Want to Know How I Got Published? The Punk Way.

My self-published book got me an agent and a two-book deal.

Cyndy Etler | Teen Coach | Author
4 min readMar 10, 2021


Girl with pink hair and tattoos writes with chalk on sidewalk.
Photo by Jorge Maya on Unsplash

When I was in college, I had the coolest professor. She taught history and politics with early hip-hop culture, when the human beatbox and breakdance cardboard were tools of the revolution. She taught philosophy through a book — a zine, practically — called Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing. That book introduced me to DIY as a commitment, a lifestyle. Do It Yourself, ironically, has led to my success in getting big-house published.

What is the Punk Ethos?

Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing introduced me to DIY as a lifestyle choice. The punk iteration of DIY — Do It Yourself — has nothing to do with the glossy, wood-grained home improvement channel competing with HGTV. Punk DIY says screw the system. You don’t need ties, money or good hair to get a thing done; you need your own brain and fingers.

So yeah. Punk DIY would definitely have a snarl for the high-zoot cameras on the DIY Network’s set. And another for my dreams of New York Times bestseller status.

But if we’re doing it our damn selves, shouldn’t we be setting our own damn goals? My goal is to be a bestseller. Yours too? Here’s how: plan to do it all yourself.

How Did I Combine Punk With Publishing?

My YA memoir The Dead Inside was published by Sourcebooks, the 10th biggest publisher in the U.S. How’s that DIY? Well. It was originally self-published as Straightling. And I logged a trillion DIY hours to get that thing into a position where it would snag me an agent, a publishing contract, and a mega-lunge closer to my non-punk goal.

So here’s my big, vital piece of advice, if your goal’s the same as mine: expect nothing from anyone. Expect to work your ass off and to do it, to do everything, for yourself.

How Did I Get Traditionally Published? Brace Yourself.

Here’s a short list of things I did, as a self-published author, that helped land me where I am today:

  • I got up at 4:30 in the morning, every…



Cyndy Etler | Teen Coach | Author

Locked up & homeless as a teen. Now teaching resiliency & hope with my YA memoirs & teen coaching. Seen on CNN, HuffPost, NPR, CBS, ABC. www.cyndyetler.com