Kym Terribile and Peter McGraw discuss Peter’s contract with Diversion Books to publish Solo in January 2024. They discuss the sales process, the ambitious writing deadline, and some plans for marketing Solo.
Listen to Episode #163 here
Solo, The Book, Coming January 2024
Welcome back, Kym Terribile.
You’ve been with me from the start.
I have day one.
Day 1, episode 1. Your company, Wax Crescent, has also been a sponsor.
Do those promo codes still work?
It does. SOLO20. All non-toxic soy wax candles are poured with intention.
They are, indeed. You resurface on occasion, especially when I celebrate a 50th anniversary. Episode 50, episode 100, and episode 150, where we discussed some of my efforts to sell Solo as a book concept. We are here to announce some very good news. That is Solo the book is coming to bookstores, Amazon, and wherever books can be found in January 2024.
That’s so exciting.
You have some questions for me.
I do. I have lots of questions. I’m back with my clipboard, for anyone out there wondering. I’m curious. Why a book? How is that going to be different from the show?
It’s funny. I didn’t give why a book that much thought. It was just obvious to me from the very beginning. In many ways, I started planning the book from the beginning of the show. The project started out with a book idea, which was a little bit more of a self-help bachelor’s guide to a remarkable life. I pivoted into the show in part because I didn’t feel prepared to write a book. I also didn’t know if it was an idea that was worth pursuing. The show is an easier minimum viable product in the world of marketing.
He has this professor hat on.
An MVP. In many ways, the show has been a test of concept, a chance to explore, and an exploration primarily. The amount of learning I’ve done over 150-plus episodes is shocking to me. Instead of hiding away all these ideas, which is what happens with a book rather than a big launch, I got to start putting at least my opinion out into the world pretty easily.
The show is primarily focused on validating singles’ experiences and giving them permission to live a different way of life. In many ways, it’s helping them feel seen. The second thing is it has been connecting people to a community. I have this community. You could sign up for it at PeterMcGraw.org/Solo. In many ways, a lot of people say, “I thought I was the only one who thought like this.” Most people that they come in contact with, their friends, their family, and their coworkers, are living a traditional life. They’re looking to ride the relationship escalator and so on.
The third part is to give them a new perspective, a language, and a model. Even talking about the relationship escalator alone is a useful concept because suddenly, this thing that is ubiquitous now has a name and now has a set of rules. You can understand how it might fit or not fit with your lifestyle. The book is curation as I see it. I’m moving from exploration to curation. That is 150 episodes. They average probably about an hour. That’s a lot of content to wade through. Moreover, I’ll be the first to admit it. The show is a bit haphazard.
I jump all around in terms of topics. I have themes at times in mini-series, but it’s all over the place depending on what I feel like talking about, whom I have access to, and so on. The book is about taking the ideas that I’ve developed and then putting them into one place. That language perspective now moves from number 3 to number 1 with the book.
The book also still validates and gives people permission. It’s written with a big tent in mind for people who want to get married. I want to be like, “Here’s what you’re getting into. Let’s be honest about it,” to the no ways people who are like, “Absolutely not.” Frankly, they are the folks who might bristle a little bit at all the relationship talk that might happen in the show. It’s a pretty broad range of people that I’m targeting it towards.
Last, I’ll be frank. It’s a marketing opportunity. There is still something special about a book. I don’t think they should be as special as they are, but there is still something special about a book versus a show versus a blog post versus an essay. It’s in large part because a lot goes into it. It’s meaty enough to force you to get into it and potentially change your perspective. Also, there’s still something a little splashy about a book launch, especially when it comes to the world of media and PR where it’s hard to get the attention of journalists. Some of this, and I’m going to foreshadow, is a marketing opportunity to get the word out about the Solo Movement.
Reflecting back on one of the first reasons you stated for wanting to do this is you want solos to be seen. It’s interesting because I’ve been with you since before the show when you were working on the initial book idea. It’s interesting that that didn’t work out the way you thought it would. You entered into this space whereas being in a show, it was the first time you were letting yourself be seen as a solo. For you to go through that experience of allowing your identity as a solo person out into the world, now I feel like you have the authority to write that book.
It’s easy to forget how much trepidation I had. I was unapologetic in my personal life, but the idea of being unapologetic to strangers to the world, it took a little bit of time for that to become comfortable.
Even in your professional life as a college professor. I want to applaud you for allowing yourself to be seen in that way.
It’s interesting you say this because I’ve been writing about bachelors. Before you showed up, I was writing about bachelors and I put bachelor in my bios and in my social media bios. I remember the first time I did that and thinking how it felt uneasy in some way, even though someone might be very comfortable writing husband.
Barack Obama’s Twitter profile says he’s a husband. I felt like, “If you’re comfortable saying that, I should be comfortable saying this.” I don’t think I could have done that on day one of this project. Let’s talk a little bit more. We talked a bit about selling the book in episode 150. There was still a lot of uncertainty at that time. We now have some uncertainty. Let’s talk about the process that I went through.
I’m curious, and I’m sure a lot of people are. Are you working with an agent? What was the avenue to selling this book?
In 150, we talked about this couple who have a literary agency, and let’s say we had some artistic differences about what to do with the book. The short answer is I didn’t feel like I could write a book that I could be excited about. We parted ways amicably. They wanted me to write a particular style of the book. I didn’t feel like I could do that, be authentic, and be comfortable putting it out in the world. I was frankly willing to forgo a book contract and do it myself.
I reached out to some agents, including one whom I had been in touch with for my second book. I sent him the proposal and he immediately latched onto it. I asked him, “What should I change?” He goes, “I don’t think you have to change anything.” He thought we could sell it right away. He was optimistic about it. By the way, any other agent I reached out to either passed or didn’t even respond to it.
There was something that was very fun about me getting in contact with him. He’s a no-nonsense guy. He’s probably in his 70s. He’s an old-school lit agent who has a small shop in New York City. I tried to work with him on Shtick to Business. He tried to sell it to publishers and they passed. He told me to take a walk essentially.
Part of the reason he paid attention to me reaching out was I was having trouble getting his attention with Shtick to Business. I ended up sending him a pair of 3-foot-long scissors, the kind that you use in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. I had it engraved and it said, “Jim, let’s publish a book that cuts through the clutter.” When I reached out to him this time and he was interested in the project, he sent me a picture. That pair of scissors still sits in his office. It’s great in part because we might do it. Shtick to Business didn’t cut through the clutter and we didn’t publish it together, but Solo might.
That’s so interesting, not to be woo-woo, but it’s how the universe works. This is someone you made a connection with. You planted that seed years back, you stood out as you do, you made an impression, and here you are circling back with him to now work on a project that I feel like knowing you is a lot closer to your heart than Shtick to Business was.
The comedy stuff was a wonderful opportunity. It was exciting. It was challenging. I learned and grew. It’s probably my most legacy-inducing academic work that I did, but it wasn’t always the perfect fit. I’m not a comedian. I liked comedy, but I wasn’t obsessed with comedy. I could only go so far with that idea. This one is much more central to my identity and certainly more central to the struggles I’ve had in life. In that way, it’s more personally challenging, but it’s also, bigger. It’s by far the most meaningful work I’ve ever done in my life.
Do you want to talk about the path to finding a publisher? I feel like I’ve been along on this whole journey.
It’s because you’re the first person I call.
I know. I love it. It makes me feel special. What was it like when the literary agent couple turned you down or said, “We wanted it this way?” What did that process look like when you signed the contract with a publisher?
I rewrote the proposal with the couple’s feedback in mind because I didn’t dismiss what they had to say. I thought that their reactions were valid and that sometimes you could be a little too close to an idea. I’ll be honest, I think that the ideas in the book, and especially in the proposal, are transgressive. They’re radical to a lot of people.
That played out in the sales process. The new lit agent sent it out to major publishers and the way he had talked about it, I was optimistic. I was like, “Let’s go.” One of the things that are pretty typical is you do an interview or a meeting with the editor. They call it a meeting, but it’s an interview in a sense, and you’re feeling each other out and so on.
We got back crickets. It was like nothing. I had one interview at a major publishing house. I liked this editor, but from the very beginning, as soon as we started talking, I was on the defensive. She essentially was questioning why I could be the voice of this book, and in not-so-subtle terms, as a straight White man. This is not something I was unaware of trying to represent a big tent as a straight White man.
I was prepared for that question and talked about my background in terms of coming from diverse places, being an ally, having diverse voices on the show, and wanting to feature them in the book. I was acknowledging that it’s not a popular choice to have me authoring a book like this. She eventually passed. I didn’t get any reason or rationale for it. The lit agent is such an interesting guy. He’s very no-nonsense. He dropped all of the rejection emails that he got into an email to me. One day, I got an email with twenty rejections.
How did that feel?
It was fine. I looked at them not deeply, in part, because I’ve learned that there’s not a lot of good that comes from reading your evaluations if you believe that you did a good job. I stand by that proposal. it’s a strong proposal. It’s the book I want to write. Can I read a few of these too?
I would love to hear some.
I’m going to leave the identities and the imprints. I’m going to keep them anonymous to protect the innocent. Here’s one. “I had mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I admire Peter McGraw’s recognition that a solo life is the one that’s right for him and that he bucks convention. On the other hand, I did, at times, feel as though he was writing to justify his choice. That made me feel a little perplexed. After thinking about it for a bit, I realized that I’m probably not the right reader. I love books about going left when everyone is going right, but perhaps I’m too attached to my people and too limited in imagination to be an evangelist for a book about going solo.”
They’re not the right person for you.
I know. I’m going to make a comment here, which is so interesting. It’s like, “You’re an editor who’s designing a book to sell to the public, not to yourself.” Now I could see why an editor would say, “I’m not the right editor for this book because I couldn’t support it in the way that it needs to be supported.” That is probably a fair assessment of her take on it.
Here’s another one. “I like the message a lot. While there have been a few books in a similar vein written by and for women, I don’t know of any written from a man’s perspective, which is refreshing. The issue for me was that while he makes a strong intellectual and data-based argument for the benefits of solo life, decisions about partnerships and relationships are more emotional than they are intellectual. The emotional piece wasn’t entirely coming through on the page for me.”
“I also got a few reads from the team here, and the younger editors, in particular, said they struggle to connect with this and are worried that the audience could be limited to a specific age range. While I do like Peter’s voice and admire what he’s done to build a movement around the message, in the end, I don’t think this one is quite right for us.”
That’s valuable feedback to take into the writing process. How do you bring that emotional aspect of your own story into this book?
I’m a scientist and one of the things that can help make this book stand out is the data in a sense because so much is built on mythology that’s there. I do think that that idea around feelings ends up mattering, especially when it comes to something as charged as someone’s decision to remain single or how they feel about their inability to find a partner that this is an emotional world, and being a little too robotic about it would be a problem.
For the reader to connect with you, people connect through emotion. They’re going to connect to your book and your message by feeling some empathetic response to what you’re saying. I find the comment about the age of the reader interesting.
In many ways, I’m not writing this book for twenty-somethings, and there’s a lot happening within that age group that makes me feel like they are going to have a little bit better time should they go solo. There’s more acceptance and questioning around the norms among younger folks. All you have to do is watch TikTok to see that.
Do you TikTok?
I don’t, but people send me TikTok all the time that are pro-single or that are pulling back the curtain on married living. I would say that at least with regard to the show, it does skew a little more middle-aged, in part, because I’m middle-aged and so the topics and the things we do resonate. Also, people get to a certain point where they’re like, “This is my life.”
Once you get out of your 30s and you’re in your 40s and you’re like, “This is what my life is like. I might as well make the best of it,” so then you go looking for resources to make the best of it. There aren’t that many out there if you’re single. You come across this one, whether it be a Google search or a Spotify search or a friend gives it to you. Is that limiting? I don’t know. There are a lot of middle-aged folks in the world.
This is what you have experience with. This is who you are. I don’t know that you have a grasp on the 25-year-old single in this modern age.
Not as much. That’s right. The youngest member of my community is 22 and then the oldest is 68. It is a broad range, but most folks sit in their 40s or 50s-ish. In some ways, these folks recognize there’s a need for it.
It’s interesting because you reading these rejections is like bringing up dating in my head. It’s like you want to be with someone you click with. Rejection is redirection. These people were not your person for this book.
The part about being an evangelist is that they have to still sell the book to their staff. They have to position it and sell it in the marketplace and so on. The fact is that if they don’t believe in it and believe in me, then it would be a bad partnership.
You want someone who’s going to be your champion. Tell me how you found that person.
I was beginning to consider self-publishing. I had a conversation with Paul Shirley, who’s been on the show a couple of times. He gave me very blunt advice. He said, “You should write the book as soon as possible, self-publish it, get it out there, and then move on to other things.” I could see the wisdom in that. I’d been spinning my wheels a little bit.
I certainly was spinning my wheels with the book proposal in the selling process. My original plan before those original lit agents came along was, I was going to write the book, then I was going to figure out what to do with it. I probably spent nine months delaying work on the book while I worked on the proposal, selling it, and so on.
I saw the wisdom in his, “Get it done. Get it out there.” He’s like, “It’s probably not going to be the final book you write on the topic,” and so on. I like the idea of writing it and then publishing it and not selling it because we’ll get to that in a moment. The selling process is onerous. The lit agent came back to me with the rejections and he said, “There’s this imprint that does a profit-sharing model. Would it be okay if I sent it to them?” I was like, “Yeah, of course.” I don’t care. I didn’t know what that meant. That’s where I got connected. I found someone who believes in me.
The imprint is called Diversion Books. They have a new editor there named Elizabeth Gassman. She’s a young woman who likes the concept. She even went as far as to say that she thinks there’s room for a male voice in the space and hopes that I will not shy away from advice for men in the project. What’s interesting is Diversion has made a name for itself selling books to men. They have lots of military history, political stuff, and so on.
They hired Elizabeth to try to grow their wellness, psychology, and self-help arm. They’re very excited about it, as I’ve mentioned. They want to launch it in January 2024 to capitalize on the New Year. We love the New Year reinventions. Also, the marketing opportunities around Valentine’s Day. It’ll be pre-sale through the holidays and that’s going to create some problems. For folks who aren’t familiar, that is an incredibly ambitious deadline for a traditional publisher.
To give you an example of that, for my first book, Joel Warner, my co-author, and I delivered a book on time in December 2012. The book didn’t come out until April 2014. There was some editing, but it wasn’t a very heavy edit because Joel’s such a strong writer and we had two people working on it. The book languished for at least a year before it ever hit the shelves. The idea that they want the book published less than a year from having the contract is just jaw-dropping in a sense.
Before we get into the writing and the production of it all, I feel lucky that this happened. I can point to two instances. I told Elizabeth this when we had our first real meeting to discuss the process. I said, “There have been two times in my life when I only had one option. The first one was when I was 24 and I wanted to move out West. I wanted to leave New Jersey. I applied to 30-plus jobs to work at universities as a hall director.” It’s a professional position I was well suited to do and I could barely get an interview. I ended up only having like two places that were interested in me. Only one ended up giving me a job offer.
It happened to be the best place I could get a job. It was at UC Santa Barbara in their housing department, in this idyllic location. Frankly, at that time, and probably still now, is one of the best-run housing departments in the country. I had a great leader, this guy, Willie Brown. I had wonderful supervisors, incredible colleagues, and friends whom I made and still am friends with. Lisa Slavid, who was in Lisa’s Second Mountain, was my coworker at that place.
It allowed me to move to California. It gave me a whole new set of perspectives. It got me connected to Semester at Sea. I ended up doing two trips around the world because of one of my supervisors. It gave me a chance to volunteer in a laboratory in my second year so I could get experience doing psychological research in order to be able to get into graduate school. I have a special place in my heart for that place and the fact that they were the only ones who were willing to take a chance on me.
The second story happened a few years after that. I was still working at UC Santa Barbara at the time. I had come back from a Semester at Sea trip and was working in the family housing group. I got a phone call one day from my eventual advisor and mentor, Barbara Mellers. She said, “Peter, I’m calling with good news and bad news. The good news is that you’ve been admitted to the PhD program at Ohio State University in Psychology. The bad news is it’s not in the department you applied to.”
Barb was in the Quantitative Psychology program which was a Behavioral Economics program. At least half of the program was before it was called Behavioral Economics. She wasn’t happy with the applicants that she had received so she went down the hallway to the admin for the Social Psych program and took the pile of rejects.
She went through it and pulled me out. That was my third year trying to get into a PhD program, probably 30-plus applications also. It was the only school I ever got into. Barb was an incredible mentor to me. Her husband, Phil Tetlock, also super generous, trained me well and gave me great opportunities, which I took advantage of, including introducing me to Danny Kahneman, whom I did my Post-Doc at Princeton with. It set me on a path to being a professor in the way that I am now.
I see this as one of those moments. No one else sees me, wants me, or gets me. It only takes one to give me a chance. Not to be immodest, but I’m an overachiever. If you give me a chance, I’m going to take advantage of it. I’m super thankful for Elizabeth taking a chance on me in a world where 20 or 30 people looked at me and couldn’t see it.
You said at the beginning of this conversation that you feel very lucky and this is a lucky break for you. I don’t think it’s luck. It’s you and your perseverance and trust. You knew this book was coming. No matter how it had to come, it was going to come and you didn’t, at any point, when you were getting the noes or you were getting, “We’ll take it if it’s this way or if you change this or if you do it the way you want.” You were like, “This is how I’m doing it.” You believed in yourself and in the process. You got exactly what you asked for from the perfect person.
There was no stopping me. There was no gatekeeper, not in the way that the previous two stories had gatekeepers. If I don’t get into a PhD program, I don’t become a professor. In this case, I knew I was going to publish the book in some way, shape, or form. that this is the right choice. It has its imperfections. You give up some control, it’s on a different timeline than I would like, and so on.
Do you want to chat about the timeline a little bit? I know that keeps coming up for you as a little bit of a stressor. Do you want to dive in? Tell me your feelings about it. What is the timeline?
They gave me 90 days to deliver the manuscript.
You signed the contract already, so the clock has started.
I’m still waiting for the contract to get signed. Some lawyers are looking at it but we’re in it.
When is the date?
May 15th, 2023. It’ll probably be many days from when this episode comes out.
What does between now and May 15th look like for you and your life? He’s bright red right now.
In Shtick to Business, I wrote about how constraints can be good. We have a tendency to think about constraints as bad, but they can spur creative thought. I’ve already changed my expectations about the book. This book doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be good enough. One of the reasons that I was spinning my wheels is because I can very easily obsess, try to write perfectly, try to get everything in there, get it in exactly the way it needs to be, and do it on my own.
I am going to lower my expectations about what I imagined this book was going to be. That’s fine. That has to be the case because I was planning on getting the book written by September 1st when I was going to do it myself and that felt ambitious. I’ve done something like this before. I wrote my dissertation in a summer because I had to because I was starting a job and I needed to defend my dissertation. I did it and I did a good job. It’s going to involve a change to the product and to my process.
The change to the product is I’ve decided I’m going to make a little bit of a lighter book than I had planned. I don’t know how exactly going to work right now, but I’m planning a series of short chapters, 1,000 to 4,000 words, rather than this very traditional 3-section book with 3 chapters in each section and 3 sections in each chapter. That might be like 70,000 words, a traditional book in this space.
This book will be a lot breezier. It’ll be 40,000 to 50,000 words. It’s going to be a little easier to read and a little more fun to read. I’m going to make it a little more giftable in a sense. It doesn’t have to have everything and be perfect. It just has to do what I said at the beginning of this conversation. It just has to give people language and perspective.
It has to validate them to give them permission to live a different path that they want. It’s going to provide the solo movement with a marketing opportunity that it wouldn’t get otherwise. That’s the change to the product. Frankly, I’m just writing the sections and I’ll decide on the order of them later. I’m writing it almost like puzzle pieces, which I know you like to do.
I love that. I was excited about sitting down on the floor and laying them all out and putting them back together.
It’s funny you say this because I was working on a section. I went to a coffee shop, brought scissors, cut up the entire section, and then reordered it.
Did you bring a glue stick?
I didn’t. I just used a paperclip. I put them in order and put them on a paperclip. When I went home, I pulled them out and rearranged them on my computer. The process of writing it is already causing me a little stress.
In what way?
I’m teaching right now. I have a job as a professor and I have a show that I do regularly. I have a social life and all the other things I do for the Solo project. I work out and I do all this stuff. I’m starting to contract anything that’s not essential to my life. I will not compromise sleep. I’m going to change my exercise a little bit where I’m doing like maybe two hard workouts a week. On the other days, I’m doing what I call Move with Joy where I have to counteract all the sitting.
Is that like you dancing around in your apartment?
A move with joy would be like, I’ll go into the gym and I might hit the heavy bag for a little while. I might do some bear crawls or handstands. I might jump rope. I do a workout that doesn’t make me breathe hard. I’m not wiping myself out, but I feel good and I’m moving in ways that I like to move.
I was picturing you with a hula hoop, twirling some ribbons in your living room.
If I’m a little high and playing music, I’ll dance around my apartment. I am going to continue doing the show. I have enough in the queue that I can almost get to May 2023 already. I have to fill in some blanks with episodes that are directly related to the book. For example, one of those short chapters is on this idea of relationship design. It’s my take on relationship anarchy. I’ll be perfectly honest. I don’t fully know what I’m going to write in that section yet so I’m going to do an episode on relationship design.
I love how in real-time, you’re doing the research to put into the book and work that out and process it. that’s interesting.
I’ve postponed some tapings. I had a very fun episode with Lucy from Spinsterhood Reimagined about flirting. Lucy’s a natural flirt and I’m a semi-natural flirt. I told her, “We need to do this after May.” She’s like, “Of course.” That’s not going to be in the book. I feel like every hour before May 15th is much more valuable than every hour after May 15th. You’re going to love this, Kym, because I don’t want to be stressed and unhappy for 90 days.
I’m lucky I have help from people like you. I’ve had people say to me, “I want to be a friendly leader,” so I’m going to have help. I have a research assistant helping me. I’m creating a process where while I’m working on one section, my assistant is doing research for another section, and then I have a person who’s helping me edit and work on another section. There are always three sections in play at any one point in time. I’ve been working on it. I’ve been doing what I want to call joyful production.
Is that you with the hula hoop again?
It could be. It might be taking an edible and playing fun music. It might be going to an enjoyable place like doing a little writing retreat somewhere that has nice weather or a nice place to sit and be as long as my class doesn’t suffer and my students don’t notice any drop in my performance. Not to be immodest, but I bring it when I teach.
He wears a suit and everything.
Not always. I do wear a suit a lot, but I bring it. It’s exhausting to teach, but I’m not going to shortchange them. They don’t deserve that. Those other days of the week, why can’t I have fun doing this? If this book is going to be good, if it’s going to help people reinvent their life, the energy going into it has to be positive. It has to be joyous. I don’t want unconsciously for me to be writing negative, scared, or anxious just because I have a deadline.
I love that so much. It reminds me of that concept about the water and energy with the water where if you speak positive words into the water, it changes the molecular structure.
Is that true?
Yeah. There’s a whole documentary about it, but it’s like the energy of positivity that you put into something is reflected in that. I love that.
Wherever possible, I’m trying to have fun with it. It should be joyous. This is a celebration. This show is fun and factual. That’s what I want the book to be like.
In the book, you are sharing some personal stories as well. Is that correct?
I am, yes.
Is there anything you’re most excited to share about yourself that readers probably don’t know or aspects or are we saving it for the book?
I had a line in the proposal in which I talked about my hesitancy to have a vasectomy. I have had a vasectomy. That’s something that I have never mentioned before on the show, but I’m going to talk about it at some point in some way in the book. How did I make that decision? Why and what went into it?
This is something you’ve been thinking about when we had Dr. Stephen Siegel. That was like episode 2 or 3.
The first term, I met him on a consult for the vasectomy and he was so great. We’re now friends.
Are you going to talk about what your hesitancy about that was?
I’ll have a little bit of stuff in there. There are not going to be any huge insights because, in many ways, I don’t hold back that much here in the show but there it goes. The cat is out of the bag or the vast deferens have been snipped.
I’m not even going to play with that metaphor.
I don’t even know what the thing is, so yes.
What about different guests that you’ve had on the show? Are they going to show up in the book? How large is my part in the book?
I was saying constraints can be good. I have strengths and weaknesses as a writer. I’m not great at writing about who someone is and painting a picture. I don’t have much experience doing that. I’ve never written fiction before and so on. I’m profiling proud Solos in the book. There’s going to be a section for the Some Days, Just Mays, the No Ways, and the New Ways. I’ll talk about some of those people. I’ll talk about Lisa Slavid and how because she was single, she could retire early from her job and take on new challenges in life, both artistically and with regard to her own entrepreneurship.
One of the things that I’m doing, and you can consider this an invitation if you’re reading this, is I’m soliciting short stories. I’m calling it tentatively A Love Letter to Solo, where people get to tell their story about how they were stuck and didn’t feel like they fit and the changes that they made internally and externally that allowed them to live a remarkable life.
I’m going to be putting this out on the Slack channel. I’ll be putting this out in my newsletter. I’m basically going to share a link that will take people through a process if they want to submit a story, and it’ll be edited and there’ll be some feedback given, but a certain number of them will be accepted and put into the book.
I’m envisioning it now as little buffers between the sections. That’s a fun thing. that that, in some ways, solves the critiques that I was getting, which is how can this one man who has limited experience as part of a dominant culture speak to the breadth and diversity of single living? The answer is, I can’t, so I’ll let the people who are part of that breadth and part of that diversity speak for themselves.
I’m excited to hear these stories. What gave me the idea was people send me their stories all the time, and they send them in notes of thanks, or when someone joins the solo community, I ask that they introduce themselves. We have a channel for introductions. I read these introductions and they’re so articulate, thoughtful, positive, and so excited about being part of this world now. I was like, “This seems like a no-brainer to do.”
it’s a great way to also connect with your community. Whether or not the stories make it into the book, it’s a beautiful thing to have them out there so people can relate to each other. Shared experiences. That’ll be cool. Solos, submit your stories.
For the ones that don’t get accepted, and my hope is I have so many that we can pick the most amazing ones, I’ll do like a series of blog posts where people can still put this out in the world because they’re spending time and effort and they’re being vulnerable and authentic. It would be a shame to not share them.
Even maybe at the end of the episodes, you read a story once a month or something like that so everyone can connect and relate to each other. The goal of the book is to continue to build the community. Where else can you do that to support the release of this book?
That’s a good note. Thank you.
I want to say one thing, wrapping up the production process. I’ve known you now for years. Throughout our whole friendship, it has been great friends with great love from the heart, but also a very academic writing-oriented relationship. I’ve read a lot of what you’ve written over the years and I’ve seen you grow so much as a writer.
I feel like you have found your voice and especially with this project. Reading early drafts of this Solo book, I was reading drafts of Stag years ago. The original idea was Stag. To see your growth as a writer and your passion with this project, I do feel like that does translate to the page. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’re going to pull this off and do it in such a fabulous Peter kind of way.
I’m having fun with my writing. There are two people who have influenced me with regard to this. You. Anytime I’ve ever been vulnerable, be playful in my writing, whenever I shook off the academic speak, you’ve always rewarded me for that. I needed that because it’s unusual. It feels a little risky. It might be a little less precise, but it’s spicier. It’s more flavorful.
I moan so hard when you make a good metaphor. It’s essentially an orgasm for me anytime someone makes a good metaphor.
What’s interesting is that I love words. I love speaking and weaponizing words, whether it be in the classroom, in making arguments on paper, or in a conversation. I’m good enough at that. The other person is Darwyn Metzger, whose name comes up on occasion in the show. He’s supported me from the very beginning. He’s in the I Love You, Man episode.
He gets so agitated where he says, “You need to put aside that academic pea shooter you’re used to writing and pick up that bazooka, which is your voice. When I read your writing, I want to imagine you at a dinner party, telling a story, or guiding the table, or at a party, entertaining a group of people. When you do that, that’s when you’re at your best.”
That’s a good, powerful note. I love that. Have you ever heard Brené Brown? This is all hearsay from another book, but her writing process is telling her friend’s story. She’ll take her friends on vacation, sit there, and tell the stories to them verbally and they take the notes. She then goes back and writes it. It’s that connection. You’re such a good and authoritative speaker that that’s a natural pathway for you, so just think about that and how to capture that. If you want to take me on vacation somewhere, I’ll sit and listen to you talk to me.
It’s weird you say that. We can go on a writing retreat. I’m about to start doing something that might sound a little weird, but I’m going to start rereading episodes and see if there is some little nugget that I forgot. I don’t know if people know this, but on my website, every episode is transcribed. I have verbatim quotes that I can cut and paste as necessary. Instead of listening to music or other shows, I’m going to start reading my own show.
Not in a totally narcissistic way, just in the research way.
In the cringeworthy, “I can’t believe I said that,” kind of way. There’s one last thing about the production stuff that’s interesting. I’m negotiating this. I don’t think I’m going to be able to pull it off with regard to my full vision, but I want the book to be fun. I want it to be playful. I want it to be giftable. In the same way that people refer the show to others, I want people to say, “Read this book.” Frankly, that’s the only way that it’s going to reach. You can’t rely on the media to get the word out.
The thing that you can rely on are people reading it, it resonates, and they refer it. it’s easy to refer a book that’s fun, playful, and unapologetic, but also is a little pretty and interesting. I’m going to have some elements. I’m going to have some figures. You can’t get away from the facts and figures. That’s who I am. I’m going to also have drawings and imagery in there to make it a little more palatable and a little more interesting consumption experience. I’m going to be trying to find an illustrator.
It’d be fun to find someone in the community. If you’re an illustrator, reach out to Peter. I want to know what’s it going to look like, the rollout of this book. Are we having a fabulous party?
We are. I am largely punting on marketing until after the manuscript’s delivered, but there are a few things I’m already envisioning and some things I had already started working on. People don’t do book tours anymore. I do want to do a book tour. Book tours are fun. I had a blast doing a book tour for my first book. I didn’t get to do one for my second because of the pandemic. I imagine, instead of a bunch of boring readings at bookstores, I want to do a series of Solo Salons in cities that are well represented by my community. That’s perfect for local media. Also, the salons are fun. They’re celebrations and it’s a good reason to bring people together.
Would you also have more variety than you doing a reading of your book?
We’d have comedy, dance, poetry, music, and talks.
What city? Where’s your list you want to go?
In terms of some standouts from the community, Portland would be there. Kriss Rita, who did Truth or Truth, is up that way. I have to imagine she would help. Washington, DC, New York City, London. Those seem like obvious ones right from the start. Here at Denver, the epicenter of it all. Los Angeles, that’s where we did the Solo Salon for this episode. those are fair to put on the list from the beginning. Others remain to be seen. Make a case, if you want, for your city.
That’s some media stuff that’s fun. I’m working on this idea of the best cities for singles, and there are these lists out there, the happiest places, etc. There are these lists of best cities for singles. They’re total crap. I’m going to create a customizable list. You get to put in what your goal is. What is your age? It then spits out a bespoke list of the best cities to live in. If you’re going to retire, if you’re starting your business, if you want to meet someone, if you don’t want to meet someone, etc., that kind of thing. That’s very clickbaity but also useful.
You’re a scientist. You love the research.
I love that stuff. It’s a simple algorithm. It’s easy to do, but I don’t know. I’m open to ideas. I’ll do the show circuit, but I’m not sure yet beyond the obvious low-hanging fruit.
The focus right now is getting the book written.
I’m going to sell the crap out of it because I feel like it’s a moral imperative. Also, you can’t count on your publisher. No offense, Elizabeth. There’s a saying in the business and that is that publishers print books and authors sell books. Essentially, what I’m going to do is work hard to produce it. I’m going to take a little bit of a break in the summer. I’m going to take a legitimate vacation, something I haven’t done almost ever in my life, and then I’m going to push the second half of the year on getting ready to market and sell it.
I’m so excited for you.
Thank you. Kym, get ready. I’m going to lean on you a little bit.
I’m here for it.
Thanks for coming into the Solo studio and celebrating this announcement. I feel energized. I feel more energized than I was at the beginning when we first started talking.
Me, too. I’m excited for you. Thanks for having me.
- Kym Terribile
- Episode 1 – Past episode
- Episode 50 – Past episode
- Episode 100 – Past episode
- Episode 150 – Past episode
- Shtick to Business
- Paul Shirley – Past episode
- Diversion Books
- Lisa’s Second Mountain
- Lucy Meggeson – Past episode
- Dr. Stephen Siegel – Past episode
- I Love You, Man – Past episode
- Truth or Truth – Past episode
About Kym Terribile
Kym Terribile is an entrepreneur, and the solo founder of Wax Crescent, a candle company focused on the idea of self-care and intentional living (also a sponsor to the podcast). Kym holds a degree in English Literature from the University of Hawaii and now lives in Longmont, Colorado.