If your goal in life is to write a book, allow me to share what I know about the process. Here’s my first piece of good news: the books on how to write a non-fiction book proposal are really good! These are the only self-help books that ever worked for me. What they will force you to do is to refine your idea (Great ideas are a dime a dozen - how do you make yours work as a book?). They will help you think competitively about the marketplace (What other books on the subject are out there? How is yours different?) Finally, they will help you WORK and pull the answers to these hard questions together in the form of a book proposal that might actually help sell your book. Here’s a link to Amazon’s titles http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=book+proposal. The bad news is, as you may have heard, it’s really hard to get an agent. The tools you need most are 1.) a great idea, 2.) resources such as these on how to write a professional book proposal and how to approach literary agents, 3.) a great book proposal, 4.) realistic and unwavering perseverance, 5.) (in my case) the blessings of the chocolate gods.
My chocolate book started as a big, exotic photo-laden, coffee-table giant of a travel book - an $80 art splurge - and then morphed into a comprehensive guide to chocolate - say $32.00 - then morphed again into a gift book on chocolate with a focus on health, beauty, gift-giving and wellness - such a deal at $14.95!! Lucky for me, I loved all three of these books! It took 5 years from concept to proposal to working with my agent to working with the first publisher then working with the second and final publisher. 5 years!! Since chocolate was always at the center, much of the research was relevant to all incarnations of the project, and in the meantime I taught baking & pastry arts, produced TV shows, sold artisan chocolates and made birthday cakes. I put everything I learned along the way into the final product, just by osmosis. Once the contract came through, I wrote 2-3 hours a day for 6 months, some days more but never less. If prose ideas got stuck, I turned the classical music up loud and worked on recipes. If a recipe bombed, I went back happily to the prose. In this way of going around in circles, I got to the end. I turned the book (all 168 pages/ 37,249 words) into the editor last week, and already I miss the daily dance of making those recipes work and learning more about chocolate botany. From here, I’ll get my notes, do a rewrite, go to a dessert photo shoot featuring my very own chocolate babies, work on final edits then drum up a little fanfare when it comes out in September 2009. A friend occasionally asked me “How’s your book going?” even though he later confided what he really meant was “Have you given up on that flailing book project of yours yet?” On the darkest of days, when either the book or I were in some really bad configuration of torturous rejection, I could always say, “It’s not all the way dead yet.” It was never dead because I refused to give up on it. And now, the chocolate book, she lives.