Back in May, while sipping a quadruple espresso and killing time at Chicago's O'Hare airport owing to a delayed flight (imagine that!), I got an email from the publisher of a major and highly respected publishing company. He wanted to know if I'd be interested in writing a book, and he even suggested a specific topic.
It took me all of three seconds to say yes. After all, I'd been contemplating the idea of writing a book for years, and because my show was no longer in production, I finally felt as though I had the time to devote to such a project.
So once I got home (finally!), I wrote a proposal based on the publisher's idea in 48 hours and sent it to him to review. His idea, by the way, was for me to write a scathing indictment of the chemical industry, and the controversial nature of the topic appealed to me. Unfortunately, it didn't appeal to the sales and marketing folks at the publishing company. The lawyers were apparently a bit skiddish as well. So, the executive editor suggested I write something more along the lines of a how-to book on gardening. Fine, I thought. I could that in my sleep.
I delivered the second proposal with a week or so, and waited for a response. This time, the sales and marketing folks were on board. Ditto the editorial staff. But the publisher wasn't all that thrilled. He wanted yet another proposal, something really catchy and trendy. Well, I've never thought of myself as trendy, but I did see the merit in taking such an approach with my first book because I wanted to reach the largest audience possible.
The third proposal took me a tad longer to write, largely because I wasn't all that excited about it. However, I assumed the Powers That Be at the publishing company probably knew more than I about selling books. And lo and behold, after reading the proposal, they said they were prepared to offer me a deal. Great, I thought. I'm finally going to get the opportunity to write a book.
Then came the offer, and my excitement abruptly turned to disappointment. The amount of money they offered me as an advance was a pittance. In fact, at first I laughed when I saw the number, thinking that maybe they'd left out a zero. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I make more money in a weekend than they were offering me to write a book that would take at least six months to complete.
So now I'm back to square one. In all likelihood, I'll still write a book -- the one I think is needed most by gardeners -- and make it available for sale online and when I make personal appearances. And I've already decided on a title: "Gardening by the Book." What do you think?