Ortiz wrote a highly personal memoir Excavation about being groomed by her English teacher for five years starting in the eighth grade
Her agent shopped it to major publishers and editors who praised the writing but said they didn't want to publish a memoir
She was able to publish with an indie press and had to organize her own book tour
Memoir did well for an indie publication but she talks about the limits of indie publishing (don't have enough copies to send out for awards etc). She held out hoping a larger press would pick it up for a reprinting (never happened)
A few years ago fans of her book started to reach out to tell her there was a novel coming out that sounded similar to her memoir
My Dark Vanessa author Kate Elizabeth Russell reached out to Ortiz through Twitter and admitted to reading the book in 2015 and cited it as one of the inspirations for her work
Ortiz remains frustrated that respected industry vets like her work and it is now being used by white authors to secure big publication deals while she still struggles to find an audience for her work
The essay was published by Roxane Gay's new online publication Gay Mag (not focused on LGBTQ stuff, more of a pop culture site). The two connected over that whole American Dirt debacle.