It turns out I have a guest post this month for you after all! It is, granted, an old one, written in 2012 for your’s truly, when I blogged elsewhere. But the things Katherine Jenkins, author of the book “Lessons From the Monk I Married,” has to say about the process of writing a book are fresh and still relevant!
Katherine Jenkins spent time as an ESL teacher in Asia. She blogs over at Lessons From the Monk I Married as well as Writer’s Rising. Her book, Lessons From the Monk I Married, was published by Seal Press/Perseus Books in the spring of 2012. She’s got some pertinent talking points for new writers on the market for publishers. So, without further ado…
Writing a Book is Not a Walk in the Park
Boy was that dream shattered quickly. First of all, forget the book. If you are going to traditionally publish any work of nonfiction, you need a proposal. Mine was around 95 pages and included my book concept, a marketing plan, sample chapters, production details, a section on the competition and a section on how the book would be promoted. I knew nothing about this when I started. I had to find it all out online and through books as I bumped along the road to publishing. I spent the good part of a year just writing the proposal. I hadn’t even gotten to the book yet. Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon became my bible. In the early stages, I hired a writing coach in Seattle at The Seattle Writer’s Workshop who gave constructive feedback on my proposal and, more than anything, helped me stay on task by holding me to deadlines.
My husband, the former monk turned yoga teacher, played an important role in this process, too. He was my sounding board, my life coach and my cheerleader. His calming nature and belief in what I was doing really helped me get through it. He’d sit for hours listening to me read back what I had written. During a private yoga session with a client who already had two books under her belt, he got word of a freelance editor in Seattle who used to be an acquisitions editor at a major publishing house. While we were out staining our fence one hot, summer afternoon, he said, “You really should call that woman.” So I did and I’m so glad I did.
It helped to work with a freelance editor who had been on the other side of publishing. I learned so much from her. She helped me refine my proposal. The thing is, working with a freelance editor is not cheap and there are no guarantees. You could spend a great deal of money on advice, coaching and editing and still not have a book deal in the end.
I believed with every once of my being that it would become a book. I never veered once from that goal.
As many before me have probably mentioned, a lot of it has to do with timing. But more than timing, you need serious commitment. If you are really committed to your project, you must be willing to take whatever time and whatever measures are needed to see it become a book. You need to believe in what you are writing about and it helps if you have a reason for writing it or an author’s purpose. In my case, I’m writing my story because I believe I have something important to share that will help others realize their own purpose or potential.
After several years, and through what I call “some mysterious workings of the universe,” I not only received agent representation, but I also a got a book deal. Some of my friends believe it happened a little too easily for me, but what they can’t see is that I put in a lot of legwork. I believed, with every ounce of my being, that it would become a book. I never veered once from this goal. I put every single ounce of myself into it. It was not a walk in the park. In fact, while writing my story, I had to relive quite a bit of pain and I often wondered why I was putting myself through it all again.
I’ve finally finished writing the book, 287 some pages of it. No, it was definitely NOT a walk in the park, but neither is life. And, truthfully, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You can purchase Katherine’s book, “Lessons From the Monk I Married” on Amazon.