There’s something compelling for me when signing a book contract. While the document may be legal in nature, it contains elements of risk. It’s that risk held within that draws me to the writing process as a whole. It’s as if the publisher is saying “C’mon. We dare you. Write us a book.”
I love that.
Sitting upon my desk at this very moment are several signed copies of one such dare. The story of how they arrived here is somewhat interesting, to me at least, and quite possibly to fans of the publishing process.
Writers with one book to their name found themselves in an odd situation. As near as I can tell, the publisher wants to hold off on any judgement of any future plans of the writer as they determine just how economically viable they may or may not be. From the point where the final manuscript is delivered to the point where metrics of the book’s sales figure is as near to limbo as one can get on this planet. After the manuscript is delivered, the writer likely as many questions similar to “Do I have a future in writing books?”
“Let’s wait and see,” the Publisher will respond.
“Do you want to see more proposals?”, the writer may ask.
“Let’s wait and see,” the Publisher will respond.
“Well what should I do in the meantime?” the writer will ask.
The Publisher will shrug, if they respond at all. They’re simply waiting.
I didn’t want to wait. Instead, I decided to pursue a different topic, hoping beyond hope that if the sales figures were good enough, I would not only have a proposal at the ready, I would be at least halfway through the first draft. This is why I talked about beer so heavily last year. Beer was to be the next book, or so I thought.
Meanwhile, 99 Drams of Whiskey was released, and those of us with a vested interest in the outcome waited. Six months later, we (my agent and I) asked the publisher if they wanted to work with us again.
“Definitely,” came the response. The use of such a word was a good sign. We immediately passed them beer book proposal.
To which they responded “Uh, we already have a beer book in our catalog. Do you have any other ideas?”
Not one to simply sit back and pitch one idea at a time, I spent a weekend coming up with a list of thirty-six different book ideas, each with a two or three line synopsis of what I believed the book would cover. From that list of three dozen ideas, they picked the top three that they believed held the most potential. From that list of three, I picked the one I liked best, and flew off to Amsterdam to write the proposal, and then refined it a bit when I got home.
The proposal was officially submitted. We heard a response from St. Martin’s Press two days later.
They liked it. The book was a go.
I held off on directly mentioning it publicly, because I’m a believer of the idea of “It ain’t real until the inks on the paper.” My ink is now on the paper, and the contract is being whisked away back to New York for their follow up.
The book, as some of you have inferred from some of my cryptic posts in January and February, is on the History of Candy. I won’t refer to it by its current title, as it may change, so I’ll simply refer to it as “the Candy Book”.
When I say the “history of Candy”, what I mean is the Western history of Candy. For a true history of confection would include Indian and Middle Eastern traditions, and the book would end up being 900 pages long, and no one wants that. However, some of those traditions will most certainly be covered here.
The approach will be similar to that of 99 Drams in that there will be two narratives – the modern day travelogue, and the actual history of candy, the idea being that the two narratives will help provide context for each other.
Trips for this book will include stops in the following areas of the world:
Palermo, Venice, Genoa, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, London, Bristol, Paris, Zurich, Cologne, Salem, New York, Hershey, Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco, and, of course, Seattle. Each stop will be documented on this here blog.
A fair amount of the research will also be documented here. The goal, much like it was for 99 Drams, is for Accidental Hedonist to be the liner notes, the back stage pass, and the DVD extras for the book.
This is where, you , dear reader, can participate. If you know of any confection producers who would like to be interviewed, or if you have access to weird and/or unique candies, let me know. Several suggestions from readers of AH back during the research and travel phase for 99 Drams ended up in the book. My hope is that the same thing happens for the candy book.
There are many challenges with candy that were non-existent with whiskey. The biggest hurdle is that candy companies are notoriously averse to letting writers into their confines. So I need to find things to do that are both relevant to the subject, yet compelling to the narrative.
I have many goals and desires for this book, both personal and professional. I’m of the firm belief that a person’s second book is just as important as the first, but for far different reasons. My belief, true or not, is that the first book demonstrates that you can both finish a book, and make the publisher enough money to justify a second book. The second book demonstrates that you can improve and expand your skill set used to write the first book, helps demonstrates to the publishing world that your in this for the long haul, and make the publisher enough money to justify a long term investment in my career.
Why, that almost sounds like a dare!