Preamble: It’s been six weeks since I landed my dream agent, Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Some friends, namely Shari Green and Elena Aitken, have encouraged me to post an update of what has happened in that time.
Background: My project is a humor/parenting book tentatively titled “Get That Train off Your Penis: Things I Never Thought I’d Say As a Parent.” Unlike fiction and memoir, nonfiction sells on the basis of a book proposal (mine is 55 pages long); as a result, my manuscript is not finished.
Here, then, is what has happened over the past six weeks.
- I came down from the ceiling.
- I learned how to pronounce and spell Dijkstra. Pronunciation hint: DIKE-stra. Spelling hint: D plus the alphabet (I-J-K).
- I hired a babysitter for three hours every Sunday and got over my guilt, mostly.
- I emailed a signed contract back to the agency. Then a real one came in the mail. I did a happy dance in my kitchen. The blinds may have been open; the neighbours no longer care.
- I became a “blurb whore”, asking various people who are more famous and talented than me to read sample chapters and offer me a blurb. I am amazed at people’s generosity of time and spirit.
- I expanded my manuscript’s scope, so that it will no longer be an estimated 40,000 words, but 65,000 as Jill suggested.
- I wrote. Some 38,000 words are now done-ish. So I’m halfway through my rough draft.
- I got feedback from Jill on the proposal. My primary directive was to “pump up the marketing section.” So, I ordered four books that a few presenters at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference suggested, and I contacted two fab non-fiction writing friends for advice on marketing ideas.
- I revised my opening sections.
- I found beta readers who are going to read my manuscript and offer me slap-in-the-face, honest feedback.
- I let Trish buy me wine to celebrate at a “failed” crit group meeting.
- I crashed from the ceiling through the floor more than once, giving in to the convincing voice in my head that told me this was all a fluke. Thank God for friends (cyber and in real life) who are the best voice-silencers I know.
- I’ve been in email contact with Jill at least twice each week; she is a dream, answering my various questions promptly and with humor.
Thanks for dealing with thirteen I-statements.
If you have any questions about the process (or any suggested blog topics for me), feel free to throw them in the comments.