Search & Replace S03E14: Rachael Mitchell of The Unknown Authors Club

Despite their well-written stories, Rachael Mitchell and her writing cohort faced frustration when they saw less deserving individuals getting book deals. In response, they founded The Unknown Authors Club and published an anthology featuring essays from fifteen talented but unpublished writers. Through this process, they realized they could become publishers themselves, offering services to authors and assisting with editing and book production. The Unknown Authors Club’s work has created a supportive community for writers, encouraging them to persevere despite rejection and challenges. Discover how pure determination to keep going can fulfill your dreams on Search and Replace. 

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 

[00:00:10] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if the quality of your work isn’t what gets you the ability to do that work? I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace. 

All the puzzle pieces for Rachael Mitchell’s creative writing career were coming together except for one thing.

[00:00:30] Rachael Mitchell: So I had been working on this great project. I was so excited. I happened to snag an agent, so I had representation and I thought, man, I’m probably, like, days away from a big publisher signing me to publish my amazing bestselling book. And the reality was, it was crickets. 

And I had been in a writing cohort. I kept in touch with two of the women, and the three of us kept talking and we were all, kind of, saying the same thing. And the theme was, man, no one wants us. Our stories are good, they’re really well written. It’s high quality that, you know, we were like, there’s so much garbage that you can buy to read that’s just trash and not worth reading and not well written and not, you know, crafted well. And you’re like, what is the deal? Like we’re, we’re not. John Grisham. We’re not professionals yet, but we feel like we have a good thing going with the things that we’re writing. 

And as we kept noticing the people who are getting book deals, it kind of went from despair to frustration and then, kind of, anger of like, this really isn’t fair.

[00:01:31] Joe Taylor Jr.: It’s certainly hard to hear that the work you’ve produced isn’t publishable because you are not yet famous enough. But it’s another level of frustration to discover that the work those famous folks are churning out isn’t always as good as yours. 

[00:01:48] Rachael Mitchell: I read this crappy book the other day from, say, an influencer. You know, it was probably ghost written and I can’t believe that I don’t have a book deal and this person does.

And so instead of continuing to complain about it, we kind of got to the point where we just thought, we’ve gotta do something about this. There are stories, not just our own, but plenty of other people that we knew personally. And we had a hunch that if we know a good fifteen people who have great stories to tell who are not getting published, then there’s gotta be hundreds and hundreds of people who can write well, have great stories to tell, and their stories literally will never get out there because they, you know, don’t have an agent, they don’t have a publisher, they don’t have an editor. So we thought, well, what can we do about it? 

[00:02:35] Joe Taylor Jr.: Rachael and her partners did what they knew how to do best – they wrote about it. 

[00:02:40] Rachael Mitchell: And we thought, well, let’s start by just writing an anthology where we could ask, say these fifteen people that we know. Like, hey, could you write an essay about what it feels like to be unknown? And we called ourselves, we were like, let’s be The Unknown Authors Club and we’ll just start a club. And, you know, we were like, should it be social? 

And then we thought no, no, let’s do something. Let’s do something that we can give back. You know? So we thought, okay, let’s get authors and let’s all write these essays about our own experiences. Cuz we’ve all had different amounts of rejection and different avenues of it. So let’s all write about our experiences and then let, we’ll compile them. And then The Unknown Authors Club will self-publish this cool little fiery book called The Life of an Unknown Author, An Anthology on Writing and Publishing From Some of the Best Authors You Haven’t Yet Read. And it’s a very small but mighty book and it features fifteen authors and everyone comes at it from a different perspective. 

[00:03:42] Joe Taylor Jr.: And their own perspective changed during that process, Racheal and The Unknown Authors Club realized they’d discovered that they could just be publishers. 

[00:03:51] Rachael Mitchell: We published that book and after we were done, I thought oh great. Good for us. We did this thing, you know, we stuck it to the man. And my friends were like, we’ve done a lot of work now I think we should start our own publishing company.

We had learned so many things while publishing this first book that we thought, man, this knowledge that we have is now worth something to somebody. And so why don’t we just offer our services? 

So I guess we’re a hybrid publisher, so if someone came with us with a finished manuscript, we would look at it. If maybe it hasn’t been edited at all, maybe it’s been a little bit edited, we can do some editing services. And then we, I mean, we can take it from a document on your computer to being a finished, published book in your hand with an amazing cover. 

We’re really passionate about it and we all have different skillsets. So together, I don’t know how we lucked out on that, but we work really well together. We like each other a lot and we, our skills really compliment each other. So it’s been way more fun than I was expecting and a lot more rewarding. 

By the end of, let’s see, by the spring of 2024. I think we will have published maybe six, maybe seven, books and more to come.

But we feel like it’s a great start for getting excellent books out into people, readers, hands, people who love to read and. We’re proud of the things we’ve done. 

[00:05:23] Joe Taylor Jr.: Rachel says that The Unknown Authors Club have discovered something even more unexpected than just a new platform to share their work. 

[00:05:30] Rachael Mitchell: There is a community aspect that has been really special and exciting about what we’re doing. Not only the three of us together, but then I feel like we, sort of, envelop the author that we’re publishing. We know them, we’ve talked to them, we’re excited about them. They’re not alone with their story anymore, and I’m sure we’re not the only little publishing company doing it. And it’s like we want people to know about us. Not only so that they can discover, you know, their next favorite author they haven’t yet read, but we wanna help people. 

Being a writer is so lonely. So I would say find a community and don’t get discouraged. And it’s almost impossible because at some point you are going to get discouraged because you’ve gotten rejected again, or you think your writing sucks, or you sent it to an editor and it came back like with a million edits. 

Just keep going. Just do it. You have to write that bad stuff in order for that good thing to come out. The worst thing you could do would be to give up, because I think some of the magic happens in the growth. When we’re showing up and doing the work we need encouragement, we need community, and we have to just have some serious determination to keep going. 

[00:06:45] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s Rachael Mitchell, one of the founders of The Unknown Authors Club. We’ve got links to her work and to some other folks who could be your new favorite authors in our show notes and on our website at

Today’s episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. 

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. 

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Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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