Ever since I’d started this blog I’d wanted to turn it into a book, but I was losing hope.
“Maybe you shouldn’t give up just yet,” Uncle Oscar replied.
Uncle Oscar was here on his annual visit from New York, and we were sitting at the Gamekeeper, the restaurant at Alana Estate vineyard just down the road. CJ and I were having lunch with Uncle Oscar and our friends Leelee and the Wolf.
“Uncle Oscar’s right,” Leelee said. “Don’t give up.
Although the blog had gained some recognition, after 3 years of hard slog I still felt no closer to my book goal. It didn’t matter that I already had a first draft of the book manuscript put together, or that my stories were appearing regularly in Wairarapa Lifestyle Magazine. I was ready to throw my hands in the air.
“Why don’t you write a book proposal and send it to publishers?” Leelee said. “I have a great book which tells you how to write a book proposal. You can borrow it.”
CJ and the Wolf joined in, and the group’s gentle cajoling continued until I finally agreed to write a proper book proposal.
Writing a book proposal
Leelee’s copy of ‘How to get published and make a lot of money!’ by Susan Page was my guide. The title is a bit embarrassing, but it has a very good chapter on how to write a book proposal. It explains how to write sections on the author, the audience, the marketing plan, analysis of the ‘competition’, and chapter-by-chapter outline.
I spent almost two months working on that proposal. I honed and crafted and redrafted. On 16 May 2012 I sent that proposal – printed handsomely and filled with gorgeous photographs – to four publishers. I figured it would sit for months in their ‘slush piles’ of unsolicited material, and I’d be lucky if I ever got a response.
Well, blow me down if I didn’t get a response less than two weeks later. It was from Nicola Legat, Publishing Director at Random House New Zealand. She said, “Many thanks for sending in your overview of Moon Over Martinborough. I am impressed by and grateful for the very detailed analysis it contains. I’d very much like to see the first draft.”
Huh? Was this possible? I quickly sent her my manuscript.
Waiting for the decision
Then the painful waiting began. Each day was sheer torture. What was Nicola thinking? Would she hate my manuscript? Would she love it?
After a week that felt like an eternity, Nicola emailed saying, “Just a quick note to say that I am halfway though, and I am loving it! I’ll be back to you next week.”
Yeah! But it wasn’t final yet. Maybe the second half of my manuscript was horrible. Maybe she would change her mind.
Finally Nicola’s response came. “I’ve now finished my read and I am going to propose to the Publishing Committee at our Wednesday meeting that we accept this book for publication early next year. I will let you know that afternoon what their decision is.”
What?! OMG! I was thrilled. But Wednesday was four whole days away! How on earth was I going to survive the wait?
In San Francisco
As it turned out, that four-day wait coincided with my and CJ’s big plane trip back to the States for a long-overdue visit with friends and family. Our first stop was San Francisco, where we stayed with our old Tokyo friends Josh and Tina. At their house I checked my email, and sure enough there was an email from Nicola.
“Can you give a number where it’s convenient to call you later on this afternoon?” Nicola wrote.
I responded that I was in San Francisco, and I sent Josh and Tina’s home phone number. Literally moments later the phone rang.
Tina answered in her best I’m-a-corporate-lawyer voice. She said, “Yes, Jared is here. May I ask who’s speaking?”
“Thank you, Nicola,” Tina said calmly. “I’ll get Jared.”
Tina handed me the phone with a huge smile on her face. “Jared, it’s Random House calling for you.”
What hopeful writer doesn’t want to hear those words?
I took the phone and walked out onto Tina and Josh’s back deck, which overlooks an amazingly beautiful canyon. I can barely remember the details of the conversation. My head was spinning. I have a piece of paper I scribbled notes on, and it hardly makes any sense at all.
But the most important thing I heard in that conversation was this. The Publishing Director of Random House New Zealand said very clearly, “We are really keen and would love to publish your book with you.”
It was a yes.
Publishing a book
Since then I’ve signed a contract, worked with Nicola on manuscript revisions, and discussed cover ideas. The book is going to be a trade paperback with photo sections. I’m now dealing with a text editor. Soon a photographer is going to come out to our property for a photo shoot.
I feel like I’ve stepped into some bizarre parallel universe where all of my dreams come true.
‘Moon Over Martinborough’ the book is set for release in June 2013. The print book will be available in New Zealand at that point, and an eBook will be available internationally.
Random House NZ will act as my agent and try to sell the print book rights to other publishers around the world. Can you believe it?
Thank God my friends and loved ones intervened just as I was ready to give up. Thank God.
Have you almost given up just before a dream came true?
Wairarapa Lifestyle Magazine
This blog post appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Wairarapa Lifestyle Magazine. See other ‘Moon’ stories from Wairarapa Lifestyle Magazine.
You can find the magazine in the cafes and shops all over the Wairarapa. Check out the magazine’s website.