On August 17, 2009, I received this email in my inbox:
My name is Carlo Devito, and I am a publishing executive with Sterling Publishing Company Inc., a division of Barnes & Noble.
As a food and wine editor, I have worked with Matt Kramer, Kevin Zraly, Tom Stevenson, Michael Jackson, Good Housekeeping, Country Living, Holly Clegg, Guillermo Pernot, the James Beard Foundation, and many, many more.
Are you available to discuss a new project? Are you interested in doing a book?
At first, I almost deleted the email. A book? Me? Really? I really didn’t believe it, so the email sat in my inbox for a couple of days. It was actually my boss at Harvard, who encouraged me to respond.
The next day, I chatted with Carlo about possibly writing a book. He said he loved my blog and thought it would be a great platform for launching a book. Then, he asked me to brainstorm some ideas.
At this point, the idea of writing a book was a real possibility”” and, of course, very exciting! A few days later, I sent Carlo this email:
It was great chatting with you. I’m excited about the opportunity to work together.
Here’s my initial idea:
A real-life cookbook for women with a focus family, friends, work, fitness, life events, etc. The book would follow me through one month of healthy living and shows that it doesn’t need to be difficult and can even be fun– including happy hour, dessert bars, holiday parties, weddings, etc. I also want to show that I’m a person with problems just like everyone else, but explain how I manage to create a healthy lifestyle that isn’t boring or perfect. I work full-time, so I don’t have all day to devote to my health, so I’d mix in advice on how to fit in healthy decisions when faced with tough situations. For instance, how can I enjoy happy hour with friends without looking like a chump? When it’s 4 degrees with two feet of snow on the ground, how can I motivate to go to the gym? I don’t like telling people what to do, so the tone wouldn’t be preachy, but more friendly advice.
- 30 days of recipes, blogger style, sort of like a “day in the life” of a food blogger
- Healthy living in Boston from a “regular” person’s perspective. Sort of like a guide book to all things healthy in Boston– restaurants, gyms, yoga classes, etc.
- Dessert diet book with “healthier” recipes mixed in, meal plans that focus on your sweet tooth, but are nutritious and satisfying too.
That same day, Carlo replied with this email:
Good start”¦interesting ideas”¦let me chew on them for a week”¦and then let’s discuss”¦.if you have any other ideas, forward them on.
Well, a couple of weeks went by, and I didn’t hear back from Carlo. I thought the whole book thing was donezo, but I didn’t want to give up that easily, so I sent this follow-up email:
I did some more thinking about my book topic and just wanted to run my thoughts by you.
I want to show people that living a healthy lifestyle including enjoying food, fun, and not obsessing about calories, fat, etc.
Possible topics included in book:
- Why I gained weight (mistakes I made, fad diets)
- How I lost it (counting calories, lifestyle changes)
- Cookie Friday
- Baking experiments
- Enjoying happy hour
- Indulging at parties, holidays, but not overdoing it
- How to love exercise and stick to it
- Eating healthy on vacation and while traveling
- Balancing healthy eating with a full-time job, blog, freelance writing, etc.
- Healthy, easy recipes
I’m so glad that I decided to send this second email because Carlo loved these ideas!
I think there is the book”¦and then you weave stories throughout”¦.you can talk about bad habits you had in each chapter and then the corrective, sometimes obsessive good things you did to correct it. i.e. everyday used to be cookie Friday”¦or a moment when you binged on cookies because you were upset about something”¦don’t know”¦
You’ll have to be real. We’ll need some personal information about you in the manuscript”¦perhaps not the proposal”¦.but we’ll need a few soul searing moments”¦something perhaps that really hurt you”¦and some soaring moments when you came into this lifestyle you now enjoy”¦otherwise it will seem like a put on.
At this point, Carlo asked me to write a book proposal, which took me about two or three weeks to put together. It only ended being about six or seven pages long, but it took me awhile to think through what I wanted to write and how I wanted to express it in a book.
Once I submitted the proposal, things moved pretty fast. A few days later, Carlo replied with this email:
I like this a lot. It reflects what we talked about. I am going to discuss it with some of my colleagues around here. Interest remains high.
We’ll chat on Tuesday or you can call me on my cell phone any time between 3:30 and 5pm.
A number of conversations took place in the next several days, and then Carolo invited me to New York City:
Do you think, if we pay for an Amtrak ticket, you could come down and go back on Wednesday, October 21? Sales and marketing and publicity are interested in meeting you”¦.
I still remember receiving this email because I stared at my computer in complete shock. The publishing folks wanted to meet me!?! Holy crap! I guess my proposal was good enough to talk more seriously about it. Maybe I really would write a book! Here’s my recap of that day in New York City.
A couple of weeks later, I was offered a book deal and the rest is history!
The reason for this story: TODAY is the official release of my book!!!
Without you guys, who read and support me everyday, this book would not be possible. Thanks to my wonderful readers, a publishing house contacted me about writing a book. How crazy is that!?! (I still can’t believe it sometimes.) So, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU, readers!!! You guys are the best!
Did you happen to notice the grass growing in our backyard!?! Mal and I are really excited about this”” it already looks better than last week’s mud pit!
Question of the Day
Have you ever wanted to write a book? If so, what would you write about?
P.S. For those of you looking for my weekly workout schedule, I updated it, and it will live on the right side of my blog under the Run to Remember logo for the next few weeks.