Seven hundred and sixty-five

Blessing in disguise: the end of my relationship with my literary agent

Sometimes things don’t happen the way that you planned, or you wanted, or you expected them to.  Sometimes those things initially shock, disappoint and upset you.  Sometimes we all need these moments to grow and to learn.  Sometimes they are blessings in disguise.

I have officially ended my relationship with the literary agent and agency I was working with.  Perhaps one day I’ll write about my experience, once it’s all sunk in and I can look at it with a little less emotion than I feel at the moment.  Needless to say it wasn’t a happy ending; the ending that I dreamed when I got an agent right away and I hoped a publishing deal would follow within the year.  It wasn’t a fairytale ending, but I did learn a lot.  My ex-agent helped to motivate me and edit my work and I am grateful for that.

I admit I was too naive, trusting, and didn’t listen to my gut six months ago when a nagging feeling started to tell me things weren’t right.  I waited around, was patient and understanding, was trying to be a good person.  I guess in business good people don’t finish on top.  It’s sad.  I’m sad.  But, as the saying goes: this too shall pass.

The more I think about it, the more I can see the happy ending.  It might not be the one I had expected, but it’s there.  And now I have control of my own work again.  I don’t have to wait around.  It’s up to me now.

And so, here I go on a new journey with the book/blog.  I’m not sure where it will take me yet.  I need a few days to figure out this new path I am on.  Perhaps I will self publish, or look for a different agent and agency.  I’ve started writing another book, so maybe that will be the one I take with me now.  As my friend said to me today, just because I didn’t think this is the way it was all supposed to go down, doesn’t mean it’s not the way it’s supposed to go.  It was a learning experience from the very beginning with this blog and every up and down has taught me a lot about myself and the world.  This is just one bump in a series of them.

Today I am allowing myself to mourn the loss of the way I dreamed it would go.  Tomorrow I begin steps towards something beyond my dreams.  I believe now, as I have always believed.  It will happen with more hard work and faith.  Even if today I’m a little sad.

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Four hundred and forty-three

Update on the book and the publishing process

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you all on the publishing process, and I know some of you are interested for your own writing journey, so I figured today would be a good day.  Well that and the fact that I’ve spent the day biking across the city, visiting one of my best friends and her adorable newborn baby (who spit up on me on several occasions, but completely adorable spit ups), then writing about Cooking 30 Countries and the aftermath of date month, and I’m pretty exhausted.

To recap how the process has gone so far:

  • After my blog was featured on Freshly Pressed, I got an e-mail from a literary agent asking to meet with me about representation.
  • We met for tea (her) and coffee (me), all went well and I sent her my prologue.
  • She and her intern both liked what I wrote and we decided to work together.
  • I am writing the book and sending it to the agent section by section for her to edit and makes suggestions as to formatting, the  information I’ve chosen to include, and the flow.

What’s happening now:

I’m up to the fourth month/section in writing and the second in editing.  My agent was away at the book fair in London, England (sort of speed dating for agents and publishers) and just got back.  She has sent me her edits for the prologue and the Extreme Couponing section which have been really helpful in pointing out what things I’m missing.  Sometimes it’s hard to make sure to explain everything and include all the details, instead of just filling them in in my head and assuming the reader will figure it out.  As well, she’s been great at filtering out unnecessary information I’ve added.  I’m pretty proud of what’s been written so far.  I think it’s going to be a really fun book!

We met the other day and chatted a lot about things I need to focus on in my writing as well as general book trends in the publishing industry (apparently erotica is very hot right now – excuse the pun – because of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy that has been flying off the shelves).  I am officially signing a contract with her once a friend of mine looks it over and we make sure we’re all happy  (it looks fair to me so far, but it’s good to get a second professional opinion before signing anything).  She then will start pitching the book to editors and publishers, starting with New York, then at other book fairs depending on what the market is looking like for the type of book I’m writing.  From there it’s up to my agent to negotiate for me and find the right fit for an editor and publisher with my book.  It’s all pretty exciting.  And I’m really liking how the book is going so far with the writing.

Alas, it needs to be finished before any publishing happens, so I better get back to it and write a little more before bed…

Three hundred and eighty-seven

Wednesday post day and the aftermath of St. Patty’s Day weekend

The biggest day of the year working in an Irish pub came and went and I survived.  I remember last year how absolutely tired I was at the end of it, but still managed to post something.  Good for me.  Although maybe not the best writing I’ve ever done!

I did manage to spend quite a bit of time working on the book this week, though, in my spare time.  I also heard back from the agent!!!  Her intern and her both read the prologue I sent them and liked it, with a few changes, of course.  I have a phone meeting with them tomorrow evening to discuss what I need to work on and “discuss the next steps in getting this book written!” (in her words).  Awesome! That also means I need to write the book.  For those interested, the book is about my personal journey behind the blog – my romantic journey (and that’s a good one), my physical health journey, my emotional journey, etc – filtered through what I am going through in the blog.  There will be small excerpts from the blog, factual information about the topics, but also my secret personal story of what I was going through at the time.  Well, at least that’s what I’m thinking it will be so far.  I’m all for adaptation, depending in how it is going.  I’m almost done the first section, so hopefully I can keep up this pace.  If I can still find time to write while working St. Patty’s Day weekend at an Irish pub, I can find time any time.

A couple of interesting things that jumped out at me this past week that pertains to topics from the year:

I found the image below on Quora.com answers from “When people look back on their life in their 30s, 40s and older what are some common regrets they have?”.  It reminds me why I do what I do.  And not that I kiss a ton of people (no that’s not what the book is going to reveal!), it’s that I try to live my life without regrets.  Sometimes I succeed better than others.  And I only kissed a few of the boys from date month (if I was The Bachelorette on television, you’d be disappointed if I wasn’t kissing them all, so no judging).  But the ones I did kiss were very special to me, and one of them is especially special to me still (oooo, hint at what my big secret is in the book).

(originally from http://xkcd.com/458/)

As I donated a bunch of money to the Daily Bread Food Bank during Good Deed and after Poverty months, I belong to their mailing list.  I’m sort of against snail mail lists because they’re just wasting paper and killing trees.  I know there are conspiracy theories that if we go completely electronic, the computers could crash or all our personal information will be stolen (you know who I’m talking to – father), but in cases of marketing I think going completely electronic is the socially responsible thing to do.  That being said, the Daily Bread Food Bank does a lot of amazing things, so I can’t hate on them too much.  In their package they sent me, there’s a leaflet about what causes hunger in Ontario and who the donation helps.  Here are a couple of those facts that remind me of what living at the poverty line really is:

  • The median monthly income for people using food banks in Ontario is $925, meaning 72% of their income is spent on rent/mortgage including utilities.
  • 46% of adults have not eaten for a day because of lack of money
  • 36% of food bank clients are children
  • 19% of children go hungry at least once per week

I am grateful every day for what I have and what I was born into.  And I remember every day to try and help those who have different circumstances in their life that are not as fortunate as mine.

Three hundred and eighty

Wow!  It has been quite the week.  Besides a hectic “first patio day of the year and therefore a completely s__t-show” (working not drinking) at the pub which left me feeling like a shell of a human being void of all soul, emotion, energy or drive to do anything, it’s been an educational and tough-in-a-good-way few days.  I started writing the book, beginning with the prologue and back story of why I started this project in the first place, using my parents’ house in the country as inspiration.  I came back to an amazing meeting with the literary agent I spoke about last week.  I love her!  She’s very calming, put together (both great traits to play off my occasional manic tendencies), and really passionate about her job.

We talked a lot about the role of the agent in the ever-changing publishing industry.  I know a lot of people who read this blog are writers, so therefore I’ll tell you what I understood from our conversation in hopes that you can learn from the information as well.  The agent is now as much of an editor, as someone who eventually pitches your work to editors at publishing companies.  What happens in steps is:

  • A writer sends a query to an agent to see whether the agent will represent the writer
  • If the agent is interested, they meet, the agent reads more of the writing and they decide if they will work together
  • The writer then writes the book or sections of the book and sends it/them to the agent
  • The agent edits and they work together to develop the book into almost ready-to-publish form
  • The agent then researches editors at publishing companies that would fit well with that particular writer
  • The agent sends out manuscripts (or parts of manuscripts – I’m still a little iffy on this step) to editors and waits for usually around 3-6 months, or maybe more, to hear back.
  • The agent also approaches editors at three majors book fairs across the world.
  • If or when the book gets published, the agent takes a percentage of what the publisher offers the writer.  This is how the agent gets paid.

This is how I understand it – although I’m just starting out and by no means an expert in any of this.  But I thought it would be interesting for you all to follow along on my thought process as well and help inspire you if you’re thinking about writing a book.

In my case, because the agent approached me, I don’t send a query.  However, yesterday I sent her the prologue I have written and she is going to read it, see if we are still on the same page in terms of what we both want from this book and how my book writing style is (versus blog writing – a completely different skill set), and then we go from there.  It’s pretty nerve-racking sending her what I’ve written. You think I’d get used to sharing my words with other people after blogging every day for a year, but it’s still hard.  It’s like sharing a little piece of your soul and waiting to hear back if someone likes it or not. Yesterday I spent the night at work trying not to dwell on the fact that the agent could possibly hate it.  Although it’s probably better than sitting at home refreshing my e-mail every ten minutes to see if anything came through!

Writing the book is different than writing the blog and I’m working on my description and dialogue skills.  And of course not letting my doubts, insecurities and nervousness get in the way of the writing.  I am not letting fear stop me from writing this book.  Although, it’s going to be even harder because the book is my personal journey behind the blog posts.  And sharing my personal life has always been the hardest part for me.

Anytime I doubt myself, though, I look through all the encouraging comments from my post a couple weeks ago and I remember this:

Thank you!  (And of course, I write it out, like I just did in this blog post and what I’m doing in the book.  I feel much better now.).

Three hundred and seventy-three

My first Wednesday post

As promised, here is my soon-to-be-regular Wednesday contribution – what I’m up to, what I’m interested in, and how the book is coming along.  (Although I’m having a hard time deciding what to call my posts now that they aren’t the date number.  Can I just keep with the numbering system even if it’s past 366?)

First of all, I’ve been approached by a literary agent and am meeting with her on Friday to discuss the book!!!  I’m not sure this is good form to talk about this (although I talk about everything else, so why not this too?), but it does make me very excited about writing this book and getting it out into the world!  I’m really interested to sit down with her and talk about the crazy world of publishing.

As I’m admittedly very new at this (another thing I’m not sure I should admit), I’m eager to get the ball rolling, discuss options and propel my ideas forward into the realm of hand held, tangible, beautiful, sit-on-your-shelf-for-years-to-come-or-lend-to-your-friends-even-though-you’ll-probably-never-get-them-back books.  As much as I love the blogosphere and the immediacy of writing daily on the internet, there’s something so special and sacred about the feel of the paper in your hands as you turn the pages.  I’m a little old fashioned that way, I know.  And they’re probably not great for the environment.  But I love them anyways.

All this talk of the book has inspired me to head out of the city and hole up in my parents’ house in the country to write for a couple of days.  I love the fresh air and quiet out here.  And I love my mom’s pinball machine, when I want to procrastinate.

The research rabbit hole

The internet adds to both my procrastination and my inspiration when I’m trying to write.  I tend to fall down into the research rabbit hole a couple of times a day.  How can you not click on a link in an article, that takes you to another article, which has another link, etc etc?  Knowledge is my drug of choice.  I get high off learning more about random topics I am interested in at the time (anything from the history of the Toronto FC soccer team, to how to bake gluten-free cookies, to whether it’s “pique” or “peak”).  My name is Lindsay and I am a Google addict.

One of the most interesting things about this past year has been the range of topics I covered and therefore the amount of subjects that now pique my interest when I see them posted elsewhere, in a link from a link, or in the news.  Such as where the items we buy and use come from and how that’s impacting other people in the world, economies, and our environment.  A huge topic, I realize, and one I can’t seem to wrap my head around completely.

My cousin Nikki has been a blogger for years (way before I got into it) and she often posts very interesting articles on fair trade, ethical shopping, volunteering, traveling, among other things.  Yesterday she wrote about how we buy shoes that are ethically made.  I was so upset to read that my TOMS – the shoes that I thought were helping the world by me purchasing them instead of another company’s shoes – are not so helpful after all.  They might actually be doing more harm than helping.

That led me to how TOMS are listed as one of the 7 worst international aid ideas on the independent travel publisher, matadornetwork.com.

“Shoelessness, such as it is, is a symptom of a much bigger and more complex problem. And while donating a pair of shoes helps shoelessness, it does not help poverty.

Things like jobs help poverty. Jobs making things like shoes, for example. But TOMS doesn’t make its shoes in Africa, it makes them in China.”

This article blew my mind!  It really opened my ideas to a lot of seemingly helpful ideas that are instead making things worse.  How did I not think of these things before?

A photo for no reason at all

One of the things I did in Montreal that led to me having to wear plastic bags between my socks and the inside of my boots (yep, it was very uncomfortable – especially when I found a hole in one of the bags!):