I’ve often complained about how hard it is to travel and work at the same time. Usually something gets sacrificed —and it’s usually work. I like to travel more than I like working on this site; I often have to spend days catching up on stuff when I could be out hanging with new friends.
However, this site usually brings me more lemonade than lemons. Like how one day last month I opened my inbox to find this email:
My name is Maria from Penguin/Perigee Books. I’ve been following your blog for a while, which I found through Chris Guillebeau‘s site. We are interested in publishing your e-book “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day” as a print book. We think it would be a great, inspiring book for people.
If this is something you are interested in, I’d love to talk to you more about this over the phone.
People have often told me I should write a book about my travels. (And not just my mother!) They tell me I have an interesting story and that it would be cool to read it in a book. But I’ve never really given it much thought. No one really wants to read about a single guy traveling the world, do they? There’s a reason guy versions of Eat, Pray, Love never take off. Moreover, the more I travel, the less special I realize I am. Lots of people do this, and I’m just like everyone else. My story isn’t unique or even that interesting. I really don’t think I have much to give in the way of a book. Furthermore, I’m lazy, and I’d rather travel than write a book.
Plus, to get a book deal, I’d need to get an agent, write a proposal, shop it around, and then maybe I’d get a publisher for it. Or maybe not, and all that work would be in vain. The book industry isn’t as strong as it used to be, after all, especially since Borders has now closed. Why bother when I could be doing something more appealing in Europe?
But here was a book deal landing right in my inbox for a book I’ve already written. An offer direct from the publisher that would let me avoid all that hard work. It was an offer wrapped and tied up with a bow for my taking.
Now that was worth thinking about!
Opportunity often only knocks once. Though I was skeptical about the seriousness of the offer at first and what I would have to give up, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I would be a fool for turning this offer down. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I couldn’t say no to this, even if it meant (and it does) changing my plans. (Plus, it would fulfill a childhood dream of becoming a real author!)
So I got an agent to negotiate all the fine print, and the ink is currently drying on the contract. Sure, by taking the book deal I give up the right to sell my e-book on my own and will get a lot less money per book, but it greatly increases the reach of my book and this website. It’s not all about the money, after all. And there’s something to be said for being able to walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelf. Giving up the direct-sale aspect is worth a book deal.
The book won’t be published in print until early 2013. The editor and I both want it out for the summer travel season, and because of the way book print cycles work, I missed the summer 2012 deadline. (I probably shouldn’t have let the original email sit in my inbox for so long!)
But the more I think about it, I’m happy about this. It means I don’t have to rush out a manuscript to them quickly and cut my current trip short. (For the print edition, I need to basically triple the size of the book.) The new date gives me some time to relax and write it thoughtfully. Most likely, I will spend some extra time in Asia, relaxing on some island, with nothing but me and my laptop.
Sometimes my website takes me away from my travels, and it’s all lemons. But then, other times, it allows me to fulfill childhood dreams of becoming an author, traveling the world, and living a pretty amazing life. And then I realize this site isn’t lemons — it’s all lemonade, no matter how much I might complain sometimes.
This book might not make me Rick Steves (or maybe it will — watch out, Rick!), but I’ll be able to look back one day and say, “You know, once I had a book published, and it was awesome.”