On writing a book: Part 2

read part 1 here

I hung up the phone with Simon & Schuster at 9am on June 8th walked to work. And by 6pm, when I checked my personal email to see if perhaps God had sent me that half birthday present, because, I mean,

you just never know,

I found an email from the literary agent that my new editor friend at Simon & Schuster had recommended I contact. It read,


I’m so happy that [she] put me in touch with you. I haven’t been this excited about a writer’s voice in ages, and honestly I’ve been reading your blog all day long. Would love to discuss your interest in writing a book.


Steve Troha
Folio Literary Management

I smiled. Beamed. Considered.

His name, Steve Troha. His agency, Folio. His resume, quite impressive.

We made a date to speak the next morning at 8am, and when we spoke it went, as unlikely as this can be, even better than the conversation I’d had the day before with the editor. It just flowed. We spoke the same language, laughed at the same time, and I felt so sure of him. It was as if we’d be friends for years.


We hung up and I felt brave and confident and supported in a way I hadn’t before.

For the rest of that day, though, I walked a tightrope between certain and uncertain. I wondered,

Am I rushing this? Should I be shopping around for different agents? Are they all so charming and enthusiastic? Is it really my work that he’s fallen in love with? Or is it just that one of his favorite editors saw something worthwhile in my writing? Do I need an agent if I already have interest from one large, oh so very in charge, editor at one of the top publishing houses?

I spent days playing a tiresome game of back and forth with myself. I sought the advice of Daniel, my mom, my dad, and my two best friends.

They all echoed the same: “I can’t tell you that. You have to make this decision on your own.”

More days passed. I reviewed our contract, the one written up by Folio. Steve would take a total of 15% of the money I’d get in any book deal, an industry standard. For their part, Folio would engage with and shop my proposal around to major publishing houses, negotiate any and all contracts, set up future speaking engagements, worldwide distribution, handle legal formalities, and all that I had no idea about. Everything.

I researched. I thought and thought and then, a week later, in between bites of a perhaps-premature-celebration cake, I realized my gut had decided. Steve was it.


I signed the contract and faxed it back the next morning, June 15th.

Ultimately, I chose to work with with an agent because: an agent would act on my behalf. They’d know the standard practices in and around publishing, they’d liaise most effectively with different editors and publishing houses, secure the most lucrative and sound deal, and at a very basic level, I knew:

They get a piece of that book deal, they become a part of the overall success of the book, so naturally, they’d like the best deal, and the absolute best book possible.

And as a first time author, I had to accept that I do not know all the things that Steve will know for me. He’s my wiser, better-dressed, and infinitely more likeable partner and mentor in this whole process. And that’s beyond valuable.

For all of these reasons, I recommend working with a literary agent at a reputable agency. Google them, the company they represent, review their LinkedIn profile. Talk to them multiple times to be sure you mesh well, because that’s also vital: your relationship.

Yes, they take a percentage (typically 15%), but you’d likely get a larger deal overall. They are cautious for you. They ensure that your newbie writer naiveté does not land you a less than ideal contract, because remember, this book is your heart and soul.

Steve and I spoke on the phone several times during the remaining days of that week. He guided me through the proposal writing process. He emailed me samples of what solid outlines and overviews look like. There’s a formatting to follow, a whole set of inclusions and insights that must be contained within that twenty to thirty page piece.

Once I felt comfortable with the formatting, I set about writing. I aimed for 25 pages of passionate concept and content. I hoped and perspired all the way through thirty typed pages of the best writing I could muster and I ended, a tired two weeks later, with forty.


part 3 to come…topic: how to write a book proposal



35 thoughts on “On writing a book: Part 2

  1. Lara @TresLaLa

    I find it hard to believe that you don’t mesh well with *everyone* you meet – maybe it’s just your “voice”, but that’s what I think anyway… This is such an interesting series – thanks for letting us in to take a peek.

  2. Johnny

    If your book is half as zany as this blog post it will be a great hit! I can only imagine how exciting, stressful, heart pounding this must all be! But don’t forget to stay grounded. You’re beutiful and THAT’S what people love! :)

  3. Lauren

    I actually work for a fairly prolific writer, and 15% is standard. Agents are awesome, and I think that as you get further into this process, you will come to find Steve a remarkable resource and friend. So excited about your book!!!!

  4. Marla @ Your Full Plate

    Hi Andie, I’m a long time silent reader and I just have to tell you that I’m jumping out of my skin with excitement for you. Your book is going to be absolutely fabulous, and I appreciate being able to peek in on the process! Thanks for all the love and intention you put into every single post and recipe.

  5. Jennifer

    I just found your blog through Pinterest, and I’ve now spent the last hour absorbed in your story. I never imagined there was someone out there with my story, who could put it into words that my brain could wrap itself around.

    All I can say is thank you. For being vulnerable and speaking your heart.

    It is helping me. It truly is.

    And your writing freaking rocks. Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of your book!

  6. Stacie A

    I.am.so.excited.for.you!!! (AND US!!!) Thanks again for sharing your heart and soul with us and letting us see your journey. Your vulnerability continues to be so inspiring!!! I seriously can’t wait! :). Happy writing!!!!

  7. Caitlin

    This is so beautifully written. I love reading about this process, just fascinating. congrats to you for living out your dreams – it’s so inspirational!

  8. Nicole

    Oh, wow, I am eating this up… All I can think is, “I hope this is me someday.” And, “Oh, I must learn from this.” And ultimately, “Wow, I am SO happy for Andrea!” :)

  9. Pingback: On writing a book: Part 2 | Best Popular Books Picks

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