I'm writing a book.
A few weeks ago I announced on my Facebook page that I had written a book proposal for an Ask Moxie book and was looking for an agent. A bunch of people helped me by sending me recommendations, and I got a lot of feedback from those agents. It all seemed to consist of the message that my book looked interesting and unique and they wanted to read it, but wouldn't be able to sell it.
I was perplexed, until one very kind agent explained to me that she loved the book but no publisher would be able to buy it, because it didn't make financial sense for them to buy a book that wasn't controversial. Without all the press generated by making parents anxious or stirring up controversy in some other way, they just couldn't take a chance on publishing something that wasn't going to have guaranteed sales. So she thought it would be tough to find a publisher.
Then she told me she thought the book would sell on its own, and that I should self-publish, and she gave me some names of sites to start researching self-publishing. (And that's why I'm not revealing the name of that kind agent–I'm pretty sure she's not supposed to tell anyone to self-publish.)
When I read her email laying all that out, my first feeling was relief. So I pushed into that feeling and realized that I had been seriously uncomfortable with the traditional publisher process. For one thing, I don't think I'm an easy soundbite. "You are the best parent for your child" is a soundbite, but it's not the kind of soundbite that gets people all riled up, so it's not all that easily packaged. Plus, I'm not an easy media package myself–I'm not a credentialed expert in childrearing, and I still haven't figured out how to give Skype interviews very well, and I wear tank tops instead of sweater sets, and I have a really loud dorky laugh that can't seem to stay out of interviews.
And the concept for the book is really just the concept of this website: We have to learn how to make decisions as parents, and we can get good at learning how to make decisions and at making the decisions themselves, the more we do it. With that as the organizing concept, the rest of the book is talking about stuff that's likely to happen in the first few years, and a bunch of ways you could approach that stuff. Interspersed with that is discussions of the kind of things we've talked about here over the years, but that I haven't seen anywhere else–how becoming a parent can make you really angry, how friendships change, how to make parent friends, etc. I want the book to be a reality check for parents so they know that this IS serious and hard and that they can do it, and it's really really difficult to actually fail even if you feel defeated at any given moment.
But I don't think that concept, plus me, is a nice little media package. So I was afraid that the book would be committeed into something I didn't recognize and didn't want to write, and that I'd be given a makeover and forced to cut my hair and stop laughing and pretend I know about kids (when all I really know about is people) and that I have the answers and need to impart them to the world.
And then there was the whole "deceptive" angle. Remember back when I wasn't allowed to talk about how I was getting a divorce and I hid it from all of you for SEVENTEEN MONTHS and I didn't know if you would forgive me for not telling you and I was also in a lot of pain because I needed to talk about it with you and I couldn't? Well, aspects of the publishing process seemed a little too close to that:
1. I sign a contract and tell you "I'm writing a book!"
2. I write the book on my own without consulting you except for maybe a few updates on the writing process.
3. The book appears magically and I ask you to buy it.
I know that process isn't inherently deceptive, but it felt like it to me. The entire reason Ask Moxie has worked even one little bit for 6 1/2 years is that you let me write something, and I do, and then you tell me what you think of it, and add to it or contradict me. And you have relationships with each other, and know more about many things than I do. And then scared or bored or inadequate-feeling parents at 3 am read what we've all written and realize that it's eventually going to be ok. So the idea that I was going to write this book all by myself and then present it to you (and the 3 am readers) as a masterpiece seemed ludicrous and insulting. One of my core values in raising kids is informed consent, and this didn't seem like informed consent with you all, if that makes any sense.
I didn't want to do that. I wanted to write a book the same way I write Ask Moxie. With you. I write what it feels like everyone needs me to talk about, and then I ask you what you want to say about it, and that goes in the book, too, and we all get to keep wearing what we want to wear and laughing when we want to and asking questions that don't fit into a media kit.
So. I'm going to self-publish my book. I'm setting up an ambitious schedule, and want to publish it just before American Thanksgiving in November (both paperback and ebook), just in time for my seven year anniversary of writing Ask Moxie. I've been told it takes six months to write a book, which makes this schedule preposterous, but since I know what I want to write I know I can do it. But I'm asking for your help in these ways:
1. If you're the kind of person who prays or vibes or thinks good thoughts, please pray or vibe or think good thoughts for me in this project.
2. Watch for my updates and requests for opinions or info and put in your comments. You, whatever you have dealt with, whether it worked or not, have experience that can help other people. I'm going to ask for comments on specific topics (like the 3-week growth spurt, or teething, or whatever) and on what's helpful and not. The question I'm keeping in mind while writing is "What would have been most helpful to me to read when I needed it?":
3. I'm not doing Kickstarter or anything like that because I'm writing the book no matter what. But would it make sense to do some kind of presale package, with some kind of swag or bonus or something for preorders? Think about it, and I'll ask again later.
4. If you're buying stuff from Amazon already, click through here first so I get some coffee money out of it to fuel the process.
5. Get excited! In a "someone else has to type until her fingers bleed" kind of way.
On Friday I'll post my Table of Contents and ask for comments.