I remember Googling, "average book advance," and "book proposal advice" forty-thousand times, scouring the Internet for any sign of real, legitimate stories from real, legitimate people who could lend real insight into the process.
As a young writer, I would have wrestled a small bobcat to have someone on the inside tell me how they got their book deal and what advice they had to offer.
Instead, all I found were articles on how much James Patterson and J.K. Rowling make in a year (spoiler alert: A REAL BIG LOT), or how somebody from Kansas once got paid a pittance for their children's book from 1994. There were still so many questions that weren't being answered—at least with any degree of certainty. Did I need a proposal if my book wasn't straight-up non-fiction? Or did I just need to just write the manuscript first? Or should I approach an agent first? And what did I need to approach them with?
A pitch? A proposal? A Hail Mary? What's the etiquette? How could I be sure my idea was a good one? Would I get their attention or be ignored? Did I have a big enough following? Did I need one? Did I even have a shot? (And, seriously, what about the advance?)
So you can imagine the exhilaration when, a few years later, I landed the book deal of my dreams with Portfolio / Penguin Random House...for a FAINT-INDUCING $200,000. (Well, with one condition—but we'll get to that later.)
So, what was my secret?
Well, I'll tell you what it wasn't. It wasn't the fact that I am someone special (I'm not—and everyone who's read my new book, THE MIDDLE FINGER PROJECT, knows about the trailer park I grew up in—ha). It wasn't the fact that I had a huge platform with tons of followers (one publisher actually told me that they had staff with more Instagram followers than me, soooo...). It wasn't the fact that I had some kind of genius idea (the reality is, I had to try on MANY different ideas before I figured out what was missing). And it certainly wasn't because I had connections (unless you're counting the drive-thru attendant at McDonald's, who knew me very well back when).
But I did have something that not everybody else did—and that's just one of the topics I'm discussing in my all-new Very Sweary Field Guide for Future Authors.
The Very Sweary Field Guide for Future Authors
The Secret Document I Made to Convince Penguin Random House UK to Also Buy the Rights
...sight unseen from across an ocean. Which is important for obvious reasons (#exposure! #booksales! #internationalfame!), but also because the money they spend to acquire your book goes against your royalties which means you make more money, faster. Hooray!
Exactly How Many Books I Need to Sell to Earn Out My Advance
And what that whole process is really like, how much you earn, when you earn it, and whether or not you can actually make any money as an author. (There are differing opinions on this but my answer is AN ABSOLUTE YES—as long as you know how to do it right.)
My #1 Piece of Advice for What I'd Do Differently
You know, if I could do it again and save myself an extra couple of years of edits and re-writes and more re-writes and more edits and then scraping the entire thing and going back to the drawing board and then wanting to punch myself in the tit day after day. (Even PMS tits. So you know it gets bad.)
Plus Other Gem Babies Like:
Here's a Breakdown of How We'll Cover It All:
01. A Beginner's Primer on Book Publishing
02. The Book Deal Process
03. Your Book Idea
04. Your Book Proposal
05. The Money, The Advance + The Royalties
06. The Grand Finale Q&A
And Here's What She Looks Like (Cute, Right?)
You could do what I did and spend five whole years throwing pages against a wall to see what worked (and what most certainly didn't).
I wouldn't recommend it. Five years is a very long time. I was still in my twenties when I started; now I'm 35! It didn't have to take this long, though, and it shouldn't have—had I known then what I know now.
And what I know now is that from start to book publication should take about two years—not five. And it probably shouldn't involve eighteen different re-writes, either. :) Nor should it be overwhelming or confusing or make you filled with despair. Writing a book should be fun! Creative! Exciting! Meaningful! At least, it was once I figured out all of the things I was doing wrong. (Oh, so wrong.) But once I figured those things out? Once I got the critical, life-changing feedback I needed to make it all click?
I re-wrote everything one last time within ONE WEEK—and landed the $200,000 book deal with Penguin Random House with my eyes closed. (After spending five years making lots of little mistakes—and one BIG one.) Those mistakes are what I aim to share with you inside of this field guide I've created for anyone who wants to publish a book and wants a REAL peek behind the curtain from a real person who's recently done it. No outdated advice. No hypotheticals. All based on experience and lessons learned the hard way—so you don't have to.
Get The Very Sweary Field Guide Now
The field guide contains 3.5 hours of audio + a 43-page playbook with examples + 68 pages of transcripts containing everything I wish I knew, then, all housed inside our beautiful online class software so you can take it like a class—plus unique advice from my own agents and editors that'll give you ah-ha moment after ah-ha moment after ah-ha moment, amen.
A Few Questions, Darling
What Comes With This Kit?
Can I Download the Materials?
Is This For Both Fiction + Non-Fiction?
What if I'm Not Clear On My Book Idea Yet?
What's Your Return Policy?
Which Book Did You Publish and With Who?
A Love Letter About The Field Guide
The Very Sweary Field Guide for Future Authors
- 3.5 hours of audio, broken up into six topics
- 43-page playbook with follow-along examples
- 68 pages of transcripts (in case you prefer to read!)
- A beautiful backend via our online course software so you can take it like a class—or download it for any device
You are a thunderbolt.
You were built to climb walls and tear down obstacles and set everything you touch on fire. You were built to be an enigma. A riddle. A beautiful paradox. You were built to be one giant, grand, daring adventure, someone who creates unexpected sparks of wonder with her life. There is nothing predictable about you, or what’s to come. You are curious and wild and bright-eyed and sensational. You were built to laugh loudly and march bravely and leave your heart on every doorstep— KNOCK FUCKING KNOCK.
This is a new doorstep.