This Book Thing (Part 1 in the Book Chronicles)
It's been quite a while since my last blog post. Reason being: Devon and I are writing a book. And writing a book actually takes a lot of writing. And so I haven’t had much headspace to also write these little missives.
But yesterday we handed in our mess of a manuscript to our wonderful editor at Shambhala Publications. And now she'll be making sense of it all for the next couple of weeks. Which means I suddenly I have a little more time on my hands. And so I thought I'd catch you all up on this whole book thing.
Because before we dove headfirst-without-looking (as per the usual arrangement) into writing a book, I'd always wondered just exactly how books get written. Quite frankly, I still have no idea how most books get written. I think it has to do with hatching a revolutionary, world-changing idea. And then somehow finding an agent. And then that agent goes door-to-door in Manhattan, hawking your world-changing idea to publishers who drink martinis at lunch. Or something.
For us, though, it was nothing like that. So I thought it'd be fun to fill you all in on just exactly how we've been riding this trippy magic bus.
The Story of the Book
I spent most of last year in meditation retreat. More precisely, I went into retreat in a cabin in the woods in the mountains in southern Oregon from September to December 2017. Came out for a spell. Went in again from January to March. Took another little break. And then did a final stint from March until May.
By the time I finally really left retreat, my best friend Matt had landed his dream job as an editor at Shambhala. And, lo and behold, he was saying maybe Devon and I could be decent author candidates. So he said to me, "Hey, maybe do a proposal." And I said, "Sure," and then sat down and googled "How to Write a Book Proposal."
What I learned was that a book proposal is 90% about how your book will sell and 10% about the actual book. So I made up a book idea. And wrote a bunch of stuff about how the book would sell. And the such and such of the market niche. And then sent it all to Matt with the title, "THIS IS NOT A BOOK PROPOSAL" and the thought that he would edit the non-proposal, send it back to me, and then I would make it into an actual book proposal before anyone ever really saw it.
Instead, he sent it to a senior editor. At Shambhala. Without even telling me.
Just a little background for anyone who's not Buddhist. Shambhala Publications is the biggest, baddest, most bodacious Buddhist book publisher. They've published all my heroes, from Pema Chodron and Chogyam Trungpa to Roshi Joan Halifax and Joseph Goldstein. The very first meditation books I read were Shambhala books. For me, Shambhala is not just a publisher. They're an object of some reverence.
Which means I was mildly horrified that Matt sent my sloppy rough draft proposal to a senior editor. And then totally elated when that senior editor said she’d love to meet me for lunch, if I was ever in town. So I booked a ticket to Boulder. And two weeks later I was sitting down for my first ever very official publishing luncheon.
Next time on adventures in book writing: The Luncheon.
Sending all good wishes,