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Publishers were handing out book deals like brownies—baking them early in the morning and holding them out for whoever wanted a taste in the afternoon. Magazines were hiring the eager-faced girl with ambition and a smile, and newspapers were printing about their infinite number of internships because there was so much that needed to be written. So much that needed to be said.

No one really cared who you knew, it was what you wrote. And as for me, small town girl from the outskirts of Massachusetts, even I wasn’t looked at like the know-nothing girl from a city no one gave a second-thought about. I was a fast-rising editor at one of the biggest papers in the country, and according to my supervisors, I was going to be lead editor within just a few years.

I arrived to the office two hours early every morning—coffee for the superiors in hand, just to show them how hard I was willing to work. I did the work no one else wanted to do, completed the research that everyone else found mundane, and double checked the facts even after they were cleared by our legal team.

Six months into my job at The New York Times, I was assigned to write about the sudden troubles and countless crashes in the aviation industry, how most of the airlines (except Elite) couldn’t buy good publicity.

First, there was the Asian flight that disappeared over the Indian Ocean—so suddenly and mysteriously that no one could (and have yet to) figure out what happened. Next, there was a series of unexplainable crashes at American airports—all apparently triggered by pilots’ lack of emotional stability. And lastly, there was the final straw that thrust the industry into an uncontrollable tailspin: An American pilot, flying for a foreign carrier, deliberately crashed his plane into the side of a mountain, killing all one hundred and fifty passengers on board.

I reported on each of these stories, exhaustively writing and rewriting the facts, and then I realized that, maybe, all of these things needed further research. Maybe they needed to be a book. And maybe, just maybe, I should figure out what Elite was doing right to avoid the issues that plagued every other airline.

I sent the idea to Kimberly and within months, a handful of publishers asked for more additional details. Some passed, some never got further than the initial interest, but three large publishers did. After all the deals were laid on the table, we went with St. Martin’s Press, since they seemed the most enthusiastic about the idea.

For six months, I was supposed to go undercover as a flight attendant—to try and get the real scoop about Elite Airways and the airline industry. And at the end, we’d “add a bit of a fiction to it for liability’s sake,” but it was going to be marketed as “the closest true account ever printed.”

The book was to be titled, The Truth Behind the Mile High Club, but my author name wasn’t going to be my own. It was to be “Taylor G.” since “Gillian T.” and “Gillian Taylor” were “far too plain,” “not commercial enough” and “way too pretentious.”

Everything was set.

Or so I thought...

Unfortunately, it was a lot harder to get hired as an Elite Airways flight attendant than I’d originally anticipated. I failed the interview session three times, so I had to temporarily settle for being a part time gate agent. It also turned out that publishers have a short term attention span—especially when the introduction of e-books and Kindles began to cause change.

Slowly, the publishers laid off editors— claiming this had nothing to do with the rise of digital media. But then the magazines and newspapers began to hand out pink slips, and Fifth Avenue, once with one of the biggest stream of writers, became a dried up gorge of heartbroken dreamers.

What was once celebratory and new hire parties in the morning, became the clearing of desks and teary-eyed phone calls in the evening.

I paid no mind to that at first, though. I was still safely tucked in my internship, and working as a gate agent a few times a week; all while writing feverishly for six hours a night.

When I completed the first draft of my book, the editor at the publishing house decided that it only needed a few tweaks, so it was given a release date that was nine months away. I was promised a small promotional tour, advertising in all of the best bookstores, and a pretty big print run for a debut author.

All amazing things that never happened.

Two weeks after I submitted my final version of the book, Kimberly called me to say that the publisher was pushing the release of Mile High Club back. A pilot had just successfully landed a plane in the Hudson River and everyone was calling him a hero and praising him for successfully saving all one hundred fifty passengers and five crew. Releasing my book within six months of such an incident wouldn’t be well received by the public.

I didn’t panic. I knew things like this happened all the time. Besides, at that point, I’d finally passed the first round of the never-ending flight attendant interview process, and the publisher was offering me an advance to write a sequel.

On Christmas, the day I planned to call my family and tell them all about my huge, secret accomplishment and the book’s late January release date, Kimberly called and said two things: 1. “They have to push the date back again, Gill. Turns out they are in some type of pricing war with Amazon, so they can’t put your book up for pre-order. Also, your book may not be in Barnes and Noble until later. They’re not giving much shelf space to authors who don’t have established fan-bases.” 2. “But! I was just at a conference and I met this huge indie author who has just sold a million copies of her book! She also just got picked up by your publisher!”