The Story Behind my Proposal Tutorials

Jul 16, 2010Write!

Why I Created These e-books

It starts way back when in the second grade, my teacher said I had a talent for writing. This is me, then:

me in second grade

I kept her words deep inside as I wrote my way through diaries, then journals throughout my life. In college, I dusted off her encouragement and majored in English. But instead of pursuing writing full time, I taught kids to write. This is me around that time:

No, that’s not my student!

But something crazy happened when I had my first child. When I birthed her, I birthed a dream to write. Something about the beauty of that creation sparked an insatiable need to put pen to paper, then finger to keyboard.

What an inspiration!

I spent years at my keyboard while I raised this amazing, sweet child, while two more followed. All the while, my dream flourished but went nowhere.

I was unpublished and uninformed. But I didn’t want to stay that way. I had a dream to be published, but the process seemed a scary mystery–and entirely out of reach.

So I sat across from a published author over lunch. A newbie with a passion to write, I leaned in and asked, “So, what do I do? How do I get published?” Pen poised above a notepad, hoping for the secrets of publishing, I waited.

She hemmed and hawed. Avoided eye contact. Said a few things I already knew.

I asked more questions, in different ways, but she wouldn’t give away her “secrets.”

In that moment I vowed that if I ever got published, I’d share my journey with other writers. I’d answer questions. I’d demystify the process. Why would I hoard that to myself?

So I pressed in to learn how to get published. I attended conferences. Wrote miles and miles of text. Finished a novel. Joined a critique group. After writing over a decade, I came away from my first major writing conference with agent representation.

But there was a problem. A big problem.

I wrote novels, but my agent said, “Mary, you really ought to write parenting books.”

I hollered back. “But I write fiction. Stories. Besides, those nonfiction proposals FREAK ME OUT!”

Enter Leslie, my nonfiction writer friend. She graciously offered me one of her amazing proposals. Instead of having to wade through books and courses about proposal writing, actually seeing one helped me create one. So I did.

The agent loved it and started shopping it around to publishing houses. A few weeks later, he asked, “Mary, I need a proposal for another book, but you have to write it this weekend. Can you do it?”

I swallowed, then heard the words leap from my mouth: “Of course!”

Within a month, I signed two contracts--me an unpublished girl with a few magazine credits.

That’s the power of example, of holding an actual proposal in your hands. It empowers you to write your own. It takes the mystery out of the process. It puts you on the same playing field as any other published writer.

For more information about the tutorial features and how to purchase them, click here.