[Life After College Book Project] The Waiting Game
Sent Sunday, March 28, 2010
I'm smiling as I sit here writing to you -
I just feel so lucky to have you all in my book-writing boat. One of
these days I'll stop saying that (or maybe not), but I really mean it.
Getting your replies to the first email update
was tons of fun - I really appreciated the words of encouragement, and
a few of you even sent in questions, quotes and tips (which were great
additions to this newsletter). Keep the feedback coming! I want to make
sure you're all enjoying these updates (and hopefully learning and/or
getting inspired along the way).
Since we last talked (okay, so technically we are emailing) I attended the SXSW conference
- aka blogger techie HEAVEN - and finalized my book proposal and sample
chapters. While I was in Austin my literary agent sent my proposal to
about 22 "enthusiastic editors" (as she put it after emailing them
first to see if they were interested in hearing about the project).
Side note: Editors are the front lines of publishing houses - the
people who make decisions about what books to publish. Now we're
playing the waiting game - my agent is going to follow-up with the
editors she contacted this week to see who might be interested in
publishing my book. If more than one publisher is interested there will
likely be an auction (best scenario for me as the author, because it
means the advance would be higher). If no publishers are interested?
Well, let's just not think about that right now :)
guessing that by the time I send Newsletter #3, I will know one way or
another what might happen - eeeeek! I'm surprised that I'm not more
nervous - mostly I just feel relieved. Getting the proposal out of my
head/laptop and into other people's hands feels liberating. At this
point it is up to the universe (okay and my agents, the publishers, ME,
etc) to decide my fate. I just hope it decides in favor of me becoming
a (non self) published author!
Let's get on with the rest of the newsletter, shall we?
In addition to what I shared above:
having a hell of time writing the introduction to my book. Right now it
feels forced and superficial - I don't really connect with the reader
in a meaningful way...and others seem to agree. Some feedback I
recently received: "If she emphasized
the difficulties she had rather than her successes - it might make her
a little more relatable, and less obviously A-type." OUCH! I agree with
the feedback, but reading that reminded me of something very important:
part of becoming a published author means opening myself up to
criticism. Not just of my work, but of ME and how I come across.
know that to make my introduction better it needs to have more truth in
it. To that end, I've set a goal to do at least one "truth writing"
exercise per week, even if I decide not to post on my blog. What is a
truth-writing? For me it's the kind of writing where I'm doing more
channeling than thinking. Writing that comes from the heart; where I
let go of instructing, teaching or "adding value" and just express what
I'm thinking or feeling on the deepest, truthiest level that I
can possibly reach. I want to do more of this because it feels amazing,
and these are the posts that really resonate with people. They often
feel the most vulnerable, but for every time I've nervously hit
"publish" on a "truth" post, I've been blown away by the response and
how much it seems to resonate.
I was interviewed at BlogcastFM about starting a blog and finding a literary agent - take a listen! (it's about 45 minutes long)
you hire a book coach, consultant, mentor? At first I thought I didn't
need one, but if I want to get this thing going before my kids are in
college, I think I might benefit from one.
I don't have one
mentor, but I've made a point to continuously schedule calls with
published authors throughout this process. I've probably spoken with 15
published authors in the last year, and connect with more at every
chance I get. Each one has had great advice and experience to offer,
and I've found it helpful to interview numerous people since every
author's path is so unique. That said, I do think having one or two
mentors (or a coach) would be extremely helpful - there were many times
where I had various coaches assign big book steps as "homework" -
things like cold querying literary agents - that I would have never
done without them challenging me. Long story short? YES - get a book
mentor or coach. I think it will really, really help! And this goes
to all of you - feel free to reach out to me any time with questions
(even though I'm not a published author YET).
Did you have a plan (probably, knowing you) or did you just start writing?
just started writing, and I'm so glad I did! I felt inspired and I just
went for it. The hardest part is starting. If you feel the urge, just
go for it! You can ALWAYS go back and edit or make a plan later. But
sometimes planning is just a way of procrastinating. I say get to the
writing, and the plan will unfold as you go.
How did you find your literary agent? What is usually their commission rate?
standard commission rate is 15% (of the advance and royalties). I sent
about 10 query emails and scheduled interview calls with three agents
who were interested in signing me. I was ready to sign with a guy in
New York, so I hired a lawyer (whom I got connected to from a family
member in the entertainment business) to look over the agreement. The
laywer said one of his good friends is also a literary agent
(well-known, been in the business for a long time), and asked if I'd be
interested in speaking with her. He sent her my query email, she wrote
back right away, and the rest is history! I ended up going with her
instead - something about the trusted network and her experience felt
Great big, innovative, world changing ideas...are plentiful. People who take tiny little baby steps towards them, are rare.
You are so acing this life, -The Universe (http://tut.com)
say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of
hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Louis Pasteur,
Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and
Albert Einstein." -H. Jackson Brown Jr.
discovered a tactic I call "tandem writing" during which two writers
agree to a block of time (three to four hours max) to write at the same
time on their respective projects and check in at each hour interval
with a quick email ("xxx character's dialogue isn't coming out right.
otherwise, things going OK. onward!"). It helps keep my butt planted in
the chair and in front of the laptop. Commitment to another writer who
is counting on you works. As a journalist, I never had problems because
of DEADLINES, those are a great motivator! But my first book is a
different beast and no one is cracking the whip. It has to come from