You want to be a published author? Do what I did. Tell everybody you are one before you become one. I was faced with multiple rejections with my first book Love Online. I wrote Love Online before lots of people were dating on the internet – basically the book was ahead of its time and I was an untried writer back in 1996, so I had the joy of getting lots of doors slammed in my face. But as my mother would say, “Laura makes doors where there are none.” I chose to go ahead and create my own small, self-published book; Modem Mating a Guide to Online Dating. I had just taken some courses at the New York School of Visual Arts and had learned how to use Photoshop. I took a normal page of white writing paper, 8 1/2 by 11 and folded it in half to create the book size. (It was more like a nice pamphlet, about 40 pages in length.) Presto! Now I had a book. At least I liked to call it a book. It wasn’t really a book. But I was an author.
Now that I was a self-proclaimed woman of letters, I started to call the local television news stations, saying that I was a writer and had a new book coming out. When the TV producers asked me to send over a copy, I thought for sure that it would end there. I sent the thing that was almost a pamphlet, and, actually, I started getting bookings on the local and yes, even national shows as an expert on online dating. MSNBC, Fox News, Good Day New York and others started calling me in to be on a panel to discuss the latest news on this growing phenomena. It was amazing! They even would photograph a copy of my book and show it as a graphic during the interview. I remember thinking how great it looked on camera, all lit up with pretty bright lights behind it. Soon, newspapers and magazines were calling for interviews and quotes. USA Today used a few of my quotes. Amazing.
I collected my TV appearances on a reel and made copies of my reel, then started sending my small book and video to literary agents. I signed with an agent, Jeffrey Hermann, a pretty well known guy, very fast. We got rejected by about ten houses, until Career Press Publishers took it on.
I got a small $5,000 advance and the book came out with little fanfare or interest. (Not enough people were dating online at that time.) My second book with Career Press went on to sell over 125,000 copies – that was written with my co-author Janette Barber and it was entitled Breaking the Rules, Last Ditch Tactics for Landing the Man of your Dreams. That became a USA Today bestseller with appearances on Rosie O’Donnell, ABC World News, and lots of morning shows, dozens of local and national radio shows, the L.A. Times, People Magazine and more. Now Janette and I have our next book Embracing Your Big Fat Ass, published by Atria, a division of Simon and Schuster. We got a pre-emptive offer before the book went to auction. That means Warner Books and Crown Publishers had also made bid and offers on the book. Publisher’s Weekly reported the story and we ended up with a six-figure advance.
That’s a long way from sitting by myself, teaching myself how to type with a Meavis-Bacon typing program on Love Online in a high rise apartment in New York City. Janette and I can wait and see how our new book goes, but what the future holds is anyone’s guess. There’s one thing that is for sure – no matter what, I will always find ways to make things happen. I can always write more books, somehow. Even if I get rejected – I will create the buzz and then get the deal.