February 24, 2020

RCC 79: Writing Part 1: How I Got a Literary Agent and a Book Deal

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As most of you will know, my book Bare came out last year and I am so pleased to say that it has become a number one bestseller on Amazon. As many fruits as that project has borne since it’s been launched, I’d be lying if I said the journey was smooth sailing all the way. If you have a dream of writing a book, or even if it’s not something that’s on your radar right now, I want to bring you a three-part series all about the process and the publishing industry to give you all the inside scoop!

Welcome to part one today, where I’ll be divulging all the deets on how I got a literary agent and scored a book deal. If you’ve been a listener for a while, you might be able to take an educated guess that patience isn’t exactly one of my strengths, and this part of the process had me frustrated and had my energy depleting as I waited, and waited… and waited.

Join me this week to hear both the highs and the lows that I experienced during this time, how I made a pivotal shift in upping my energy when all I felt was defeated, and the three biggest lessons I learned. Make sure to tune in over the next couple of weeks to get even more behind-the-scenes info too!

If you want to work with me in 2020 to build your dream coaching practice, check out my programs and choose one that’s right for you. I’m running two different masterminds next year too and applications are still open for a short time!

Be sure to check out Shyatt.com/cash – our new Money Magazine is available there and packed with features, interviews, and other great info about how you can make tons of money and have a great time while doing it. 

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The first step to getting a book deal.
  • Why patience is crucial when you’re in the process of looking for a literary agent and scoring a book deal. 
  • The highs and lows I experienced while writing Bare.
  • How I shifted my energy around my project when I was feeling defeated and had lost my mojo.
  • The 3 biggest lessons I learned during this process.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Rich Coach Club, the podcast that teaches you how to build your dream coaching practice and how to significantly increase your income. If you're a coach and you're determined to start making more money, this show is for you. I'm master certified life coach Susan Hyatt, and I'm psyched for you to join me on this journey.

Have you ever dreamed of writing a book? It’s an amazing achievement for sure. It feels incredible to hold that finished book in your hands. It’s like Christmas and your birthday and a Beyoncé concert all rolled into one. It’s such a rush of emotions.

Plus, if you’re a coach, creating a book can be a really smart move for your business. Writing a book can open a lot of doors for you. It can lead to media appearances, interviews, speaking engagements, new clients, big lucrative corporate contracts, fan mail from complete strangers who live across the world.

There’s no telling what might happen once your book is out in the world, or how many lives your book will touch. The possibilities are limitless, but unfortunately, a lot of people get overwhelmed by the process of writing the book. Many people never even start writing, or maybe they start writing but then never actually finish their book.

If we gathered up all the half-finished book manuscripts in the world, we’d probably have enough paper to stretch from here to the moon and back 100 times. It’s kind of tragic. So look, if you’ve got a book inside of you, I really want you to finish it and release it. It’s worth the effort. It’s a project you will not regret.

Today, I’ve written two books. My latest book is called Bare: A 7-Week Program to Transform Your Body, Get More Energy, Feel Amazing, and Become the Bravest, Most Unstoppable Version of You. Bare came out in March 2019 and it became a number one Amazon bestseller. Bringing this book into the world has been an incredible, emotional journey, and I want to share some of the high points with you.

Well, the high points and also the low points. The moments when I felt seriously frustrated and almost gave up on the whole project. So today, we’re kicking off a special episode series here on Rich Coach Club. It’s going to be a three-part series. Part one, how I got a literary agent and got a book deal. Part two, how I wrote the book while juggling a million other projects without losing my mind in the process. And part three, how I launched the book, promoted the book, and sold a whole lot of copies and got that number one bestseller status.

I’m spilling all the backstage info about how this thing happened, the big lessons I learned, the secrets and scandalous detail, the mistakes that I will not repeat again, all the things. And if you want to write a book one day, or if you’ve started writing and you want some motivation to keep going, or if you don’t want to write a book but love hearing behind-the-scene stories about how things get made, then you’ll love this special series. This is part one. Here we go.

We’re starting with a segment that I call your two-minute pep talk. This is the part of the show where I share some motivation and encouragement to get your week started off right, and I try to keep things to two minutes or less.

Part one, how I got a literary agent and got that book deal. Getting an agent and finding a publisher did not happen quickly for me. I’ll be honest, it was a long journey. It really tested my patience because I want everything yesterday, just like most of you.

I have many virtues, but patience is not one of them. Ask my mama. I’m a quick start, I don’t like waiting around, especially when something is really important to me, so it was tough. And here’s how it happened for me. The first step in getting a book deal is to write a book proposal.

This is different than starting your book. This is a document usually somewhere around 20 to 50 pages long, where you describe your book idea. In your proposal, you give a summary of what your book is about, you describe your credentials as an author, you lay out your marketing plan for the book and explain how you, the author, intend to sell tons of copies, and you include a few sample chapters of your book too.

So I created my book proposal and I pitched my proposal to several literary agents. I probably pitched to like, 40 to 50 different agents. And I got pretty mixed responses. Some agents flat out said no, not interested. Some agents said I like your book concept but I’m not convinced that you have a big enough audience to make this book a success, so basically, you’re not famous enough.

And one big wig literary agent who happened to be a man told me that he wanted to represent me, if only I changed my book concept. He thought my book Bare, which is all about loving your body, wouldn’t sell. And he told me I should change my message and focus on dieting and weight loss instead.

Um, hell to the no. That’s literally the opposite of my message. I knew immediately that this guy just didn’t understand me or my mission and that this wasn’t a fit, so boy, bye. The process of searching for an agent taught me a lot about patience and persistence.

There were many moments of frustration and I had to keep reminding myself, “Don’t sign a deal with an agent if it doesn’t feel right. Wait until you find someone who really, really loves your book idea. Don’t settle for the crumbs and don’t settle for the bronze or silver medal. Hold out for the gold.”

In the business world, in the publishing world, in the dating world, sometimes it’s tempting to snap up the first offer that you receive, even if that offer kind of sucks. You think to yourself, “Well maybe I should take this offer. It’s not great but I might not get anything better.” I really urge you to wait. Keep pitching, keep searching. Don’t settle. Hold out for the gold medal because it might just be right around the corner.

Eventually, I did connect with a literary agent, someone I really love. She was based in New York City and had strong publishing industry connections. She represented an impressive list of authors and bestsellers. I liked her spirit and I had a really positive feeling about her.

She rejected my first proposal, but she wrote me the kindest, most thoughtful email with some helpful feedback. And I could tell that she was kind and smart and caring and understood my mission, so I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. So I revamped my proposal and made it 10 times stronger.

I redesigned the proposal so it looked like a fabulous magazine spread instead of a boring old Word document, and then I asked her if she would be willing to take another look. And in the email that I sent her, I included a Beyoncé gif and she cracked up and said, “Okay, so anyone who includes a Beyoncé gif in their pitch email is someone I need to know.”

So she took a peek at my revamped proposal and this time she told me, I love this, I’d like to represent you. Yes, hallelujah. I was so stoked. I figured, now that I have this fantastic, Big Apple literary agent, I’ll have a book deal sitting in my lap by next Friday. Well, not quite.

Once again, it was a long journey that required a great deal of patience. My agent pitched numerous publishers and then we had to wait for their replies and wait and wait and wait. And I kept refreshing my inbox obsessively, hoping for great news. And every time I saw an email from my agent pop up, my heart would leap and I’d wonder, “Oh my god, is this it? Do I have a publisher who’s interested in the book?”

Nope, nada, zero. Weeks went by, we got rejection after rejection, or we’d get no reply at all. People, it sucked hard. So one day I was having a little pity party for myself. I was feeling defeated and wondering if this whole thing was just a big old waste of time and energy, and I could feel my energy plummeting. I knew I had to do something to shift my mood.

And it occurred to me, you know what, I’m tired of waiting for a gatekeeper like a publisher to say yes to my book idea. I don’t need to mope around waiting for someone to choose me. I choose myself. And that’s what I did. The very next day I got in front of a camera and started recording a series of videos all about the Bare process.

I realized, alright yeah, I’m waiting for a book deal and I might be waiting for a while, but I don’t have to wait around sitting on my butt doing nothing. I can create something while I’m waiting. I can make videos, I can write online, I can enroll new clients. I can spread this message myself and ain’t nobody going to stop me.

I took the power back into my hands and that was a pivotal moment for me. My mojo came back and I felt so much renewed energy and excitement around the project. I created a membership community around those videos and was really busy in the creation process.

And then a few weeks later, the happy email arrived. My agent told me, “Alright, we’ve got a publisher who’s really interested in your book.” Yes, all that writing, pitching, revamping, and patience paid off. A book deal from a lovely publisher who really believed in my concept. Gold medal. Not bronze.

There are lots of different lessons that can be drawn from the story I just shared with you. For me, some of the biggest lessons are if you have a strong vision of what you want, don’t settle for crumbs. Be tenacious, be persistent. Hold out for a fabulous opportunity instead of one that’s just okay.

And number two, if someone says no to your initial pitch, revamp and try again. The second or third time, you might get a very different response. And number three, you don’t need a gatekeeper to choose you. You can choose yourself. You don’t need to wait to be invited onto someone’s podcast. Start your own podcast.

You don’t need to wait to be offered a book deal. Write online and share your message that way. Look, if you’re waiting for something like a book deal to come through, fine, you can wait, but wait actively. Be active, not passive. Do something awesome while you’re waiting.

Don’t mope around feeling stuck, waiting for somebody to choose you and doing nothing. Do something beautiful while you wait. Make good use of your waiting time. This totally changes the energy around your project and changes your mood. Don’t just wait, create.

So while I was waiting on a book deal, that video series and membership community I created gave me well over a six-figure book deal and continues to be a seven-figure project. So that’s the story of how I got an agent and a book deal. In the next episode, I’ll share some behind-the-scene stories of how I actually wrote the dang book. But I’ve still got some good stuff for you in this episode too, so stick around and listen until the very end.

Now we’re moving into the part of the show where I give shout-outs to you. Shout-outs to listeners, clients, all you wonderful people in my business community. And today, I want to give a shout-out to Randy.

So Randy left me a five-star iTunes review entitled, “Of gold standard.” “Coaching is a calling. Many of us are good at it, and for some of us it’s our life’s work. But making a living as a coach is something altogether different and not necessarily a given, even with the most talented and among the most excellent of coaches.

So we turn to Susan as one of the beacons. She can help you see how it can be done and done with both integrity and excellence. In our line of work, it’s often be great at your work or be great in business. The Rich Coach Club podcast shows and proves it can be both. Thank you, Susan.”

I got to tell you, Randy, that’s one of my favorite all-time testimonials. Thank you. Hey, if you have something to say about this show, please, please, please, send an email to my team, support@shyatt.com, or post a five-star iTunes review about this show or tag me on social media and you might hear your name on a future episode. I love giving shout-outs to people in my community, so holler at me. Thanks for the love. I love you right back.

One more quick thing before we say goodbye for today. I prowled around the internet to find a couple of inspiring quotes about the writing process, and here’s a few that I love. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” That’s by Richard Bach.

Tony Morrison has a great one. “If there’s a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” And Jodi Picoult says, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Damn straight, Jodi. So start writing. Get your thoughts onto the page, get something out. Anything. Even a messy first draft is better than a blank page with nothing at all. A mess might be a mess, but it’s a start.

Alright, thanks for listening to today’s episode. Be sure to listen next week as we continue this three-part series that’s all about books and the publishing industry. And by the way, are we friends on Instagram? You can find me @susanhyatt, and today, I shared a list of my top favorite books of all time, and I want to hear yours too. Find me on Insta and follow for all the good stuff. See you there.

Thank you for listening to Susan Hyatt's Rich Coach Club. If you enjoyed today's show, please head over to shyattagency.wpengine.com/cash where you'll find my brand new money magazine. Now listen, we designed this magazine to be entertaining, educational, and help you make serious bank.

So you can download the magazine, there’s a money quiz inside, there’s an interview with one of my favorite clients who went from making no money and being served eviction papers, to making over six figures in a very short amount of time. So the magazine includes that feature, lots of resources to help you do it, lots of resources about creating wealth and investing money.

It’s pretty robust, y’all. So head over to shyattagency.wpengine.com/cash to get that magazine. And you’ll also find a link to join my free Facebook community, especially for coaches called Rich Coach Club. So bring your coaching practice and your income to the next level at shyattagency.wpengine.com. See you next week.

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