Bark Pet Photography Blog

So You Wanna Hear How the Writing’s Coming? by Sarah Sypniewski
March 16, 2011, 7:04 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

As you know, we’ve been hard at work on our book, Dog Photography For Dummies (Wiley, 2011).  We know some of you out there are curious about how it’s going so far.  We also know that some of you out there are hoping to write your own book one day.  Here’s a little peek into our experience and what we’re learning so far.

Working with the big guys

When Wiley contacted us out of the blue, we considered it part luck, but also part hard work.  Wiley found us through the Internet research they did.  We still don’t know what made them put us into the ring over others, but we DO know that they found us because of all of the marketing and business development we’ve done.  Whether you’re a writer, a photographer, or entrepreneur, having a presence is key.

Some might argue that working with a well-seasoned giant when we are but infants makes us extra vulnerable to pooping all over ourselves.  For us, it happens to be very positive so far and we consider ourselves lucky to have this as our first publishing experience.

The vetting/application process was rigorous and lasted awhile, so we didn’t allow ourselves to get too excited.  At each phase, we made it a point to give them what they wanted, when they wanted, with as little drama and maintenance as possible.  We kept our heads down, did the work, went above and beyond where we could to shine, and handed it all in on time. A long-standing, well-established operation such as Wiley needs authors who can work within the proven structure and formula and can meet deadlines.  We figured if we could do that and demonstrate our competency with our own PR and platform-building, we’d have a good shot.

The platform

As we were working on the actual writing portion of the vetting process, we simultaneously tended to our fan base. We were far from a contract, but we knew part of their decision would be based on how motivated and skilled we’d be in pushing our potential book and how big our potential audience would be.

Didn’t put all of our dogs on one bed

With such a (for us) huge prospect in front of us, it may have been easy to put everything we had into the process and then just sit back and hope we’d get it–after all, we’re good people and hard workers, right?  Good things happen to good people?    Well, even though we worked our butts off on it and gave it everything we could, we didn’t stop there. We kept the photog biz moving like nothing unusual was happening.

We kept a lid on it…and so did some of you

Except for our closest circle, no one knew that we were going through this process.  We remained tight-lipped about it.  Even though Wiley hadn’t given us any guidance around that, we decided to keep it to ourselves.  We wanted to both demonstrate discretion and not have to be embarrassed in front of a ton of people if we didn’t get it.  Yes, it’s exciting…and we did feel the need to share things along the way, which is why we chose trusted people in which we confided.  The last thing we wanted was some sort of rogue Facebook status to lose us the opportunity.

Along the way, we got a lot of positive feedback from our Wiley contact…and even when our acquisitions editor called to give us the good news over the phone that we had indeed scored the contract, we didn’t go public.  We waited another two weeks until we had our signed contract in our hands to make the official announcement.  And it was worth the wait.  🙂

The real work is upon us

Now that we’re in contract, it’s all about cranking it out.  The acquisitions editor who found and signed us turned us over to our project and copy editors.  Our deadlines are broken up into quarters, at which, 25% of the book is due.  Our project editor, Vicki, helped us out by breaking our first quarter up into weekly deadlines.  This has been really helpful for us.  As new writers, this has given us a structure by which to train ourselves.  So far, we’ve turned in three full chapters and we’ve got another one due on Monday.

Admittedly, it took us a second to figure out a good working relationship, but now that we have, it’s running like clockwork (like a sleep-deprived, caffeine-hazy clock, but hey, it still tells time).

Kim does all the technical writing.  I do all the intro/scene-setting stuff, banter, and pacing.  It’s nice because the For Dummies books give equal weight to education and entertainment of their readers.  Usually what happens is Kim will take the first crack at a chapter to build the technical framework and then she’ll pass it to me.  I add my “hey, I’m a Dummie too” stuff and do a full edit of the chapter.  If Kim wants to see it again, I’ll give it back to her for a review, and then I do ANOTHER edit before we send it to Vicki.  Last week, we gave Kim a break, though, and we’re doing one of the tech-light chapters.  Roles were reversed.

We should get edits back on our first chapters soon to commence another step–revising.  Even if we totally bomb (I don’t think we will), Vicki is a great cheerleader and organizer.  She’s teaching us a lot so far and is always insightful with her ideas.  Before she hands us back edits, she always says, “don’t worry about all of the red!  You guys are in good shape.”  Tracy (the acquisitions editor) was the same way with us.  I wonder if it’s an editor thing, a woman thing, or a Wiley thing.  Or if we just got lucky?

Once we get through our first quarter (March 21), we’ll only submit chapters on our quarter deadlines…until we reach June!

It pretty much boils down to us needing to keep up this pace of a chapter per week.

Once we get through this first quarter, we’ll probably start working on a marketing timeline (which we hope will include a lot of client and fan participation).  We’re not sure what the formula at Wiley is for that, but we know it’s robust–they’ve got an entire department for it.  Either way, Kim and I intend to work equally as hard on that…cuz writing a great book is one thing, but it doesn’t matter if no one knows about it (speaking of that, if any of you out there would like to host us for interviews, signings, demos, etc, let us know).

And on that note, it’s time for us to get back to chapter twelve…

4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Congratulations and thanks for sharing your experience. I will buy your book! Good for Wiley in seeing the need and sounds like they found the right authors.

Comment by Shelle singer

Thanks, Shelle! We appreciate the support and we’re glad they recognized the need, too!

Comment by Sarah Sypniewski


Comment by Barbara Blackman

Thanks, Barbara! How’s everything over at Freckles?

Comment by Sarah Sypniewski

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