Yesterday, I made another big leap in terms of realizing my dream of publishing my first book, Burning Down the House.
Readers here have followed my progress as I completed a 476-page manuscript last fall,Â and celebrated finishingÂ my first draft with a chilly dip into Taconic Lake in New York in mid-October! (Completing the first draft of a book that has been a lifelong dream is worth a jump into a lake in a bikini on a 50-something degree autumn day, if you ask me!)
As you know if you’ve been following my blog postsÂ this past winter and spring, I spent December and January traveling in Hawai’i and India and decided to hold off on editing the book until back from my India trip. There, I had the great privilege of teaching workshops on “Creating Your Happiest Year Yet” with my teacher, mentor and friend Nithya Shanti ~ a true dream come true for me!
Since returning to New York from India in early February, I honestly had been procrastinating on moving forward with my manuscript. It felt great to have produced a book draft, yet I knew it needed tons of work, including some restructuring, lots of cutting, and writing some new scenes.
It often felt overwhelming, and I wasn’t always sure how to re-enter the process of completing this book.
Help From The Outside!
Lucky, people were watching out for me. Several weeks back, both my sister and my brother, independently of each other, forwarded me an email about a “transformational author contest” sponsored by Christine Kloser. IÂ decided to dive in and submit my proposal.
This of course meant that I had to actually write a proposal, including a query letter, author bio, marketing plan, and introduction. And we were also asked to submit the first twenty pages of the book! (Luckily that part was reasonably easy, as it just required editing what I’d already written).
The top twenty-five entries in the contest all receive a prize, generally some type of free professional services (help editing your manuscript, advice from a marketing professional, a guaranteed author interview in a trade magazine, or better yet, a publishing contract with Hay House for two lucky winners!).
And, as the contest Website states:
The top 5 winners of the Transformational Author Writing Contest will have their book proposal personally delivered to Marc Allen, the President and Publisher of New World Library. Marc will review the proposals hoping to find the “next Eckhart Tolle.” If he finds a FIT for his publishing catalog, New World Library will offer the author a traditional publishing contract. (If all five winners are a great fit for New World Library, then all five winners will be presented with publishing contracts.)
I figured this was too good of an opportunity to pass up! So, I spent the past month drafting and revising my book proposal, and sent it out last night two hours in advance of the 11:59 p.m. EST deadline. Done!
Below, I share with you the query letter I submitted to the contest. Be honest: Would you want to read this book? (I will hope that your answer is a resounding YES, and would also appreciate any feedback!).
First, a few tips on what I’ve learned so far about the journey of writing and publishing a book. Hope these help you along the way as you pursue your book-publishing dreams! (These tips can also apply to others dreams, since they are all about inspiration, perseverance, dedication and drive!).
Lisa’s Top Tips for Writing and Publishing A Book!
- Commit to your vision. When you know deep in your heart that this story is something that needs to be told, that will make a difference in the world, or simply that the story needs to be released from inside you ~ then you know you are ready to write a book. Get clear on the vision for what you want to produce. Feel it in your cells and heart first!
- Seek help if this is your first time writing a book! I have been a freelance journalist for more than a dozen years, so I’m used to writing and publishing articles and blogs. This is my first book, however, so I hired a writing coach, New York Times best-selling author Ellen Sussman, to guide me along the way. If hiring a coach is not an option for you, at least pick up some books on how to write and publish the type of book you wish to write; seek out other authors for informational interviews about how they did it; and/or do research online.
- Take it one page, chapter or scene at a time. As Annie Lamott advises in her terrific book, Bird by Bird, we have to take the process of writing a book scene by scene, paragraph by paragraph, line by line. Otherwise, it is simply too overwhelming. If you are thinking about writing an epic all-time best-selling book every time you sit down at the computer, you will likely freeze, because honestly who knows how to write one of those? Yet you might accidentally write one if you simply sit down and do your best, writing your story, line by line, scene by scene.
- Create a “Dream Team” to help you get your book into the world! When you are ready, find support from others who can help you take your book through the next steps of editing, finding an agent, and/or self-publishing (whatever you choose). I am fortunate to have the team here at 8womendream, and all of our readers, to cheer me on. Thank you, thank you! And, I joined a Masterminds group to help create this proposal for the transformational author contest. We will continue to support each other in getting our books out there into the world!
- Network! In any field, “who you know” can help and you never know when a friend or colleague of yours will be able to put you in touch with another author, agent, publisher or someone else in the industry who can help you on your quest. Don’t be afraid to get the word out there about your book and to show your passion for it!
- Jump on opportunities when they arise. As was the case with this transformational author contest, sometimes you just have to go for it when opportunities arise to move your book forward. You never know which one could be the charm, so give it your best!
- Never give up! We have all heard stories of best-selling authors who endured rejection slip after rejection slip before finally having their stories or books published. Publishing a book is not for the faint of heart! Trust that when it’s the right time, your book will find its way into the world.
Good luck! And here is the query letter I submitted (be forewarned, it contains spoilers about the book, so read it if you are OK with knowing some of the plot!). Thanks to all for supporting me in living this dream!
Little did I know when I attempted to take my own life in 1995 that I would survive, let alone teach workshops in India 15 years later on “Creating Your Happiest Year Yet.” I never could have imagined, when trapped in my own personal hell, that I would ever find true peace. I never dreamt I’d someday teach others how to find joy, and live their dreams, as a life coach and writer.
Burning Down The House is a memoir, based on my recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder, which shares my path to happiness and peace. From the tragedies that nearly killed me in my early 20s, from being stalked, raped and losing a man I thought I’d marry someday when he died at age 23, to the house fire that gutted my home years later, I share the moments of “burning down” that led me to seek peace within. This is a memoir that often reads more like a suspenseful thriller, engaging readers fully them through a transformational journey, marked by epiphanies, joys, sorrows, bliss and peace.
Burning Down The House leads readers adventures in multiple cities and on multiple continents with spiritual continents with spiritual teachers in the Buddhist tradition, yogis, and intuitive healers. In the end, the lesson learned is that the peace we seek is already within us, and that we have the power to write the story of your own lives.
I am currently the “spiritual writer” for www.8womendream.com which gets close to one million hits per year. My readers have been following the progress of my book manuscript for almost two years, and are awaiting its publication! I am also a life coach and consultant, and I teach “happiness principles” in the U.S. and abroad. I am honored to be a part of this contest. I look forward to hearing back from your talented panel of judges, and to sharing this book with the world!
Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. She is also a lindy hopper, belly dancer and globe-trotter. Her post day is Tuesday.