1001 Things to Love About Military Life released November 2, and although busy with book signings and visits to military posts and bases around the country, Kathie and Holly promised to stop in throughout the day to talk about the military, their writing journey and the nonfiction side of publishing.
I received a copy of 1001 Things to Love About Military Life in the mail Monday and have enjoyed reading the anecdotes, vignettes and wealth of information captured within the covers of this heartwarming book. Some of the photos and stories have brought tears to my eyes, others have made me laugh, but all have underscored the uniqueness of military life. As always, I am indebted to and so very proud of our brave men and women in uniform and the families who support them.
Please join me in welcoming Kathie and Holly to Seekerville…
It feels surreal…having a hardback book published by the “second-largest publisher in the world."
1001 Things to Love About Military Life was released this month by Center Street, an imprint of Hachette Book Group (HBG).
According to the press release our publicist (“our publicist!!”) created, “HBG is a leading trade publisher based in New York and a division of Hachette Livre, the second-largest publisher in the world.”
“The second largest publisher in the world!” we screamed at each other over the phone when we saw that. Wow…who knew?
It’s been quite a journey getting to this point, and yes we still have quite a journey ahead of us. We’ve pretty much run the gamut so far of ways to get a book published.
|Kathie Hightower and Holly Scherer|
The key with these books was that she had a way to move them, selling them Back of Room (BOR) at workshops and keynotes, or selling them in bulk to agencies who contracted with her to speak.
When we decided to write a book together (after 10 years of talking about writing a book), we tried to sell it to a publisher. Rejection followed rejection.
We continued to query publishing houses, only now we had a finished product and some sales record to back up the proposal. A small publishing house picked it up and brought out our revised Second Edition. Distribution was better but not great and we still had to do all our own marketing of course. That small publishing house was still not able to get the book into military exchanges.
All through the years, we kept researching the book business, attending workshops, reading books, networking with authors. For this latest book, we created a strong proposal and query letter and started querying agents, knowing that was essential in today’s market. Networking – and serendipity – connected us with our agent. With the agency’s advice, we strengthened the proposal and she sold the book to Hachette. (Of course, saying it like that sounds simple. The reality took six years from idea to published book, with many rejections along the way.)
We read Ruth Logan Herne’s recent blog about Query Letters here on Seekerville. Her advice to leave out biographical info, to include it in a separate sheet and let the writing and story sell the book is the opposite of how it works in the nonfiction world. The first question the publisher (and agent) has is “What is your platform? Why are you the one to write this book and how are you going to market it?” (Believe it or not, if you have a strong enough platform and idea, you could actually hire a ghostwriter, so the writing isn’t the key selling point as it is in fiction. Of course, we still think good writing is key because that drives word-of-mouth marketing which is critical no matter the genre.)
Hachette bought our book based on the fact that we had four authors who have lived the life we are writing about, but most importantly, four authors who have some way to market the book. It was our platforms…our speaking engagements, our columns, our blogs, our websites, our radio show…that sold them on the book.
The writing and editing process was intense. Our original idea was changed pretty dramatically, from a small gift book with simple one-liners to a full-sized book full of stories, quotes, photos and cartoons. Whereas the norm is 12-18months from final manuscript to publication date, Hachette pushed this through in a much shorter time, really about 5 months from final manuscript to publication. With our other books the writing and editing was pretty much up to us. With this book, we not only had four authors (in 4 different geographic locations and 3 times zones), we now had an editor, a book packager, a book designer, and a copyeditor all involved. And with a large publisher, we were pushed to much greater detail and fact-checking with material and permissions.
Kathie once talked with Amy Fetzer, a romance writer who’d published 22 novels or novellas. She was also a military spouse, moving and dealing with deployments as we have.
“How in the world did you write 22 novels,” asked Kathie, “It took us forever to just write one book.” The author’s answer was, “The difference is you have to research and back every statement up…I just make everything up…it’s quicker.” There’s some truth to that (of course there is all that character development and plotting so not sure it’s that much quicker.) Plus we realized our time was spent so much on “platform-building” rather than book-writing, developing our workshops, doing proposals, traveling for workshops, writing columns.
Anyway, we are thrilled to have a big publishing house behind this book. It’s already helping with distribution, already in some military exchanges. We have someone else sending out review copies rather than us handling all of that as in the past. But the bottom line? Writing and editing the book, hard as it was, is only 10% of the work. Now we start on the 90% of the work, marketing the book.
Kathie often quotes author Lynn Waymon, “Expecting your publisher to market your book is like expecting your Ob/Gyn to raise your child.” It’s up to us.
A first-of-its-kind celebration of military life, 1001 THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT MILITARY LIFE (Center Street, Hachette Book Group; Nov 2, 2011; Hardcover; $19.99) chronicles some obvious and not-so-obvious traditions, advantages and experiences military members, veterans and their families share.
Full of heart-warming vignettes, laugh-out-loud lists, stories and quotes from military members and family members, and photos that speak a thousand positive affirmations, this inspirational look at those who dedicate their lives to serving perfectly illustrates why it is a profession and lifestyle to love. You'll find practical truths most service members wouldn't want to live without and learn the unique outlooks, services and advantages military life provides. Military or civilian, you'll witness the community and personal growth that the military offers.
Whether you have a friend or loved one in the military, you're a service member ready to head out on duty, a spouse gearing up to take charge of the household, a veteran in need of a few good laughs, or a new recruit looking for encouragement, this book provides inspiration and insight into the lives of today's dedicated and courageous military families.
Kathie and Holly have partnered on writing and workshops for military spouses of all services since 1994. They’ve presented their trademark workshop Follow Your Dreams While You Follow the Military™ for military spouses all over the United States, Europe, Japan and Korea. They’ve keynoted many of the military spouse conferences of all services worldwide. Frequent contributors to military publications to include years of columns in Air Force/Army/Marine Corps/Navy Times newspapers, Military Money magazine, Military Spouse magazine, military.com, they are also coauthors of Help! I’m a Military Spouse – I Get a Life Too! in its Second Edition. They were designated two of the first Who’s Who in Military Spouses 2007 by Military Spouse Magazine. Kathie and Holly also keynote programs for corporate audiences and hospital wellness groups. They encourage their audiences to access possibilities and “Jump into Life,” to “Live Now, Not When.”
Visit Kathie and Holly at www.lovemilitarylife.com, www.militaryspousehelp.com, and www.jumpintolife.net
Leave a comment and email address to be included in a drawing for a choice of either Help! I'm a Military Spouse (although military spouse stories, the research on happiness and goal achieving tips apply to all) or Kathie's workbook, Jump Into Life (full of life exploration exercises).
Debby again: I'll be giving away a copy of 1001 Things to Love About Military Life as well as my latest Military Investigations suspense, THE CAPTAIN'S MISSION, to a second winner. Be sure to include your email with your comment to be included in both drawings!
Buy 1001 Things to Love About Military Life now: http://www.amazon.com/1001-Things-Love-About-Military/dp/1455502839/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top