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The Journey

I've been writing books for about 15 years now and I constantly get inquiries from people who also want to write books. They ask me how I got into writing, how I was able to get published, how they can do it too. My standard answer is, “A lot of work, and even more luck.” . If you want to get a nonfiction book published you have to first write what is called a book proposal. It’s basically a book report on the book you are wanting to write. No, you don’t just write the book you are wanting to write, that would be silly. First you write a long ass report about the book you want to write, detailing why you should be the one to write it, who will read it, what other books have been written that are similar, and a couple sample chapters. . Most people stop at this stage in the How to Be a Writer game plan. It was not my strongest stage either. But I put in the work and wrote a book proposal for my first book about training for a marathon if you are a lazy person. I wrote it on breaks at work, or on nights and weekends. It took me months and months. When it was done it was more than 50 pages and absolutely perfect. . The next stage of the How to Be a Writer game plan involves getting an agent to 1) actually read your book proposal and 2) actually think your book is something they can/want to sell. . This is where the luck came in for me. I put a random ad on Craigslist with the heading “Humor book in search of agent.” And though she doesn’t remember this (we all tend to block out Craigslist interactions), an agent actually emailed me and asked me for my book proposal. I sent off my perfect book proposal that I had spent months and months crafting. I expected a book deal by lunch the next day. . But. The agent said my book proposal sucked. . This was not what I had planned for the beginning of my illustrious writing career. . But. . The agent also said she would work with me to make the proposal not suck. She saw something in my writing sample that made her think I had the potential to be better than my awful book proposal. . And so. The two of us spent months and months going back and forth on my awful proposal. I’d send her an updated draft, thinking, hoping, wishing, “This is the one! Sold by tomorrow!” And then she’d send me back her edits that took issue with everything I thought was perfect. . I’d get frustrated. I’d want to give up. I’d curse her and her stupid red editing pen. . And then I’d do the edits she suggested. Over and over and over I’d do them. Over and over and over again her edits made the proposal, and my writing, better. One day she finally said, “Okay, I think this is ready to be shopped.” . She hadn’t taken one penny for the months' of work she'd done to get it ready to shop. (She must have come out of pocket at least a few grand just in red ink expenses alone.) . She sold the book in a couple weeks, 15 years ago this month. . Lilly is currently negotiating a contract for my 9th book. It's the third time she's gone to bat for me on a contract just this year alone. Granted, I’ve written the books, I’ve done the work. But Lilly was my luck. Without her there would be no books published, there wouldn’t be hundreds of thousands of books sold. There just wouldn’t. She's very, very good at what she does - trust me, you don't want to be on the receiving end of her strongly worded emails. . Over and over in my life I’ve had crazy ass goals, I’ve set my sights on different things that seem ridiculously out of reach. I’ve taken a lot of chances. Sometimes I’ve been successful, other times, not so much. But every single time I’ve been successful it has been because of stupid luck. And every single time that luck has shown up in the form of a person who decided to take a chance too. Someone who saw something in me and decided I might be crazy enough to pull off these ridiculous dreams, I might be worth taking a chance. . Lilly Ghahremani, you have been one of those people. For 15 years. Thank you.


About Me

Dawn is a mom, writer, and designer from Sacramento, CA.

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