Posted by: nancyisanders | November 9, 2010

Welcome to My World: Mini-Retreat

I had so much fun during my mini-retreat creating my special writer’s notebook to go along with the new book I’m writing. It instantly produced results I needed desperately: it lit the flame I needed and fired up my enthusiasm to get me started successfully on this 8 month journey ahead as I’m working toward my June 15 deadline.

In one section of my notebook, I photocopied my contract and put it in. There will be many times ahead when I have to look up little details like how many images I’m supposed to submit and how many words the manuscript is supposed to be, and this keeps it all in one easily accessible place. I filed the original contract in my file cabinet where I keep all the contracts I’ve ever signed.

In another section of my notebooks, I printed out a new copy of the actual proposal that the publisher accepted. The proposal actually had been revised a number of times to meet the recommendations of the publisher, so I want to keep this handy as well to refer to often so that I’m sure to hit my mark.

In another section, I included a timeline. I like to include a timeline that shows the journey a book can take. Usually, I keep 2 timelines:

1 is short and just lists the one date per line and a brief description of what happened.
The second timeline is like a journal. I write out what happens. I print out important e-mails or photocopy key documents to trace the route my manuscript takes from idea to publication to sales.

This is one of my favorite parts of my writer’s notebook for each book that I make one for. I’ll refer to this section years after the book is written and reminisce and learn from it.

When I created my timeline to get up to date on my book’s journey, I made some amazing discoveries I had already forgotten! Here’s a peek into what has already happened:

July 23, 2009: I looked at the publisher’s brand new catalog and got an idea for this book that would fit into a series they publish. ON THAT SAME DAY, I instantly e-mailed a quick query to the editor to ask if he’d be interested in this new idea to fit into the series he is already publishing. And he replied and said “Yes!” (To get a template of these short queries I e-mail to editors, look in my book Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career. I use this template when I contact editors I already know like this one. And I use it to contact editors I don’t know such as recently I contacted a magazine editor AND a book publisher I never contacted before…and both editors responded that “Yes!” they’d like to see a proposal for my idea. Try it and see what happens!)

On April 16, 2010 I finished the proposal and submitted it. Usually I like to submit a proposal within a month after hearing from an editor, but there were a bunch of details I had to iron out first on this one because it involved taking a 2-week research trip back east to take photographs for the book.

On June 22, 2010, after several revisions, the editor called me on the phone and officially offered me the contract! Woohoo!

So from the day I first got the idea to the day I was offered the contract, it was 11 months. Of course, in the meantime, I was working on other book deadlines, so this went on in the “background” while I was working on other projects.

Another section I include in my writer’s notebook is “Highlights.” I’ll share about that in my next post.


  1. Great examples, Nancy!! You DO realize that you have just developed the makings of another book, don’t you? Yes!…a book about writer’s helps like this fantastic notebook you’ve created!
    I KNOW I would buy it! Val

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