Building Attractive: Already Pretty

How many of you know Sal, from Already Pretty? I imagine it’s a non-trivial number. She writes the kindest blog I know, offering style advice even as she advocates contentment with one’s own shape and size. In real life she’s open, lovely, and no-nonsense. Now Sal’s published a book. I’ve read it. Everyone has something to learn about how to dress oneself well from Sal.

Books, of course, aren’t just their content. They are projects reflective of the drive we have to matter. Here Sal talks about why she self-published. As in all of the best endeavors, her personal agenda lines up very nicely with the goals she has in serving her readers.

“When we dress to show respect for ourselves, people around us cannot help but sense our confidence. If you want others to respect you, you must respect yourself first. And show it.” Sally McGraw, Already Pretty

And some more from Sal, who is honoring us with a guest post today.

All is Vanity

I received a degree in creative writing in 1998. Back then, self-publishing was referred to as “vanity publishing” and considered to be laughable, illegitimate, downright shameful. I entered the job force believing that the only way to become a writer was to convince the cadre of already-employed writers and editors that you were up to snuff. And I did, and I nabbed a few freelance gigs here and there, and eventually became so frustrated with the insulting pay and rigged power system that I abandoned my love of writing to learn design, marketing, and project management.

In 2007, a friend suggested I launch a blog, and I did. It grew slowly which made the process all the more fascinating and rewarding for me. I still had some lingering feelings of illegitimacy since I wrote and published to my own website without ever soliciting the blessing of an editor, but I pushed that aside when I saw how rewarding it could be to write passionately and reach people immediately.

In 2010 I created a book proposal, secured a literary agent in New York, and worked with her for a solid year. She must’ve consulted with 20 or more publishers, all of whom said some version of the following: The book is well-written and original, Sally is terrific, and we’re not going to publish it because she’s not Tim Gunn and it’s too much of a financial risk. When I first contracted with my agent, I was convinced that the validation of a traditional publishing contract was essential. After a year of being told that my inability to sell tens of thousands of copies to total strangers was preventing me from making my book a reality, I decided I would damned well do it all myself. My readers had been requesting a book for years. I knew that SOME of them would be excited if I created and released one.

So I worked with a wonderfully diverse group of fellow bloggers to secure photos of their outfits, and designed my book according to my longstanding vision. And maybe I’ll sell 50 copies to my friends and family and then the book will disappear forever. But it feels fantastic to have followed this project to completion, despite being pooh-poohed by the struggling traditional publishing industry.

Writing has changed, publishing has changed, career paths related to writing and publishing are changing. I’m sure that many people will read my story and still see vanity publishing. I get that. Maybe it is vain to have been told by experts that you’re not good enough, and to plow ahead regardless. Or maybe it makes sense to utilize these new tools for creating and distributing creative work to reach whomever you can, instead of trying to reach absolutely everyone.

Buy Sal’s book here, or here if you’re in Europe. It’s worth it. And, since it involves what can feel like a big project, she’s building a forum so you can go build attractive together.

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  • I love everything about Sally’s philosophy and that she stuck with it. There is a huge market for this–I hope she sticks with it beyond the book.

    xo Mary Jo

  • I loved your comment. As I get ready to start writing both blog and books, I wouldn’t even think of doing anything but self-publishing. Why subject myself to that. Power ON.

  • Given how phenomenal the blog is, the book is bound to be great. :)

    That’s so disappointing that publishing houses were refusing the book (even after giving it all those compliments!) simply because Sally’s name doesn’t have big celebrity cachet. I’m glad it’s getting published anyway.

  • This is good news and I ordered the book!

  • Regarding her quote “When we dress to show respect for ourselves”; I’d like to see style people show some respect for their feet. When did style start requiring women wear shoes that will eventually cripple them? I occasionally read podiatrist blogs and they are steadfast in their opposition to a shoe such as the one on her book cover.

    3:42 pm
    Allison (a different one) said...

    Maybe you’re not a regular reader of Sal’s blog. To pick on this one point is kind of silly and quite ill-informed.

    Here’s what she said about those shoes on 4/22/12: “These lovely pumps were a gift from the folks at Ideeli, and they are probably my prettiest shoes. They are also unlikely to be worn on a day when I have to do more than five minutes of walking at a stretch, as that heel is both high and narrow and I just don’t have any stiletto skills.” Clearly, they make a pretty statement on the cover of a book.

    To diminish Sal’s credibility because of a shoe choice – well, I’d defend that girl to the end. Her intentions and blog content are nothing but awesome! I would suggest adding Already Pretty to your reading list. You can thank me later! :)

  • Good for you Sally. Totally ok to publish a book yourself today.
    Who knows – it may even end up as a valuable collector´s piece!!

  • Publishing has changed so much, and in such a short time. Then again, everything about the “writing” world (for many of us) has changed, making it exceptionally difficult to make a living doing what we do.

    The Internet offers a wide reach as well as a targeted one. I say – go for it! And plenty will be thrilled as a result.

  • Good luck with the book,more people are publishing their own books with great results. Ida

  • Good you went for it. This is what the internet’s for: reaching many many people in the most direct way. You will find out whether you have a clientele or not which is sterling entrepreneur’s behaviour. And not go through the bottleneck of one person’s or interest group’s opinion.

    Long live intelligence and freedom! Good luck to your enterprise.

  • Congratulations for sticking to your dream and believing in yourself. The publishing world has gone insane (I have several author friends) and self publishing is no longer vanity publishing. I think your book will do well, but more importantly, you saw your project through to completion. Well done.

  • I admire Sal and her blog! Off to buy her book!

  • I used to read Sallys blog on a daily basis. And I really like the quote, “when we dress, we show respect for ourself”. But for me, it is more than that. Instead of the word “dress” we should put in far more words: especially eat, move and take care for ourself!
    The older I become (I am in my forties) the more obvious this is to me: I have to respect myself in every aspect of life. And when I do so, other people treat me respectful.
    Mari from Germany
    (… thank you for your blog! I visit it daily!)

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] If you’re interested in how my bookcame to fruition, check out this guest post over at Privilege. […]

  2. […] like more info, or to hear from the woman herself, take a look at Sal’s guest post here last […]