Creativity & Opportunity

Creativity & Opportunity. Or, how my book deal fell apart. #design #blogging #publishing #booksbybloggers

Back in the fall, I received an email out of the blue from a book publisher who was interested in knowing if I had a book agent. Why no, I did not, I replied. And the conversation began on the possibility of me writing a book on color, decor, and style.

This absolutely positively thrilled me to pieces. Writing a book is kind of a big deal to me as an avid reader and lover of pretty things. I’ve spent my life in bookstores: Saturday afternoons with my Dad in Barnes & Noble, local bookshops with fireplaces and rolling library ladders, up to my elbows in design books and shelter magazines. To be a part of that felt like the penultimate honor in some way, a rounding out of this blogging and design career I’ve honed for myself.

I began researching books written by fellow bloggers as well as other design books that felt true to me. The talks with the publisher continued right up until I had the baby and things were very close to being signed/sealed/delivered. I held this loosely in the proverbial palm of my hand and only told a handful of people outside of family.

And then it all fell apart right after the baby was born. The feedback was that perhaps I was a bit too personal and conversational in tone, much like how my blog reads. They wanted something a little more DIY-related, more of a how-to. Less me, perhaps? Which I get.

Admittedly I was really disappointed. I was excited about the opportunity to create some fun new things with a nice little budget (aka, the book advance) that would ensure that I could try things that otherwise wouldn’t be financially feasible.

But at the same time, I felt a sense of relief. If it isn’t the perfect fit, then it’s a waste of everyone’s time. And this particular opportunity didn’t feel like an absolute perfect fit.

The moral of this story is this: you’ve got to know who you are and what your gifts are in order to give your best. There was a time when I would’ve lobbied hard for an opportunity and completely lost myself in the process (see: the first few years of my design career). Part of identity and branding is having a solid sense of self. I know my strengths and part of that is in my storytelling.

I believe a book will happen for me someday. Just not this time.


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  • Kudos to you for remaining true to yourself and your brand. When the right opportunity comes, just know you’ll have a whole bunch of us lined up waiting to get our hands on a copy. I can already imagine the impeccable layout and a colorful spine that screams “STACK ME AND STYLE ME!” Happy Friday!!

  • mandybeth01

    I really appreciate your honesty about this Rachel, and sharing it is so helpful for other creatives that have dreams and goals but also want to remain true to themselves. I saw a cartoon the other day that reminds me of this situation – it was of God taking a teddy bear away from a child, but holding a much bigger/better one behind his back to give in exchange. Kind of cheesy but reminds me that sometimes He has even better things in store. 🙂

    • I hesitated to write about it, but I think it’s important to talk about our “failures” (which is too dramatic a word for this because it’s not like some tragic thing) and not just the highlights. There’s maybe more to learn from the downers?

      • mandybeth01

        Most definitely! And it shows your humanity/realness which is so important to helping others feel inspired to follow their dreams. I blogged recently about how difficult the art licensing journey has been because it isn’t nearly as many rainbows and unicorns as I was expecting. It’s real life, right? 🙂

        • Ooh, I need to go read about your licensing issues. I definitely had my own when I was doing my stuff with Nordstrom (not Nordie’s issue, but the manufacturer). I felt really powerless.

  • Cyndi

    Oh I would love to read a book written by you!! I completely understand, though the need to be true to who you are. That’s awesome!!! You have such an amazing sense of color, style, and are a great storyteller, that a book would suit you so well. I look forward to one day reading your book!!

  • Kate

    First of all: congratulations! To even be considered is a huge nod towards your talent. It goes without saying the larger loss belongs to the publisher, however I know so often that does not lessen the blow. I can tell you from personal experience it is never worth sacrificing bits of who you are to force yourself into someone else’s round hole, so to speak. Stay square–it’s the whole version of you. It’s better because it’s genuine. The world craves genuine.

  • Jane

    I would read your book & I’m not even a reader! Love your sense of style & the way you write (tweets included)

  • Susan Bloomquist Kropp

    When the time is right, it will happen. You have so much to say and share!! xo

  • Laynie Naylor Snider

    I’m glad you shared! Trying to learn this even more…STAY TRUE to who you are! This was just what I needed to read…and I definitely will buy your book when it all comes together!

  • ramblingrenovators

    Sorry to hear about the book. Even if it wasn’t a perfect fit, I could understand there would be some disappointment.

    I was actually in a similar position. It was our fourth book for our publisher and I had written 1/3 of the manuscript when the publisher decided to sell part of their business, including my title. The new publisher didn’t want to proceed and things worked out fine in the end but in all honesty it was a bit of a relief too. Books are labours of love (you definitely don’t do it for the money) and this one had been a challenge from the beginning. I’m sure you’ll write a book someday and I’ll be lined up to buy it!

    • I agree – you definitely don’t do it for the money, which I quickly figured out once I mentally summed up how much it was going to cost to produce the thing. Simon and I had an ongoing joke about “Things My Book Advance Won’t Cover.”

      Thanks for the encouragement – I know there’s a time and a place for everything. ::sigh::

  • I adore your blog (have for a long time!) and I would buy your book in a heartbeat! I’m so sorry it didn’t work out this time, but best wishes for a future deal!

  • TheNewDiplomatsWife

    i would read your book in no time – but the right partnership is out there, i’m sure of it – like you say, it all comes down to fit. can’t wait to see when it the right fit comes along!