Below find a Q&A with humorous memoirist author Craig Heimbuch, author of AND NOW WE SHALL DO MANLY THINGS: DISCOVERING MY MANHOOD THROUGH THE GREAT (AND NOT-SO-GREAT) AMERICAN HUNT (Oct 2012, HarperCollins), which follows his adventures in learning a cherished family pastime – hunting. It is the witty, moving, and insightful story of one man’s quest to free himself from the shackles of his domesticated suburban lifestyle by immersing himself for one year in the hunting culture his family has always cherished.
Craig is an award-winning journalist, author and digital strategist, leading content development and optimization for Fortune 100 companies around the world. He has been the Editor-in-Chief of www.ManoftheHouse.com, an online magazine for dads with roughly 1 million monthly readers. Find the book’s website here, and find Craig on Twitter here.
What’s the book about?
I was a work-a-day father and husband, a commuter stuck in the rut of highway-work-kids-bed and weekends spent trying to catch up when my daughter was born. My third child, I was the same age my dad was when I came home. Yet, I felt disconnected, separate. After he gave me a shotgun, I decided to do something disruptive, something to break the sameness of my life and spent a year pursuing adventure learning the family activity that had always remained elusive to me – hunting. Hilarity ensues.
Where do you write from?
I live in northern Cincinnati (Mason) and write late at night, though not at home. I have to leave home. A friend of mine has an office nearby that I go to after the kids are in bed and I’ve spent some time with my wife. I usually write from 10:30 to 1:30 or 2 am, six days a week when I’m in the middle of a project.
What led up to this book?
I’ve done a lot of writing. I got started as a volunteer reporter for my hometown paper when I was 17. I worked for newspapers and magazines in Ohio, Virginia and Washington DC. I made the leap online a few years ago, working as an editor, then content strategist, for Barefoot Proximity, a digital agency within the BBDO network, where I was the editor of ManoftheHouse.com – which no longer exists. My first book, Chasing Oliver Hazard Perry, was published by a regional publisher in 2010 and won the Great Lakes Booksellers NonFiction Award that same year.
Book writing time frame?
I got the contract from William Morrow/HarperCollins in November, 2011 and turned in my draft January 23, 2012. From concept to accepted manuscript took about a year. Interesting enough, the 100,000 word manuscript came back from my editor with five bulleted changes, all of which were very minor. I feel lucky and a little uneasy that the process was relatively seamless for me.
How did you find your agent?
I actually reached out to the editor of my first book who recommended I talk to a friend of his. This friend’s agent had recently taken a position on the West Coast starting a TV/Film wing of the agency. He recommended me to another agent – a guy about my age with two small kids at home – who immediately took an interest in the project. My agent, John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich, was fantastic to work with. He helped me polish my proposal through July and August 2011. We began submitting in late September and had it sold before Thanksgiving. It could have been kismet, but the it all went surprisingly easy.
What you learned along the way?
The publishing business is not a book business, it is a people business. They always say that it’s who you know, but I disagree. I think it’s who you are willing to meet and how willing you are to be completely open and honest with them. I can honestly say that my editor, Adam Korn, and his team have become really good – if not great – friends through this process. They’ve gotten behind the book and I think it’s because I was willing to work with them, to let them in and find something to be excited about. Also, the waiting is the hardest part. If you love writing, that’s the easiest thing. The patience and willingness to listen to criticism and consider it critically is tough for me, but vital.
What you did right to break in:
I followed familiar paths. Had I simply sent the book out blindly to a million agents and publishers, I don’t think it would have gotten written. Instead, I ask a friend for help, who asked another, who asked another. Networking like that can seem like a drag, but I believe people really want to help other people. Start with what’s around you and work your way out from there, eventually your circles will intersect with the people who can help you.
Do different next time:
I might have tried to give myself a little more time. Seven weeks wasn’t much, but it was the option presented to me. I feel like I learned a lot from my first book and that helped, but generally I followed good advice and made myself really available to anyone who wanted something from me. I feel lucky that I’ve made mostly good decisions, so there’s nothing like regret about it, just a feeling that I killed myself to make a deadline.
Did you have a platform in place? On this topic, what are you doing the build a platform and gain readership?
Sure, I have a blog, facebook, tumblr and twitter feed. I’ve also worked hard to build a network of bloggers that can help me promote the book. My publisher is handling advertising and traditional terrestrial radio, but I’ve carved out a pretty good group in the digital universe and they have all been very supportive. I’ve also taken a lot of guest writing opportunities. Writing, to me, is relatively cheap in terms of effort to support a book, so I’m always looking for those chances.
The nice part about developing a good relationship with my agent and editor is that we have about five more books mapped out. Its just a matter of picking one and moving forward. More to come… relatively soon.
Agent Donald Maass, who is also an author
himself, is one of the top instructors nationwide
on crafting quality fiction. His recent guide,
The Fire in Fiction, shows how to compose
a novel that will get agents/editors to keep reading.
Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- The 4 Golden Rules of Being a Writer.
- Agent Miriam Kriss Explains How to Pitch Your Book.
- How to Collaborate With a Co-Writer.
- 170 Agent Interviews and Counting — Read Them Here.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.