What You Do To Get a Book Deal

Meghan Stevenson
2 min readMar 22, 2022

When I lived in New York City and worked for major publishers, I was broke. (As an editorial assistant, my salary started at $27,500 per year — and when I left Penguin 8 years later, it was only $40,000.)

Around that same time, I read the same poem by Tracy K. Smith — The Good Life — over and over again on my way to work. The poem was featured in Poetry In Motion, a program where poems were put up in transit systems including the NYC subway.

The author described subsisting on bread and coffee until payday, when she would splurge on roasted chicken and red wine for one or two nights like everyone else. I knew what that felt like at the time, and every time I roast a chicken (and often, pop open a bottle of red while it’s cooking) I think of it. But riding the subway a few years ago, I realized that poem had done more than made me think. Tracy K. Smith had HELPED me.

By sharing her story she made me feel less alone.

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you have a story too. (Everyone has a story but that’s for another time.) Most of the people who contact me want to publish because they want their story, advice, or lessons learned to “get out there.”

But here’s the thing: you can do that now — days, months, and maybe even years before you get a book deal.

You can help people now — by sharing your wisdom in bits and pieces on social media, by offering up tidbits of useful advice and information in emails like this, by working with clients and creating results that only you can create.

Then — and only then — you’ll actually be ready to put that all together in book form.

Because wisdom, as The Good Life taught me, takes time to land.

It took me 10 years to figure out exactly how I could help authors. It took at least a year of writing emails and posts like this to discover what messaging I wanted to put out in the world. And like Tracy K. Smith, I walked to work thirsty to make an impact.

But I’m here now, eating roast chicken and drinking wine because I showed up, put in the work, and took the feedback I received seriously and with good intention. You can do that too.

— Meghan

Meghan Stevenson

I help entrepreneurs, experts and thought leaders create book proposals that sell to major publishers. I also run marathons, save senior dogs and love the Mets.