I’ve had so many people ask me what it was like to write my book and how long it took that I decided to write up a post about it! I’ve tried to be as concise as possible, but a goal eight years in the making isn’t short!
We spend the first weekend of October in McCall, ID every year. In 2007 I was driving up with my husband, my mom, and our two little girls, ages 1 and 2 at the time. To pass the time we were trying to think up business ideas that would make us MILLION$, lol! As my mind got going, I began to think of writing a childbirth book that was based in science, but also shared my religious beliefs. Having never thought of writing a book before, I initially laughed off the idea. Then my husband chimed in saying that I could for sure write a book about this topic because I was so passionate about it.
My mind quickly left the conversation as ideas started POURING into it. I had nothing to write them down on. I began to feel so antsy, worried that the ideas would leave before I had a chance to record them. Before even checking into our hotel we stopped at a grocery store so I could buy paper and a pen. I stayed up almost that entire night writing down every idea in my head. My mom teased me the next morning, saying she could hear me writing and turning pages furiously all through-out the night!
I wish I could say that that night of inspiration was all it took, but that first night was barely the tip of the iceburg with this project. After compiling my initial ideas, I would go months, possibly years without really working on the book. It was always on my mind though. Over the years I wrote down experiences and conversations that I either wanted to include in the book, or that helped me stay motivated to write the book. Todd even bought me a little hand recorder so I could roll over in bed and record my middle of the night inspirations without having to really get up! And once I really got writing, he even bought me a laptop so I could write wherever I was.
The years went on and I gave birth to two more children. This kept me from writing, but also kept me thinking about the importance of the book. I continued working as a doula and childbirth educator, and routinely saw how little our society understands birth. My heart was saddened to see how many women feared birth, how little they valued the experience, and how they didn’t understand the many choices offered to them during childbirth. As a whole, our society had become completely ok with handing our births over to the medical world without any thought of what price we would pay for that decision.
Birth seemed to be viewed as a dated practice, destined to fail. When in reality, birth is a timeless experience created to succeed.
I had to share my message.
The Final Push
The only way to make a positive change in the birthing world is to educate, and that is the number one goal of my book. During the pregnancy of my 4th child (2012) the desire to finish my book became very strong. I started researching more than ever. I also started taking my years of free writes and tried to put them into some sort of organized fashion. I really learned the hard way that you should come up with a book outline BEFORE you start writing your book. Yikes! Once things were semi-organized, I reached out to Laura Brotherson (successful LDS writer) to ask her for advice. She was very encouraging (just what I needed before I took the big jump of committing to really trying to publish!) and advised me to hire some editors to get the message ready.
I knew that I needed help. I knew who I needed to ask. And I didn’t want to ask her!
One of my closest friends, Lesli, studied writing at BYU. I knew she could help me make sense of my madness, but I feared she would hate what I had to say! I was extremely nervous asking someone outside of the birth world for help. I remember shaking and sweating bullets as I sat on her couch and asked if she would read my book and give me her feedback.
The initial feedback was so exciting! She helped me piece things together and finally get some order to my message. I started writing and researching 3 to 6 hours a day. This continued for about 8 months. The work was intense but exciting. I knew I was really moving forward in my goal, and I felt so motivated all the time! I was completely consumed with this project. I took some time off from doula work and hardly did anything outside of the bare minimum when it came to household work. Thankfully my husband thought it was cute to find me in my pajamas at 6 pm when he returned from work, and he never complained about the lack of cooking during this time period!
This was also a great time for new research. ACOG (The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology) came out with some great studies that really strengthened my areas of focus in my writing. The timing couldn’t have been better, and it really made me feel like the timing was perfect for my book!
All my thoughts revolved around my book, as did most of my conversations. In fear that my book would fail, I hardly told anyone other than family and extremely close friends about my project. I barely socialized, and when I did I totally dominated all conversations! If I couldn’t be writing, then I at least could be talking about writing! I still don’t know how my friends tolerated me! But the hours of talking and brainstorming were a huge part of my final success. Looking back I can now see how self-engrossed I was and how supportive and patient my friends and family were. Hopefully I can return the awesomeness to them someday!
After I felt I had used and abused Lesli and her free support enough, I went ahead and hired two more editors to help me get my book ready to submit to LDS publishers. The editing and revision process was nothing less than horrible. Hearing detailed descriptions of what they didn’t like about my writing was the biggest hit my ego could take. I would spend the first day or two after receiving feedback yelling to my husband why my editors were wrong and how frustrating it was! Then, after getting all my venting out, I would humble myself, sit down, and start making the needed revisions.
After several months of this I realized that I didn’t have to get angry every time they told me to take something out or change it. I just needed to find the right way to write it. I had to have faith in myself that I knew the science, the stats, and the need more than my editors did. So if I felt I needed to say something, then I should write it. If they didn’t like it, then I should write it better.
It is easy to focus on how difficult the revision process was. It made me cry. It made me furious. It made me feel like a failure. But it also made me write better than I had ever written before. My mind was on fire. It held so much information that I could retrieve at any moment I wanted. It was amazing! Depending on my mood, my editors felt like my best friend or my biggest enemy! But either way, it was their expertise and advice (along with my incredible work ethic, of course..) that made my book publishable.
I had a goal of submitting my book before the kids were out of school for summer. The final weeks were intense as I sent my book out to all my trusted supporters, asking for final advice and support. Two days before school got out I submitted my book to Deseret Book, Greg Kofford, and Cedar Fort.
I was hoping that being done with the writing that I would feel less stressed, but I experienced the exact opposite. My nerves could hardly handle waiting to hear back from publishers, and I felt anxious all. The. Time. Every time the phone rang or I checked my email my heart would flutter. It was like my body knew there was a big, fat “NO!” on it’s way.
About 8 weeks after submitting I received my first rejection from Deseret Book. It came in an email. The editor was very complimentary but stated my book wouldn’t appeal to a large enough audience for them to want to publish it. They encouraged me to break it up into smaller articles and publish them through LDS Living Magazine. I had no desire to break up my book, so the offer wasn’t even tempting. It felt good to know that they appreciated my work, and I put my trust into believing that my writing would someday be a real book. A one stop source that gives women all the information they need.
However, a no is a no and no’s hurt. I cried a bit, but tried to stay positive. Less than 48 hours later I received my 2nd “no” from Greg Kofford. They were very complimentary as well, but stated the book just “wasn’t for them”. Well, two rejections in two days was just about all my little ego could handle, and I pretty much cried in bed that entire night while Todd helplessly held me.
Pretty much all of my editors told me the probability of publishing was very low. They thought my book was too one-sided and that it didn’t have a large enough market. But deep inside, I believed that someone would read my book and see the enormous value it offered to LDS mothers. Understanding and celebrating natural childbirth is not something that is part of our culture, but I knew that my book could help change that!
Life went on, as it always does, and I waited ever so impatiently to hear back from Cedar Fort. I received an email from them in January stating that they really liked the book, and would be interested in publishing it if I was willing to make some revisions and resubmit.
Getting a “maybe” is definitely better than getting a “no”, but it was still extremely stressful. It felt like my final shot! Wanting to get it perfect, I hired an editor who used to work for Cedar Fort to help me figure it all out. By now, the book was in pretty good shape, so her revisions were less “here’s why your book sucks” and a lot more of “here’s what your book is missing”.
I gave myself 4 months to finish up final revisions, but found that I just couldn’t stop until it was done, and had it ready to resubmit about 7 weeks later. The editor at Cedar Fort appeared pleased to receive it and said she’d have a final answer for me in a month or two. Cue extreme anxiety.
After waiting for a little over 3 months to hear back from Cedar Fort, I was absolutely convinced that they were not going to accept my book. I sat my husband down and told him to prepare for me to fall into a depression. And no lie, the next morning, I received my publishing contract from Cedar Fort!
Todd rushed home from work to give me a congratulatory hug as the news set in that I finally had a book deal! Here I am holding my contract!~
With a book deal came quick deadlines. New website, professional headshots, author bios, you name it! Here I am looking way more beautiful than normal, in my book headshot.
So What Now?
Currently we are working on a new website and book cover. And when I say “we” I really mean Cedar Fort because they are in charge of my book now! It is a weird feeling, but sometimes a nice feeling too. I am able to give insights and ideas, but final say is never mine anymore. I gave ideas for the book title, but ultimately it was decided upon by the editor. Same with the book cover.
I am still waiting for final revisions (UG!) from my editor, and then I will finally be DONE! (Hopefully I have enough inner strength to live through one more round of revisions!) The book will be released in May to coincide with Mother’s Day sales, and I will be traveling a lot next summer to promote the book. (But that’s a whole other blog post!)
Will I Ever Write Another Book?
I have no idea. I have a couple other ideas, but I am not nearly as qualified to write about them! For now, I’m a little burnt out. I have been giving 150% for years, and I need to just enjoy reaching this goal before starting another one! I want to live in the moment and not always be worried about finding the time to work on writing, or stressing about forgetting what I have thought of before I have time to write it down.
I also will be spending a great deal of time in 2016 promoting my book. There will be book signings and speaking engagements, and who knows what else. I want to enjoy this experience, and not feel burdened with other deadlines.
And there you have it!