A Major Milestone
I am happy to report that the unedited version of my upcoming book Equal Partners is done! Last week I submitted my first full draft to Anna deVries at St. Martin’s Press. The book is slated to publish in 2022, so there are still many months ahead before I can hold it in my hand. But it feels so good to know that this project is no longer only a theory in my head, and that it actually exists … well, at least on my computer.
I did the majority of my research in 2020 and the majority of my writing in 2021. To make sure I never forgot an idea, I turned my office door into a living table of contents. Each sticky note is some sort of inspiration – a story I heard, an article I read, a statistic or data point that I wanted to include. I thought I’d memorialize my door before it goes into the recycle bin.
Writing a book during a pandemic while facilitating virtual learning was... challenging. You can see I finally reverted to teenagers’ tactics and put this sign on my door when I was desperate for quiet time. (It didn’t always work.)
A Literary Fairy Tale
I am frequently asked how I came to meet my agent, Amanda Annis. For our 2-year anniversary, I thought I’d tell our story.
I’d had the idea for Equal Partners for years, but I had no idea how to get a book published. Thankfully, fate intervened. In 2018 I was hired by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) to facilitate their strategic planning process. After working with them closely for several months, I couldn’t wait to attend their next writer’s conference in Oregon.
AWP is a huge event – in 2019 they had over 12,000 participants. It filled Portland’s massive convention center, and most sessions were packed with several hundred participants. I specifically attended sessions that focused on the business side of writing, choosing panels that highlighted agents, publishers and marketing teams.
Amanda was a panelist for one of those sessions. I liked her immediately; she was straight-forward and had a good sense of humor. She didn’t seem to be telling her audience what we wanted to hear – she seemed to be telling us the truth. And I greatly appreciated that honesty. After the session ended, I mustered the courage to introduce myself. That initial conversation only lasted about ten minutes, but ended with an invitation to follow up the next week. It was my Cinderella moment, and I flew back to Ottawa with a giant smile on my face.
After some back and forth on email, we set a time to talk. That first call lasted over two hours – and when I hung up, my first words to Evan were, “I think she actually cares about this book project as much as I do.” I jumped at the chance to work with Amanda, and signed a contract with Trident Media shortly thereafter.
Whereas fiction writers approach publishers with a finished book, non-fiction writers approach publishers with a proposal, and then they have about a year (after the book sells) to turn that proposal into a full manuscript. Once we agreed to work together, Amanda helped me write the proposal for Equal Partners, which, I admit, took longer than I expected – about ten months. It seemed crazy to spend that much time on a proposal. But of course without a great proposal – there is no book.
I was pretty impatient at times. Amanda had to remind me to slow down, put it aside for a week or two, live with it for a while. This was all hard for me to hear – and harder to follow. But in the end, she was right. Ideas needed to simmer in my brain for a while before they sounded right on paper.
Our plan was to pitch the book to publishers in March 2020, which of course, was interrupted by the pandemic. But even as the first wave of COVID was turning the world upside down, Amanda (playing the role of the Fairy God Mother) persevered; the proposal was submitted to publishers in May 2020. After an emotional two weeks that I never want to relive, I accepted an offer from St. Martin’s Press, and the book deal was formally announced on June 17, 2020.
I still believe that Amanda cares about Equal Partners as much as I do. 💙
See you all in June! I’ll get back to gender news next month.