The Process of Writing a Book Part 2 of 4
In part one I discuss the journey of conceiving of a the project and making a map for the book to actually become a reality. Here I will share the process of writing the proposal and landing an agent....
Writing the book proposal itself can take so much time. It really searches your mind and soul as to what you really think your book would be. What are the chapters and how is the information organized? I followed my friends platform and also used a friends notes on “Your Big Beautiful Book Plan” by Danielle LePorte. I bounced my ideas off of these two structures and carved away the time to work on it. At the time, I lived in Big Sur and I would spend one whole day a week at Esalan Institute for working on my proposal (not such a bad place to work!). I needed to get away from my home and work to really focus on this special project. My daughter went to preschool there and my son would get dropped off after school almost all the way there so I really had the entire day to focus. My final book proposal ended up being so incredibly different than I had first started out with. I had thought it would be organized by seasons as that is how my work is organized, but I learned you need to let go of your initial limited thoughts and let the nature of your project flow from you. Be open to change because that is probably what is going to make your book so unique.
I am a very visual person and so I planned a few photo shoots to help me write the proposal and also to include in my sample chapter. The photo shoots helped me to write my stages of my sample chapter and to show the kind of photography that I wanted to use. It can be helpful to start collaborating with others even during the proposal stage so that you are not alone in the process. I did a shoot with my best friend from high school who happens to be a food stylist and it was just a bunch of fun together but really inspired me to keep moving on with my process. I did another shoot with Michelle Magdalena who takes a lot of photos for Happy Girl and had the artistic eye that I wanted to represent my brand in the proposal. The proposal ended up being 67 pages. Within it includes your opening statement and hook, overview, about the author, chapter summaries, the market, promotion platform, competitive analysis, spin offs, the sample chapter and sample recipes. I took each subject very seriously and it really helped me realize if I was ready to take on this project. The proposal went from the front burner to the back burner for 2 ½ years until I seriously injured my knee. I decided that it was time to turn a negative into a positive and take this recovery time to get my proposal out there and find an agent! I finished my draft and sent it off to friends and family who are proofreaders and graphic designers and asked for editing and feedback.
Getting the agent. I had already done some research on agents and authors just to get my wheels spinning. By this point that was years ago and I had to update my information. I had decided that I wanted to go with a local agent. I wanted to be able to meet with them in person and invite them to Happy Girl so they could see my world and my work! I decided that Steve Sando’s recommendation of Kitty Cowles was the agent that I wanted to work with. I sent her a paper copy of the proposal along with a box of goodies. I heard nothing for a month. One day I got a phone call and I heard someone say “hello Jordan, this is Kitty. When did you find the time to write this monster of a proposal?”. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or bad thing, but I just laughed and said that I wanted it to be right. Kitty and I agreed to meet to talk about the possibilities. I was so excited! No, I was so so nervous. In running my own business I never really meet with professional people like this. I meet with health inspectors, accountants, city planners, tax auditors etc. But this is different. I am actually worried about what I am going to wear for the first time in a long time. We have a few meetings over the course of a few weeks and I am not sure that she really believes in my and my idea for my book. Kitty is an extremely savvy woman and represents amazing authors and I really want to convince her of my project. So, I host a workshop at Happy Girl and invite some of my closest friends and Kitty. They all know why she is there and are a support crew for me to show her who I am and who we are together as a community and why this book is important! It works. She understands the Happy Girl vibe and agrees to take me on as a client. (and the crowd goes wild!)
(Kitty was also the agent for Chad and Elizabeth of Tartine and we visited Omnivore Books for inspirations!)