How’d You Land that Book Deal?

And the Essay Version Submitted Vs. the Version Accepted

People have been asking me lately how I actually landed my book deal, especially since the book is still only partly written, so here’s the basic story:

Mostly, I just got incredibly lucky!

Other than that, the story is that last year, I wrote a short piece for the New York Times‘ Motherlode blog, and an editor from Penguin’s Putnam imprint read it and contacted me, and invited me to submit a memoir proposal. After my heart resumed beating from the shock, I worked my tail off for a few months, took a MediaBistro’s online course in both the nonfiction book proposal with the incredible Jill Rothenberg and memoir writing with the incomparable Kelly McMasters (both so worth it!) and then submitted the proposal. Putnam then asked for more sample chapters, and I produced the first 4 chapters of the book. Then they offered me the deal!

Stay tuned for the announcement in Publisher’s Weekly, forthcoming later in January. In the meantime, here’s the New York Times online piece that started it all, in the version I submitted to the Motherlode editor, and in the version the New York Times published (but please forgive the title – it wasn’t the one I chose!).

8 thoughts on “How’d You Land that Book Deal?

  1. Wonderful! But can you tell us how you landed a column in the Motherlode blog? It’s fantastic and clearly a great forum for other possibilities. Did you submit blindly to them or were you invited? My thanks!


    1. Hi Philomela (love your screen name, by the way!). I just found the editor’s email address online, at the Motherlode blog, and I sent her a blind pitch. Her email and twitter, etc., are listed on all Motherlode pages (see the right side-bar on my piece, about 1/2-way down, in the “About Motherlode” section). I’ll post a copy of the pitch now in a related post here, in case it’s helpful to other people! Stay tuned…


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