrate on your craft, and do it because you love it.


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