I am currently in the final stages of writing a book, titled The Great Penguin Rescue, and hope to share some of that experience with others out there who are curious about the process, or may be looking for inspiration in writing about their own life experiences. As this is a new blog, and you may be meeting me for the first time, I will offer a brief overview and timeline of my current book project.
January 2008 – Began working on a proposal and sample chapters for a book about the rescue of 40,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. Having worked as a rehabilitation supervisor during this historic event, I tell the extraordinary story of this rescue effort from an insider’s unique perspective. The reader is brought along with me into the heart of this incredibly grueling, yet rewarding and inspiring, experience.
April 2008 – Attended two writer’s conferences this month; IWWG’s Big Apple Conference in NYC and Grub Street’s Muse & the Marketplace in Boston (my home town). I cannot stress enough how important it is to attend these events. I learned tons about the mysterious and intimidating publishing industry and pitched my book to several agents. Was thrilled when most of them ask to see my proposal when it was ready.
June 2008 – Sent off my proposal to the six agents who had requested it, and was blown away when four of the six offered representation. Had a very tough decision to make, but felt really confident about going with Julie Barer of Barer Literary in NYC. Her unbridled enthusiasm for this project convinced me she was right person to work with – I knew she would be a supportive guide and a powerful advocate. She has been brilliant at both.
July-September 2008 – Worked closely with Julie to re-shape the proposal and expand my chapter summaries.
September 16-19 2008 – My rockin’ agent submitted my book proposal to several publishing houses and, by the next day, we had two amazing pre-empt offers. We let the two houses duke it out for two days and, after speaking with the nice folks at both houses, accepted a very generous offer from Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
November 2008 – Signed a contract with Free Press.
November 2008-Present – When I wasn’t traveling to give presentations about penguins (or managing all of the other things in life that constantly demand attention), I was diligently working on the manuscript for The Great Penguin Rescue. As I’m one of those writers who cannot write at home – just too many distractions – I’ve become a permanent fixture at the Topsfield Library and, less frequently, the Newburyport Library. The librarians are my new best friends! (My other friends don’t believe I actually exist anymore. I now know why every author thanks their long-suffering family and friends for putting up with their protracted absence while they wrote their book.)
December 31, 2009 – At 1:00 pm on New Year’s Eve, I composed an e-mail to my editor, attached my manuscript, and hit ‘send’. Then I wept. However, I still had a little longer before I could breathe again, as there were two chapters that I hadn’t quite been able to complete by my deadline.
January 2010 – Was beyond exhausted from the writing marathon leading up to my December deadline, and lost my momentum, so I struggled to get the last two chapters finished. A few weeks into January, I began to panic because I hadn’t had any feedback from my editor about my manuscript. I was convinced it was crap and she was hating it and this was why I hadn’t heard from her. Finally e-mailed my agent asking if she had heard anything yet. Was supremely relieved to get an e-mail saying my editor was loving the manuscript so far! More crying ensued – tears of intense relief and joy. Do all first-time authors go through this angst?
February 10, 2010 – Finally finished the last chapter of The Great Penguin Rescue and hit the ‘send’ button, releasing it into the capable hands of my editor. I now wait for her comments and edits. In the meantime, I’m staying busy responding to requests for author bios and photos, etc, from the house.
So, that, in a nutshell, is the process I’ve gone through with this book, from conception to now – I can’t say to completion yet, because a lot of work still has to be done before an actual book (with paper and ink and binding and all) hits the shelves. I will post periodic updates as the book slowly marches towards actual publication. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned along the way.
Dyan deNapoli – The Penguin Lady