So what’s it like to make the leap from city life to suburbia? Maybe like me you’ve gotten close, but just weren’t sure it was for you. I decided to live the experience vicariously through Tracy Beckerman’s new book, Lost in Suburbia, A Momoir. I was not disappointed by this funny woman. A great read from her kid’s comments on her Chia Pet-like hair to vibrators and more, Tracy’s book puts into words what most of us just keep in our minds.
I was really curious; as I’m sure most of you are, about what it’s like to write a book. I’ve toyed with the idea, but from what I’ve heard from C.C. Chapman, it’s a huge undertaking, but very fulfilling. So I asked Tracy a few questions.
When did you first decide you wanted to write a book?
“I put out a collection of my columns in 2008 as a way to test the waters and see how it would be received. It sold really well so I decided two years later to write a book. I love doing my column and blogs, but I was itching to do something long form where I could really dig deeper and not just be funny, but also explore the transition from working city girl to suburban stay at home mom and why that was such a difficult change for me. It was amazing to be able to reflect on that time in my life and look at my experience with the clarity of hindsight and be able to share that with other moms!”
How long from first word till the signing of publisher? Did you have a publisher first?
“When you write non-fiction, in many cases, you might not have even written one word of your book when you get your publisher. The process in traditional publishing is to write a proposal, which your agent then submits to multiple publishing houses. Typically, however, the proposal is so thorough that it becomes the outline for your book. My proposal was nearly 80 pages and included an overview of the book, a bio, a marketing analysis (comparing my book to other books of a similar genre, who would buy it, and how I would reach them), a chapter-by-chapter description with titles, and a sample chapter. It took me about four months to write my proposal and then another month to tweak it and a month to shop it to publishers.”
What tips or insights do you have for other women considering writing a book?
“If you are a blogger, it really helps to train yourself to get in the habit of setting aside dedicated writing time. I had always written on the fly. I would write when I got inspiration or, if that didn’t happen, when I was forced to sit and pound something out for a deadline. It’s pretty easy to do this when you only have to generate 500-600 words. When you have a 60,000 word commitment and a deadline, you really have to plan to write a significant amount every day… typically 2-3000 words. I find the best thing to do here is not labor over every sentence but to just write in volume and then go back and edit. It’s much easier to overwrite and cut back then to have to fill in.”
What’s it like being on tour?
“Exhausting. Fun. Exhilarating. Did I mention Exhausting? The best part for me was actually to connect with so many blogger friends who are spread out all over the country who I only typically get to see once a year (if that) at conferences. The TV appearances are a hoot, too. Until someone brings up a story in your book on camera about your son finding a vibrator in your bed and then it can be kind of embarrassing!”
If you’re not ready to write a book, you can read Tracy’s!
I looked like a crazy person laughing while I read it on the train. And who knows it might just inspire you along the way to write your own some day. Tracy’s book is available everywhere. You can also follow her on Twitter @tracyinsuburbia