Episode 130

Getting a Book Agent with Laura Lee Mattingly

June 27, 2017

In case you haven’t heard, we are writing a book that will be published Spring 2018! So we’ve got our book agent, Laura Lee Mattingly of Present Perfect Dept. on the show to talk all about the process of writing a book and getting it traditionally published as a creative entrepreneur. We’re talking everything from what makes a good book to writing your book proposal to negotiating with publishers.

This Episode Brought to You By:
"When you are writing a non-fiction book proposal, build on what you're already known for."
- Laura Lee Mattingly

Discussed in this Episode

  • How we met Laura Lee
  • Shopping around for a book agent
  • What does a book agent do?
  • Walking through the life of a project in traditional publishing
    • The book proposal
    • Pursuing + meeting with publishers
    • Negotiating publisher agreements
    • Deadline batches
  • Book deal timeline
  • Design control when working with a traditional publisher
  • What makes a good book?
  • Traditional publishing vs. self-publishing
  • Starting a publishing agency


More from Laura Lee Mattingly

More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Kathleen Shannon 0:00
Kathleen here and before we jump into today's episode, I have a quick favor to ask of you. One of our big boss goals is to get to the top of the iTunes podcast business chart and we need your help. So please pause for a moment to subscribe on iTunes, even if it isn't where you listen to our podcasts because it really helps us out. And while you're there, feel free to leave us a rating and review. Okay, let's jump into the show. Hello, and welcome to being boss, a

Emily Thompson 0:32
podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 0:36
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Laura Lee Mattingly 0:38
I'm Laura Lee Mattingly and I am being boss.

Emily Thompson 0:44
Today we're talking about traditional publishing and working with a book agent with Laura Lee Mattingly. As always you can find all the tools books and links we've referenced on the show notes at WWW dot bien boss club.

Unknown Speaker 0:57
Alright you guys, I

Kathleen Shannon 0:58
want to put an end to any myth that money is evil. Money is difficult. Money is hard. I'm not an accountant. Because fresh books cloud accounting has made it so easy for small business owners freelancers side hustlers, to keep track of their expenses, to send out invoices and to get paid faster. And honestly, that's all it comes down to. One of the things I personally love about freshbooks is that they've designed it for creative entrepreneurs. Whenever you log into your dashboard, you can see exactly what your business is up to you. You can see how much money you've got coming in, and what you've got going out. You can easily pull reports to see what your profit and losses you guys if you're not staying organized with your money, you're going to have bad feelings about money. So I want you to get organized with your money today. Try out fresh books for free. They're offering our listeners a 30 day unrestricted free trial to claim it Just go to freshbooks comm slash being boss and enter being boss in the How did you hear about us section? Alright, back to our episode.

Emily Thompson 2:06
Laura Lee spent more than a decade as an acquiring editor at major publishing houses including Random House HarperCollins, and Chronicle Books. She's collaborated with bloggers podcast host stylists, life coaches, photographers and beauty gurus to turn their book visions into printed reality. In 2016, she left corporate publishing to become her own boss and use her industry know how as a literary agent and editorial consultant, she joined Kate Woodrow as a partner at present perfect department. Together, they represent talent in a range of filled selling books to both major and indie publishing houses and helping creatives strategically build their publishing career. Also, Laura Lee is our book agent for our upcoming being boss book set to release in spring of 2018.

Unknown Speaker 2:53
All right, you guys, we

Kathleen Shannon 2:54
are so excited to have Laura Lee on the show. So Laura Lee is actually our book agents and feels like a friend. I feel like we're having a friend on the show to talk about traditional publishing and being an agent and what she does. And so, welcome to the show.

Laura Lee Mattingly 3:16
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here with you guys.

Kathleen Shannon 3:21
All right, let's start off by talking about how we know each other.

Unknown Speaker 3:26

Emily Thompson 3:27
so well. We've talked a couple of times about how we've talked to a couple of different agents, and none of them really felt right felt like the right fit. And then oh, and then Kathleen, you've shared the story about how you wrote on your chalkboard that we were going to get a book, we're gonna write a book in December 2017, or whatever it was. And then the next day, we got this email from Laura Lee. And she sounded like she was totally one of our people. And we got on the phone call. And we were right. And that's how we got a book agent.

Kathleen Shannon 4:03
Yeah, and you know, at this point, so mentioning that we had talked to a couple of agents one was so nice, but not the right fit because he was an editor for religious books. We're not writing a religious book, but he his wife was a fan of the podcast. And it was really cool, just getting on the call with him. So shout out to him, he was so nice to us, and just kind of opening the door to what it might be like to do some traditional publishing. And then I got on the phone with one of my friends agents. And it was just awkward. I won't go too much further into it. But it made me start thinking that maybe self publishing was the route for us. I felt like we had the platform for it, we could easily sell probably a few 1000 bucks and make some okay money on it. But whenever it comes to publishing, we also knew that we needed deadlines and accountability and also kind of the cloud that comes with credit. publishing. And so we can talk more about why we chose traditional versus self publishing. And I don't think that either are right or wrong. But the first step was getting that agent. And so that was you.

Unknown Speaker 5:12
So what was me? What

Kathleen Shannon 5:14
prompted you to email us?

Laura Lee Mattingly 5:16
Well, I love homicide that I feel like one of your people because I feel like I am one of your people. And I had actually started listening to your podcast when I was thinking about leaving my corporate publishing job. So you guys actually played a big part in me taking my own leap to join my partner, Kate Woodrow at our agency present perfect department. And so I had done that, and I was still listening to you guys. And one day, I just thought, Wait a minute, like these people absolutely need to have a book, why don't they have a book? And so I cold emailed you and I remember, you wrote back and you said, Well, I think we're gonna Self Publish. So in my mind, I was like, I just need to get them on the phone and meet them and talk to them about why they want to self publish. And then we talked for like an hour. And by the end, I feel like you had changed your mind.

Emily Thompson 6:01
And that wasn't going to be a hard task either. Like Kathleen and I had been straddling the self publishing traditional publishing fence for so long, that we were just kind of leaning in the other direction, it was way too much to send this over. So thank you. Oh, no, you're

Laura Lee Mattingly 6:16
welcome. And I'm glad that you mentioned you had talked to some other agents, because that's something I want, like, that's really good that you sort of didn't just go with the first person that came along, because I think it can be so flattering and exciting when an agent reaches out. But like, you need to do your homework and make sure that they are going to do right by you and be the right advocate for you and get you in front of the right publishers. So it was good that you guys waited a little bit.

Kathleen Shannon 6:41
I also don't think it's the case for most people that they have agents reaching out to them, or is that the case? Like, if you have a platform, can you expect to be getting an email? Or is that kind of I mean, I don't think you

Laura Lee Mattingly 6:53
should sit around waiting for it. But I think it happens. And I feel like for us, we get our clients sort of like 5050, half we're reaching out and half are coming to us, either through our website or via referrals. And if you have a pot, I mean, agents are kind of like hound dogs, right? They're sifting out what they think is fresh and what they like. So if you're out there and doing well, there is a good chance that an agent will reach out to you. But you don't want to want to want to wait around for that to happen. And I would say like a lot of the clients that we take on are by referrals. So if you know somebody with an agent, and they can refer you, I think the agent is a lot more likely to like take that call and fill you out and and see if you might be a fit, too. And I know you guys have sent some referrals my way. And I always take those like really seriously. Oh, well, thank

Kathleen Shannon 7:43
you. I feel like I'm sending all my

Unknown Speaker 7:45
way. Well to talk There you go. That's why Jacobs here,

Emily Thompson 7:49
too legit to quit for sure. Having a book book agent period that I want everyone to like go know her and be cool. Me too.

Kathleen Shannon 7:58
Well, so let's talk about this a little bit. Because Emily, you and I are completely new to the book world. I mean, we went into this knowing next to nothing, I have a couple of friends.

Emily Thompson 8:09
When I've had a couple friends who have traditional publish, and a couple of friends who have self published, I have to go back to what Laura Lee just said, where we had definitely done our homework. So we've definitely known people who have published and I have looked into self publishing for years, I've gotten in cup in touch with a couple of printers before to get samples and to inquire about the process. And I think we had definitely, I think we both definitely done our homework. But this was our first actual venture into actually making this happen.

Kathleen Shannon 8:38
Well, and like we kind of didn't even know what an agent did this point, right? Like, we probably know how to make a book, we know how to write a book, we can probably know how to print a book. We don't really know how to broker a deal with a publisher. So let's talk about what an agent does for a living. So Laura Lee, what do you do?

Laura Lee Mattingly 9:00
What do I do? I feel like agents do a lot. And I hope you guys would agree. Yes. And now that we're so

Emily Thompson 9:06
far agents do way more than Kathleen and I thought.

Kathleen Shannon 9:10
I also don't know if we make you do more for us than the typical person, like forever.

Unknown Speaker 9:17
pretty normal.

Kathleen Shannon 9:19
I don't know if we make your job harder or easier.

Unknown Speaker 9:22
That's a little bit about how about that?

Unknown Speaker 9:25
We can we can live with that.

Laura Lee Mattingly 9:27
You make it fun, but you definitely keep me on my toes. I'll say that. But no like agents, I feel like they're really known people think about agents just like what you just said they think about them, you know, negotiating their deal with a publisher and negotiating the contract points. But an agent does a lot more than that to like sometimes an agent comes in, and somebody might already be talking to a publisher and so they jump in and do that negotiation, and that can make the author feel really confident that they're getting the best deal from the publisher. But sometimes an agent comes in a lot earlier as I did with you You guys. And so at that point, you're really beginning that creative collaboration. And you're working on honing that idea and pulling together a really compelling proposal. And then an agent is mining all of their contacts at different publishers to come up with a curated list of editors at different imprints to pitch to really tailor that to your book and its strengths. And then, you know, they take you through that process in terms of having those phone calls with editors and meetings with different publishers to sort of see who might be a good creative fit for you. And I think that's a big piece of it, too, like an agent's not just going to get you the most money, but they're going to put you with publishers that they think will do right by your book. A good agent has like strong contacts at different publishing houses and knows those houses strengths and weaknesses. So, you know, if you're writing a memoir, you shouldn't go with a publisher that has expertise in coffee table books, right. So it's really like thinking about the best fit, and making sure that that is an important part of your deal to

Emily Thompson 11:00
love that. Yeah, you totally ended up exceeding our expectations as to what a book agent was here to help us do. I had no idea that an agent would help us so much with with a book proposal, I always thought that you did a proposal first. And then you even use that to shop an agent just as much as you did to shop a publishing house. So I really loved that. I really loved that you were involved in that process. And that that's part of the process, because I feel like that book proposal is the barrier to entry that that holds a lot of people back from moving forward. And if you know that part of an agent's job is to actually help you with that, then that makes access to writing a book even easier.

Laura Lee Mattingly 11:46
And I will say I'm not sure every agent does that. But it's something that Kate and I take really seriously like making those proposals really compelling sort of intellectually, and also visually appealing. Because Kate and I were both editors before, and we saw a lot of shoddy proposals come across our desk. So we really wanted to be sure to make the strongest proposal that's going to get to the top of any editor stack. And so we just put a lot of upfront work into that with our clients.

Emily Thompson 12:15
Well. And I also feel like as an agent, that's only going to help you get your clients better deals. Like if publishers know that whenever you land in their inbox, that the proposal that you're sending is going to be top notch because you've made sure that it is and that's only going to help you and your business but also help your clients and their books as well.

Laura Lee Mattingly 12:39
Right? Like it's kind of part of our standards as an agency as well. Yeah.

Emily Thompson 12:43
So everybody wins.

Kathleen Shannon 12:45
I would love to just walk through the life of a project from getting the agent to making a proposal to pitching it like how does it work in traditional publishing, just for our listeners to really understand the entire process of getting a book deal.

Laura Lee Mattingly 13:01
Right. So once you have an agent, and I mean, if you don't have an agent approach you there are ways that you can find an agent to I would say the first thing to do is sort of talk to your existing network how you guys did talk to people, anyone you know the publishing deal, or who has an agent or has talked to agents and tried to get some referrals and ask them about their experience. You can do that also, with your online community, reach out to people, and then do some sleuthing to like in the books that are in your category that you like, you can look at the acknowledgement section and a lot of times authors name their agents they are or do a little more online sleuthing. Talk to people in the industry. Have them look up different agents in different categories for you. And then just send out queries to agents. Every agent has a website, they often have really specific submissions guidelines. So you want to be careful about following those. And then if an agent wants to represent you, they will hopefully work with you on your proposal. And it's easy like a proposal is really formulaic. So they're pretty easy. You can find examples online, and they're pretty easy to pull together easy in the sense that they all sort of have the same components. As you guys know, it's like Alright, so

Kathleen Shannon 14:13
let's talk about the proposed life of a project. And yeah, where we've been so far, the proposal was so difficult, I would say that putting together the proposal was almost harder than writing the book. And as of right now, dear listeners, we have submitted our first draft of the entire manuscript to our publisher. So that's where we're at in the process right now. But that proposal was hard.

Laura Lee Mattingly 14:40
And what was so hard about it?

Kathleen Shannon 14:42
Well, thanks for asking Laura. So I feel like we had a good grasp on the content that we went in to include and we've really honed that in on the podcast. But what was hard about it was broadening that out beyond our listeners. So we already know that our listeners get us but part of our goal for writing a book, and this is probably important to include on why we're traditional publishing is to expand our brand and our reach. And in expanding our brand and our reach, we really had to go outside of the realm of our ideal client, and really start to be more almost inclusive or more broad. And as to branding experts who are constantly narrowing in on who we're trying to talk to, broadening back out was kind of difficult, and even thinking about pitching it to a publisher who has no idea who we are or what we do. It kind of took us outside of what we know so well into explaining ourselves, it almost felt like you know, whenever you're at a barbecue in the summer, and your great aunt asks what you do, and you say, I'm a podcaster. And I have a branding agency. And she's like, what, basically, I feel like publishers are your great aunt. And you have to be able to explain what it is that you do. And then ask them to give you a lot of money.

Laura Lee Mattingly 16:09
You can't assume they will know who you are and publishing can be slightly antiquated. So that's not a bad way to think about it.

Emily Thompson 16:16
No, I agree with that. And I also say that, for Kathleen and I writing a book together, that proposal was the first time that we had to put it on paper what it is that we wanted to create. And I mean, we were still really kind of kind of trying to figure it out, but also how we were going to do it together, which was a whole other, like, part of the process where like, are we saying we are we saying I and are we saying Emily? and Kathleen? Like what does all that look like? So that was that was also really difficult because putting together a proposal like that you think, you know, this has to be so good has to be such a great representation of what we're going to do because we're selling this thing. You know, there's that that I don't know, sense of excellence that goes into it. And whenever we're trying to figure out something as basic as like, what, what point of view, are we giving people in terms of AI? Are we as basic as that was a little nerve racking as well. So it is this thing where you're creating this document that in a sense, well, will be the key, right, hopefully to the next phase and better write it. And we had to

Kathleen Shannon 17:25
think through a lot of those issues in advance, which is I think what made the writing part of it so easy. And fortunately, we've been through the braid method together, we took being boss through the braid method. So we already had that kind of visioning document for what it was that we wanted to create in general, it was just really honing in on those details of Okay, what goes on paper four ever, is what we really want to say, how do we say it right? What is our first book, so anyway,

Emily Thompson 17:55
but I'll also tell you like going back and reading the book, that first chapter that was in the proposal didn't actually really make it into the final book. So all of that like, painstaking agony that went into making some of those decisions for the proposal were completely nothing whenever it came to actually writing the book.

Laura Lee Mattingly 18:13
I saw you guys said this, because I think that's why the proposal is so important as an exercise. So maybe it's not easy. The word I guess I was going through formulaic, but it's like it is the biggest test of if this is the book that you want to and can write. And it's one thing to have an idea. It's quite another to build a whole outline, like does this idea sustain over an outline? Some ideas are not meant to be books, they're about, you know, a blog post. But also like, does it hold your interest over the process of writing a proposal, because when you go into a book collaboration like that means to hold your interest for at least two years, as you guys know. And so you really need to feel energized. It's basically like

Kathleen Shannon 18:54
getting a degree. It's basically like getting a degree. I mean, Emily and I have talked about this before, whenever it comes to college, the biggest benefit to college for us has been the work ethic it takes to go through four years of something and get that degree. And that's really what that proposal is. And I think it is what separates who's serious. And who isn't. Because a lot of people might think I want to write a book, a lot of people have writing a book on their bucket list. But it is not the easiest thing in the whole world. At the same time. It's also not the hardest thing in the whole world I've learned,

Laura Lee Mattingly 19:28
right? But you have to like be in that mindset and be dedicated to it. And if you're burnt out by the end of the proposal process, the rest is gonna be really painful. You have to stay excited and positive, right? For sure.

Kathleen Shannon 19:43
You know what I had the opposite experience. I was really burnt by the end of the proposal, and I thought maybe I don't want to do this and nothing to do with you, Laura Lee, but just in general, I remember it was really hard. It took a lot of time and then thinking about how much time the book was going to take to write it. Lily and I basically blocked off three days a week from January until April to work on the book, which takes a lot of time away from paying work. So I remember at the end of the proposal process, I said to you, Laura Lee, if we don't get a good advance, we can do this, like, we just can't justify the amount of time that it's going to take, we did get a good advance that appropriately compensated us for the amount of time that it was going to take to write. Okay, so that actually takes us down our process a little bit more. So you write the proposal, right? You actually helped us a little bit? Can I share this, that you helped us a little bit with some of it? That, yeah, because like, remember how we had a hard time kind of writing about being boss and who we are and what we do. And so you came in, and actually, from your point of view, as a listener to the show, and also someone who has that link to the traditional publishing world, you're able to go in and help us write that summary of who we are and what we do. And that was so incredibly helpful. So thank you for that.

Laura Lee Mattingly 21:02
Oh, my pleasure. It was fun. Okay,

Kathleen Shannon 21:05
so the proposal is done, then yet,

Laura Lee Mattingly 21:08
so then the proposal, and I know, I pushed you guys on that proposal pretty hard, but I think it paid off. Um, and once the proposal was ready, we went out to our list of publishers. So I think I sent your proposal out to over 10 publishers, and we had gone over that list together, and thinking about who would be the best match. And so you're just getting it out in front of editors and giving them a couple weeks to review it. And then from there, we took meetings with publishers who were interested. And I think that's not something everybody knows, either that you have meetings with publishers before you decide who you're going to go with. Right. And I think that's always a pretty interesting experience for first time authors.

Kathleen Shannon 21:48
Yeah, so we had a meeting with I want to say four or five publishers. And Emily and I were actually together in Palm Springs at designer Vegas, right.

Emily Thompson 22:01
I remember Kathleen set up out on the porch, and I closed the door and I was sitting on the bed, and we had the windows open or like the curtains open so that we could, we could talk separately without like hearing each other's voices, like in the same space, because we're on separate phones. But we can totally like sign to each other what it is that we wanted to say and who was going to talk next. And that kind of stuff. It was, it felt like a really fun sleep over exercise, like a fun game of telephone where you're talking to legit people that are going to change your life.

Kathleen Shannon 22:35
And it just felt so boss and so magical to be on this trip together in Palm Springs negotiating or not negotiating quite yet, but being courted by publishers who wanted us to write a book for them, it felt really super cool and really special. And it's an experience I will never, ever forget,

Emily Thompson 22:54
saying I don't think I'd ever felt more boss than like having people at publishing houses asking me about my business. And like, what it is that we do and what it is that we stand for, and it just rolling out of my mouth with such ease. Because we are total bosses at what we do. And we know who we are, what we stand for, and what we want this book to, to do in the world. So it was I think that the proposal was like that huge task that got us to this point where we felt like total badasses.

Laura Lee Mattingly 23:25
And think like how valuable it was for you as people to ask them questions. And that's like, another key role that an agent plays is getting those meetings for you. Because you were able to ask them hard questions of different publishers and realize that maybe you wouldn't want to go with all the publishers we talked to. So it put the ball a little more in your court, too.

Kathleen Shannon 23:42
For sure. On those calls. We were talking about things like art direction, we were talking about voice and tone, Emily was making sure that she could cuss in the book. We were talking about things like how many colors that would be printed in what the quality of the paper would be. We were talking about design and how much creative control we could have over the design process. We were talking about publicity and distribution, we were just kind of covering the gamut of what we could bring to the table and what they could bring to the table.

Emily Thompson 24:15
Yep, yeah, so it definitely wasn't just like a one sided call where they were seeing what we were about, we were definitely allowed to see what they were about to and interrogate them in the same capacity, which is pretty great.

Laura Lee Mattingly 24:25
Right? It both sides are feeling each other out about the creative fit.

Kathleen Shannon 24:29
And what's cool is that Laura Lee was on the call with us at the same time. And so if we forgot to ask anything, she would make sure to jump in and ask those questions for us or just making sure that we were covering all bases. And then afterward, we would always call you up. And we'd be like, what do you think about that? I don't know if that's normal or not, but we like had to debrief after each we had to do

Laura Lee Mattingly 24:52
the download after every call. Yeah. Which is great because those gut reactions will fade, you know, over time. So I think it's really good to capture how you're feeling right after those meetings. So after the meetings, we solicit bids from publishers, and we got our offers in, and in some cases, agents will run an auction to get the best bid. And some, in some cases, they don't need to run an auction, it depends on how many publishers are interested. And that's kind of when I took over in terms of the negotiation stuff, always coming back to you guys, and keeping you informed in the loop and making sure you were cool with what my next move was going to be. So I would say that's a really open part of the process, right, too. And then we ended up with the deal that you guys were most happy with

Kathleen Shannon 25:37
you. And if any of you have ever bought a house, I keep mentioning, you always. I always use the analogy is like buying a house. And so yeah, Laura Lee is kind of like our real estate agent, where she's really brokering that deal and kind of being let go between, but it really does feel like buying a house even just as far as getting offers on the book, and what that looks like. And the different deciding factors don't just come down to price.

Laura Lee Mattingly 26:08
Right. And that's kind of what I was saying earlier. And I think that's something that people don't realize is like those publishing agreements are like 15 pages long, right? And so agents know about all of those smaller clauses that you might not think about, like the non compete and the option clause and the sub rights and you know, your priorities as podcasters, we paid attention to the audio book portion and performance. For an artist, it might be the merchandising, right. So helping navigate those smaller, unfamiliar points is also a big piece of it.

Emily Thompson 26:37
I want to talk a little bit about the timeline then from like us beginning the proposal to or having a book deal. We were Kathleen, just start giggling about

Kathleen Shannon 26:50
this. Because our timeline was a little bit of a shit show. Yeah. Well,

Emily Thompson 26:58
that's why I want to talk about it. Um, because we did go fairly quickly. I feel or were we Yes, you tell me what part you guys

Laura Lee Mattingly 27:05
took almost as long to write your proposal as you did write your manuscript, you realize that that's true.

Kathleen Shannon 27:11
Yeah, actually, it's probably four months to write our proposal. It was painful. It was.

Emily Thompson 27:18
But it was also beautiful. Um, so we read the proposal. I feel like we read the book. I feel like we wrote the proposal last summer. July, August, September, our goal was

Laura Lee Mattingly 27:30
done November. It was like early November, I

Unknown Speaker 27:33
think. Yeah.

Kathleen Shannon 27:34
And we made you shop it on a full moon.

Unknown Speaker 27:36
That's right. We didn't want I wasn't

Emily Thompson 27:38
gonna say whenever we did our calls with the publishers to after we get off the like, the debriefing with you, Kathleen, and I pull the tarot card.

Unknown Speaker 27:47
Yeah, we pull the arrow card for each publisher.

Laura Lee Mattingly 27:49
Definitely never told me that. Yeah,

Emily Thompson 27:51
yeah, yeah. And so and actually, the one that we ended up choosing was the one that I guess we were most like, pleased with that, with that poll as well. That didn't really it did not actually play into the decision. But it was like a good failing. It did a little bit. So we spent the summer in late summer writing the proposal, I guess, October, you were shopping it around and scheduling calls, which happened in November, beginning of November. And then we got a deal or we got deals and offers. Thank you. That's the word offers, like Thanksgiving ish around in their middle November. Yeah. And so

Laura Lee Mattingly 28:36
your first delivery date, like this is good for people to know, too was what? Like January? Well, they wanted it

Emily Thompson 28:43
to be in December. Remember this conversation as well. So we get the offer in mid November. And we share some emails with our our editor. And she's like, I would love to have your first chapter by mid December and Kathleen and I were like, Well, actually, we're not working in December. And she wrote back it was like, Oh, well, that sounds boss.

Unknown Speaker 29:08
But gotta practice what you preach. I

Emily Thompson 29:10
already said Kathleen and I had already set aside taking off the whole month of December. So we ended up pushing it until the 15th of January. And so January one came around Kathleen and I started writing. And by that first due date we had, we had our first chapter and then shortly after chapter two and chapter three, and then we finished it out. And we wrote the entirety of the book, between January 1 and more or less April 1, it was due on April 15. But we were kinda already done around the first and we let you read it largely. And we just kind of held on to it until the official due date. So he wrote a book in three months. After taking four months to write the proposal.

Kathleen Shannon 29:57
We also designed a chapter because we couldn't help ourselves. And sent that over to our publisher saying not to step on any toes, but this is what we'd like it to look like. Because this is another interesting part of it being that having a background as a print designer, it's very weird to me to be handing that off to an in house designer, but it also feels very liberating.

Emily Thompson 30:18
Well, that was also a part of those like negotiating conversations was, will you let us have some say in the design, and everyone was very open about working with our brand, because they saw that we had a very established brand and aesthetic, but the one we chose was the one that was the most open in a design collaboration as well. So that was one of those like, highly weighted points that we went into.

Laura Lee Mattingly 30:43
Right. And I think that's another good difference between self publishing and traditional publishing is that, like, with self publishing, I know you guys also knew that you would have to design the whole thing. And did you have time to design the whole thing, but then in traditional publishing someone else with a lot of expertise is designing for you, but you give up some of that creative control. And, you know, most publishers we work with are really collaborative in that sense. And so I think, you know, you want to get it with like, you guys said, you really valued that piece of it, their collaborative spirit, which is great. But um, that's definitely something to think about from the get go. If you're an artist or a design type, like how much are you going to be able to let go and sort of trust the expertise of a traditional publisher? For sure. Okay, sorry.

Kathleen Shannon 31:27
So I went to actually, okay, so we we wrote the book, it's done.

Laura Lee Mattingly 31:33
Oh, one thing I want to say about that, too, a lot of people don't know that you get to, you often have to turn in some early stuff, like, you know, they want to get a sense of how your writing is before you write the whole book. So you guys had that first deadline, and then you have your final deadline. I don't know. I just think that's something people don't always realize that there'll be delivering in sort of batches.

Kathleen Shannon 31:51
And really, I remember our editor at the publishing house really wanted to just see one chapter. But we went ahead and sent to just so that she could really see how our writing would shift from talking about mindset to then talking about habits and routines, for example. This is also something interesting I'd like to share behind the scenes of our creative process is that we were going to just tackle chapter by chapter in whatever order because it really follows a lot of the content that we're creating for the podcast, and the kinds of topics that we're talking about here. And Emily and I decided that we had to write it chronologically, from beginning to end in order to make it make sense in our heads. So that was kind of interesting. And we'll have to do a whole other episode on just the collaborative process of writing a book together, it was, to date, one of the coolest things I've ever done, and it has grown me as a creative and as a writer, and as a collaborator, more than anything I've done in my whole life.

Emily Thompson 32:54
Agreed wholeheartedly.

Kathleen Shannon 32:57
Okay, so going back to the proposal, I want to talk about just kind of having a book idea. And I think that you give a lot of really great guidance. And you gave us a lot of guidance in this process of really having a point of view. And really making sure that the book that you're writing makes sense to be in a book. I mean, content can live in a lot of places, I can live in a YouTube channel, it can live in a podcast, it can live on a blog, and it can live in a book. So what do you think makes a really good book? And what are the kinds of things that you need to do in your proposal to make sure that that's coming across that you have a book in you?

Laura Lee Mattingly 33:38
Right? I mean, this kind of goes back to what we were talking about earlier, I think, and you touched on it, like, first and foremost, you really when you're thinking about doing a book, and this is nonfiction, I should say Kate, and I only do nonfiction, it's really different for children's publishing and fiction. And so when you're doing a nonfiction book proposal, you really first and foremost want to be building on what you're already known for, like you, if you are a professional, famous photographer, and you want to do a book about T, like, it's just not gonna fly, you really need to stay close to, you know, why your audience comes to you, and how you're engaging with the world. So think about that. And what idea, you know, makes the most sense. And also, like test drive it that goes back to, you know, talk to people you trust about it, make sure you can write a whole outline about it, and test it on your channels and see, you know, you can put little teasers out about the concept you have and see what kind of response you got, even if it's just on Instagram. I think those are the first two steps when going down a nonfiction sort of publishing road and also like practicing non attachment. I'm kind of veering off your question, but like, if anyone wants to go into a publishing collaboration, like you need to be prepared for that idea to evolve and grow and you're going to get feedback from agents and editors, and some publishers aren't going to be interested and it's going to change and readers are going to give you reviews that you might not like so it's like practicing non attachment. So separating yourself from your idea, I think is really important when you first go in to the process.

Kathleen Shannon 35:05
I feel like we've got that down.

Emily Thompson 35:08
I'll delete my favorite pair in a second without thinking about

Laura Lee Mattingly 35:12
guys are great about that about taking edits. I mean, not everyone does that. And it makes the it makes your editor struggle. It's

Emily Thompson 35:18
because each other in the face for three months and say it's like in the moment, but like, I know you just wrote this, but it has to go in by the end of it. We're like, fine.

Unknown Speaker 35:28
You guys are just delete.

Laura Lee Mattingly 35:30
Leaving it live, it was so satisfying. Yeah,

Kathleen Shannon 35:34
so let's talk about that. So we sent you our first draft. And we sent a couple of people that we really trust our first draft to read first, and with your background in writing and editing, we really trusted you with it. And even just from the beginning of the process, you're the person that we trust the most in our book and what we're saying so an AR editor, I'm sure next, but we haven't worked with her as much as we've worked with you yet. So we wanted to give you a sneak peek at our first draft. And you had a few edits. So we were all on a call together. And I felt I felt you kind of being careful about giving us some of those edits.

Emily Thompson 36:16
Were just like, you know, like,

Kathleen Shannon 36:17
at one point, I remember saying we don't take it personal, we can delete it, I can go, we just wanted to turn it in at that point. It's almost like I can compare it to being so pregnant, like being four weeks pregnant, and you will do anything to get that baby out. Like maybe you wanted an unmedicated home birth, but you're willing to go to the hospital, and just cut it out, like whatever you need to do, you will do right.

Laura Lee Mattingly 36:45
And that was so fun. That phone call was so fun for me because you guys were just hacking it. And I'm watching it in a Google Doc like this. But a lot of again, like it's, that's hard for a lot of people because it is their baby, and they get attached to every little thing. And so I do have to run that line at first have,

Emily Thompson 37:05
you know, test every water that you see how crazy we'll be about it,

Kathleen Shannon 37:09
it would have been harder if Emily and I had not already been doing that to each other every single day. So by the end of the three months of writing this book together, we were really going back and forth, and really challenging and pushing each other and editing each other. And so that made it easy. I could see if you were writing on a book all by yourself, and then you get that first round of edits, it would probably be really overwhelming and feel really personal.

Laura Lee Mattingly 37:34
And you guys just want to practice with the podcast, you're out there, you're already vulnerable in so many ways. And it's just like, I understand that people if this is their first time doing something like that, like it can be emotionally trying. So I try to be sensitive, but I'm not a sensor anymore.

Emily Thompson 37:49
Good, just let us have it. So it's a good workout.

Kathleen Shannon 37:56
And there were a few things, though, that we are willing to go to bat for. I think that just the edits that we did have, or that you had for us. Didn't feel personal. But there are probably a few things in there. And we'll see we're not at that point in the process yet where our editor or publisher has already yet. So we'll see what they have to say. And I want to mention our publisher, because we haven't mentioned that yet. So grand reveal. We are going with running press, which is an imprint is that the correct word imprint?

Laura Lee Mattingly 38:32
shet. Yes. And they are publishing your book in spring of 2018.

Emily Thompson 38:39
I was telling someone the other day that my life beyond April 2018 feels like a black hole. Like I've no idea what it's gonna look like or what's gonna come of it or how it's going to feel or what I'll be doing. And so I feel kind of weird, like about the year leading up to that, like, I don't want to get too deep into something that like it will be messed up by book on anyway, it just, I feel like I'm in a weird Limbo place of like sheer excitement and unknowing. And then everything beyond book launch is a black hole.

Kathleen Shannon 39:11
But you know, it's funny about writing a book in traditional publishing is that we've done hard things before. I mean, we've done things that are actually as hard as writing a book, like let's say, launching our business, or writing courses, or launching a podcast or hosting of an event like the being boss vacations. We're constantly doing things that we've never done before that push us and stretch us. And people kind of don't care. But whenever we say we're writing a book, everyone I mean, we're basically people give us a parade of like, Oh my gosh, you're writing a book that's so amazing. And I'm like, but it's not the only amazing thing I've ever done, but thank you.

Laura Lee Mattingly 39:53
I think that touches on the fact that like going I do believe and I know you guys do too, like going with social publishing. There is just some credits ability that that still brings, like having a publisher publish your book for you on a national international level just brings a lot of credibility and clearly impresses people.

Emily Thompson 40:09
Right. So let's talk about that decision for a second. Like the fact that Kathleen and I did ultimately choose to do traditional publishing because we were like, very much. So writing that fence of traditional versus self publishing. And that really is the thing that kicked us kicked it over the edge for us, was the credibility that still does come from being traditionally published. I remember sitting in an alt summit, Alt summit panel with grace Bonnie several years ago, and her saying that, you know, a book is the best business card you can have. And that, like stayed with me so hardcore. And, and definitely played into us making that decision. But also, whenever it came to things like distribution, or just having someone else take care of most of the marketing, because we're definitely taking some marketing on for ourselves. Just having that team of people who know the process, they will just do it for us, was really huge for Kathleen and I, and it's not to say it's not, or that it's the the path for every project. Because even whenever I think down the road, I could definitely see myself trying out the self publishing route at one point, just to see what happens, but maybe not. But I think that or I know that for us, it was definitely that credibility. That is Linda to us by being traditionally published that made us ultimately choose to go with you, and running press and writing a book. Also, the fact that Kathleen and I have courted the idea of writing a book for years, and we needed someone else's deadlines, to make us write the book.

Kathleen Shannon 41:49
Right? We also want to be New York Times bestsellers, and you can't get on that list self publishing. So

Laura Lee Mattingly 41:55
you cannot, that's true. So no, we,

Emily Thompson 41:59
we did think about doing that. Instead, we just decided to hire a publicist to help us take it to the next level. And for us two that was that really came down to us being wanting to be so sure that whenever we got launched, or whenever the book was released, that we had done everything that we could to make it as successful a book as possible, and not only for ourselves, but also for the relationship that we have with you and for our publisher. So that you know, everyone knows that we are as bosses, we try to say we are

Laura Lee Mattingly 42:31
everyone wins. Right? Right. That's why everyone's invested in it, too.

Kathleen Shannon 42:35
Yes. Okay. So can we talk about the advanced real quick, because this is something that I had a lot of questions around, I won't mention a specific number. But, um, whenever we got the advance, and even just the word advance made me think that if we don't sell up to that amount that we get prepaid for that we'd have to give it back. Like we'd have to give money back to the publisher. So that's not true, correct.

Laura Lee Mattingly 43:00
That is not true. So in advance, a publisher is thinking about in advance as basically your paycheck for creating the book. And so that's how they come up with the number and that advanced needs to be recouped. Like you need to earn it back before you get royalties. But you never have to pay that front advance that big chunk, they get give you off the at the beginning, you never have to pay that back.

Kathleen Shannon 43:22
And working with you as our agent, we give you a percentage of what we make. So it wasn't like we had to pay for you upfront either. That just comes out of the deal.

Laura Lee Mattingly 43:33
Just right. I don't get paid until you get paid. Yeah, exactly. So that's why all of us were doing a lot of upfront work that some parts could feel painful. But in the end, we all get paid.

Kathleen Shannon 43:46
Right? Okay, so beyond the advanced, I want to come back to our publisher, which is running press who we are so excited to be with. So funny enough. We talked to running press first. They were the first publisher that we spoke with in Palm Springs, and we had such good vibes. It felt so good talking to them. We were so excited, but we also didn't want it to be like, okay, you know, whenever you get married and you try on the first wedding dress and you buy it because you've basically never worn a wedding dress before so you're like, I'm just gonna get this one. I was worried that it was the wedding dress but it wasn't

Unknown Speaker 44:26
your wedding dress.

Kathleen Shannon 44:27
Running press was our wedding dress, but it was also totally meant to be so we're so excited to be working with running press and they have published other books like you are a badass by Jensen Cerro, but a lot of you have probably read your gas. So we're so excited. We feel like we're going to be in a really good company there. And we're super stoked about the team over there. Our editor, the designer, so we've had meetings with our editor and our designer and we're still kind of looping you in on some of those things Laura Lee, but Soon we will probably fly the cube.

Emily Thompson 45:04
But only

Kathleen Shannon 45:06
Yeah, like, how

does it work? When

do we have to

Emily Thompson 45:09
have a real conversation? When do we stop emailing you this

Laura Lee Mattingly 45:13
is where we're going back to the very first question like what an agent does, like I am here every step of the way.

Emily Thompson 45:21
We'll make sure you're in on all of those emails,

Laura Lee Mattingly 45:24
just know I don't have to be on every email, please God. But I mean by that is like an agent is just another person who's on the team, right. So like me, editors are so passionate about their project. I know your editors, so passionate about your book. And she was from that very first phone call. But they also are overworked and have tons of projects at a time, which I know from being an editor. And so your agent is somebody who you can call with ideas or freak outs when your editor might not be available. Or if there's any, like pain points, like let your agent play bad cop. So you can keep your relationship with your editor pure and creative and fulfilling, your agent can step in and have those difficult conversations for you. So that's what I mean is like, you're not going to cut me out completely. Like, I want to be there to advocate for you even when the book is being published. And also think long term like to future books. And if you guys ended up doing another book, or switching publishers down the road, like your agent can be a constant through that as well.

Kathleen Shannon 46:24
Yeah, that was funny. Whenever we got on the call with you after you read our first draft, and we get on the call, I'm expecting that we're going to talk about I don't know, the book we just wrote. And the first thing that comes out of Emily's mouth is. So let's talk about our next book. And I was like, wait,

Emily Thompson 46:42
that was always my purpose for that phone call. And I feel like I had told you that.

Unknown Speaker 46:47
But you didn't give me a heads up. But

Emily Thompson 46:49
really, Laura Lee was not in the loop is everyone know? Why am

Unknown Speaker 46:55
I me her.

Kathleen Shannon 46:56
We're here to talk about Laura Lee's edits, our first draft of the book that we're actually writing,

Emily Thompson 47:02
oh, I had other things in my mind that I was done with the book at that right? We need to for sure. No, I and I have found you completely indispensable and all of the things and mostly around like I love adding people to the team that's there with like this forward vision or is there to help support forward vision. I've found that as I as I grow my creative businesses that it's those people on your team that are the most valuable. So we'll loop you in as long as you want looped in Laura Lee, for sure.

Laura Lee Mattingly 47:35
That sounds great. That's my job. Okay, I

Kathleen Shannon 47:38
have a couple of questions to ask you about being a creative entrepreneur. But first, I want to wrap a bow around writing a book. And I would love to hear just maybe three pieces of advice that you have for our listeners who are interested in writing a book, and maybe just three things that they need to have ready before they even start shopping for an agent,

Laura Lee Mattingly 48:00
right? I mean, I think we kind of covered this just in the sense of like, build on what you're already doing. Be sure to test drive your idea. Practice non attachment. And when you're querying agents, like I want to see I want to click on a link or an Instagram and see who you are and what you're up to and who your audiences. And I want to see like an elevator pitch of your idea. A new if you have a full proposal, that's great. But just that, like if you guys had reached out to me and said, we're Kathleen and Emily, here's our podcast, here's our website, we want to write a guide on how to be Boston work in life like that would have made me write you back. And that would have been enough for us to get the process started. So it's really like simplifying what you're trying to do when you're reaching out. I love that I

Emily Thompson 48:44
am such a fan of like a two sentence email just yeah, goes a long way.

Kathleen Shannon 48:49
That goes a long way whenever we're being pitched with podcasts because, right? Okay, so you are actually kind of new to creative entrepreneurship. And I think that you're in a super interesting place where you've gone from working within a bigger

Laura Lee Mattingly 49:04
publisher. I worked for major publishers for almost 15 years.

Kathleen Shannon 49:10
And now you work for a small company, but still within the context of this world. That's very big, right? Yes. So I'm so curious to hear what your experience has been. How long has it been a year?

Laura Lee Mattingly 49:21
It's been a year. So Kate started present perfect and 2015 and then brought me on as partner last night. So I'm just at a year.

Kathleen Shannon 49:30
Congrats on a year and what have you learned in a year being in kind of the same industry and the same world but going from really huge companies to your very small two person shop,

Laura Lee Mattingly 49:43
right? Well, I've learned so much. It is an interesting move and where I'm just I'm in the same industry, but going to the other side of the desk. So that's been really cool because it's kind of like the same job in reverse. So I've been able to sort of think through situations in a unique way. But in terms of going from larger, you know, established media and publishing companies to being a two person shop, it's like, obviously, the stuff like creating my own schedule. And being independent and autonomous is amazing. But what I really found is like, being, you know, challenged and inspired to grow, like I, you know, had these jobs, and I felt like I was good at these jobs. But I was almost like, going through the motions. And I just felt too young to be going through the motions. And now, like, I'm confident what I'm doing, but I'm consistently learning and growing, and building something that I truly believe in. And that has been a game changer, just for my entire life, to be totally honest. It's been awesome. And having a partner like a web smart partner, I'm sure you guys have this experience is a really cool experience. It's unlike any other relationship. It's your business. bestie, your weird other wife, like whatever your spouse. And, but it's so fun. Like she and I get to make all our decisions together and push each other. And it's, it's been an awesome experience. Would you go back? Not tomorrow?

Emily Thompson 51:10
Good answer.

Laura Lee Mattingly 51:11
Yeah. I mean, I can't see too far in the future. But I feel so committed to building this. And like, I feel like if I went back, I would, that's what I would stay doing. Right. So I feel like I gave myself sort of one chance to go out on my own and really make something. And so I feel committed to seeing that through like as long as I can love it.

Emily Thompson 51:30
Perfect dancer. Thanks.

Kathleen Shannon 51:32
I know, what do you feel like your vision at present perfect, really is like what is it that you feel like you're really standing behind? And that you're really trying to create there?

Laura Lee Mattingly 51:43
That's such a good question. So we are building our reputation as agents that represent like really creative clients who have a point of view who are saying something relevant, something that is worth printing 100 pages about and shipping across the world from China, like we're really thinking about the responsibility we have in terms of pitching these publishers, like we don't want to publish books that just go into the remainder of it. And like we want to, to be responsible in shepherding through content that matters. And so that's what really motivates us. We'd love to grow the agency, bring on more agents, maybe people in different types of departments. and grow the categories we work in too. So there's a lot, our vision is big.

Emily Thompson 52:27
Good I also so that also spurred something I want to know that I feel like is important, or I feel it's an important part of like our publishing story is that we did get our our book offer offers a week after the election. That's right, Kathleen, and I were like trying not to die crying every single day. I can't believe this. Now we did cause the day after Yeah, election. Yeah, it was nuts. And so I've definitely felt that I don't know that sounds, that's a good sign, and is a good sign if there are any to be found in that couple of weeks. For me, that was that was kind of a pat on the back, but also a push forward and that this has to be done. It has to be done really well.

Kathleen Shannon 53:16
Yeah. And I didn't think that we're going to talk about this. But I will just add in that. I think that that moment in time has been very discouraging for a lot of artists and a lot of creatives. And a lot of people have wanted to shut down in face of that or feeling like what they're creating isn't really worthwhile in the face of what's happening globally and politically. And so, for me and Emily, we did have to make a very clear choice after that to really focus on creating what we want the world to be. And that does not mean that we stopped making art, that does not mean that we stop using our voices. And that does not mean that we stop writing. In fact, we're taking it to a whole new level.

Emily Thompson 54:00
In fact, we have deadlines that we have missed. So let's get started.

Laura Lee Mattingly 54:05
I mean, persistence of art and creativity is like activism in and of itself. And you know, Kate and I are always thinking like we want to do books that they don't have to be blatantly activist, although, of course, we're thinking responsibly about the political climate, but like, do our books, comfort people that's still important? Do they teach people something new so they can grow as people even if you know, the world is feeling a little dark around them? So there's a lot of ways to think about that. And to sort of, you know, spread out that responsibility. For sure.

Emily Thompson 54:35
Love it. Oh, I'm so glad we got to do this together.

Unknown Speaker 54:39
No, so

Unknown Speaker 54:40
fun. One more question. What Yes, you

Kathleen Shannon 54:43
feel most boss? Oh, yes.

Laura Lee Mattingly 54:46
I would have to say like negotiating a contract, while being somewhere in the tropics. Feels pretty bad.

Kathleen Shannon 54:53
I feel like that happened with us. I think you were in Hawaii while you were negotiating our contract. Right.

Laura Lee Mattingly 54:58
Well, that was Yeah. So we had our final Skype interview when I hadn't signed you guys yet. I was in Hawaii and that felt pretty

Emily Thompson 55:05
nice. That is pretty badass. Perfect where can our people find more about you and are you currently taking new clients

Laura Lee Mattingly 55:15
we are taking new clients so present perfect department is our agency Our website is present perfect departments calm and you can find all you need to know that site.

Kathleen Shannon 55:28
This episode of being boss was brought to you by fresh books cloud accounting, thank you to fresh books for sponsoring us and you guys can try it for free by going to freshbooks comm slash being boss. Thank you for listening to being boss. Find Articles show notes and downloads at WWW dot being boss club.

Emily Thompson 55:49
If you're a creative entrepreneur, Freelancer or small business owner who is ready to take your goals to the next level, check out the being boss clubhouse, a two day online retreat followed by a year of community support monthly masterclasses book club secret episodes and optional in person retreats. Find more at www dot being boss dot club flash clubhouse.

Kathleen Shannon 56:13
Thank you so much to our team and sponsors who make being boss possible our sound engineer and web developer Corey winter. Our editorial director and content manager Caitlin brain, our community manager and social media director Sharon lukey. And are being countered David Austin, with support from braid creative and indie shop autography. Do the

Emily Thompson 56:31
work, the boss and we'll see you next week.