Written by
Sandra Beasley
February 2010
Written by
Sandra Beasley
February 2010
52 days. 52 Days?!? That is an eternity compared to what some of my fellow SheWriters are facing.

So imagine how I felt on December 15, 2009, 110 days to go. My second collection, I Was the Jukebox wasn't coming out until the next year. Plenty of time, right? That's when an email from my friend Ethelbert landed in my inbox, asking (and this is a direct quote):

  • Do you have a Book Plan for your new publication?
  • Where will you first book party be?
  • How many books would you like to sell in the first 6 months?
  • You are a Norton author - be sure to have your editor(s) nominate you for as many awards as possible. No reason you can't win a big award.
  • Where will review copies be sent?
  • How many radio/cable shows do you plan to do?
  • Can I do a Little e-Note interview with you for my blog?

This is what a mentor does: questions your strategy, encourages you to aim high, offers a little help, and scares the living daylights out of you. I needed to combine the lessons of publishing my first collection (Theories of Falling) with the realities of moving from a university press to W. W. Norton. And I needed to get a move on.

Imagine being one trimester in, then discovering another one is on the way. Two months after my April 5 pub date, my first nonfiction manuscript is due to Crown. Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life will combine memoir elements with a cultural survey of food allergies in America. I'm at an age when most of my friends are having children; I feel like I'm having twins. A blessing to be sure, but lordy.

Over the next seven weeks I'll write about bringing a book into the world. That process includes selecting a cover, circulating galleys, lining up readings, and challenging the question endemic to being a poet: "So, what's your real job?" I'll write about juggling these challenges with being in the trenches on a whole other book: researching, drafting, cursing, eating too much chips and salsa, and revising, revising, revising.

If there are things you'd like to hear about, please let me know in the comments. Join me! I'll even share the chips and salsa.

Let's be friends

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  • Marie Gauthier

    Radio/cable shows! Will you do "Fresh Air"?! "Wait. Wait, Don't Tell Me"?! There's a whole facet of your publishing with a major house I'd forgotten about. I look forward to seeing it all unfold--thanks for giving us this behind-the-scenes.

  • Tania Pryputniewicz

    Sandra, thanks for that specific list of questions, for passing that bit of mentoring advice on. I will be looking forward to your posts on process. Thanks in advance!