Friday, March 4, 2011

Why I need a right-wing survivalist to write a book with!

Okay, so in response to all the hilarious and helpful comments from my latest Facebook post and hash listserve, here's why I'm seeking a right-wing coauthor who knows how to survive the apocalypse. (Interesting position to be in as a left-wing girl, believe me).

For friends interested in publishing their own books (I know you're out there!), this might be an eye-opener about the publishing industry as well. Certainly was for me.

NOTE: Most of the following applies to non-fiction publishing. Fiction is a different process.

Okay, so this all started when one of the freelance newsletters I subscribe to included a blurb from an agent seeking writers for some very specific non-fiction projects.

That surprised me -- I always thought the author seeks out the agent, not the other way around. At least with legit agents.

Turns it's pretty common for a publisher who wants to jump on the latest hot trend to turn to agents. The agent then finds an author with the expertise/voice/platform that fits the publisher's project.

In this case, the agent was looking for someone to write a survival skills book. Squee! Right up my alley.

I knew I was a long shot -- I've never published a book, and I didn't even have a national journo credit at the time, but I loved the idea. So sent her a brief e-mail, making my case and linking to my clips and blog.

I figured I'd never here back from her.

To my vast surprised, the agent asked me to put together a proposal package for a Big 6 publisher. This meant, among other things, researching all other survival books on the market (and a whole weekend at B&N).

Here are the current big sellers in the survival genre. Notice a trend?

* How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It (John Wesley)

* When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Know to Survive When Disaster Strikes (Cody Lundin)

* Bug Out! The Complete Plan to Escaping Catastrophic Disaster Before it's too Late (Scott B. Williams)

Agent and I agreed there was a definite need in the market for a book that focused less on the apocalypse and showed people how to survive the everyday scenarios they saw on the news. We also saw a need for a serious survival book in a female voice, because the existing survival books by women tend to be a bit schoolmarmish in tone and approach.

That's how I spent three days of my Palm Springs vacation with my face buried in the laptop pounding out a book proposal (I'd never recommend doing this in three days, by the way).

Proposal went off, and then for a month, I didn't hear anything.

Here's a funny aside: right after I sent in the proposal for the survival skills book, I went camping with my friend Jen. Neither of us brought a lighter. Shh. Don't tell =)

Here's what happened to my proposal behind the scenes.

Editor at Big 6 Pub really liked it. Called it fresh, smart, original, well-written (all these words that made me very happy when I heard them secondhand).

Then he pitched it to the Big 6 editorial board for final approval.

As fate would have it, Borders had just filed for bankruptcy and the publishing world was in a bit of a panic.

So Big 6 bean counters and editorial board ultimately decided that rather than blaze into brave new territory in the survival genre, they wanted to buy another book that dealt with an collapse-of-the-dollar, anarchy-unleashed, end-of-the-world type scenario.

Because that's what was already selling.

Proposal got rejected. But all is not lost.

Regarding the original proposal, agent and I will try to repackage it and sub it to smaller pubs.

And we still haven't completely given up on landing the Big 6 project.

"What if you found a coauthor?" agent said. She suggested someone who was right-leaning, male, possibly ex-military, and had a bunker in their house (I can't remember the exact words she used, but it was hilarious).

I told her that living in Colorado, I was pretty sure I could find such a person living within a mile of me. Though I wasn't sure said person would want to write a book. But I resolved to try.

So that's where things stand now ... I've put out my SOS on Facebook, Twitter and every listserve I belong to. Here's a recap of suggestions so far ...

* Bear Grylls (On whom I would have a raging crush, and wouldn't mind spending months in collaboration with. Probably a bit too famous, but hmm)

* Ted Nugent (Bingo. This is pretty spot-on the kind of person I need. Wish I had stopped by his restaurant on my way through Arizona and introduced myself. Possibly too famous, though)

* Sarah Palin (Also not far off the mark. Though concerned Sarah and I would end up in a puddle of blood by the end. Also, way too famous)

* Aron Ralston (Would be awesome, but probably not pessimistic and scary enough. Also, an excellent writer in his own right)

Thanks to the people sent spot-on suggestions of folks we both know. I'm going to float the idea with a few of those guys later today (so far, they're all guys).

If you have more ideas for coauthors, please send them along! Or have them read this blog first and see what they think. To recap, here's the flavor I need:

* Solid survival skills expertise (military, special forces, extreme survival experience a huge plus)

* Somewhat pessimistic worldview (believes some sort of cataclysmic social meltdown is feasible, if not imminent)

* Right-leaning (Think the Glenn Beck show and all those ads for gold investments and food insurance)

* Aggressive approach (prepare now or face the consequences!)

* Existing following is a plus (an industry expert, blogger, etc. But probably not TOO famous)

* Doesn't need to be a writer - I'll handle most of the writing. But should be interested in helping promote the finished book.

* Has personality and color (be it funny, intense, mildly abrasive, etc.)

* Open to the idea of spending A LOT of time working together (no joke - it's going to take some heavy lifting)

* Very different from me. That's the real kicker that makes this mission impossible. I have a ton of friends who are probably more qualified than I am to write on this topic. Unfortunately, the person I need to find is probably not someone I would run into in my usual social circles.

If the project sells, coauthors split the advance and royalties. Not all the money in the world, but not terrible if you have fun doing it.

Thanks again for all your help. I'm off to to troll for potential coauthors ...


  1. This is just *so* funny! I hope you find the man of your (writing) dreams!

  2. Was searching for something else and happened across your blog. The immediate "perfect coauthor" popped into my head: Kenneth Royce, aka Boston T. Party. He's more or less famous among libertarians, pro-rights activists, shooting affectionados, an author in the apocalapse world scenario, mostly non-fiction. And he's entertaining until his ranting streak shows out.

    Don't know if you're still looking for someone.