Anne McTiernan took our UW class last spring to work on her proposal, and we were thrilled to hear that she scored a book deal for her memoir, Starved. Writers, remember: book deals DO happen, and they happen every day. We share these success stories to give you insights from real people going through the publishing process, and to inspire and motivate you to keep going! Here’s Anne’s story.
What is the title of your book, and who will be publishing it?
Starved: A Nutrition Doctor’s Journey from Empty to Full by Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD. It’s a poignant memoir of a girl who endured childhood emotional and physical deprivation, a binge-eating disorder, and abuse, to find love, strength, and happiness.It will be published by Central Recovery Press in November 2016.
Tell us how this book came about. What inspired you?
After reading Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, a memoir of his miserable Irish Catholic upbringing, I was inspired to write about my miserable Irish-American Catholic upbringing.
Can you share some insights on the chain of events that lead to your book deal?
I sent queries to many agents, received some positive responses, and went with an excellent agent who was ready to work with me without a delay of several months. I received many rejections—that seems to be unavoidable in this business.
How did you handle any challenges you faced? Did you seek out professional services or other help along the way?
There’s a saying among doctors in training: “See one, do one, teach one.” I naively thought that I’d be able to whip off my memoir, but soon found out that creative writing requires a lot of learning and practice. So I sought help. I took the University of Washington Certificate Program in Memoir with Theo Nestor, and also took her Advanced Memoir course. Then, when I had a completed manuscript, I worked with two excellent book advisors/editors: Claire Dederer and Jennifer D. Munro. Finally, when I was ready to find an agent and publisher, I took Jen & Kerry’s UW course, “Publishing Your Book in Today’s Marketplace.”
What surprised you during the publishing process?
I had previously published a health advice book (Breast Fitness: An Optimal Exercise and Health Plan for Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer, St. Martin’s Press, 2000), and was surprised at how much more challenging and competitive the business has become. Another surprising thing I learned with both books is that the author has to be actively marketing the book, and can’t expect that the publisher will do all of that.
What’s been the best aspect about getting a book deal?
It’s very rewarding to have a publisher get excited about my book, and to commit to share it with the world.
What’s next for you?
I’m learning a lot about marketing! I’m also working on a memoir about my medical school years.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I highly recommend the information provided by Business of Books—Jen and Kerry covered exactly the things I needed to know for developing a query letter and book proposal.