We promised you guys a post all about the whole book-deal process back in March (when we spilled the beans about our upcoming book here).
And the only reason I can think of that it has taken us this long to write is because we’ve been so busy actually writing our 260+ page book behind the scenes along with juggling the bambino and the blog and all of the projects that go along with those things. Haha. So forgive us for the delay. Many of you guys expressed an interest in how it all went down (a few years ago we never would have known how to navigate the waters of book proposals and agents and potential publishers to somehow “land” a book deal), so we’re happy to share. Here’s how it all happened, in bullet form (with photos of Burger acting out our emotions, naturally):
- About two years ago (after blogging for about two years) we were contacted by a few agents & independent publishers about a potential book deal.
- We went crazy for the idea (we love to write and share our projects). We basically did this.
- We chatted with John’s sister about the folks who contacted us (she works in NYC with a large magazine publisher – so although she doesn’t do books she knows who’s who for the most part).
- She gently explained that they were a bit less “legit” than some other folks that we could potentially work with if we held out, so we decided to just wait and see what happened.
- We sort of forgot about it.
- About six months later (a year and a half ago), we were contacted by a NY/Boston literary agency (Zachary Shuster Harmsworth) – so we asked John’s sister about them and she got really giddy and said they were highly recommended (their agency just emailed us out of the blue asking if we would like to pursue a book).
- Uh… yes! We got excited. And naturally, we dove right in.
- We immediately started working with an agent to put together a book proposal (this is what they send out to potential publishers to “shop” around a book idea and see who’s interested).
- A proposal is typically 70-150 pages, so it takes a while to put together. The process starts with a book outline and you write an intro and a conclusion and explain why your book would be different/fun/exciting. You basically plead your case.
- It took us a year to complete our book proposal. Not lying. It was a ton of work! And we kept tweaking things until we loved it (no sense in pitching a book that you’re only feeling so-so about, so we took our time developing something that we thought was fun and fresh and exciting).
- After a year of work on that 100-ish page document we got to a place where our agent thought it was time to send it out. So she did.
- Then she had a baby. So another agent took over after the “pitching” process. That was a little nerve-wracking but it was such an exciting time so we tried to just remember to breathe and eat and stuff. This was our nervous face:
- It turned out that after our literary agency pitched our proposal to about twenty publishing houses, seven of them were interested in bidding on our book. We were crossing our fingers for one or two (which we heard was typical – hey, you only need one!) so it was an insanely exciting and unbelievable reaction. We still get glassy-eyed when we think about that day.
- After publishers indicate that they’re interested, there’s an “auction” (yes, it’s sort of like ebay – haha) and they each extend a bid about what they want to do/pay (everything from a book advance to royalties is indicated in their bid along with where they “see” the book going – so one publishing house might indicate that they see a giant expensive coffee table book while another wants a smaller less expensive handbook).
- It was super helpful to learn which publishers wanted to do big expensive books and which ones were more of a small shop atmosphere who do a more customized look at a more affordable price point while believing in a lot of collaboration (obviously that type appealed to us a lot more).
- By the end of auction day our heads were spinning as we compared the offers and picked a publisher. Our pick? Artisan/Workman. Workman is a huge publisher who is known for all sorts of best-selling books (like What To Expect When You’re Expecting) – but Artisan is their smaller boutique agency that manages a much smaller volume of books per year in a real hands-on way that’s full of collaboration. They understood that we didn’t want to create a giant $50 coffee table book and that we just wanted something fresh, fun, and affordable – and full of great ideas and great photos.
- They actually offered us a two-book deal, which is especially encouraging because they were saying “we have faith even before your first book comes out that it’ll be great and we’ll want to do a second book with you” – so yeah, we were over the moon. We have no idea what the second book will be about (since we didn’t touch on that in the proposal) so it’s nice and open-ended now. Which we like (who knows what we’ll want to write about after the first book comes out).
- About eight months ago we all signed on the dotted line to make things official (which is actually when we shared the book deal news with you guys – we couldn’t wait!). Then we… you guessed it… dove right into writing the actual book.
- After about seven months of nearly nonstop writing (behind the scenes while we continued to blog and love on Clara), we handed in our 100+ page manuscript outline, which felt pretty darn good. Although it’s around 120 pages now, when the tutorials and photos are added it should hit the 260+ page mark. This momentous hand-in day was over a month ago. We’re currently gearing up for the photography stage (working on the book’s layout, fleshing out all the tutorials, and beginning to secretly complete and shoot hundreds of projects with a pro photographer).
- We’re also coordinating with a few other guest bloggers who we’d love to feature (you know we love to share the love slash eye candy).
- Let’s just say we completely understand why the title of “author” is a full time job. It has been kind of crazy being stay at home parents to Clara, keeping up with the blog and the projects that we share, all while writing a book and doing secret projects for the book behind the scenes. But we couldn’t be more excited to see how it all turns out! And when we’re done we’ll probably sleep for at least five days straight.
- The book is slated for release in the fall of 2012 (although there are occasional murmurings of the spring of 2013). Isn’t it amazing how much longer books take to make than blog posts? Especially since most of the content is already completed and the release date is still a year (or more!) away. All that pro photography and layout and production stuff takes time though, and we’re sure it’ll be well worth the wait!
As for what our book is about, the concept is that it’s an idea book. A giant compilation of over 250 ideas for showing your home some love (our tentative title is actually Spruce: 257 Ways To Show Your Home Some Love). The number might change as we continue to execute the projects that we have detailed in our manuscript (some might be awesome and lead to other ideas while some might fail – so it’s flexible). We just want it to be a fun book that you can flip through to see tons of numbered ideas, and then you can start on any page and do any project in the order that it appeals to you. Informal just felt right to us, and the idea that every project or suggestion could be altered a bit (so everyone can do their own spin to fit their house and their style) seems fitting.
A decorating bible with explanations about boxpleats and start-to-finish home staging, it’s not. It’s more of a spark. A starting point. A junkload of ideas to pick and choose from and adapt to fit your home. Some are more involved, some are super easy. Some are free, some might be something that you have to save up for a little to take on. Basically it’s the blog. Only a book. And instead of getting a post or two a day, you get 250+ ideas with photos and checklists and tutorials and illustrations (along with a lot of extra tips, sidebars, and commentary) and a little dorky humor a la us.
Oh and virtually all of the 250+ projects/photos/illustrations will be new for the book – so it’s nothing regurgitated from YHL or anything. Some of the ideas might be the same (ex: paint a piece of furniture or reupholster a bench) but those general concepts had to be included – so we decided we’d execute them in a fresh way (instead of seeing the same bench that I painted three years ago for the blog, you might see a dresser painted in a completely different way that we secretly completed this winter). Sure it’s extra work, but we really want the book to look fresh and be full of different “takes” on a ton of decorating ideas – both classic and unexpected (and pretty much everything in between).
So there it is. A big ol’ rundown of the book process, what we’ve been up to, and how it all went down. I would definitely encourage anyone who is looking to be published to work with an agent (if they don’t email you, I’d definitely try emailing them a proposal to see if they’d like to take on your project). Let’s just say that I can name fifty times that having an agent to help navigate the contractual terms, timeline, and general process came to the rescue – so it’s definitely something we probably couldn’t have gone without.
Does anyone else out there have publishing tips to share with others who are hoping to get into author-ship? Has anyone actually tried to author a book in the past? Any self publishing experiences to share (we were too scared to go that route, but hear it can work too). As for book ideas, waaaay before John and I were bloggers we tried to write a proposal for a hilarious pet naming book (say the people who named their dog Hamburger) but after realizing how much work it was… it just sort of fizzled out. Maybe someday we’ll give it another go. We owe it to Burger. Haha.
Update – Some of the most frequent requests that we get are for info about professionally blogging (how we made our site, how we grew our following, how we make money, etc) so we shared all of the details about how we started a blog, grew our traffic, and turned it into a full time job.
Jessica C. says
Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove says
This is so exciting!! I had no idea that writing a book was such a long process… it’s fun to learn all the behind the scenes stuff. Congrats again on the book deal – I can’t wait to grab a copy!!
HOW EXCITING!!! You can count on me to purchase a copy :)))
Allison @ Quite Simply Home says
Wow, thanks for the rundown. It seems like an incredible amount of work but I’m sure it will be well worth it. Can’t wait to flip through the book whenever it comes out!
Krystal Lee says
Can’t wait for you guys to get the book out, how exciting! my partner runs his family’s book store and is always asking me to recommend books for the art/craft/diy section. I will be sure to get you in (with an extra copy just for me haha!)
Aw thanks! You guys are so sweet.
[email protected] Home From Scratch says
Can’t wait to buy a copy or twelve.
We’ve also been busy with trim…
Wow- great tips! Love it.
Shannon @ Bungalow960 says
The Burger pictures are cracking me up. I’m pretty sure he is jealous of the chihuahua with the leather jacket.
Also, congrats on the book process. It’s always been my dream to write a book and seeing bloggers like you make it big time is so encouraging for us little bloggers!
Thais Bessa says
Wow, it is a lot of work and such a long process!
About the name, did you think about keeping up with the blog branding (like changing the “home” to “house” to link better with the blog) or is the idea exactly to separate it a bit from the blog?
You guys deserve this and all success that I am sure is coming your way!
It’ll say from the authors of younghouselove.com somewhere on it, so we hope that’ll be a pretty clear connection! We liked the word home instead of house for anyone who rents or doesn’t feel like an apartment or dorm room is a house because it’s still a home! And lots of our ideas will work in those spaces too, so it’s not just for people with a house of their own.
Maureen @ This (Kinda) Old House says
This is so very exciting. I will be buying both books!!! This is like a dream come true. What a whirlwind for you guys. It’s nice to see such a great couple “make it” for having talent and heart, and not for being a crazy reality couple fighting all the time.
I just think you guys are awesome and you have inspired me and empowered me to believe that I can do things in my house on my own terms and pace. Many thanks!
Aw thanks so much Maureen!
I just self-published my first book (Make Love, Not Scrapbooks) after not being happy with where my publisher wanted the book to go. I used Lulu.com and it’s been great. My book is now listed on Lulu.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and several other book selling sites.
The main problem with self-publishing is the advertising- you have to do it all yourself. BUT, you two have a ridiculous number of daily readers, so I think you’ll be fine.
Wow- so cool and brave of you! Love it!
I will definitely be in line for a copy and maybe a signing if you come to the DC area…hint hint. Congrats !!
I’m so excited for you guys and can’t wait to add it to my wishlist! One question though, how do you keep the projects secret? Do they end up in other people’s homes? Is your basement piled high? Or are you just REALLY sneaky with your blog photos?
The playroom has a bunch of them along with the basement and some haven’t even been completed yet, so they’re not in our house. Yet. Not sure where we’ll stash them though! Maybe the sunroom and just not shoot that space for a while!
Sandra T says
I was wondering the same thing! That, and where do you guys get a “secret” stash of time to do MORE projects than we see? You guys are like home improvement/diy/blog/baby and chihuahua wrangling magicians!
Haha- our trick is going to be at 2am. Haha. More hours while the baby sleeps to get stuff done! Might not be very sustainable though… we’ll have to let you know!
I had the same questions. Another one- are these projects still funded by you guys as well? Maybe you have some local Richmond-ers to volunteer for these secret projects?
Congrats on your successes, you guys totally deserve it. You have so many fans that really believe in you guys. I will be one of the dorky fans waiting at midnight at Barnes and Noble (none are close by so it will be an adventure). If you all are doing a tour, you bet I’ll be there for your signatures :) Like others I wish I could pre-order on Amazon (as an additional copy).
Many of the projects involve us using things we already have (paint, ribbon, etc) or things that we have found at garage sales and thrift stores, etc. We also have a predetermined photo/execution budget for some bigger items, so if there’s a page about different lighting ideas, the pro photographer and the publisher will be ordering fixtures and shooting them for the book so we can make mood boards or grids to share all of the fun things we’ll be using to demonstrate different ideas!
Clarification- maybe you guys have some local Richmond-ers BENEFITTING from these projects as give-always/using their money to decorate their spaces, or something (and I would be toooottttally jealous of those LUCKY people)? Ok maybe those guesses are a little out there.
Haha- that’s actually something we’ve mentioned a few times in the comments so we’re definitely thinking about doing some sort of fun giveaway when the book launches with some of the items that we’ve DIYed for the book! Could be so much fun to send things out to readers along with a copy of the book!
Chelsea in Richmond says
I was wondering the same thing! I’m disappointed though that we won’t be able to play “I spy the new unannounced objects in the room” :-)
Haha, something might sneak in the background someday – ya never know! I know you guys will totally call us on it if it does! Haha.
Awww- I see you replied to say that you were hiding the projects in rooms you’re not photographing.
I was gonna take it as a challenge- see if we can spot the stuff you’ve changed!
Haha, something might accidentally sneak into the background sometime! Ya never know!
#1 – I wish I could pre-order this on Amazon right now.
#2 – I will be traveling to bookstores and placing this book in front of bestsellers – Watch out Steig Larson!
#3 – Please make that “censored” pic of Burger’s business your cover.
Seriously – so happy for you guys! You have earned it!
Hahaha, the publishers get the final say on the cover, but you know we’re going to try to work Burger and Clara in there somewhere!
I am so ridiculously excited! My friends and I talk about this book regularly and we hope you do a book tour to Chicago so we can meet ALL of you. Congrats on the book and all of the hard work!
I concur! Please oh please oh please come to the Midwest on a book tour! You would have five VERY excited twenty-somethings there to have you sign our books :) Maybe Burger could leave a paw print too?
Haha, his head might get even bigger when he starts prancing around saying he’s the star behind the book. Haha.
Chicago would be absofab!!!! Love you guys!
Chicago Chicago!!! Please please pretty please, oh great and wise publisher?!!
Ohh yes! Please do a book tour! You have to at least stop in your home state of NJ Sherry!!
Oh yes, I’ll have to work that in no matter what for all the family we have there! And you guys too!
Omg I cannot wait!!!
Shannon Burke says
I totally missed your original announcement – I’m so psyched to get your book…do I hear book tour?
We’d love to do a book tour! That stuff is all up to our publisher so we’ll keep ya posted!
Yes, book tour! Come to Portland, Oregon. Portlanders LOVE anything DIY, sustainable, chic and eclectic…which I’m sure are all things that will be covered in your book. Ah, so excited for you guys!
We actually are very excited to have a little thing going on in Portland early next year (unconnected to the book since it won’t be out yet). More deets on that soon! We love all the DIY folks out there and can’t wait to see the city for ourselves!
Ahhhh! You’re coming to Portland?! I am SO excited. Definitely let us know when/where you’ll be and I’ll be there! I tell my husband all about your blog and he doesn’t really get it. But I’ll probably drag him along so he can see who I’m talking about all.the.time.
PS – you’re totally going to love the city! It’s fab! If you need a tour guide… ;]
We’re so excited! Thanks so much Anna!
Congratulations! I’m an acquisitions editor at a book publishing company. I hire authors to write how-to books on social media, blogging, e-biz, etc. You all were featured in one of my books, Professional Blogging For Dummies! :) I am so excited for you and can’t wait to pick up a copy of the book. I love your run down of the process, too. Some parts can be a little different for other publishers – for example, I would die if someone sent me a proposal that was longer than 10 pages, let alone 70! But it was a very accurate reflection of what I hear my authors say too as far as balancing life, work and book. I’m going to bookmark this for future prospective authors! :)
Aw thanks Amy! You’re so sweet!
This is crazy exciting!
Which stores will be carrying your book???
It’ll be in places like Barnes & Noble and local book shops and on amazon.com and hopefully even in Home Depot and Lowe’s (wouldn’t that be cool?). Still feels very crazy to type that.
Jessica @ The Desert Abode says
Can’t wait for the book! I’m sure our house will still be about 90% unfinished by the time it comes out (we never seem to move very fast) so I look forward to trying some of the projects. :)
Congrats to you both!!!
Wow! Seriously, how do you guys do it all? I will definitely be picking up your book in Fall 2012-ish. :)
Karen F says
that is so cool – thanks for spilling all the details about the process. I CAN’T wait to read the book. I really respect the fact that you are creating new projects for the book rather than using things you already did from the blog. I really don’t know how you do it all, but you guys rock!
Regan @ RenovatingRothenbergers says
I am so excited for you two!! I’m thinking you should write about pet naming for your second book. I’ll buy it :)
Haha, yesss! One vote for the ol’ pet naming book. We’ll have to see if we can find that manuscript. It was hilarious to us. Maybe not to anyone else though. Risky. Haha.
I would absolutely buy your pet naming book. My husband and I love to come up with fun pet names. (I’ll buy the other book, too.)
You guys are awesome!
Aw thanks Larissa! Wahoo. Maybe that old manuscript will see the light of day after all!
Awesome!! Can’t wait to pick up a copy! And what I love to hear most is that it’s not previous posts put into a book!! Or at least a different spin on them. You two are such hard workers, keep it up, it will be so worth it.
Blaine Stewart says
Freaking amazing. So happy for you two! So we’ll definitely have to have you on the show to promote the book!
Liz B. says
CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! x 272+
Keep up the great work. Can’t wait to buy it when it’s released!
Well done YOU!! My step-daughter works for Random house and it is a big thing to get a book to this point…you are some industrious people! Can’t wait to see the final product…
Holy cow!! How do you even have time for Clara, Burger and each other, let alone this blog? You’re freaking amazeballs.
I’m exhausted just hearing about the process and how much work you’ve put into things lately.
Can’t wait to see all your sneaky projects!
[email protected] Mamacita Spins The Globe says
I have no tips on publishing a book, but this sounds like a crazy process! I look forward to flipping through your book in the fall of 2012, or even the spring of 2013 ;)
[email protected] says
Amazing! So neat to get the scoop on the whole publishing/book writing world. Sounds like you guys have been more than a little busy.
Can’t wait to see it on the shelves. Oh, and the title is great. You should definitely try and keep the 7 in there for good luck! :)
We’d love to keep that seven in there! Haha. If the number changes we’ll have to incorporate a 7 into one of our projects inside!
Your book is already on my wishlist on Pinterest, so my husband has no excuse not to gift it to me next year(lol) since he has so much advance notice. Of course I’m using that fake romance novel picture you guys used, but it’s all good. I’m am super, super excited to get my mitts on that book!
Hahahah, I love it.
Thais Bessa says
Oh, and if you make a tour, go crazy and come to the UK! Sherry, you will be a step from Italy, it might be a good opportunity! :)
Would be so much fun!
And Perth. It’s a long way to come, but I’m here, so… you know, you should do it. (That’s all the justification I have, I’m afraid!)
Meghan, UK says
I second that vote! It’d be really interesting to know how many European readers you guys have.
You can stay with us on the Israel leg of your tour :)
Aw thanks Maya! You guys are so sweet!
Ohh yes please! With the UK being a nation obsessed with DIY and home improvents I am sure YHL will be a great success over here too! YHL-TV UK… just sayin’ ;-)
Ashley W says
Wow, you guys make me feel so lazy! I’ve been trying to write a book since before I was in college and you guys managed to write one between all your hectic blog and baby activities!
Maybe it’s time for me to dive back into my writing? Thanks for the inspiration… like always. :)
You can do it! One of our favorite times to cram in writing is during long drives (John drives while I tap away on the laptop and Clara naps in the backseat). Hope it helps!
So exciting! I love the thought of you guys completing secret projects behind-the-scenes. All covert-like… :)
With so many “secret projects” going on, will you have a hard time not letting some of them slip in to photos for the blog? I hope you won’t have to rearrange furniture for every blog photoshoot!
Haha, we have most things hidden in the playroom and basement and some things haven’t even been completed (or started!) yet, so we’re not sure where those will end up! Maybe we’ll hide them in the sunroom and just not shoot that area for the next season or two until we’re done?
Congrats! I am writing my 2012 Dear Santa letter now :)
Karen L. says
So looking forward to seeing, buying, reading your book later on!! Hey, I can sorta feel like “I knew them when”—-ha! Even though most of us on this blog comment section don’t know you, we feel like we do. You two young uns are special indeed and the book sounds unique. Great work! (P.S. Will Burger be used as illustrations in the book? :)
Haha, he definitely needs to be worked in there – with Clara too!
Megan H says
I used to work with Workman in my old role – they are a fantastic company to collaborate on this project of yours :) Couldn’t ask for you to be with a nicer bunch of people!
Yay! So far they have been amazing!
Kristin @ Ogo's Love Nest says
Wow – I can’t wait to read it! And all the Burger pics were a pleasant bonus.
I am so excited for your book! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a 2012 release and adding it to next year’s Christmas list now. :)
And please put Chapel Hill, NC on that book tour!
Yay! and I second the visit to NC!! (Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham…)
I third that!! NC PLEASE!!
I hope it comes out next fall..I will be buying copies as Christmas gifts for all the people I’ve been telling about your blog! Congrats!
Let us know when we can pre-order it! And can I just say how much I appreciate the effort you’re taking to create new projects. It’s so disappointing when you open a book you’ve been excited about to find out that it’s just the author’s magazine/blog all over again. It’s going to be awesome.
Jocelyn Wittig says
can’t believe how sincere you guys are! anyone else would just cut and past from their blog! thank you so much and i can’t wait to get my hands on it (so sell it on amazon which has international shipping please). you’ve already helped make our house a home and i look forward to new ideas from you!
It’ll definitely be on amazon.com for ya! Yay. Thanks so much for all the sweet comments and the love!
Julie B. says
Love it. Can’t wait!
Carol N. says
How exciting! I was (briefly) a journalism major in college so have always been excited by the idea of writing a book. Maybe when I retire from my programmer job I’ll have time for that. Can’t wait to add this one to the wish list and would love to attend a book signing in the Birmingham area.
I’m so excited I could die. That Burger happy dance? Oh yea, I’m right there with him.
So excited for you guys and cannot wait to meet you on your book tour (because I will be waiting when you come to Boston. You will come to Boston, right? Please, come to Boston!). Good luck with the finishing touches – I’m thrilled to see the finished product!
We’d love to come to Boston! The tour will be all up to the publishers, but we’ll keep ya posted!
Here’s a second on the Boston-Book-Tour-Stop!! So very very VERY excited for you! Not sure HOW you find the time – but just know your loyal fans are greatful that you do!! (Oh – and thanks for the Karlstad review/comment on Facebook – my husband and I are picking it up tonight – SO excited!)
Third-ing the Boston vote! Huge fan. I’ll even travel to nearby cities if necessary. This will be on every wish-list I have next fall, but I’ll probably just end up buying it for myself 3 times over before anyone else gets a chance to buy it for me. So awesome, congratulations!!
Robin @ Our Semi Organic Life says
It seems you both work 10x as hard as a lot people! Can’t believe you’ve done all those sneaky projects! Well done not getting any of those in blog photos – do you do them off site? I’ll be in line for a Richmond book signing!
We do them in the sunroom or outside or anywhere else we do other projects but we just don’t photograph them in blog pics (we hide them in rooms like the playroom or the basement!). Still have a lot more to do though, so we don’t know where we’ll store everything! Might have some overflow into the sunroom! Haha.
I love you guys, and I LOVE books, so this is pretty much perfect.
Rebecca @This Nest is Best says
First of all, this is SO exciting for you guys! And secondly, I can hardly believe that you’re completing roughly 250+ SECRET projects! The time and the sneaky-ness is so impressive to me! I can’t wait to see the finished product and finally have you unleash the photos on all these projects that must be hiding in your house!
Congrats, congrats, congrats!
It helps that some of the 250+ projects will actually be illustrated, so we aren’t doing allll of them (although we’re doing a ton of them because we love glossy pics and want to be sure all the projects actually work when you do them- haha)! We like that some of the steps will be more easily explained in an illustrated format, and it means that the book will have a fun mix of photos and cool illustrations (we’re trying to get an illustrator that I love to come aboard for the project!). Cross your fingers for us! We’ll hopefully find out if we get her within a few weeks. She does work for Real Simple, so she’s amazing!
Rebecca @This Nest is Best says
Oh, I didn’t even think of illustration! That will be gorgeous! Keeping my fingers crossed for your fav!
That is awesome! I also love the “story by burger”.
Can’t wait to buy mine! Thanks for sharing the news. I hope your book comes out in Fall 2012 but I can also wait until Spring 2013. Great title too. I adore the book story as told by Burger. When is Burger getting his book deal?
Haha, I know right? Somebody get that dog an agent.