Never give up: From blog to book

Cherry blossoms“I’m giving up,” I said. “‘Moon over Martinborough’ is never going to be a book.”

Ever since I’d started this blog I’d wanted to turn it into a book, but I was losing hope.

“Maybe you shouldn’t give up just yet,” Uncle Oscar replied.

Uncle Oscar was here on his annual visit from New York, and we were sitting at the Gamekeeper, the restaurant at Alana Estate vineyard just down the road. CJ and I were having lunch with Uncle Oscar and our friends Leelee and the Wolf.

“Uncle Oscar’s right,” Leelee said. “Don’t give up.

Although the blog had gained some recognition, after 3 years of hard slog I still felt no closer to my book goal. It didn’t matter that I already had a first draft of the book manuscript put together, or that my stories were appearing regularly in Wairarapa Lifestyle Magazine. I was ready to throw my hands in the air.

“Why don’t you write a book proposal and send it to publishers?” Leelee said. “I have a great book which tells you how to write a book proposal. You can borrow it.”

CJ and the Wolf joined in, and the group’s gentle cajoling continued until I finally agreed to write a proper book proposal.

Writing a book proposal

Leelee’s copy of ‘How to get published and make a lot of money!’ by Susan Page was my guide. The title is a bit embarrassing, but it has a very good chapter on how to write a book proposal. It explains how to write sections on the author, the audience, the marketing plan, analysis of the ‘competition’, and chapter-by-chapter outline.

Book proposal

I spent almost two months working on that proposal. I honed and crafted and redrafted. On 16 May 2012 I sent that proposal – printed handsomely and filled with gorgeous photographs – to four publishers. I figured it would sit for months in their ‘slush piles’ of unsolicited material, and I’d be lucky if I ever got a response.

Well, blow me down if I didn’t get a response less than two weeks later. It was from Nicola Legat, Publishing Director at Random House New Zealand. She said, “Many thanks for sending in your overview of Moon Over Martinborough. I am impressed by and grateful for the very detailed analysis it contains. I’d very much like to see the first draft.”

Huh? Was this possible? I quickly sent her my manuscript.

Waiting for the decision

Then the painful waiting began. Each day was sheer torture. What was Nicola thinking? Would she hate my manuscript? Would she love it?

After a week that felt like an eternity, Nicola emailed saying, “Just a quick note to say that I am halfway though, and I am loving it! I’ll be back to you next week.”

Spring cherry tree in front of olive grove

Yeah! But it wasn’t final yet. Maybe the second half of my manuscript was horrible. Maybe she would change her mind.

Finally Nicola’s response came. “I’ve now finished my read and I am going to propose to the Publishing Committee at our Wednesday meeting that we accept this book for publication early next year. I will let you know that afternoon what their decision is.”

What?! OMG! I was thrilled. But Wednesday was four whole days away! How on earth was I going to survive the wait?

In San Francisco

As it turned out, that four-day wait coincided with my and CJ’s big plane trip back to the States for a long-overdue visit with friends and family. Our first stop was San Francisco, where we stayed with our old Tokyo friends Josh and Tina. At their house I checked my email, and sure enough there was an email from Nicola.

“Can you give a number where it’s convenient to call you later on this afternoon?” Nicola wrote.

I responded that I was in San Francisco, and I sent Josh and Tina’s home phone number. Literally moments later the phone rang.

Tina answered in her best I’m-a-corporate-lawyer voice. She said, “Yes, Jared is here. May I ask who’s speaking?”

Napa Valley ChampagneI felt like screaming, “Just give me the damn phone!”

“Thank you, Nicola,” Tina said calmly. “I’ll get Jared.”

Tina handed me the phone with a huge smile on her face. “Jared, it’s Random House calling for you.”

What hopeful writer doesn’t want to hear those words?

I took the phone and walked out onto Tina and Josh’s back deck, which overlooks an amazingly beautiful canyon. I can barely remember the details of the conversation. My head was spinning. I have a piece of paper I scribbled notes on, and it hardly makes any sense at all.

But the most important thing I heard in that conversation was this. The Publishing Director of Random House New Zealand said very clearly, “We are really keen and would love to publish your book with you.”

It was a yes.

Publishing a book

Since then I’ve signed a contract, worked with Nicola on manuscript revisions, and discussed cover ideas. The book is going to be a trade paperback with photo sections. I’m now dealing with a text editor. Soon a photographer is going to come out to our property for a photo shoot.

Random House New Zealand letterhead and 'Dear Jared'

I feel like I’ve stepped into some bizarre parallel universe where all of my dreams come true.

‘Moon Over Martinborough’ the book is set for release in June 2013. The print book will be available in New Zealand at that point, and an eBook will be available internationally.

Random House NZ will act as my agent and try to sell the print book rights to other publishers around the world. Can you believe it?

Thank God my friends and loved ones intervened just as I was ready to give up. Thank God.

Have you almost given up just before a dream came true?


Related links

Wairarapa Lifestyle Magazine

This blog post appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Wairarapa Lifestyle Magazine. See other ‘Moon’ stories from Wairarapa Lifestyle Magazine.

You can find the magazine in the cafes and shops all over the Wairarapa. Check out the magazine’s website.

66 thoughts on “Never give up: From blog to book

  1. Frenchie Leigh

    First off, congratulations!!

    What an inspiring post! I love to poke around the writing tag here on WP and it’s filled with a lot of “I’m afraid of rejections!” and “literary agents are evil!” and of course the, “traditional publishing be damned, I’m too indie for that crap! I’m going to self publish.”

    It is so refreshing to hear a success story. You worked hard, but had your doubts. You listened to your family and friends, and though fear of rejection hung over your head, you did it anyway, and were rewarded for it! (That and of course, your book is clearly awesome)

    Again, I congratulate you, and will keep you in my mind for when I’m feeling a little discouraged. Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. Sue

    Congratulations, Jared! I found your blog after hearing the piece on Radio NZ’s Country Life and have been reading for the last two years from South Pole Station in Antarctica, where I work. I can’t wait to buy your book!

  3. Mike Mckay

    Just fantastic! Congrats on your success in this and good wishes for the rest of the process. Hmmm, what a fantastic Christmas present idea you have given us all…. Thanks Jared! But remember, you have to wait on the movie until The Hobbit is over and done with – not enough room in this country for two blockbusters at the same time.

  4. Lore L.

    No doubt I’ll buy it and send it to my friends overseas to give them a taste of rural life in friendly far away NZ !

  5. Susan Pearce

    Just joining the vast phalanx of friends who are not all suprised, but still extremely thrilled for you. And I’m for a George Clooney CJ too: have you settled on your own thespian rep yet? Did I miss the decision? S xxx Can’t wait to see you soon!!

  6. zenpeacekeeper

    Congratulations! Not so long ago I had a very similar call from Penguin NZ and I remember just how thrilled I was too. It takes a lot of work to get this far, so remember to enjoy and celebrate properly!

  7. Rebecca

    Congratulations!!! Your book is going to be fabulous (how can it not when your blog is) and I cant wait to read it. I love that you are just over the hill from me in the magical little town of Martinborough. I am going to make sure all my friends around the world read about your perfect piece of paradise! As we say downunder “good on ya!”. Becks x

  8. Raewyn

    Jared my darling I am just so happy for you as you deserve this. Everyone loves your sense of humour and love of our region really comes out when you write. congratulations again Raewyn xxx

  9. AareneX

    Yay for you!!!! And Yay for the MOON!

    I agree: book proposals suck. Writing a book proposal is sort of like writing a dissertation….except if they like your dissertation, you get the degree, and if they like your book proposal you still have to write the book!

    I’ll buy yours for sure! Best wishes from your farmer friends in the American Swampland!

  10. welshhillsagain

    How wonderful! congratulations. The whole process has clearly involved a massive commitment and a whole heap of work. I will remember that when I am idling about thinking about writing instead of writing! Really look forward to reading it!

  11. Jana

    Congratulations Jared! I look forward to your new stories each month and hope I can get my hands on a copy of your book when it is released.

  12. Gecko

    Congratulations Jared, well done!! It’s hard to imagine it was April 2009 that I stumbled across this site, and we were kinda neighbours back in those days.
    I’ll keep an eye out for your book, will we be able to get it on line??

    1. Moon Over Martinborough Post author

      Yes! Such a long time! And now you’re across the ditch. There will be an e-book version, but I’m going to ask Random House if there’s anyway people overseas can order the print book online and get it shipped.

  13. Laura Rittenhouse

    OMG – this is amazing. I love hearing stories where authors actually catch the eye of mainstream publishers in this day and age. You’ve achieved something almost miraculous and I wish you nothing but more success. Congratulations.

  14. Maria Rago

    Dear Jared,
    Congratulations on your upcoming book! I hope you will be able to incorporate the beautiful photographs that are a part of your blog. They really draw the reader in!

  15. hannahchia

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to read the book. Incidentally, my wedding has been set for July next year and we have a cherry blossom theme, so I’m loving the photos of cherry blossoms in this post!

  16. Aunt Charlie

    My friend has put in a request for her book club to read and peruse the book so, Iowa City, Iowa is a-buzz and anxiously awaiting published copies!

  17. wanderingseniors

    Congratulations! You’re a great writer and I’m so glad you pursued this. I’ve been following you since the cast sheep post and I’ve always felt that you should write a book. I’m looking forward to buying a copy of your book, and will be going to see the movie when it comes out (a movie MUST follow!).

  18. Moon Over Martinborough Post author

    Thanks so much to everyone for all the nice wishes! It’s all very exciting and I’ve been in the thick of it with the text editor. Catching typos and converting ounces to grams (for the 9 recipes) like nobody’s business!

  19. wandarah

    What the hell? Cool! Haven’t checked the blog for awhile, and now look what happens. Triple Flash Guy goes and publishes his Chicken Manifesto.

    Well, whatever – congratulations! I know imma buy it.

  20. Carrie

    That’s amazing!!
    I’m a fellow expat (living in Belize, though, not New Zealand)
    I was just browsing through other expat blogs and found this post – congratulations!! I’m going to look into that book you mentioned, for sure :)

    1. Moon Over Martinborough Post author

      That’s very kind of you to say. And I don’t know I moving to NZ will help, but I recommend it anyway! :-) Best of luck in your blog-to-book aspirations. I really do believe that hard work and tenacity pay off in the long run.

  21. tashastraveltroves

    Have you almost given up just before a dream came true ?

    That question has been following my shadow and I since my conception into this world ! Failures have followed me but I choose not to see them as failures . They are my blessings . Without blessings from a myriad of teachers I would not push forward . Blessings it seems is what has pushed to to where I am . I’ve given up life in one location and have chosen to make this world my home . If only global home could have a fixed address for mail delivery of the paper kind . This reply is turning out to be a mini blog , I will count my blessings and part ways for now ! Lol
    Well done on your successes Jared ! You serve as inspiration

  22. viviandyle

    Congrats to the famous Ex-pat! I too blog but my problem is I haven’t a clue how to design my blog…you clearly are gifted and I’m not tech savvy. I wish that WordPress would charge for designing my blog butt (joke) alas they do not. P.S. I have been to Auckland and Rotaroa (sp) and loved the kiwi nation. I’ll follow your progress. V

  23. jessicasaid

    Jared, well done. I’ve stumbled across this post while I am on a one-month break from work, blogging and trying to finish my own manuscript ahead of a move to Sydney, where hopefully I can get among the fray of writers and opportunities down there!
    Your experience has shown that persistence, research, preparedness (and of course, passion), does work. Congratulations!

    1. Jared Post author

      Thanks Jessica. Best of luck with your writing too. I see form your blog that you’re racking up a nice list of published articles! Well done.

  24. fatness now fitness

    Hi Jared & CJ, Uncle Oscar, Leelee and the Wolf, it shows that if you keep the goal in mind and respond to the things that happen along the way on the “journey” you still may find you have reached or exceeded your expectations.

    Some people might have felt “ambushed” by the talk of a book proposal – fortunate you took the suggestion in your stride.

    I starting running to lose weight but found I enjoyed running enough that it has helped me to be a whole lot healthier than if I had just reached the suggested “healthy” BMI.

    Sometimes you do need to glance back and check on the things you HAVE achieved while keeping your eye on the road ahead!

  25. briapittman

    Wow, what an amazing story. Congratulations. I’m sure all of the hard work you put in all seems worth it. Thank you for this story I needed that hope this morning as I keep pushing toward my dreams. :)

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