Earlier this month, I shared some exciting news: I'm writing my first book!
Which feels unbelievably surreal.
I've always wanted to write a book, like, um, any writer. As a little kid, I dreamed of seeing my name on the cover of a book, with my own words inside, and as an adult, I kept that dream in the back of my mind for later, for someday. I even started writing a novel when I was pregnant with E back in 2016, which is funny now - apparently I like to hustle and be creative while pregnant, since it has happened that way both times on the writing front. But I still thought of writing a book as something that wouldn't occur for a long time, if at all.
Outside of my full-time job as a content manager, which I love, I spent the past two years freelancing for various clients, and I've learned so much. I primarily write about health, wellness, parenting, relationships, fitness, and career, and over the course of those experiences, did quite a few mini-challenges (i.e., try to start a meditation practice in 30 days!) Sometimes these were assigned by an editor, and sometimes I wanted to write a story purely based on my own efforts to try a new challenge.
In April of this year, I got an email from an editor at an imprint with Simon & Schuster. It basically went like this: "Hi, we've seen your work, and love your voice, and we have a concept for a self-improvement book with a bunch of mini-challenges across several categories, and think you could be the perfect fit. Are you interested?"
Me: "Is this . . . . fake?"
I sent it to my husband, who promptly Googled the editor and came up scant. "I think it might be a scam, babe," he replied. I sort of did too - I mean, I have a blog, but I'm not a blogger. I don't have a huge following on social media, which has always been fine with me. I like to write for different outlets and get paid for it. I also wasn't looking to write a book in the near future in the least, mostly from that mindset of "a book is a dream that you wish upon WAY LATER IN LIFE" plus ya know, the reality of having another baby in August.
I asked to set up a phone call. I figured if it wasn't legit, I'd find out soon enough. But it was the real deal. I chatted with this editor briefly, where she reiterated her email and offered to send over a framework of what they'd need in a proposal to consider moving forward. So I said yes - not knowing what I was getting myself into, if I could do this, if I even wanted to do this right now (I mean, YEAH, but also, IDK??) and if they would even like what I had to say. From a creative sense, I also had to completely shift my thinking; the book concept came from their team, so it wasn't "mine," per se, and it seemed really strange to consider writing a book based on an idea that didn't originate in my head.
The editor sent over the proposal request, essentially for a sample table of contents, a sample introduction, and a couple of sample chapters. I wrote a 10-page proposal based on how I thought I could write a book like this, feeling every ounce out of my element and unsure if my words and their idea were a good fit. But despite all the imposter syndrome vibes, I also knew I could do it, deep down.
I didn't hear anything for a month. Cue stress. And as the weeks crept by, and my due date loomed closer, I started to panic: maybe this wasn't going to happen. Maybe that was for the best?? I don't have time to write a book right now. Am I even good enough to write a book, ever?? If they said no, I wouldn't have to even try, which meant I couldn't fail, which of course, served as my red flag that meant I really wanted it to work out.
Then she responded: we love it! We'll send over a contract tomorrow. Boom, just like that. I spent the next two weeks negotiating the details, clarifying timelines, and making sure I understood the legality of the agreement (huge thanks to my girl and lawyer pal Nora for walking me through those elements) - no small feat across the whole, and boy, did I have questions galore. I signed the contract, celebrated for about a day, and then made a huge game plan to get the writing itself done . . .
. . . BECAUSE THE MANUSCRIPT IS DUE THE WEEK AFTER MY BABY DUE DATE.
Yes, I might be a crazy person. However, I know what I'm capable of, I have a good support system in place (shout out to the most amazing husband ever), I'm a fast writer on the whole, and these initial due dates were outside the scope of the actual editorial process, which made me feel better. And I received a couple pieces of advice that gave me great perspective.
One: my friend Megan said, "You've been training for this," which is so true. In general, I already wake up at 5:30 a.m. most mornings per week to write, write during naptime on the weekends, and stay up for at least an hour or two most nights to tackle 15-20 freelance articles a month. I can hustle and produce a high volume of writing; in grad school, I remember starting a 20-page term paper the night before it was due and getting it done in 8 hours (not recommended, but I made it happen, and got a good grade). When it comes to writing under pressure, I can perform.
Two: while oscillating on whether or not I should sign the contract (I know, womp, womp), I asked my mom what she thought. Her response: "Well, it's not like you're going to have more time with two kids." Okay then. Truth.
Three: a friend of mine who is an editor at BuzzFeed actually wrote a book this way based on a post of hers that went viral. She told me to view it like a giant freelance project, ask for as much money as I needed to make it worth my while, and remember that they reached out to me, so make sure it's something that feels right.
So right now, if I'm not at work or taking a break at yoga or hanging out with my family, I'm writing. The title of the book is forthcoming, though I can't wait to share, and it'll likely end up as a collection of 50 different challenges related to health, lifestyle, finance, relationship and career topics - with a mix of personal stories, research and inspiration. It'll publish in both print and digital next spring or summer 2019. I'm so incredibly grateful to the team at S&S for already being a major source of support, and for believing in me. And for being super amazing about the fact that I'll have a baby in the middle of all this.
I've got about half of the manuscript done at this point, and am striving to finish up the rest before early August. It's hard. And awesome. I have days where it feels like I have nothing meaningful to say, and days where I pound out 10K words and feel pretty proud of myself. Send coffee and good vibes.
Thanks for reading this far, and I promise to share more as the process continues!