Monday, November 6, 2017

Happy Pub Day!

Tomorrow is the pub day for Dorcas Cheng-Tozun's START, LOVE, REPEAT, a prescriptive guide about to how to keep your relationship strong when there's a start-up in the family!  Dorcas speaks from experience, as her husband is one of the founders of d.light design and has also interviewed other successful entrepreneurs and their significant others, executive coaches, marriage-family therapists, venture capitalists, and start-up authorities.  Happy pub day, Dorcas!

So first, tell us a bit about the book!

START, LOVE, REPEAT is a guidebook for the significant others of entrepreneurs or anyone else who works crazy hours in their job. I read dozens of books and conducted nearly 100 interviews for the book--with entrepreneurs, their spouses, investors, marriage-family therapists, and executive coaches--to glean the best strategies on how to keep your relationship strong even when you and your partner are under a lot of stress and are dealing with major time constraints. My hope is that couples will walk away from the book feeling empowered to pursue their professional dreams and prioritize their romance at the same time.

What was your inspiration for writing this?

My own life, of course! I've been married to a serial entrepreneur for more than twelve years, and it has been quite the adventure. I've struggled with everything I discuss in the book, including resentment, anxiety, and burnout, because of the toll that my husband's high-risk, high-stress business has taken on our lives. I really wanted a resource that would help me understand why starting a business had to be so hard and would provide time-tested advice on what I could to to make things better. That resource didn't exist, so I decided to write it myself.

What was your journey to publication like?

It's been over three years since I first discussed the idea with Carrie, and it's been quite a journey since then. We did four rounds of submissions, with major revisions and additions to the book proposal after each of the first three rounds. A number of editors weren't comfortable with how much personal narrative was in the book proposal, so I spent quite a bit of time writing additional chapters that were much more prescriptive. We had an acquisitions editor who was interested in the second round, but she was overruled by her editorial board.

Then, finally, on the fourth round, when my book proposal had grown to nearly 200 pages, Christina Boys of Hachette Center Street expressed interest. She asked me a few basic questions, and then the following week I had an offer! Interestingly, I was living in Kenya at the time (another unexpected life pivot, thanks to my husband's business), and so everything was conducted over email. I had to e-sign my contract and didn't speak to my editor on the phone until several months later, when I had moved back to the U.S.

After the contract was signed, were there any unexpected aspects of the publishing process that surprised you?

I was pretty surprised by how quickly Center Street wanted to move on it. I had heard that it can take a long time from contract to publication, but they were determined to have my book ready in time for a November 2017 launch. That meant I only had about three months to finish writing the manuscript, which required me to finish a 4500-word chapter every single week. It was a really intensive period of researching, interviewing, and writing, but that deadline looming over me sure helped me be productive!

Did you feel like you were involved in the various stages your book went through?  What kind of input did you have?

My editor and copyeditor were great about giving me the opportunity to revise anything in the manuscript that didn't quite work, rather than sticking in words that weren't mine. I was consulted on the book cover design even before their designers worked on it, and again after they had created the design. I also had the opportunity to review any copy about the book, such as the back cover copy, the book summary, and the press release. And I was very much involved in getting Gary and Meg Hirshberg to write the foreword, soliciting the endorsements, and with all the marketing and promotion.

I felt like I had the opportunity to be involved in pretty much every part of the book coming together, which I'm very grateful for.

What is some fun promotion you've done for the book?  Anything upcoming we should be keeping our eyes or ears out for?

I love this book trailer that my filmmaker friend, Ron Eyal, made for me. It's fun and engaging, but it also perfectly captures what START, LOVE, REPEAT is all about. 

I've also got a bunch of podcast interviews and original essays coming out with outlets that target entrepreneurs and leaders. My husband, Ned, and I are even doing a podcast interview together to discuss what our relationship has been like. Links to all of these can be found at my website:

Anything that new authors can learn from your experiences?

I cannot underestimate the importance of persistence and trying different things. This was actually the second book I wrote. The first, a memoir, went through five or six submission rounds, and we weren't able to get anyone to pick it up. So I decided to move on to a new book idea in another genre. Early on, I also got a lot of feedback from editors that they wanted me to have a bigger platform. So I spent years pitching articles and networking, some of which led to published pieces, and a few of which led to regular writing gigs. I'm certain the fact that I was a regular contributor to Christianity Today and was a major factor in finally securing a book deal.

I really believe that if you knock on enough doors, one of them will eventually open for you.