Use The Secret to get a book deal. I hope. Maybe. Fingers crossed etc

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I just sent off the first chapter of my book to my agent. There are several ridiculous words in that sentence: ‘first chapter’, ‘book’, ‘agent’ – but most ridiculous of all is the word ‘my’.

I have spent most of my life wanting to write a book but never thought it would happen. Not clever enough, talented enough, yadda, yadda.

I read my favourite authors and I marvel at their turn of phrase, their humour, their ability to capture tiny details. The sheer audacity of even trying to join their ranks seems like an insult to them.

But despite all that, I would love to write a book. And now it looks like there’s a good chance that I will.

It’s exciting and terrifying in equal measure.

I had the idea for this blog last summer. It came to me fully formed at 3am. I couldn’t sleep and was reading a book called ‘How to stop worrying and start living’ by Dale Carnegie. It’s the source of great amusement to my sisters that I’ve read this book three, maybe four, times and regularly tell the world about how great it is – and yet I am a massive bundle of stress.

I’m about the worst advert that Carnegie could ask for.

Anyway, when reading this book, and looking over passages I’d underlined the last time I read it, I realised how ridiculous the whole thing was: me reading self-help because I want to change but then going back and doing the same old thing again and again.

Then it came: the idea.

‘I’ll live by the rules of a different self help book every month and write a book about it. It will be called Help Me!.’ I could picture the book cover – it was white with red letters and a little cartoon on it.

I’ve never had anything like that – a fully formed idea and a feeling of absolute certainty that it would happen. I always think that everything I do will mess up. I prepare for disaster around every corner, not triumph.

By the time I fell asleep, it was a done deal.

I told my best friend about it a few weeks later. She is not a self-help fan so I expected her to be supportive but a bit bemused. She wasn’t. ‘That’s brilliant,’ she said. ‘I know,’ I said, totally out of character. ‘I think this is going to be big,’ she said. Again, me: ‘I know.’

We had fantasy conversations about the book being a huge success and Hollywood buying up the rights to make a movie of it. We talked about drinking Margaritas around a pool…

Then I sobered up and for the following three months (Sept, Oct, Nov) I thought about it, talked about it – but did absolutely nothing.

I decided that tracking my progress on a blog would be the best way to make me actually follow through but I soon became distracted about what the blog should look like. I spent days looking at other blogs. I became obsessed by the colour of my logo.

It was all a diversion. I was scared. What if this was a silly idea and people would think I was crazy? What if I was a crap writer? What if I wrote a blog and two and a half people read it?

Finally, by December, I got so fed up with myself I had to do something. A friend of a friend did my logo and it was lovely. A chance meeting with a lovely tech savvy girl at a self-help event meant my blog was built in a couple of days.

Then another image flashed into my mind. It was me at a laptop smiling and replying to messages from people reading the blog. The phrase ‘My website is a huge success’ came into my head. And honestly, to anyone who doesn’t know me, let me assure you that this confidence and certainty could not be less like me.

But sure enough that happened. The blog went up and I got the most lovely emails from people. Emails from Tasmania and Holland, Idaho and Ireland. The response was more than I could have ever hoped.

In February, the Daily Mail ran a piece about my Feel the Fear month and documentary makers, radio shows and magazines got in touch. It was surreal and wonderful.

Then a couple of book agents emailed me. Their interest gave me confidence to approach others.

For those who aren’t familiar with publishing, an agent is somebody who sells your book idea to publishers. If a good agent takes you on publishers are likely to take you seriously.

I talked to colleagues who knew about agents and one name kept coming up. She was the ‘five star’ agent, a real ‘hot shot’. A friend gave me her email address but warned me not to be disappointed if she didn’t get back to me. ‘Everyone wants her’ she said.

Mrs Five Star Everybody Wants Her Hot Shot got back to me in half an hour.

I met with her the next day in a swanky members bar in London. She was lovely. We proceeded to have a conversation that was so ridiculous I thought I was having an outer body experience. She thought it had the makings of a great book and a film too. She knew exactly the woman she wanted to talk to about it in Hollywood and talked me through the ins and outs of International book deals.

I couldn’t believe I was having this discussion and that it was about me. It was one of the best moments in my life. I was so happy I could cry.

As it was, I didn’t cry, I got drunk.

I met my sister and we celebrated with two bottles of red, God knows how many margaritas, washed down with vodka and coke back at her flat. At three in the morning we were singing along to Prince and talking about who would play me in the film (Amy Adams). We mentally decorated the house I’d buy in the Hollywood Hills. I became obsessed with having expensive rugs.

Once again, I had a really clear image of my friends and I sitting by the pool, icy drinks in hand. Then I passed out, fully dressed.

The next day was spent puking. It was the happiest puking I’d ever experienced.

That was four weeks ago and since then I’ve been engaged in epic faffing.

To get a book deal you have to present a document outlining your plans for the book and what will be in each chapter, then you have to send a sample chapter.

As a journalist I write every day but this was different. It was potentially the makings of a book. A real life book! I got stage fright. I over thought every sentence. I wrote stuff then deleted it, wrote then deleted. I drove myself crazy. I drank a lot of wine. I took on journalistic commissions to distract from what I should be doing. I stopped doing this blog.

Finally by the end of last week I was so fed up with myself, I just did it. I’ve been writing for the last five days, pretty solidly, and about four hours ago I sent off my first chapter. The First Chapter of My Book. Possibly. Maybe. Hopefully.

Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop (of course) trying not to panic.

I’m worried it’s rubbish and that my lovely Five Star Hot Shot will hate it and change her mind. I’m worried that I was getting ahead of myself, that all that confidence and certainty was actually delusion.

I haven’t shared any of this with you as it was happening because, I suppose, I didn’t want to tempt fate and at this stage it’s nothing but talk – but it all seems very apt with this month’s book being The Secret.

It’s only just occurred to me that, in a way, everything that’s happening to me now is The Secret in action. I wasn’t consciously following the book but for the last few months I’ve been doing what it says: I had a dream, I believed it and amazing things have happened.

The trick now is to keep believing, which is hard.

The truth is it’s very scary to have big dreams. All those thoughts about ‘Who do you think you are?’ come into your head.

Family may, unintentionally, confirm that feeling.

When I told dad about my big hopes he joked that I was like his mother who talked endlessly about what she’d do if she won the lottery. ‘Turns out she’d never even bought a ticket.’ Cheers, dad.

When I told mum that I was hoping for a massive record-breaking book deal (this was before I actually got down to writing the chapter), she said that when I get too big for my boots at least I’ll be able to afford new ones.

I’ve got to admit I deserved that one.

When I asked her if she’d come and visit me in LA. With total seriousness she said, ‘Do you think there’ll be typhoons or earthquakes?’ Ha! At least she’s not ruling it out as a possibility, weather allowing…

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted. Would you keep your fingers, toes and legs crossed for me? You’ll all be invited to the premiere…

In the meantime, a musical interlude:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcjzHMhBtf0
The Secret

37 thoughts on “Use The Secret to get a book deal. I hope. Maybe. Fingers crossed etc

  1. louisektoris

    Brilliant… awesome…. hilarious… honest… heartwarming and totally inspiring!!!!

    This is my quote for the back of your book (like a New York Times Review) only its from the more esteemed Loobs Ktoris well known author and writer of LIFE!!!

    … ok ok so I haven’t quite reached my multimillion book deal yet either, but like you, I have an aspiring writer within me and if I stopped fart assing about I could ‘do’ like you!

    Thanks for your delicious inspiration, and for the record I don’t think there is any such thing as ‘rug obsession’…. soft furnishings is where its at (when your not out by the pool getting off your face! )

    Much love and cuddles crazy girl xxx

    Reply
  2. Elaine

    fantastic piece looking forward to reading THE book.
    When I was reading this post I had butterflies and was excited for you. I am in a similar position I have faffed about for a few years with a project I have(ish) worked on, but things are coming together of late and I can no longer faff anymore. Well I could but it would be silly even by my standards. 1st appointment tomorrow morning at 9.00am that should oooppps sorry Will be the starting point of my big break.
    Exciting times let the abundance of success flow

    Reply
  3. claire burke

    Ok you need to belive in yourself and stop your self doubt. 18 months ago I was working as a care assistant earning € 9.15 an hour. Thinking what the fuck is this all about my family (6 brothers and sisters) all had high flying careers but I was always the stupid one. So I went to the bank borrowed €3,500 and did the hoffman. When I came out I was asked to do a days work in an instantiation. It was that day that changed my life. I was looking after a 39 year old mental handicapped woman that was living in a room that looked like a dog kennel and was told to keep her locked in this ” kennel” as she would bit me. I left that day knowing that I was going to make her life better. I didn’t know how I just knew I would. 6 months later I moved her into a new house got her a car and new staff. Her behaviour has completely changed. This woman was considered to be closer to a dog then a human being. So I’m sure I don’t need to explain how people thought I was mad but I believed in her and my self. U will get your book deal and your movie you just have to belive in your self and stop doubting yourself and start writing!! Good look to you.

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power

      Claire, I did the Hoffman too – last January. I wouldn’t’ be doing any of this without it. So happy you did it too and was able to help the handicapped woman you worked with and yourself. Thanks so much for writing. x

      Reply
  4. Tess

    Oh my gosh, I am so excited for you! Keep believing and it will happen. I know it will – book, movie, your mom visiting you in LA, weather permitting. 🙂 and I can’t wait to buy your book!

    Reply
  5. Laura

    I’ve written two books so far and the first one is a bit frightening–I thought, “Why me? There are other people better qualified to this write this.” I often got a bit panicky. Then I thought, “Well, I’ll just do my best. That’s all I can do. If it stinks, then it stinks. Better to try and fail then not to try.” So far, my books all have five-star ratings on Amazon and positive reviews in the press. (Although sometimes I’m looking for a book in my bookcase and I get startled when I see my own name on the dustjacket in a bookcase.) So go for it! PS, I’m enjoying the blog too.

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power

      Laura, thank you. What’s your last name so I can look up your books? Congratulations on such an amazing achievement. Love the idea of you getting shocked at seeing your name on your bookshelf! Thanks for reading the blog and for taking the time to comment.

      Reply
  6. Paul

    I’ve not done the Hoffmann, I feel left out.

    I think if I tried to write a book, I’d suffer the problem you described here . . agonising over each sentence. I’m sure there’s a solution to this, though . . having a deadline would likely nip it in the bud, I guess?

    Reply
  7. Maria McCarthy

    Back in 2005, I was in a very similar situation to the one you are now. My ideal agent was keen on my book idea (though sadly, we didn’t talk about film deals and who would play me (I’d like Maxine Peake, please), and I’d already done three chapters, but we still had to go through the process of getting a publisher. As this was just before Christmas, she decided to leave sending it out till Jan 2006, – and it took about a month for the various publishers to look at it, have meetings about it etc.. So there was this weird limbo period where things looked promising but nothing was certain. It was really odd, but during all that time, and even when some publishers were rejecting it, I felt weirdly confident that it would be published – and it was (by Simon and Schuster) – looking back, I’m surprised that I didn’t worry and strategize more, but for some reason I didn’t. It’s a peculiar time you’re in at the moment, but also a very exciting one and I’m sure when you look back on it when sipping cocktails round your pool, you’ll enjoy reminiscing about it. One thing I did though, and I suggest you do to is to limit the amount you discuss it with people who might criticise or undermine the project – you really don’t need the wobbles it would cause right now. Good luck,

    Reply
  8. Zoe R

    amazing!! a good agent is so key, especially one with a name, who will get editors to give your manuscript much more attention, and more quickly. Very, very big. I haven’t been in book publishing for a number of years now, but I still have editor friends. Email me if you want to talk anything over! xo

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power

      Zoe, I’ll keep you posted. First chapter is with her and she likes it – she just emailed me back last night. Hurrah. THe plan is to send it off to publishers early next week. I’ll keep you posted x

      Reply
  9. Jill

    You sound just like me-a real procrastinator(I think that’s the word). Tons of ideas but I’m actually too lazy and never get round to doing things. Well you girl girl and if it doesn’t work out what the hell- at least u gave it a try!

    Reply
  10. Simon

    Hi.
    If your first chapter is as honestly and well written as your blog then Mrs hot shot five star would be mad not to sign you up. Could be the next modern classic. I have everything crossed for you. Best of luck. I look forward to reading your next update.
    Ps, what’s a Hoffman?

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power

      Simon, you charmer! The next modern classic – I love it! Thank you. Hoffman is a week long retreat/intensive therapy type thing. Google Hoffman Process. It’s terrifying and wonderful.

      Reply
  11. Melissa McManus

    Hey Marianne
    Loving reading your blog all the way from Brisbane Australia! Wishing you all the best in landing the book deal! I have every faith you can do this:-) if its one of your desires and you are working towards doing positive things to reach your desires, you are on the road to success!!!!!
    Please, please, please include The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte in your self help book repertoire this year!!! It’s a MUST read and if you haven’t read it already I think you’ll love it!! Can’t wait to buy and read your book, sounds amazing!! And look forward to you coming to Auatralia to do your book tour;-)
    Big love from Down Under xx

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power

      Ah Melissa! Thank you so much!! Delighted you’re reading in Brisbane. I can meet you when I do my book tour! Ha! I haven’t got Danielle on my list at the moment but you’re the second person who has mentioned her this week so I’ll get a copy of it. Thanks so much for reading and for writing. Hope life is sunny and happy down under. xx

      Reply
      1. Natasha

        Fab blog, I am reading The Secret at the moment, did I get a coffee today… no but a nice lick on the hand from a friend’s Labrador whilst having coffee! So much luck to you, inspirational!! x

        Reply
      2. annemaryhastings

        Progress. We have the skeleton of a building and a roof now. I am off to France in a fortnight to buy equipment. About to spend lots of money and hoping I spend it wisely. Visualising my future self making cheese in the perfect vat. We also won a £1k bursary from the Soil Association which has got various industry folk excited about our plans to grow our own starters from the raw milk. Exciting and scary in equal measure. No pressure!

        Reply
  12. Chandra

    I’ve been reading your blog (love it!) and feel a bit silly that it never even occurred to me that you’d make it into a book and movie.. but that is just brilliant! I, like everyone else, am absolutely sure that it will be a stunning success. 🙂 Now, I can’t wait for the book and (hopefully!) movie.

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power

      Chandra, Thank you!! Fingers, toes and legs crossed. What will be will be. In the meantime I’m enjoying doing it and love getting messages from people who are reading, so thank you. Do you read many self-help books? Any favourites?

      Reply
      1. Chandra

        I haven’t read many self-help books, despite the fact that my frayed nerves scream that I should be doing nothing but reading them right now in life… 😉 However, I do have two that I’ve held onto over the past few years.

        The first one is Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter by Elaine St. James. I found it in the bargain area at a book store and have held on tightly to it ever since. It is like a bunch of simplify/minimalism blogs rolled into a book of a diminutive 6″ x 6″ stature and crammed full of great advice (even if it is from the 90’s) in no nonsense chapters usually no longer than a page and a half. I’m not great at implementing all of her advice, but its a great motivator for me.

        The second is Pay It Down! by Jean Chatzky. This one was given to me by my mother and it helped me look at money differently ever since. Its mantra of “It only takes $10 a day to get from debt to wealth!” helped me make choices about what we “need” vs what we “want” and learn compromise so we could see a movie but skip the popcorn. It probably isn’t groundbreaking nor very different from the tons of other books in its category, but I did enjoy it.

        So am I rich now with an uber simple life? …I plead the 5th.

        Reply
        1. Marianne Power

          Chandra, thanks for these recommendations. LIke the sound of Pay it Down. Sorry that your nerves are frayed, a bit of self-help or just sitting down and breathing always helps but you know that. Failing that there’s wine!

          Reply

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