“I turned my Teachable course into a book—with a major publisher”
The following is a guest post from Teachable creator, Jessica Murnane. Jessica is an author, speaker, and brand consultant. She has written two books: the cookbook One Part Plant and Know Your Endo: An Empowering Guide To Health + Hope With Endometriosis. In honor of Teachable’s Creator Month, in which we celebrate and share the expertise of creators everywhere, Jess shares her story how her personal journey with endo lead to both a course launch and a second book. Read on to see how Jess grew her business and get her tips for selling your book to a publisher.
In 2017, I wrote my first book (a cookbook called One Part Plant)—all about the food that changed my life and my relationship with my endometriosis. Although it was a straight-up cookbook and not an endo book, I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to raise awareness about the chronic condition that impacts one in 10 women.
So, I persuaded my editor to allow me to include a page about the symptoms. Did it stick out amongst the pretty food photos? For sure. But it ended up being one of the most important pages I’ve ever written, because it was that page that led me to teach my Teachable course, which turned into my second book.
After One Part Plant was released, I was overwhelmed by the number of stories and messages I received from people who told me that reading that one page about endometriosis was the first time they’d ever felt heard. And the first time they’d ever seen all of their endometriosis symptoms in one place (for some, that meant finally getting a diagnosis). Because of that one page, many had decided to change their diet, which helped them get out of bed, go to work, and finally feel in control of their endo.
As much as these stories inspired and amazed me, they also made me mad, sad, and confused. Why did it take reading a cookbook for these women to finally feel heard?! How was a book about gluten-free cookies also a tool for diagnosis? Most importantly, how could I teach them everything else I knew? Because it wasn’t just the food that changed my life. It was a whole set of management tools, including movement, stress-management, and self-compassion.
Starting from scratch
I thought that, maybe, I could create a course. But I also had no idea how to build a course from scratch, and I knew I didn’t have the money to invest in someone who did. After a quick search, I found Teachable—and all of a sudden, everything felt possible. So I got to work. And within a few months I launched my first course, called The Endo Toolkit.
When I set out to teach the course, I thought that it might be something I’d do a couple of times a year while I wrote another cookbook and taught cooking classes. But then I started to hear the transformations and success stories from people who took the course, and it was all I could think about! I learned that the tools were really working.
From online to print
I knew they were powerful in my own life but hearing about the transformations that women in the course had experienced made me even more determined to create an even bigger platform to share these tools. I realized I didn’t want to write another cookbook. What I really wanted was to turn my course into an endo book (and get it published with a major publisher).
Selling a book to a major publisher is no easy feat. It’s not just about having a great book idea, it’s proving that there’s a demand for the book (that it will sell) and that your concept is solid—then writing a really great proposal that proves both of those things. And thankfully, my Teachable course gave me everything I needed to make this happen.
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- The first thing I did was reach out to my Teachable students and ask them specific questions about how the course had helped them—what they’d gained from it and any feelings that had emerged while taking the course. I also made sure to ask their permission to share their words in a future book proposal. Their testimonials and insights not only gave me confidence to turn my course into the book, they would prove to the publisher that my course had successfully helped people, and showed the connections I’d made with my students (the same types of connections I could make with future readers).
- Next, I started on the book proposal, which is sometimes harder than writing the book! But again, my course gave me everything I needed. I used my course sections as the basic outline of the book’s table of contents and then dove into each section of the course to see how I could expand on it for a book.
- For the sample chapters of the proposal (publishers usually require a few sample chapters to show off your writing/the flow of the book), I transcribed sections of my course’s audio to give me a big head start on the sample chapters. That laid the groundwork for me to easily add research studies and additional information that I knew the publisher would want to see.
- After finalizing the proposal, I was able to take it out to publishers—and there was interest in the book! In my calls with different editors, I really leaned on the connection I had made with my Teachable students. They had truly helped me shape this book and taught me the importance of community—and not feeling alone—while living with a chronic condition. Without my course, the book would not have been possible.
More to come
Three years after starting my course, my second book, Know Your Endo: An Empowering Guide to Health and Hope With Endometriosis, was published this past April with Penguin Random House/Avery in the US and Headline Books in the UK/Australia. I’m forever grateful to Teachable for being the catalyst to make this happen. And yes, I’m already thinking of new courses and about how I can turn those courses into more books. To be continued!