We Signed a Book Deal!

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We’ve been sitting on a bit of exciting news for a few weeks now, mostly because we were still deep in contract negotiations up until a few days ago, but now that we’ve officially signed the papers, we are proud to announce:

We just signed a book deal with Penguin Random House!

Specifically, we’re at the same imprint (TarcherPerigee) as…

  • Nomadic Matt’s “How To Travel The World on $50 a Day” (which we wrote about here)
  • Napolean Hill’s best-selling self-help book “Think and Grow Rich”
  • Chris Guillebeau’s “The Art of Nonconformity”

Regular readers may remember us stating at the beginning of the year that our New Year’s resolution in 2018 was to write a book. Turns out, that resolution came together a lot quicker than we thought it would!

Now, lots of people have asked us over email about our experience publishing a book, as many people (apparently) have a similar dream of becoming a published author themselves. And while we would try to be as encouraging as possible (“You can do it!”), we would typically be somewhat vague when talking about our own experience.

Because, to be completely honest with you, our experience publishing a book for the first time was a horrible emotional roller coaster. And I didn’t want to be too honest, because I didn’t want to scare anyone off from pursuing their dream. I don’t regret it but the truth is, that process was so frustrating I didn’t want to ever go through it again, or wish it upon anyone else.

Fiction Sucks

First of all, the process of publishing a fiction book (which the vast majority of people want to write) is horrendously difficult. Our first book, Little Miss Evil, was actually our third completed manuscript, the first two having crashed and burned in unceremonious fashion.

You see, in the fiction world, you have to have a completed manuscript before you submit your work to an agent (a process known as “querying”). In an ideal world, you spend a year or so writing your manuscript, you query a bunch of agents with a one-page summary of your book (known as a “query letter”). If you successfully entice an agent or two with your query, they may request the first few pages of your manuscript (known as a “partial”), or your entire manuscript (known as a “full”).

After reading your story, they may give you notes on what they think needs changing (known as a “Revise and Resubmit,” or “R&R”), they may even offer to take you on as a client! In fact, the moment an agent offers representation for the first time is by far the biggest and most memorable event of an aspiring writer’s career. “The Offer” takes on a near-mythical status, and the first phone call with your agent becomes “The Call.” Writers dream about The Call. We dreamed about The Call.

The Call took 5 years to get to. From starting on the first manuscript, to getting an offer of representation took 5 years and 3 manuscripts. Because the most likely response to a query is a rejection.

Getting rejected sucks. There’s no getting around it, and in our careers as writers we’ve gotten easily over 100 rejections. And the worst thing about rejections is that the vast majority of the time, they’re just form letters you get over email. “Sorry, not for me.” That’s all you get. And that’s if you get a response at all. For 5 years, we were terrified of our phone pinging because we knew it was another rejection.

And the worst part of getting a rejection is that you have no idea what they didn’t like. You actually pray for an R&R, because then the agent at least has enough faith in you that your manuscript can be fixed, and is willing to provide notes. Most of the time, you’re stumbling in the dark. Your manuscript sucks, and you have no idea why.

And finally, when you do get offered representation? The agent then turns around and starts trying to sell your manuscript to a publisher (a process called “Going on Submissions”). Then the whole cycle repeats itself in a tornado of anxiety and self-doubt.

Non Fiction Is Way Better

The entire process turned me off traditional publishing for a while. We spent 5 years publishing our first book, and about 1.5 years creating this blog. In 1.5 years, we’ve watched this blog explode into a traffic powerhouse, now hitting almost 2 million page-views a year. And in the process, we’ve been able to interact with you, our audience, in ways that traditional publishing would have never allowed. So we were like “Screw publishing! Blogging’s way better!”

Enter Fay Wolf.

Fay Wolf in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Fay Wolf is a Hollywood actress/singer/professional organizer who reads this blog, and she also wrote a book recently about de-cluttering, called “New Order: A Decluttering handbook for creative folks (and everyone else)”. If you like “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, this book is for you! It’s this awesome quirky book with a spunky voice that coaches you into decluttering and bettering your life. I’ve already used her advice to declutter my inbox (which is ALWAYS a ball of disaster) and it’s been really helpful! So of course I bought copies for Christmas for my family and friends and they’ve been loving it. But no one’s getting their hands on my personal copy, which Fay sent me herself, completely with the best inscription ever:

Thanks, Fay! How could I possible not love anyone who uses the term “FIRECracker-ing me into shape” ?

So anyhoo…after Fay’s book got published, her editor asked her if she had any ideas for interesting books, and she directed said editor to this blog.

Imagine our surprise when we got a random email out of the blue from Penguin Random House asking if we’d consider writing a book based on our blog.

But surprise is one thing. Reality is another. We initially thought “HELL NO”.

Another turn with the traditional publishing industry? Another 5 years of grinding away when we already have a platform and an audience of our own? Thanks, but no thanks.

But this editor wouldn’t let up. Eventually, we agreed to having a chat to discuss what a hypothetical book would even look like. This was in Ecuador, at our last Chautauqua.

So we did our call, and surprisingly we hit it off. And gradually, she convinced us to take a shot at traditional publishing once again.

Here’s the thing about fiction vs. non-fiction. First of all, fiction is horribly subjective. Horribly subjective. J.K. Rowling got rejections on her first Harry Potter manuscript. Harry Fucking Potter. In the agent world, there’s a running joke where nobody wants to search their emails to see if they rejected Harry Potter, because the lost earnings would drive people to suicide. It’s not easy to tell the difference between a best seller and a worthless manuscript. That’s why writing fiction is so frustrating. Non-fiction, on the other hand, is much easier to tell if a book is going to do well. Do you know what you’re talking about? Do you have a platform? Can you write? Then the book will probably do just fine.

And second of all, you don’t have to write a full manuscript to query a non-fiction project. For non-fiction projects, you write what’s called a “Proposal,” which is a 50-page document that describes what you’re writing about, why you’re qualified to write about it, chapter summaries, and a sample chapter or two. It is orders of magnitude less work than writing a full manuscript, and that’s what you sell.

Over the Christmas break, that’s what we did. We worked like crazy on a Proposal we could be proud of, and when we wrote about our 2018 New Year’s Resolutions, we had already signed an agent. And not just any agent. One of the biggest agents at one of the most well-known New York-based agency firms. This is an agent we would have given my left arm to represent us during our fiction days (and in fact, we did actually query her back when we were writing Little Miss Evil and she said no).

Our faith in our agent turned out to be well-founded, because she not only negotiated our book deal with Penguin, she ended up turning it into a pre-empt offer. In other words, an offer that was way too big to refuse.

So to summarize: We are now writing a book. With Penguin Random House, the biggest book publisher in the world, with the biggest advertising budget in the world, and the biggest reach in the world.

This is going to be a very interesting 2018.


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98 thoughts on “We Signed a Book Deal!”

  1. YOU GUYS RULE. Seriously. Great news, and well done! Here’s to the random confluences that seem to magically appear after putting in all that hard work.

    1. Thanks, Adam! Yeah, you never know what random opportunities might come your way. Could’ve never predicted this in a million years.

    1. Thanks, Dave! We’re just as shocked as you are–can never predict these things. Hopefully the finished product doesn’t suck 😉

  2. Congratulations!!! this is so awesome. I’m so happy for you guys and excited to see your journey. I’m so inspired by your work and achievement. Every time I slipped back into my usual spendy lifestyle, I would read an article from your blog and get all fired up again. I want to be free to pursue meaningful projects like you guys one day.

    Alright, getting back to work on a snowy Monday ( wish I was in the mountain snowboarding) One day, one day, I’ll be able to pick and choose when I go to work and when I get to play.

    1. Thanks, Zoe! I’m so impressed with how far you’ve come! Keep going and don’t give up. As long as the blog can help inspire you and cheer you on, we’ll keep writing it!

  3. You rock. I’m preordering as soon as possible. Just tell me when and where.

    When they come to you, won’t let up, and give you a pre-empt, that’s a powerful position.
    I think you could have done super well indie publishing, but you can always try that later.

    Fingers crossed that you keep straight shooting here your blog and don’t get caught up in a bunch of non-compete clauses. You two are amazing, and I want your platform to keep growing (“2 million page-views a year? Oh, that’s so 2017”). 😉

    1. Thanks, Melissa! The book should be out sometime next year. I’ll definitely announce the date on the blog.

      And don’t worry, our integrity is not for sale. The day I stop straight-shooting is the day you need to call the hospital ’cause I would’ve lost my damn mind!

  4. Way to go! You’ve found the hidden road I am trying to take, so it’s cool to see you prove the concept in my head works. I already have a fiction book on my site for free to show I can write novels, and the next step is to build an audience large enough that publishers will realize they’ll be losing money if they don’t call me. Thanks for the inspiration. If you can do this, so can I. See you on the road eventually.

    Link to my first novel which was featured on Millennial Revolution last December during an interview about my journey to start Wealth Well Done – https://www.wealthwelldone.com/spark-table-contents/

  5. Congratulations! This is amazing news and I can’t wait to read the book when it comes out. I am a fiction writer in the FIRE community and I can fully attest that the process of getting an agent and everything thereafter was so draining on my dream. Thankfully, with the dawn of self-publishing I have found success with writing and publishing my own books in the past three years. Thank you for sharing your experience and I’ll be looking for your book once it is published!

    1. Thanks, MK. And congrats to you on your success with self-publishing! Anyone who can actually push through the pain and write a book deserves a round of applause!

  6. Wow, congrats on the book deal!

    This definitely falls into the category of “OMG I quit my job but I’m still making plenty of money!”

    FIRE is the fruit of opportunity. Cheers!

    1. Thanks, Mr. Tako! FIRE is definitely the fruit if opportunity. You never know what your passion can lead to, when you don’t need to do it for the money.

  7. Congrats guys! It’s always wonderful to hear about good folks getting ahead! Kudos and I’m looking forward to my advance copy. 🙂

  8. Congratulations! That is the great thing about the internet, now you can do your own thing and get your work out there through blogs, youtube videos, social media, etc. and find your audience without having to deal with the gatekeepers of the old publishing system. Then if it gets successful enough, the people who may have rejected you when you were nobody actually track you down instead. I hope to make that work in my spouse’s favor one day.

    1. Thanks! It makes a huge difference when you don’t have to deal with gatekeepers. No better time than the present to start a business, blog, write books, etc. We are lucky to live in this decade with so much access to technology. Wishing you lots of luck with your passion projects!

  9. This is amazing, and I’m so happy for you! It’s exciting to see good writers who just happen to be good people getting good opportunities.

    Best of luck. I’m sure there’s plenty of work ahead of you, but I have all the faith in the world that you two are going to kill it.

    1. Thanks, DyF! It’s definitely going be a TON of work, but hey, at least it’s not the first time so we’re not going in blind 😀 Now let the emotional rollercoaster begin!

    1. Thanks, Chris! Could never have predicted this back when I was working. Which just goes to show, never give up writing, because you just never know…

  10. This is an amazing news. I am sure you are getting sick of people congratulating you – but seriously Congratulations! I think it is amazing that you have achieve this and it is truly inspiring. Hopefully the book will be sold here in Australia as well.

    Hi-five from Melbourne. 🙂

  11. Congratulations!!! Are there any hints on the book topic that you can share with us? I’ve signed up to the mailing list. Are you working with an editor from Penguin? What’s the process like after signing a book deal? I’m so happy for both of you!

    1. Thanks, PS! The book is on financial independence and early retirement–some of the content is from the blog but MOST of it is brand new material. There are a TON of stories I’ve never shared before on the blog.

      And to answer your questions, yes, I’m currently working with an editor from Penguin. The process after signing a book deal includes writing the first draft, editing, editing, and TONS more editing. 🙂 I’ll talk more about what goes on in the backend in the VIP Book mailing list, so stay tuned!

  12. Congrats to you both. Your non-fiction writing sounds a lot like the books we write for academia (although we don’t have to do a 50 page treatment). Look forward to reading it.

  13. Right on! You guys continue to kill it every single day. I am in awe of you both for your passion, drive and down right kick-ass-ness! This is huge and I am so so so proud of you guys. What an accomplishment!

  14. Tha’s bloody brilliant! I was in the libruary yesterday looking at the rather stayed self-help retirement books and thought of you guys. I borrowed a couple of DVDs instead.

    I look forward to a book I’ll be handing out at Christmas 2018 or 2019 to our kids and co-workers, just like I did with Wealthing Like Rabbits, and The Wealthy Barber Returns.

    1. Thanks, Bob! Appreciate you thinking of us at the library. Being beside books like WLR and the Wealthy Barber would be a huge honour! Hopefully it helps your kids and other kids out there!

  15. Congratulations!!! I’m very excited about this! Right now I’m imagining a financial book with a whole lot more badass. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

    As someone who prefers nonfiction, it’s interesting to hear those books are easier to publish!

    1. Thanks, LD! I’ll try to inject it with as much badassity as I can 🙂

      Yup, nonfiction is definitely easier, but there is a higher bar to entry–meaning you have to have a platform, credentials, etc. In fiction, the only thing that matters is how well you write.

  16. Wow, your livin the dream now, but will it be “R” rated? Just wondering if publishers will react to things like “Girl Boner” and “FU money”

    Screw the Censors, do it anyway.


  17. CONGRATS!!!!! So happy for you guys!

    Please keep us posted on the book status – definitely will look for it once it’s out!

  18. Very exciting news! I love hearing about books from the FI community. Maybe someday, these choices we make to live way below our means intentionally to enjoy our freedom will be more commonplace.

    I hope all goes well with the writing, editing, publishing, etc… and I look forward to reading it.


  19. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Soooo exciting and well deserved! I just added my email address for my autograph copy of the book 😛 (jk)

    How long from this point to when it will get published?

    1. Thanks, Robert! Generally it takes 1.5-2 years to get a book published, so I’m hoping it’ll be out sometime next year.

  20. Holy cow! THIS IS AMAZING. My heart raced reading through this post, and I’m not sure I’ve felt this genuinely happy upon hearing good news for a stranger! Congrats!!! You guys deserve it, and keep creating amazing content. 🙂

  21. Congratulations – Couldn’t have happened to two more deserving people! Very proud of you both and looking forward to the book updates and final release. Cheers!

  22. CONGRATULATIONS!!! You guys deserve it and everything else good that’s happening in your lives. I hope that book gets published soon and that it’s a bestseller.

    I can definitely relate to the whole emotional roller coaster ride of the traditional publishing world. I have no experience there, but my job hunting experience has been eerily similar. Send out all those resumes to jobs that you do meet the qualifications for, and you are rejected with zero feedback. “What am I missing?” is all that goes through your mind, and you’ll never know why you were rejected. Your success just reinforces the fact that rejection is not the end of the story, and that failure only occurs when you quit. Or when you don’t even try in the first place.

    Best of luck with “Viva La Millennial Revolution”. We’ll discuss royalties to be paid to me for that awesome title at a later date 😉

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    1. Thanks, ARB! Yeah, job hunting has a similar, “why am I getting rejected” spinning around in the dark kind of feeling. But it’s not over until you succeed, so don’t give up! You just need one ‘yes’.

      HA HA, great suggestion for the title, we’ll discuss royalties if we end up going with that 😀

  23. Congrats!!! I love to hear this! This book is going to rock. And I loved this post and all the play-by-play details. I’ve had my own run-ins with the fiction publishing world, and it’s disheartening. You two are an inspiration. If you need an advance reader or brainstormer, I’d be happy to help. I really hope they get you on all the mainstream media as you are a star.

    1. Thanks, SG! May need to take you up on that offer as an advance reader! But first to roll up my sleeves and get to writing…

  24. Yaaayyyy!!! Big congrats guys! Can’t wait to read even more of what you’ve written. Well done. Echoing so many comments from above – but seriously, you’re both so inspiring. Way to go!

  25. Let me know when I can buy!!

    I have read your blog regularly for quite some time, and I am really happy to see that you have this opportunity.

    Well deserved, and hopefully just the start!

    1. Thanks, Elle! It should be out sometime next year. We’ll make the announcement when the book is available for pre-order. Thanks for reading and your support!

    1. Thanks, Reinoldo! We’ll announce when it’s up for pre-order. In the meantime, feel free to sign-up for our VIP Book Mailing list (the form at the end of our post) to get updates on the book and a behind the look at our writing process!

  26. Congratulations guys! This sounds like a fairy tale for the writing world. Famous person reads your blog and recommends you to the biggest book publisher in the world – what? So excited for you two and looking forward to the book.

  27. Very fun to read this post again. Is it possible to give us an idea of what would be a good advance in the personal finance nonfiction world? A range would be great.

    and is there anything you would have negotiated differently or included in your deal in retrospect?

    If you would like me to review a copy, please shoot me an email or have your publicist send me one.



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