Aspiring artists defeated by resistance share one trait: they all think like amateurs. They have not yet turned pro.
Consider the differences: the amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps…. Resistance hates it when we go pro. –The War of Art
Friends and readers, it’s been quite the journey over the past 12 months. The site recently celebrated its one-year birthday, and that got me thinking of a few other big milestones over the year:
- The release of the World Domination manifesto (more than 100,000 people have now downloaded it from 60+ countries)
- The careful, gradual introduction of paid products, allowing me to support myself through writing without putting ads on the site
- The recent site redesign, courtesy of the amazing Reese
Today, I am thrilled to tell you about another milestone that is both personal and professional. I’m really excited, so bear with me on this. Here we go:
It’s been a long process, but I now have a real publisher for my first real book. The book will be published in September 2010 by Perigee, a division of Penguin.
Yay! Please allow me a moment of joy:
Seriously, I’m going to be a real author! I can’t believe I fooled so many people into thinking I could really write. This is awesome!
That’s pretty much been my thought process over the past couple of weeks. I’d do cartwheels if I knew how, but I’m constrained to smiling a lot. Also, I hope the check from the publisher doesn’t bounce when I go to deposit it, but so far, so good.
I’ll tell you a bit more about how this came about, but the most important thing I have to say is THANK YOU. Scroll down to read more about that if you don’t care about the details – the thank-you is the most important part.
The Long Process
I worked on finding a publisher for about six months, and the process was challenging at times. Like any first-time author, I had to experience a fair amount of rejection, and even worse – being ignored. That’s part of how it works, and I knew that going into it – but at the same time, I’m glad to have come through to the other side.
Before a proposal can be pitched to publishers, the first step for most authors is cementing a relationship with a great literary agent who will coach you on the proposal and then try to sell it on your behalf. After a number of different conversations, I ended up connecting with David Fugate from LaunchBooks.com last fall. I liked David immediately because he was interested in the project but also gave very specific, constructive feedback.
I had talked with 4-5 other agents before formalizing the relationship with David. I was on the fence about a couple of them (there are good and bad literary agents, just as there are good and bad prospective authors), and to be honest, I knew that a couple of them were also hesitant about me.
The response was generally, “You’ve got an interesting thing going there, Chris, but can you really write a marketable book?” I understand these hesitations, especially since I didn’t exactly know how to write a book proposal when I began the process. At the same time, of course, I felt like I had a strong concept and a growing audience of readers who identify with the ideas I write about, so I also wanted to push hard on getting the right team behind the project.
David was great at providing the kind of detailed feedback that I (desperately, sadly) needed. In fact, I can even look back now at the “final” proposal we sent out and see a few things that probably could have been better stated. All I can say in my defense is, stick with me, guys. I’m a slow learner, but when I get it, I’ll work harder than anyone.
The other agents I talked with gave short, general feedback about my early proposal drafts. David gave paragraph-by-paragraph, line-by-line feedback on what eventually became a 40-page document that we sent around to publishers. One agent I talked to told me bluntly, “We don’t do much coaching with our authors. We just send out the proposal and see what the editors say.” I told her I needed a stronger relationship than that, and I found it with David. In short, he was the right guy for the job.
In my initial conversations with the publisher, I also feel like we’ve found the right company and the right editor too. I’m just beginning the process of working with Maria (my editor), but she has already helped me consider a couple of significant improvements to the outline. I’m really looking forward to working more with her, and then with the whole Perigee team next year when we get closer to launching the book.
A Huge Thank-You
This would not have happened (really) without the support and encouragement of so many of you. Thank you for reading, commenting, writing in, and being an important part of my life. I try to live a life of gratefulness every day, but since I’ve finalized the book deal I’ve been even more grateful than usual.
A few very cool people were especially helpful in giving advice and referring me to helpful contacts in the industry. I’m probably missing someone, but the first people that came along were Cal Newport, Valeria Maltoni, Pam Slim, Gretchen Rubin, Jonathan Fields, and Tom Ziglar. All of these people are way above my league, but they never treated me that way.
Now, I just need to write the book. No problem, right? We’ll see — but ready or not, that will be the project I spend the most time on over the next nine months. I may provide a few updates about the writing here and there, but for the most part, I want to put my head down and get serious about actually doing it. I learned an important lesson through the book proposal process: better to focus on the work, and then tell people about it.
Rest assured that while the book will be my most important project for the rest of the year, the regular articles will continue every Monday and Thursday, along with occasional short posts on other days. (You have to come to the site for those – they are not sent through email or RSS.)
You guys read the Art of Nonconformity site for a reason, and I won’t let you down. If anything, I’m working harder than ever and getting into a good balance with writing, travel, and home life.
I’m going to keep Expanding the Pie for everyone who identifies with nonconformity and unconventional living of all kinds. I have to – it’s my job now.
So That’s It
I’m going pro. This is what I do. Can you believe it? I know, neither can I. But it’s really true.
I started this project one year ago with the goal of building a bridge to a full-time writing career. Without putting ads on the site, getting ranked on Digg, or a lot of the other things bloggers are supposed to do, I am now a ProBlogger.
True, I’m not getting rich at the moment, but I’m still traveling around the world, right? And as long as I get my act together and learn how to write in an extended format, next summer you can see my real book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble and the virtual shelves of Amazon.com.
Thanks again, so much, for your support. You guys rock!