Friday, September 22, 2006

by request: how I got a book deal

The other day, I put up a thank you to everyone, explaining that I have a book deal. In the comments, Sam asked if I could comment on the process, how this happened, and how someone else might learn from what I experienced. Of course. I wrote a lengthy comment and was happy to share.

Sam asked me this morning if I might make a new post out of this, in case anyone missed it. Gladly, Sam. Here you go.

"The first part is getting the agent. In some ways, that's the hardest. I was lucky. I made friends with someone who is also a writer, but not a blogger. We were friends for a good six months before she suggested that she introduce me to her agent. I didn't ask -- I thought it would be crass -- but I did send her the URL of my website, early on. It was through reading my blog that she was convinced I was a strong-enough writer for her to introduce me.

Then, I had to pitch myself to the agent. This was back in December. SHe was intrigued, immediately, because I have a blog.

Here's what I have learned: the publishing world is fascinated by bloggers. More than other first-time writers, who sit at home and write for themselves, we bloggers have fervent fans and a built-in audience. Marketing is king in publishing. Use your blog to market yourself.

So I did. I pitched myself to the agent. She wanted a two-minute pitch, and I gave her one. Work on this, to hone what your vision is, before you ever talk to an agent.

She asked for a book proposal. This took six weeks to write. Ay. It's a different language. If anyone here is writing one, let me know. I'll be glad to offer some broad suggestions.

When I sent that in, late in January, it took the agent until March to sign me. Everything moves slowly in publishing, until they want something from you, and then it's FAST.

After I signed with my agent, I did a dance in the hallways. And then I revised the proposal. Then, revised it again. I worked with her, closely, to make every word count. We weren't done until July.

Because I had that spot on the Food Network -- an opportunity I found out about on Food Blog S'Cool -- and it is still running there, twice or three times a day, the agent was able to send out dvds of my spot with the proposal. I'm sure that helped.

At this point, I did nothing. I had to just sit back and wait. The agent took care of it all.

I'm lucky. My agent is very well connected. She sold my proposal in under two weeks. And then, after we looked at a couple of offers, we decided to go with this one at Wiley and Sons.

And then, they said, "We need the entire manuscript in four months." YIKES!

So, it's a lot of work, a lot of waiting, much luck, and then a mad dash to the end. It's amazing."

This Post was written by Shauna from Gluten-Free Girl


Sam said...

thank you Shauna!

for further reading on the subject check out this post on Chow's blog The Grinder written by Tea.

In addition to the bloggers she mentioned who are currently writing books at the moment, I actually know of several others, but won't mention them since I am not sure they are public knowledge yet.

In fact - so many great food bloggers do have book deals I am not sure I am going to be able to afford to buy all of them once they are published! I wonder how food bloggers will feel about this?

I also wonder about the fact that many (not all) of the food bloggers who are in the midst of writing books have to some extent neglected their readership by posting less regularly. If the publishers are happy to sign people up because the bloggers already have a readership which they see as a marketing plus, surely there also needs to be some continued vestment in keeping up those blog(s) to retain the interest of that readership as part of the marketing plan.

Do any blog readers feel like they have been used as a stepping stone for someone who is moving on to greater things?

Me, for one, I am happy for all of these people and hope they are successful. I hope the market doesn't get too saturated and I hope it works out for all of them and that jealousy does not become a factor in people choosing whether or not to buy their books.

Any other bloggers with book deals - - please feel free to weigh in here with any more opinions for other bloggers who would like to achieve similar success.

Not me. oh, no, no,no. I have absolutely no plans to write a book. That doesn't sound like fun to me, blogging sounds like fun to me.

nika said...

Shauna and Sam: excellent post and comment!

First, re: your question Sam about feeling like a stepping stone.. not at all.. as a reader I didnt make their blog start, have excellent content, grow, and I certainly didnt help them get the book deal! I also do not feel like they are neglecting me, I am so happy for them and usually there is some update activity that its enough.

I bet the publisher cares more that the blogger be a prolific and responsive blogger during the promo stage.. I am sure they would prefer every bleeding moment of the blogger's life to be spent WRITING the book.

Said blogger better get a good laptop and wireless provider to be able to blog on the road once they get to the promo tour.

I tend to spend my liquid cash on photog supplies and the odd foundational cookbook but I would definitely look forward to supporting fellow food bloggers!

It would be great if we could form a guild of sorts for the food blogger who is publishing in print media - meaning books (not food author turned food blogger, thats too easy, they are already most fo the way there) to maximize this fascination that publishers have with bloggers (how ever odd and misguided that fascination may be! :-))

I for one would not mind a chance to write a book but I am at a loss for what that topic could possibly be! I wear too many hats :-)

Garrett said...

Mad props to you GF Girl! Congrats on the book deal!

Rachael said...

Thanks for all the interesting info Miss Shauna! You are so awesome.

I for one do not consider myself much of a writer, and heaven knows I do not have a book deal, or any intention of garnering one, so as a loyal reader of many sites, I wish everyone the best (and would if I were the competition too for that matter!)

ON THE OTHER HAND...there are some of you that I really feel I could champion based on your excellent writing, recipes, etc. and am happy to send along introductions to my publishing friends if you'd me any time and I will do my best to work some magic (lol)/chat further

Sam said...

rachael - you are just the SWEETEST!

ParisBreakfasts said...

WOW! This is just wonderful! And very interesting to read about as well. Congradulations and thank you for sharing this.