“Why would you want to write a book about stealing?”
In the spring of 2014 I started kicking around the idea of writing a book on hustle with my friends Neil Patel and Jonas Koffler. We began developing the book in earnest in the fall of 2014 by searching for an agent to represent us. After a few false starts, we pitched and ended up clicking with Scott Hoffman of Folio Lit.
Scott agreed with us. Words matter. And hustle was changing meaning and was growing in use. The word meant more than simply grinding away or moving fast. There was a there there.
Scott agreed to represent us and we all agreed we wanted to do a so-called ‘big book’. That meant pitching the book to NYC Tier 1 publishers after we faced our greatest fear: sitting down to write our proposal.
The proposal was a bear. A big bear. With claws. And fangs. And big fuckin’ teeth. And we were like little bunnies. Cowering. Shivering.
Each time we felt we had — finally — finished the proposal, Scott told us how trite our writing was and ordered us to do a total rewrite.
One rewrite? Ouch.
Two? Okay, it comes with the territory….
But three of these? FML.
Four? I was seething. Luckily for both of us, Scott gave us feedback over the phone, which meant that he got away unscathed and I didn’t go to jail for assault. Moreover, Scott wasn’t wrong. Our writing was hackneyed.
To make matters more complicated, in the midst of wrestling with the proposal I moved my family from Orange County, California to Austin, Texas. That meant getting squared away in our new home, finding a new pre-school, packing our stuff away, fixing up the house — and getting up at 4am in the morning to write…trite shite.
After generating and tossing aside mountains of cliches for another 5 months, by May 2015 we had whittled down to a novel angle on what hustle meant and how we could help readers. Scott gave his blessing and it was time to pitch in the mean streets of New York. That’s the next post.