We wish we had met our latest Lit IT Girls, Anne Milford and Jennifer Gauvain, years ago! Their debut how-to book, How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy: Is He The One or Should You Run? A Guide to Living Happily Ever After could have *really* come in handy during our jackass dating phase. All we can say is Thank God we never actually walked down the aisle with any of them! While there are hundreds of books about how to find the right guy, there are virtually none on how to detach yourself from the wrong one. So whether you're engaged, in a serious relationship, or a serial dater looking for Mr. Right, these girls can help you decide if you should take the plunge or run screaming in the other direction!
And we LOVE the fact that How Not to Marry The Wrong Guy was originally self-published and then picked up by a major publishing house. Because you know we're suckers for a good Cinderella story! And it doesn't hurt that they crush on our girl Emily Giffin and love Grey Goose or a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc. So read on to hear more about why the fabu Anne and Jennifer deserve their Lit IT Girl Crown!
Have a friend who could use their advice? (Not you, of course! *wink wink*)Then leave a comment for your chance to win one of FIVE copies! We'll pick the winner by random drawing on Thursday night!
CHICK LIT IS NOT DEAD PRESENTS: LIT IT GIRLS ANNE MILFORD AND JENNIFER GAUVAIN
1. How long did it take to write your book?
Anne: I started interviewing women who married the “wrong guys” in January of 2000. However, my family and my freelance clients were my priority….so the stack of yellow notepads and questionnaires kept getting shoved back on the shelf in my office. As my three kids got older—and I faced a lull in freelance work—my husband encouraged me to write the book I had been talking about for so long! At the same time, I decided I needed a therapist to help me interpret the interviews and write the book. I wanted to make sure that the finished product delivered sound and credible advice that was backed up by practical experience. Fortunately, I met the right coauthor! (Part of the deal is that I get free therapy, too!)
Jennifer: Within days of our first meeting we were sending writing samples back and forth via email. Our first draft probably took about one year to complete. Our self-published version, How to Marry the Wrong Guy, was released in May of 2009. After Broadway Books (Random House) picked it up, our editor gave us about 8 weeks to edit and tweak the second version.
2. How long did it take you to get your book published? What were your rock bottom moments along the way?
After hearing so many horror stories about finding an agent, we decided to go for it and publish it ourselves. We literally maxed-out our credit cards paying for printing, our website, graphic design, etc. Our husbands were extremely supportive even though our newly-founded publishing company was broke! (It really does pay to marry the right guy!)
The first edition was launched in May of 2009. A fairy godmother placed it in the hands of the man who would eventually become our agent. He watched as we received a lot of local (and some national) media attention and believed that he could help us bring it to a wider audience. He suggested some changes and we wrote a revised proposal/outline in July and August. He shopped it to several publishers and we ultimately sold the North American Rights at auction in October 2009. We know we were really lucky…but it’s also a perfect example of that old saying: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
Jennifer: I don’t know if I would call it “rock bottom” but there were certainly days when I just could not find my creativity and would sit and stare at a blank screen for hours. We also planned a huge release party at a local indie book store. The first printing was completely wrong and had to be re-done. We weren’t sure we were going to have books to sell! There were typos that we missed and we just had to go to print regardless. It was pretty nerve-wracking, especially being the perfectionist that I am.
Anne: I think there were two rock bottoms for me. The first was when another author agreed to give me some advice and she told me no less than 15 times how much she hated our title. I finally had to say—politely of course—that while I appreciated her advice, she was not in my target audience and I wasn’t going to change it. She was pretty harsh and it really brought me down. Good thing I didn’t listen to her because that title was the first thing that caught our agent’s attention! The other time was when we participated in a “pitchapalooza” event at our local book festival. We had one minute to pitch our book to a literary agent/author in front of about 50 other people. I was so disappointed that we didn’t win the big prize—a meeting with an agent at a renowned literary agency. We went out and drowned our sorrows over several plates of tapas and a pitcher of sangria. We didn’t let it stop us, though. We picked ourselves up and kept moving forward—and it paid off!
3. How did you get teamed up with your publisher? Why did you feel your publisher was a good match for you?
Our editor at Broadway Books, Hallie, received the pitch letter and proposal from our agent. From the beginning, she believed in the book and advocated on our behalf. We were so thrilled that our editor, marketing rep and publicist were smart and fabulous single women living and working in NYC. They shared our mission and did a great job marketing and promoting How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy. They had such great ideas—it was a wonderful collaboration all the way around.
4. Knowing what you know now about publishing your first novel, what would you have done differently?
It was an amazing journey—and we are excited to see what happens next. We don’t think we would do anything differently. However, if we had known how much work was involved in the distribution, sales and marketing of a self-published book (on top of our families and our day jobs) it might have scared us off. We are glad that we were so clueless!
5. What did you do to celebrate your book deal?
When we received our first advance check, we treated ourselves (and our husbands) to dinner at Tony’s, one of the nicest restaurants in St. Louis.
Jennifer: The day the book hit stores nationwide; I surprised Anne and took her to the Four Seasons Hotel for a massage and rooftop lunch. We never treat ourselves to such indulgences and it was such a wonderful day! Then it was back to reality, cleaning our houses and driving carpool.
Anne: I was a nervous wreck the day of our auction and must confess that I ate about eight mini “100 Grand” candy bars as I waited for the bids to come in! 6. Who is your writer crush?
Jennifer: Easy. Liz Gilbert. I was reading Eat, Pray, Love right before I met Anne and I was instantly attracted to her writing style and a bit jealous of her ability to travel without any hesitation. I immediately wanted to go get fat in Italy, live in an ashram and visit the places in Bali that she described. I felt like a cyber stalker, wanting to know everything about her. I longed for the spiritual connection she described happened to her while she meditated. I meditated a lot while I was writing and had some of my most creative moments while doing so. Would love to thank her for that some day!
Anne: I have three writer crushes right now. Jen and I went to see Emily Giffin at a fab event at Saks Fifth Avenue a few weeks ago. She was gorgeous, smart, and funny. I envied the huge turnout of adoring fans (not to mention the great books she keeps turning out!) Another crush is Susan McBride. She’s a St. Louis-based author (most recent book: The Cougar Club) who has been a huge source of advice and inspiration for us. My non-fiction crush is Amy Spencer, the author of Meeting Your Half Orange. Her optimistic approach to dating is wonderful and I am recommending her book to everyone who wants to find the right guy (once we help them get unstuck from the wrong one, of course!)
7. What's your biggest distraction or vice while writing?
Jennifer: Definitely chocolate and wine are my biggest vices while writing and otherwise! Writing at home is a huge distraction. I would try to sit down and write and then think about the six loads of laundry that were sitting in the basement or the junk drawer in the kitchen that needed to be cleaned out. Needless to say, writing is much more fun than cleaning!
Anne: Ditto on the chocolate. I have even gone so far as to have Jennifer drop a candy bar off at my home office window! (Which she does with a smile—love her!) My other vice is the internet—I can’t stay off Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. Lately I have started going to the resource room at the library to unplug.
8. GNO drink of choice?
Jennifer: Vodka tonic (Grey Goose) with extra lime!
Anne: Perfectly chilled Sauvignon Blanc
9. Favorite trashy TV show?
Jennifer: Maybe I should have included this as my biggest vice! Pretty much any show on Bravo but especially Housewives of the OC, and New York, and Patti Stanger’s Millionaire Matchmaker are my top choices. I love observing pop culture and relationships.
Anne: I hate to admit it but I can’t resist Tori and Dean or the Kardashians. I really miss Kendra, Bridget and Holly living under one roof, too! I love you Puffin!
10. What celeb would you love to have a Twitter war with?
Jennifer: Difficult to narrow this down to just one! Any of the male celebs who have come out recently, cheating on their wives like Tiger, Jesse James, Larry King, John Edwards, in fact, I think John Edwards was the worst behaved so I would love to have a few words with him!
Anne: I don’t want to get in a mean Twitter war, but I would love to send some relationship advice to Kourtney Kardashian, Tori Spelling and Heidi Montag just to name a few. Oh wait, I might get mean with Kate Goesselin!
Thanks Jennifer and Anne! xoxo, Liz & Lisa