Call it optimism, doggedness, perseverance, or pure luck, but after working for more than two years on a non-fiction book on dating after widowhood, we landed a signed contract with an agent last week. And it feels sweet.
The we is my friend and par excellence writer Mary Dempsey, who dates a widower, and me, who has been widowed for more than seven years. I have had enough adventures and downright ridiculous experiences to qualify as an experienced dater.
This is a book most people won’t want to read, because it means they are widowed and the majority of widows don’t ask for that status. I’ve met a few women who were in unhappy marriages when their husbands died. But they still grieved because at some point, they loved that spouse, and their kids lost their father.
The book was Mary’s idea, spurred somewhat by this blog of mine. Her relentless positivity that we would get an agent helped. I gave up on it several times, mostly because I thought the niche the book occupied was too small. But Mary did the research that proved there are roughly a million widows in the United States and a surprising percentage of those women would like to have another chance at love or, at least, pleasant companionship. (Living alone blows as far as I can see, especially as you get older and might have to deal with health concerns.)
Our book, Death Did Us Part, the name we gave it fully aware that a publisher might change it, is nine chapters with one of my blog’s interspersed in each chapter. It’s roughly 40,000 words, and addresses everything from how to meet a potential partner online to having sex with someone new after 20, 30 or 40 years of getting it on with the same person. It touches on dealing with potential or existing health concerns with a new man after experiencing the death, fast or slow, of your former spouse. It digs into dealing with the baggage (kids and family and friends) that people come with.
It does this using information we gleaned from interviewing several widows and a few widowers and via research and well-done news articles.
The way a lot of books get published these days is through self publishing — fairly easy to do. Or by finding an agent willing to take your book on — difficult. Even after signing a contract with an agent and after the agent procures a publisher, the writer or writers needs to help sell it. Our social media platform, which includes our web site (deathdiduspart.com), our Twitter account, our Facebook account, Mary’s web site and my blog, should help get the word out. But we will need to pitch stories on our topic to publications and web sites, do book readings and signings at book stores and much more.
For now (this week), we can pause and enjoy that we have an accomplished agent. We are proud of the book. We think we may sell a few copies, and we hope to help a few people find their way.