Email Chain

On August 17, 2009, I received this email in my inbox:

Dear Tina,
 
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:

Hi Carlo,

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.

Other ideas:

  • 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:

Tina,
 
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.
 
Carlo

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:

Hi Carlo,

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:

  1. Why I gained weight (mistakes I made, fad diets)
  2. How I lost it (counting calories, lifestyle changes)
  3. Cookie Friday
  4. Baking experiments
  5. Enjoying happy hour
  6. Indulging at parties, holidays, but not overdoing it
  7. How to love exercise and stick to it
  8. Eating healthy on vacation and while traveling
  9. Balancing healthy eating with a full-time job, blog, freelance writing, etc.
  10. Healthy, easy recipes

I’m so glad that I decided to send this second email because Carlo loved these ideas!

Tina
 
Great!
 
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.
 
Good?
 
Carlo

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:

Tina

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.

Thanks
Carlo

A number of conversations took place in the next several days, and then Carolo invited me to New York City:

Tina
 
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”¦.
 
Thanks
 
Carlo

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!!!

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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!

Breakfast

This morning’s breakfast was Overnight Oats in a Jar. In the mix: oats, Raisin Bran, chia seeds, almond milk, and extra peanut butter. I also drank an iced coffee with soy milk.

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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!

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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.

178 Comments

  1. Congrats on the official release! I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy – which hopefully won’t be TOO hard up here in Canada! If it’s anything like you blog, I know I’ll lurrrve it 🙂

    izzyy
    xo

  2. I’ve got about 25 pages left to read. It’s been great! I can’t wait to make the pumpkin muffins.

    I remember when you went to NYC and were a little secretive about it. Well, not really secretive, but you wouldn’t (obviously) reveal the reason behind the trip. (yes, I’ve been a reader for awhile 🙂

    Congratulations!!

  3. Congratulations! I think you should celebrate by joining me for TaeBox on Thurs and then we could go across the street to Borders and check it out.

  4. Congrats Tina, your hard work has paid off! You are so inspiring… I just ordered your book on Barnes and Noble and I can’t wait to read it! You do motivate me to believe that you can do anything that you set your mind to. In the long run the only thing that holds you back is yourself!

  5. Being a professional book reviewer I’ve not only admired writers/authors I’ve seen some of the worst of the worse & am sooooo fearful of falling in that category so I must say NO…I have never wanted to write a book (especially after being a book Reviewer & having to read some very, very horrid writings LOL)

    Cookbooks are my faves because I really can look at them from different views. They’re much more fun to review but I’d never be able to write one because most of what I make is just something I’ve gotten from elsewhere.

  6. Congratulations Tina! I just thought I’d let you know, I got an email from this book site I belong to & your book was in the “New May Releases” right when I opened the email 😀 I can’t wait to get it this weekend!

  7. This is so inspirational Tina! I’m so glad you replied to the email. I can’t wait for my copy to come in the mail! I have thought about writing a book before. It seems hard and rewarding at the same time. Congratulations! <3

  8. Thank you for sharing the process behind the book! I bought the book to celebrate getting my first teaching interview call. I loved the book and how you wove together your story and recipes. If I were to ever write a book, I think it would have something to do with finding balance and overall musicianship health.

  9. First, congratulations on your road of success! That is so cool!

    And second, thanks for sharing the way that that situation played out, so interesting! I always wondered how those things worked.

    I have never wanted to write a book, but perhaps that will change when I one day feel like I have something unique to talk about. 🙂

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  11. Congratulations on your new book ~ what a great story about how this all happened! I’m going to be keeping an eye out because your book sounds perfect for me.

    If I were to write a cookbook type of book, I would love to do one about a vegetarian living with a meat eater and feature meals that would work for both people. I would want to make it fun, delicious and easy eats for all!

  12. Congratulations! This is a dream come true.

    And yes…I am hoping to write many books in my lifetime. One based on my cooking would have to be about being a Lilly Pulitzer-wearing vegan in the South, where people cook their veggies in meat. It’s never boring!

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