How I Got a Book Deal from My Blog!

Yes, you read that right. Officially, I, Hannah Karena Jones, am going to be a published author.

It’s not a blog to book deal in the traditional sense, like the way Postsecret, Julie & Julia, and Awkward Family Photos content became so popular a publisher begged the bloggers to put it in book form. No, The (Writer’s) Waiting Room will not be available on bookshelves near you any time soon.

Do you remember a few weeks back when I was encouraging readers to read local? I mentioned how I love locally-set history and fiction books in general and the Images of America series specifically, mostly because I found a picture of my dad in the Yardley, Pennsylvania book at Barnes & Nobles a few years after he died. You might have glossed over it, but I also mentioned that I think Byberry State Hospital–an abandoned institution near my childhood home, which has always piqued my curiosity–deserves its own book.

Well, an editor at Arcadia Publishing agreed. She happened to read that post and emailed me asking if I would be interested in submitting an official book proposal. Of course I was!

After I submitted the proposal, I was ready to wait a good long time to hear back–I’ve waited over a year just to get a rejection from small literary journals–but they approved it within a week! Byberry State Hospital (release date to be announced) will be a pictorial history and part of the ever popular Images of America series. I signed and mailed the contract a few days ago and now I have a deadline.

My entire book is due in November.
Yikes! [deep breath] I’m terrified not by the deadline, per se, but what that deadline means. In eight months, my huge lifelong dream of being published will come true (or, at least, will be closer to coming true. The book won’t appear on the shelves as soon as I turn in the materials, obviously).

This is where you all come in. I know a lot of you readers are from the Pennsylvania and local New Jersey area. If you have any family stories or photographs of Byberry buildings or Byberry staff in uniform up until it was closed in 1987, or know somebody who does (do you have a family member who was a nurse there? A doctor? A contentious objector? Did you grow up across the highway from the hospital?), I’d love for you to contact me! Feel free to send me an email at HannahKJones10@yahoo.com

This book will have a minimum of 180 photographs and I want to collect the greatest variety and most representative photographs I can. If you have a photograph you’d be willing to share (I would just need a scan of it, I wouldn’t keep the original print), you will, of course, get full credit in the published book.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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43 thoughts on “How I Got a Book Deal from My Blog!

  1. Gretchen O'Donnell says:

    That is FANTASTIC!!!! Congratulations to you! That is a great series of books – we have several. And I remember you saying that you saw that picture of your dad in one – that is the coolest. Congrats!!!

    • hannahkarena says:

      Thanks Gretchen!!! I’m so happy to hear how enthusiastic everyone is about the Images of America series–it makes it feel like the audience is a very real presence. It’s a little bit of a strange experience to think about people one day reading my book while I’m writing it!

    • hannahkarena says:

      Thanks Meg! I’ll have to let you know when the pub date is finalized. I will totally be looking for it on the shelves too–it’ll make it feel so much more official when I see it in a public place!

  2. Giulietta Nardone says:

    Wonderful Hannah. I love that Images of America series. My town has one. What a great story!

    And, ironic, I’ve been trying to save our town’s cave that’s in our book page 10. A group building fields that was supposed to save it and said they’d save it, started to demolish it. Have been working with a group of folks and we may have it saved. A bit early to say.

    It’s so sad, that we’d demolish anything still in those books!

    Best wishes.

    G.

    • hannahkarena says:

      I’m so happy to hear you like the series and I’m sad to hear about–and happy at the same time, if your efforts have indeed been successful–the cave. I’m curious, but what kind of cave is it, exactly? Where I live is so constantly under development that most of what’s in the local Images of America books is gone, now. I always associate the series with significant nostalgia, because everything is gone and it only exists in the pictures anymore.

  3. slytherclawchica says:

    So I just Google’d “Byberry Mental Hospital” out of curiousity to see what popped up in the images section, and now I am incredibly interested in your book Successful advertising already!

    Best of luck in your endeavors!

    • hannahkarena says:

      Haha, thanks Carol! I feel like some great big door has opened for me. I just have to climb the mountain to walk through the doorway.

    • hannahkarena says:

      Eeeeee! Every time someone else tells me how familiar–and how in love with–the series they are, I do a little happy dance. I have such a good feeling about this book!

    • hannahkarena says:

      Thanks Simon! I’ve already dived into the research and it’s proving to be so interesting! I can’t wait to share all the pictures and information with everyone :]

    • hannahkarena says:

      eeeeeeee! Thank you! I’m still doing a happy dance. I cannot BELIEVE my good luck; creating this blog was probably one of the best things I have ever done for my writing–for the book deal and many other reasons. I just feel so lucky to have these awesome opportunities!

    • hannahkarena says:

      THANK YOU! Nobody seems to know much about Byberry, even locals I’ve been talking to, which actually makes the research all the more exciting and mysterious.

    • hannahkarena says:

      Thank you! I suppose I am . . . Every writer should have a blog! It opens so many doors you never even knew existed!

    • hannahkarena says:

      Thank you!! So true about them being respectable. I’m extra excited by that because I think it’ll help me in my future historical fiction publishing pursuits! Also, I just checked out your publisher for your forthcoming book–congrats!–they look awesome! I love finding out about successful publishers in unlikely places like the mountains of North Carolina.

  4. Jaimie says:

    As a fellow Bloomsburg graduate, and a life long resident of Bucks County, it is great to see someone local doing so well! Best of luck to you on this book! I absolutely look forward to reading it!

    • hannahkarena says:

      Well, nice to meet you Jaimie! When did you graduate from Bloom? Thanks for the congrats! You’ll be seeing the book in Bucks County B&N near you…sometime after November 2012 (my due date! Ah! It’s looming closer!!!)

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