the one question people ask me the most

Once every six weeks or so, I join my friend Tsh (Simple Mom) on her HomeFries podcast. We tend to talk about very important issues like the Oscars, our favorite food, and episodes of Friends.

Tsh and me with short hair at the beach in 2011.
Tsh and me with short hair at the beach in 2011.

This week, we decided to be a bit more intentional and attempt to tackle a question we both get a lot. Here it is:

How did you get your book published?”

People come at it from different angles, wanting to know about the proposal writing process, how to get an agent, or some other detail of the process. But the bottom line is questions about publishing are by far what shows up most often in my inbox. As in, nearly every day.

I love and hate this question – love it because I want to help people and it’s a gift to have people trust me enough to ask. I am willing to share everything I know. But I also hate it because I don’t know that much. The way I did it isn’t necessarily the way to do it. It’s just my story. And there are a bajillion people who dedicate entire blogs and books to this topic.

Even though you can google anything you want to know about publishing, I realize one of the really cool things about blogging is you can hear personal stories from the authors themselves. Sometimes that’s more helpful for you than the technicalities of the business.

So here we are, adding two more voices to the conversation about publishing. It’s informal (as you will quickly discover) and entirely about us (and also our big selves) but if you have an idea you might want to write a book and you are wondering where to begin, perhaps these words will be helpful to you.

You can listen to the conversation Tsh and I had about publishing here. If you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing, here is a detailed break-down of the conversation for you to peruse and fast forward at your leisure:

simple-mom-podcast-0:55 We spend the first two minutes making disclaimers. So that’s informational and not annoying at all.

2:50 Where to get started and the question almost all writers struggle with.

4:30 Why I was embarrassed at my first writer’s conference.

7:25 What I did after my first writer’s conference.

8:44 Book Proposal: what it is, getting started, resources, how long it took us, and why it’s so important.

15:20 Details about the market analysis section of the proposal and how it can make you crazy if you let it.

20:56 Different ways you can package a proposal

23:34 Agents – what it felt like not having one, how we met ours, how to perhaps find one

34:30 On having a blog

37:50 A few generic thoughts from us about traffic and stats. It’s life-changing.

39:50 What happens after the book is published – on brand, platform, marketing and self-promotion.

42:00 Owning your influence and knowing your limits

48:33 Some thoughts on reviews, feedback and releasing your work to the reader

58:00 On having unicorns

58:40 Where you can go to learn more about the publishing process from people who know a lot more than we do.

So there you have it. In the show notes, Tsh included a lot of the links we mentioned so you might want to check those out. Though I would prefer to talk about writing over publishing, I have a few events planned this year where I will be doing a little of both. The conference I mentioned in the show is called She Speaks. This summer will be my fourth year teaching a workshop there. I will also be in Austin in October to speak at the Re:Write conference.

Is there anything we didn’t cover in the podcast you would like to know more about? Maybe we could point you in the right direction.


  1. says

    I have a mountain of laundry to fold, 3 kids with fevers, naptime is in exactly 45 minutes. The plan is to feed them and put them down for a LONG quiet time . . . that should give me some time to listen while I fold!

    Be Blessed.

  2. says

    Wow. Thank you, ladies, for taking the time to share your stories. I’m one of those maybe-possibly-perhaps people : ) I’m definitely walking away encouraged rather than discouraged about the process and what it might entail. Your gentle approach and heart for the writer was very refreshing. I think I just called myself a writer. Your encouragement about calling myself a writer whether I ever get a book published or not is just priceless. At the end, Emily, you were hesitant in saying what you discussed was good? Oh, girls, there was so much good tucked within your words. Both of you. Thank you again for sharing your stories about the publishing world. I’m walking away thinking maybe, possibly, perhaps . . . .

  3. says

    I usually run out of time to listen to podcasts but I listened to this last night as I was folding laundry and it was so helpful. I’m glad you and Tsh took it on!

  4. says

    I’m looking forward to listening to this. Definitely on this of all days! I stumbled into blogland several years ago. Began following you and placed my first preorder ever for Grace for the Good Girl. Today, in part because of your words, I’m launching my own blog and I’m giddy like a 7 year old girl! I know next to nothing about this whole thing, but look forward to learning.

    Thank you for sharing your heart out here.

  5. says

    I listened to half while I was making dinner last night, then the other half during my run this morning (in the wind and rain, which I didn’t notice too much, because, you know, I was busy listening to you two!) Thanks so much! It was full, full, full of good detail and transparency!

  6. says

    I listened to this podcast last night, and LOVED it! It was one of my favorite podcasts – I’ve loved to listening to all of your podcasts with Tsh this season. There’s so much good info – thank you!

  7. says

    Hi Emily,

    I really enjoyed listening to your podcast with Tsh. My favorite advice…”keep on doing what you are doing”. I am a missionary/mama writing a blog of things that God is teaching me along the way, while living out here in the middle of the jungle (literally). I mainly write for my friends and family, to keep them up to date with our life and journey…but underneath it all there is that little spark of desire to want to write more. I don’t know if it will ever become anything but your advice really hit home to me, and right now I am content and excited about where I am at, writing about the things God is teaching me as I in turn am seeking to teach others. So from a little island over here in the Philippines. Hi to you today and thank you! I love reading your blog. God Bless you.

  8. says

    A hundred “thank you’s!” for sharing this podcast with us, Emily :)

    I think what I found most encouraging is realizing that you and Tsh (and many writers, as it turns out) are *real* people! You both started from a place of knowing you liked to write but needing that nudge to build your bench, as it were. I thought your story was especially hopeful, knowing that you can start off without so much as a regular blog schedule and end up publishing books (ah!). Thank you both for your wonderfully charming transparency – it was one of those nudges for many of us, it seems!

  9. says

    Look at all the words of gratitude in these comments. Women who love stories, women with dreams and stories, gaining encouragement to continue typing in the wee hours outside parenting or careers; to satisfy the need to ‘speak’ beyond internal dialogs. Clearly many were blessed by your words, including me.

  10. says

    Thank you for sharing your insights – -I was so encouraged by this podcast! I work as a corporate writer and started a blog a year ago. I don’t have any sort of a goal for a book — I just write because I love to write. I love what you shared about risking yourself in blogging and writing and although I’ve been excited to share a couple of articles as a guest blogger on (in)courage, it was scary, too! Yours was one of the first blogs I started reading before I even had an inkling of writing my own blog. Thank you for your dedication and sharing your heart! Valerie

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