Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trying to Write a Book


I've been contemplating the idea of writing a book about our wedding (a part-memoir, part-how-to-handbook kind of thing).

It's embarrassing to admit because it sounds so egotistical and narcissistic.

But I think it's a worthwhile goal (kind of like running a marathon). I think it would be a challenging and rewarding experience (without any of the chaffing!).

To test my own resolve and seriousness about this endeavor, I wrote a proposal and one of the sample chapters and e-mailed them to some agents. So far, the only response has been, "Thanks, but no thanks."

I think I'm stubborn enough to keep trying.

[As a side note, if any of you are interested in reading chapters and providing feedback as I work on the sucker, please e-mail me to let me know. I desperately need a couple people to provide some outside perspective!]

Picture = Trinity College Library in Dublin


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16 comments:

EliandMe said...

Well I'd buy your book.

And I'd be happy to provide feedback/get a free sneak preview (although I can't get my head around American spellings so I am not the best person to help in that department).

AmyJean said...

I dont think its egotistical... i think if you have experiences you think that can help others you definitely should.

I'd definitely read it (amy77jc@yahoo.com) if you want input.

PS. I love that photo!!!

Bridechka said...

I would love to read what you've got and give feedback (I used to be an editorial assistant). But I can't do it until after February, I know that sounds crazy but I am talking the bar then and until then I can't read anything except law books (and maybe a wedding blog or two or thirty...)

Kristy said...

I'd love to help with editing/feedback. I'm a bit of a grammar fiend when I need to be, and apparently I don't have a problem being critical (so I'm told). My email address is kristythecoffeegirl at gmail dot com.

sweetfrenchtoast said...

Have you considered self-publishing? There are several services that allow you to publish and help get your book into bookstores, on Amazon, etc.

Lee said...

Go for it! It's a great idea. When I was looking for books on "budget" weddings I couldn't find any that applied to the kind of wedding we were trying to have. Most just had tips on ways to get very standard wedding stuff at a cheaper price, instead of expanding ideas about weddings and giving advice on how to create your own without all of the usual expenses and unnecessary stuff. Brides need the book that you will write!

Laurel said...

I would definitely read it! And provide feedback. I love reading papers. Annnnd, I'm getting married in July, so it would help me out too!
laurel@csu.fullerton.edu

Roxanne said...

That's great! I am really excited! Well, I'm sure by the time you write it my wedding will be long gone, but I would love to read your book anyway. I just finished "One Perfect Day" and it was amazing!
Best of luck!!

Blind, Irish Pirate said...

I think that you should pursue it. For all of the How-Tos, someone really needs to keep perspective. Both you and A practical Wedding have enough material to actually provide something sustainable.

I'd be interested in helping you out.

G said...

I think it'd be a great idea. I've been reading your blog for a few months and LOVE it!

I will help you out in any way possible. I'm an English teacher so i know my grammar, if you need help with that!

Curious said...

This blog is incredibly comprehensive, and it seems like publishing a book might go against your environmental and social values. A few questions to consider: What is lacking about this format? How does publishing a book create authentic connection? You clearly have relationships with your readers here- is publishing a book a necessary step when you are building community and connection through your blog here online? What would a reader get in your book that they couldn't find on this site? Is publishing a book selling out? Your advance would most likely reimburse you for your two thousand dollar wedding---does that feel strange?

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ Curious: I love that you're holding me accountable to my "environmental and social" values. Seriously, one of my favorite things about this blog is that all of you--by virtue of the fact that you read about my choices--push me to make better choices. (I know, I know, that makes it sound like I'm very motivated by the extrinsic rather than the intrinsic, but it's actually deeper than that.)

To answer your questions:

I think the blog format is difficult because people enter it at different points and everything is essentially backwards. I've tried to rectify that situation with the summary of our planning process, but it is only a summary. I have so much more to say about every step of the process. I didn't blog nearly enough about the planning process as I was actually in it. I could write more about the nuances of the process on my blog now (and I definitely will, now that I'm thinking about it), but different pieces of information will be relevant and irrelevant to different people depending on where they are in their own planning process.

With a book, everything is organized in a systematic and chronological order. You can read it straight through, or you can flip to the table of contents or the index to pinpoint something more specifically. On a blog, information is very disaggregated. One post is about brainstorming the invitations. Another post is about gathering the materials. Another post is about creating them. Another post is about sending them. A book format would allow me to consolidate in a more cohesive and coherent way.

With that said, I could rework the blog to solve some of the issues (although I would have to completely change sites because I don't think Blogger has the kind of capacity I would need). Also, I just love books. Books have irrevocably shaped who I am as a person. Even the books I read as an eight year-old influenced the person I became. Ramona Quimby (by Beverly Cleary) was one of my idols. When she decided to sew clothes for her stuffed elephant, I decided that I should learn how to sew, too. Thus, my first attempt at crafting was born (in the form of a scrunchie--it was, after all, the 1980s).

Books most certainly build community. The foster discussions. They can encapsulate our values and so when we give those books to others we are, in a sense, sharing our values with them.

Yes, books are bad for the environment (the energy that goes into the production and distribution of books, the wasted paper, etc.). But I am not an environmental absolutist. I think we should eliminate take-out containers and plastic/paper bags at the grocery store and the gas-guzzling vehicles that are more about aesthetics than utility and excessive packaging and we should more rigorously pursue energy alternatives, etc. But I think books are good for the world. You can carry them with you and get cozy with them and make notes in the margins in ways you could never do with computers or electronic readers.

In terms of actually making money on the book, I'm thinking about funneling all of the profits into a non-profit organization (although my friends think 100% is too much). However, I will confess that the non-profit organization would be my own. My ultimate goal is to start a a school for low-income students. (If you're interested, you can find my education blog here: http://saracotner.wordpress.com). I have a full-time job (educational consulting) and writing is just one of my hobbies.

I hope that makes sense. Definitely push back if you have more thoughts! (Thanks for listening...)

Marina said...

Not that I know a lot about the publishing industry, but considering the tiny niche market you'd be writing for you might want to consider self-publishing.

Angel said...

You could also ask Ariel over at Offbeat Bride for advice...she has a website and a book, and is also about defining your relationship and wedding in a massive wedding industrial complex.

And while a lot of wedding vendors might not think it's the most fabulous thing in the world, I'd be happy to host a giveaway (or better yet, get Weddingbee to host it!).

kaitlin said...

Marina:

I would make the argument that in a multibillion dollar wedding industry, that a book on weddings that reject the traditional ideas of what a wedding is meant to be.

Bear in mind that there are so many blogs out there, many of which are written on whims and without much insight (then again, this is totally my opinion). On the other hand, there is truly a lack of good books out there about non-typical weddings (the exceptions that come to mind being Offbeat Bride and the DIY Bride). I really think that Sara's book could be successful. Besides, I think the whole point of her blog (not to put words into her mouth) was to bring up the idea and gain feedback, rather than to have everyone analyse it to pieces...

Meg said...

I'd say think about it from a Marketing perspective - how can you pitch it so that it's something new, something not on the market? The problem with pitching a part-memoir part-tipster handbook is that you are in essance pitching the Offbeat Bride book, which already has that particular niche market. I think you need to figure out what you offer that's unique (which you probably already have), what format fits that perspective the best, and how you can do something new and different. Do research on what bridal books are on the market, see what you like and dislike, and what format fits your style.

Other things to consider: how can you pitch your blog as a platform to leverage off of for marketing? What other platforms would you be willing to develop to help sell the book? From everything I've heard, selling a book is hard hard work. We're talking traveling around the country doing readings, doing interviews, leavering up a blog into a serious marketing platform, etc, etc. A publisher is going to want to know (in this enviornment especially) that you're ready to commit to that. On that note, I'd say to think twice before you decide to funnel all that money to a nonprofit, because you're going to earn every penny (and it won't be much... publishing for a niche market of any sort is not tremendously lucrative). Anyway, that all sounds like discouragment, which it is not at all! That's just my realistic perspective. I know a lot of people in publishing, and a few with books.

One other tip: with publishing a letter of recommendation to a agent or a editor will get you everywhere.

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