Creativity unleashed by Sandra Yuen MacKay

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My First Book Contract!

Posted by symackay on April 5, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Excerpt from my column on the Lit.org Majestic newsletter:


I want to share one of my successes. In March, I signed my first book contract! Here's my tale.

Over a year ago, I wrote a memoir on recovery from mental illness. I became ill at fourteen and struggled for years with schizoaffective disorder, but managed to complete a university degree, have a stable marriage, and pursue writing and art.

The topic of my book was specialized and I needed a publisher who identified with my story. I was new to marketing and sent a query to two publishers. One requested the whole manuscript. Unfortunately, I didn't submit elsewhere while waiting for her responses and it didn't work out. However, I continued to edit and improve my manuscript. In January of 2010, an acquaintance announced the sale of her book. Her topic was similar to mine.

"Would your publisher be interested in reading my manuscript?" I asked her.

"Why don't you contact him directly and I'll mention your name to him," she replied.

So I approached the publisher with a query, synopsis, bibliography and few sample chapters. The query was crucial because I cited similar books to mine that had done well in sales and I was able to include my publishing history. A week later, the publisher requested the whole manuscript. By March, he wanted to talk about publication. He called me long distance at a pre-determined time, and he spoke about his distribution and the opportunity for e-books, audio, and possible translation into other languages.

We had a good rapport and our goals were the same. We were both mental health advocates and writers. The contract he emailed me was succinct. I requested as little legalese as possible. So we signed. If everything goes to plan, my memoir will be released in the fall of 2010. I'll let you know when it becomes available!

I wanted to thank Stuart and Lit.org members for their constructive criticism and encouragement to write. My experience as a columnist and editor for Majestic improved my writing and confidence immensely. It's a little scary to put my story out there because of stigma, but I think to hear about mental illness from a person with lived experience can be educational and inspirational as a journey of hope.

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