I know Fay Wolf back from the college acting school days when we’d run around barefoot and feel our feelings in a Boston classroom. Today, Fay is still being creative and my eye caught the title of her first non-fiction book – New Order: A Decluttering Handbook For Creative Folks (And Everyone Else). The subject matter sounded unique to me. New Order is being traditionally published by Ballantine Books / Random House and I was curious about Fay’s process. Below is what the creative superstar Fay Wolf did to bring this great idea to fruition.
Jennifer Bowen: Tell us about your creative background.
Fay Wolf: Performing was always a part of my life. During childhood, I took dance, piano, singing, and acting lessons the whole shebang. I attended college as an Acting major and went on to pursue it professionally. Then I shocked myself by starting to write songs about eight years ago. And while I love being an actor, songwriting has turned into the biggest source of therapy and creative joy in my life. At least for right now. Lately, I’ve been making some visual art as well, for the pure imperfect fun of it.
JB: What inspired you to write this book?
FW: I opened New Order, my decluttering business, about ten years ago. As time went on, I began to make more and more connections between all the different types of work I do – clutter, creativity, and a lot of everyday stuff in between. I crafted a workshop in 2012 that started to address these connections, which led to me morphing those ideas into a book. It also felt really great to be able to provide a lowcost tool for people, because so many folks (including several of my friends, and sometimes myself) can’t afford to work with an organizer or a coach. So this book makes the work accessible – and it can be read in a day.
JB: What was your process in developing it?
FW: I had a few big stops and starts on the project, between 2012 and 2014. Finally, for the third time I decided to commit to writing the best darn nonfiction book proposal I could. My dear friend Zibby Allen helped me “break” the book and figure out an initial structure for it. There were lots of giant postit notes involved. I also joined forces with my friend Jeremy Gates, who started creating illustrations for the book proposal (and later, the actual book). I was lucky to find a brilliant manager and incredible collaborator in Rachel Miller, who labored over versions with me, and wasn’t afraid to tell me when the proposal sucked. From there, I was again lucky enough to join forces with a mindblowing agent named Katherine Latshaw, who brought the book to several publishers and we chose to work with Ballantine. I hit the jackpot yet again with my editor, Nina Shield. She helped me develop it.
JB: How are you getting the book out there (aka publishing platform)?
FW: New Order is being traditionally published by Ballantine Books / Random House initially in paperback and ebook formats. I’m also doing my own grassroots marketing to try to get the word out and get the book onto the shelves of cool, small shops around Los Angeles and elsewhere.
JB: What are you doing to market the book?
FW: Aaaaaahh! So much…Newsletters, social media campaigns, emails to everyone I know, sending out advance copies, requesting Amazon reviews, handing out postcards, applying to speak at conferences, making a book trailer, updating websites, and on, and on. And each one of those tasks is really a project that has about 18 different action steps. It’s a lot. People ask me if I can kind of sit back and relax now that the book is written. Hilarious. Marketing is a full time job, no matter what.
JB: Any advice to nonfiction authors specifically on completing a book and getting it published?
FW: A killer proposal. I studied books about book proposals. And after I wrote the content (which took several months), I then had my proposal copies bound at a local printer, so I was handing over to potential agents and publishers something that already looked like a real book instead of another PDF that’s getting lost in someone’s decluttered email inbox. If printing a proposal isn’t what’s right for your book, make your package stand out in some creative way maybe that’s paying for a design element that might not usually accompany proposals in your genre. Something unique.
There’s also just so much inner clutter that gets in the way during the process of getting a book out there, whether you’re looking for a publisher or selfpublishing. You have to keep rallying, taking risks, asking for help, and believing you’re good enough. Over and over again. Selfdoubt seems like it’s probably the number #1 project killer.
JB: Could you tell us about any challenges you have encountered thus far with the book (could be in the process, promotion, etc.) and how you moved through it?
FW: One of the biggest challenges lately is letting go of all the things I thought I could do for the book (in terms of promotion) before release day. All of a sudden you’re in crunch time and there are tasks that simply have to be struck from the todo list. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. (At least not if I want to get a reasonable amount of sleep and keep my sanity.) Whether that’s sending individual emails to certain people I wanted to send to, or making a series of videos I really wanted to make, it’s been a continual process to accept that it’s okay not to do everything I’d planned. Actually, now that I think about it this was the case with what went inside the book as well. That whole “kill your babies” thing holds true for the writing and for the marketing.
JB: Please tell us how we can buy it and when!
FW: New Order: A Decluttering Handbook For Creative Folks (And Everyone Else) is out now and available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and just about everywhere else. You can also buy it through links on my websites at faywolf.com and neworderlove.com. Thank you!
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Jennifer Bowen, QueenBee (more fun than CEO) of BookHive Corp.