On the Island: 7 Figure Book Deal for Tracey Garvis-Graves (You Go Girl)


Who has read On the Island by Tracy Garvis-Graves? It’s hard to believe this book was a free e-book on Amazon at one point. I am curious if the writing is good.  It seems like it is more than a love story of an older woman (Anne is 30 and TJ is 16 when they meet and crash on a deserted island).  It is a survival story.  The reviews of the book are glowing.  MGM has bought the movie rights.  She also received a seven-figure book deal from a major publisher (Penguin).  She recently quit her job at Wells Fargo to write full-time.

She has arrived and accomplished the ultimate writer’s dream.  I applaud her.  She rose early each morning and wrote before her two children woke.  Then she went to work at her day job at Wells Fargo in Des Moines, Iowa.  She also wrote on the weekends.

Now normally, I would be pea green with envy.  But I’m not.  I’m excited for her.  I’m excited for all writers.  We need to hear these success stories.  The thing is, she is likable and her story is even more likable. She did what she loved, while also doing what she had to do, while pursuing her dream of writing.  She did not let agent or publisher rejections get the best of her — she made her own trail.  Now, look at her.

Here’s the kicker folks — she queried fourteen agents pitching her book, On the Island.  Guess how many form rejections she got back?  Fourteen!  I bet those agents are kicking themselves now.

“Since she self-published in March, Graves has sold 340,000 copies of the book and broke into the New York Times bestseller list. Literary agent Jane Dystel negotiated the deal with executive editor Jill Schwartzman.” Quoted from Media Bistro article.

Here is an interview she did on Novel Girl’s blog.

I am certainly thinking about self-publishing, but what I am thinking about a lot these days, is I need to get writing.  I spend way too much time on social media.  I have had a realization that it doesn’t matter how moving my posts are on Twitter or Facebook.  I need to have a finished manuscript.  I am currently working on wrapping up a creative nonfiction manuscript.  This is the manuscript an agent has expressed interest in.  I queried the agent about a month ago, and she requested a full manuscript with the book proposal.

Ironically, my laptop crashed the day before.  I did not let that get in my way (funny how we can overcome anything when we care enough).  I managed to transfer all the documents off my hard drive and transfer them to my PC.  My PC was and still is, on the fritz.  I can only use it in safe mode.  So, when I had to write the book proposal, I had to power off my computer almost every half hour because it froze.

So, now I am adjusting to writing on my PC and using it in safe mode. I can not upload photos and have had to put my photography on hold.  But the thing is — I am going for it.  This manuscript is a creative nonfiction memoir and I can not hide behind my characters.  I am scared to put myself out there  for the world to judge me and my writing.  But I do know when I feel vulnerable, it is my best writing because my voice is most honest and raw.  I am considering writing it under a pen name though.

But first things first — finish the book.  It is so close to being done.  In fact, it is done — it just needs that final edit. After all, I did write the manuscript while I was in graduate school as my thesis.

I wish you luck on whatever you are pursuing creatively and passionately.  Go for it.  I’ll be cheering you on.

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