For aspiring author and former WCU student Carissa Hickok, writing for a living was not even a question when it came to deciding future career choices. Hickok is currently in the process of finding an agent to represent her manuscript “How to Spot a Psycho (And if you’re with one): Run, Girl, Run!” Hickok’s book can be categorized as part of the popular genre of literature for women called “chick lit.” Hickok calls it a “comedic handbook of short, real stories illustrating red flags in men.” She describes her pitch as “Knowing what you want is good. Knowing when to run is better.” Hickok currently has her manuscript displayed on authonomy.com, a website that allows aspiring authors to post their completed manuscripts in hope that an agent will be interested.

Hickok discovered the website when she was browsing the internet, looking for help on how to submit her manuscript to HarperCollins.

“Most major publishing houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, as I found in my search. Authonomy is a site HarperCollins created to more easily weed out good manuscripts,” Hickok said.

Authors who submit their manuscript to the site want to get into the top five slots, which is called the “editor’s desk.” When Hickok first joined Authonomy, her manuscript was at the 4,000 spot. Now, one month later, her manuscript is at the 140th spot.

“My book has only been posted for one month, and for many people it takes up to two years to move to the spot I’m at right now,” Hickok said. Hickok’s manuscript was also at number one on the website’s “Weekly Top Rated Books” list for the first week it was posted.

Hickok has a lot of experience as a writer. She was an English major at WCU, and now works as an Account Executive for a Public Relations company called Bloom Public Relations, Inc. She says that a lot of her work involves some form of writing.

“My boss actually offered me the position based off of my manuscript because he liked the creative aspect of my personality,” Hickok said.

Hickok also talks about the professor at WCU who encouraged her to write when others were telling her that she could not have a successful career as a writer.

“Dr. Trotman was one of my writing professors and encouraged me to write. He was a very positive influence on me,” Hickok said. “I think it’s important for Professors to know how much of an influence they can have on their students just by showing interest.”

Hickok also included Dr. Trotman in her acknowledgements section of her book, thanking him for all of his influence and inspiration.

So what is Hickok’s book about? She describes it as different from self-help books. She says it is different because she discusses many of the “green-light” stories that regular self-help books consider “red-light” stories. “I discuss persistence as a quality in men that many girls find attractive; when really it can be a red flag screaming this guy has nothing better to do with his time than chase after you.”

Hickok hopes that college students will be able to relate to her book. “I think college students could use it to recognize negative traits in the person pursuing them, or just to relate to and to try to find humor in awkward or hurtful situations.” Hickok does have a few agents interested in her book but if she cannot find one, she hopes to self-publish the book.

Hickok encourages writers to keep writing. “Don’t be discouraged when people tell you that you can’t do it,” Hickok said. “The people who told me that I couldn’t be successful with writing had never read any of my work, but just assumed that I couldn’t be successful because it was known to be a difficult profession.”

Hickok has held jobs that involved writing such as an editor for a computer network management company and as a copywriter for the Walt Disney Company. Her final words of encouragement : “It is very possible to be successful, just don’t give up!”

Angela Thomas is a fourth year student majoring in English with a minor in web technology. She can be reached at AT683005@wcupa.edu

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