“We’ve got your book,” said the title on the brochure that fell into my hands one fateful morning in Oxford, England, July, 2016. “Whether you are a mid-career writer, a journalist, or an aspiring author, King’s MFA is designed for you. Bring us your idea for a narrative nonfiction book, a collection of essays, or a biography or memoir and we can help you turn it into a manuscript that’s on the road to publication.” I did. If you have been following my Big MFA Adventure, you know that I now have a manuscript “that’s on the road to publication.” Or at least, on the on-ramp to that road.
In the program, we learned to write a book, a book proposal, and a query letter. We learned about the importance of attending conferences, networking, and how to research agents and publishers so that instead of cold-calling, we approach people who will be interested to hear from us. Check, check, and check–I’ve written a book, a proposal, and a query letter, which I am currently sending out, personalized with any first sentence or two I can imagine to gin up the recipient’s interest in what I have to say. Here, without further preamble, is that pitch. Suggestions welcome! Introductions even more welcome! – Sarah White
[subject line] Authors of “Love In a Can–The Soulful History of Glory Foods” are looking for representation
Dear [Publisher or Agent’s name here]
Dan Charna and I have written Love in a Can: The Soulful History of Glory Foods,a 90,000-word first draft that tells the bittersweet story of the unlikely partners who started Glory Foods to bring soul food lovers back to the family dinner table.
In December 1988, three unlikely friends conceived the idea for Glory Foods, the first food company to put soul food in a can and make it available outside the south. Their first product, a humble can of collard greens seasoned the way Momma used to make them, holds the complicated story of the South—the redemptive act of transforming, through labor and love, food unfit for the master’s table into nourishment for the soul.
Over two decades, despite a wildly successful launch, failure loomed many times as the company met unexpected disruptions—even the death of two of the founding partners. Love in a Canis a dramatic tale of friendship and trial by fire that ranges across the American landscape from Columbus, Ohio, where the founding partners came together, to the fields and canneries of the Deep South and the corporate offices of major food brands in the Midwest. Throughout, the founders fought to achieve profit and prosperity for the people and companies Glory Foods touched.
In 2010, to combat a predatory competitor, the Glory Foods brand was acquired by its longtime vendor-partner, McCall Farms. Today, Glory Foods has 200,000+ social media followers and a faithful customer base, giving this book a built-in market.
The strength of a memoir about business and history is the timeless appeal of these themes for a certain kind of reader. Books like Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – and Helped Save an American Town and Catfish Dream: Ed Scott’s Fight for His Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta are among comparable titles.
About the authors:
Dan Charna, as the sole surviving partner among the original founders of Glory Foods, is the leading authority on the history of the business. Dan is a tenured professor teaching entrepreneurship, economics, and finance at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. In addition to teaching, Dan consults with startup ventures in food and consumer products. He serves on the Advisory Board of McCall Farms.
Sarah White is a professional freelance writer residing in Madison, Wisconsin who writes on business development, entrepreneurship, and leadership. Sarah holds an MFA-Creative Nonfiction from University of King’s College-Halifax. Her passion for Love in a Can: The Soulful History of Glory Foods comes from her deep interest in founders’ stories and recognition of a gap in the American historical narrative where black entrepreneurship belongs.
The authors have the full support of the brand’s former and current executives in writing this book.
A detailed proposal including marketing plan, book outline, table of contents and a sample chapter is available for your review.
Thank you for your consideration,
Does your nephew work in publishing? Did your ex-husband marry an ex-agent whose rolodex is still plump with contacts? Do you bicycle in France every summer with a couple who work for the University of Georgia press? I’m working my connections any which way but loose–let me tap yours!
© 2019 Sarah White
The day after I posted this, I got a response from a publisher who’d received a version of it–asking to see my book proposal! Magic is afoot!