Farbeit for me to start planning ahead. I don’t know what’s gotten into me. But I am turning into a planner. Seriously. I want everything planned out. It’s crazy.

And at the top of my list in this whole thinking ahead metamorphosis is that I want to write a book next year. True I’m already doing another humor book with Travelers’ Tales. What Color is Your Jockstrap? is in the same vein as The Leo Trio, but I want to do a book that’s By Jennifer L. Leo, instead of Edited by Jennifer L. Leo. Catch my drift?

So, I’m thinking up ideas. It’ll most likely be a good bridge from what I’ve already been doing to more Jen Leo type memoir writing, but hey, we’ll see.

The important thing is that I wanted to reach out to those of you in the same position, sitting on some ideas, wanting to do a book, or needing to turn back to a project already in the works but lacking the energy for the next step. Well, guess what? I’ve been doing that for more than a year. A few weeks ago I had dinner with a friend and woke up the next morning ready. At that point, there had been enough talking about it and it was time to do something about it. If you need a nudge to do that yourself, take this opportunity. Lets do it together so we have something to talk about.

Isn’t it funny how taking creative things to the next level can be so much about the timing? When you’re ready, you know it. Kinda like love. Well, sometimes…


  1. Jen, first sign a contract with a publisher that you respect and offers you an adequate advance in the $5-15K range. Demand high royalties, whether based on the book cover price or “net.” I’m sure you know the going ranges, so ask for more.

    Ask for more, again.

    Give yourself plenty of time, probably at least 18 months. Figure on 6-12 hours per day, 7 days a week. Don’t expect too much from book sales, but you’ll enjoy the promo part of your first book. It’s a rush.

    Good luck.

  2. Hello Jennifer,
    Its me Paul. We met at the So Cal Writers association when you spoke there. I was your potential date #37 I think. Or was it 27#? I am the guy currently writing bios about family members.
    I hope to read some of your work soon. I had recently turned in some work to an editor that I thought was close to done and got it back covered in red ink. I am working in the early am before I go to school and teach. For me anyway I can do an ave of about 20 minutes a day by trying to stay on this schedule. Uncle Dale the travel writer for timelife tells me to “keep going, keep at it” or my favorite “keep pecking away”. I hope you really enjoy putting your book together.
    Good Writing,
    Paul Vincent

  3. Jen, what about Travelers’ Tales? I know they’re not really looking for book proposals, but I’d imagine that your track record with them would be enough for them to consider something. Of course, you’d probably have to do something travel-related with them, but it seems like you have enough material (between your previously published stuff & your potential Vegas & book tour material) to have your own travel story anthology. It might not be what you want to write a book about, but it’d give you an author credit pretty quickly, which would be a good springboard to other things.

    Otherwise, I say get in touch with every contact you have and bounce the book idea off of them. A lot of times, it really is just a matter of timing. (“Hey, I want to write a book.” “Oh, well, my publisher is looking for new material…”) And I’d imagine you’ve got a pretty thick book of contacts…

    And to add to the group support and conversation, this weekend I’m going to make a list of potential book ideas that I will spend time working on. Maybe we can all have a weekly progress report a la your weekly stats entries. (I found that my writing has improved a bit since joining a few writers groups…)

  4. Thanks everybody, definitely good suggestions. I haven’t told you everything because there is a fine line between sharing, and keeping things rolling curse and karma wise. I’ve had projects before where I talked them out of productivity. Often times the more you talk, the less you do. And it needs to be the other way around.

    Sure, if I wanted to do a book that was travel related, TT and I would work something out. But I don’t just want to write any book. I want to bridge the work I’ve already been doing, with a mainstream audience. As well as gear my writing more towards a larger audience. And with that, go with a larger publisher. In line with that progress, get to that publisher via an agent.

    I’m in the process of talking to agents now, and figuring out not just what book to do, but what book can sell. I’ve been in publishing too long to get attached to an idea of a book without figuring out if it is saleable first. And I’m far from married to travel writing as a topic.

    All is going well. Lets keep talking about it so we can help each other stay the course. Have fun making your list this weekend, Dave!

  5. Hi Jen
    You are approaching this correctly. Hope you hit on the right idea and the right publisher. All the very best.

    For me, since I have job-hopped and hopped, my ideal book would be: Me, my bosses and fellow managers! Except that one of the bosses who happens to be an advocate would round up everyone else and file a big fat defamation suit against me – there goes my dream. 😎

  6. Hi Jen,

    It sounds as though your planning and organization should pay off, you are already in the business. I wish you the best of luck with your book. I am a former nurse, turned writer after being severly burnt out of the profession. I have had many many ideas for books, but never got off my lumpy duff to start until this past January. I was driving from Chicago to Michigan during a terrible snow storm. I have always loved literature and am somewhat of a bibliophile. During the drive, I had this unwaivering urge to sop and write down a story that was playing through my head. It took me 8 months to finally start working with something that I could truly develop past the introduction. It is not a travel book like what you set out to write, but I feel the same that you have to write, there is no choice. I feel like I have to do it. There is no choice. I am driven to find out what my characters are going to do next. And I know how it ends, I just need to get there. I am about 148 pages into the manuscript with about 30min to 2 hours a day working on the story or editing part. I think that it will be done by this time next year. Keep on trucking along. I will look for your book soon!

    I would appreciate any advice that you or anyone else could give to me as a new writer and about finding a publisher etc.

    Cicily cicily@ryanjanus.com

  7. Cicily, your dedication and enthusiasm is what will carry you through. Email me at jen at jenleo dot com and tell me where you live. Maybe I can look for some writers groups or something in your area.

    Best of luck, and keep at it!

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