Meredith May

Most authors dream of getting traditionally published, but in today’s publishing climate it’s becoming increasingly difficult for authors to get those deals. In today’s episode Brooke and Grant discuss traditional publishing, The Dream, and rejection. Meredith May, a journalist and sixth-generation beekeeper who has a brand-new memoir out, shares her long journey toward traditional publication—including the many drafts, writing the book proposal, and her eventual meeting of hearts and minds with her publisher. And don’t miss this episode for what you’ll learn from Meredith about bees.


Meredith May is an award-winning journalist, author, and a fifth-generation beekeeper. Her memoir, The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage, and a Girl Saved By Bees, reveals the life lessons she learned in her grandfather’s Big Sur bee yard that rescued her from a difficult childhood. She’s a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter and taught digital journalism and podcasting at Mills College in Oakland for 10 years. Meredith lives in San Francisco, where she cares for six beehives in a community garden.

Writing Action: Set Your Parameters

This exercise is a commitment to yourself. Even if you’re a long ways from publishing your work, consider how badly you want to be traditionally published. If the answer is really badly, then please consider the following.

  1. You have to have an author platform that cannot start the day you start shopping your book. Begin early, and consider hiring someone to help you.
  2. Set a specific number of months aside to shop to agents. Maybe it’s four or five or six months. Or maybe it’s a number—50 or 100. If you don’t get the answer you’re hoping for, turn to Plan B.
  3. Don’t forget about small presses. The Big Five is not the only game out there, and while you need an agent to shop to the Big Five, you can shop directly to small presses. But never shop simultaneously—meaning you cannot shop your book to agents and editors at the same time. You might try agents first, and then shop directly to editors after that. But set similar parameters for shopping to editors. Aim high, and don’t allow your value and self-worth to get tied up in someone else’s yes.

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