Case study: Angela Vassallo and The Second Wives’ Guide

My real work with Angela and her brilliant, informative book started with one of the most difficult emails an editor has to write. Part of the way through a style edit, I realised that the manuscript wasn’t yet up to publication standard. Editing wasn’t enough: it needed a lot more content. And I had to tell the author that. As an editor, that feels like the worst-case scenario – but actually, the real worst-case scenario is to let your author go ahead with a book that doesn’t reflect their expertise. I normally don’t accept books for a style edit unless I’ve given them a critique first, to avoid exactly this situation: we make sure that it’s in order then we polish it. As with all my authors, their expertise isn’t book-writing, it’s whatever they’re writing about. Book-writing is the editor’s expertise and it’s down to the editor not to let the author down. In this case, a less industrious reviewer had given Angela the go-ahead, so it was left to me to tell her that she wasn’t actually finished after all.

I had a cup of tea, I carefully wrote that difficult, tactful email, and Angela responded like a pro. Because the book was foundational to her business, Second Wives HQ, she wanted a top-notch book that would really showcase her expertise and she was more than willing to do whatever further work was necessary. She valued my honesty, I valued her receptiveness, and so our work began. Angela’s enthusiasm, her opennenss to learning, and her energy made her a joy to work with – and I think the same traits help explain how she navigates so well the various aspects of being a second wife.

The Second Wives Guide is an inspirational book for creating functional relationships with everyone in your blended family. A fun and easy read, full of personal stories, case studies and valuable tips, this book helps you develop the self esteem and confidence to claim your place in the family and give yourself the tools (and permission) to succeed and be happy. It poses the question — Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?

“Wherever you are right now, remember, this is the partner you’ve chosen, it’s your life, and you’re worthy of love, a fabulous marriage and a beautiful family.” Angela Vassallo

Among the different kinds of expertise, Angela is a perfect combination of the survivor and the called – she’d been through it all herself and she felt passionate about the topic. Her enthusiasm and commitment were absolutely core to our work, and are equally core to her book and her business.

Angela’s package

After I emailed Angela to say that the book needed further work, we gave it an in-depth critique. That included written advice on how to restructure the book and expand on the topics she covered, plus some options on how to proceed, with a follow-up discussion on Skype. Angela opted for weekly coaching, to steer her through the reworking process and also give her motivation and accountability. We did two rounds of 12 weeks of coaching, working through Angela’s second and third drafts, during which time Angela dramatically expanded the book to offer her expertise and research in much more detail, with wonderful case studies and easy-to-apply tips for the readers. The book also almost tripled in length, to a good solid 55,000 words!

The four pillars of Angela Vassallo’s book, The Second Wives’ Guide

ANGELA’S Area of expertise

Blended families, being a second wife, and step-parenting

The book’s role in ANGELA’S business

My book plays a huge role in my business. The main thing it has given me is credibility to talk and teach on the topic of  being a second wife and a step-mum. My book is the first and the most important product that I have created, it is the foundation to my whole business.

ANGELA’S readers

My readers are mainly second wives and step mums, but I’ve found that anyone who is part of a blended family is benefitting from it, whether they are the ex-wife, in-laws, step-child, friends of a blended family etc.

ANGELA’S Personal & business values

This book is very personal to me, because it has been written from my own experiences, but it is also very much aligned to my business values. Through sharing my story and research, I’m helping second wives and blended families find peace and happiness. My personal and business values are perfectly aligned: my book is a business and it is changing lives, so for me it is a win-win!

Angela’s experience of writing her book

Angela Vassallo - picThe aspect I found most natural was writtng to inspire women. I felt I could write from my heart and pinpoint exactly what I wanted to say in  my message. When I wrote from the heart, I was visualising women reading it, and feeling that they were being empowered – the hope that someone who had gone before them survived and thrived, and so could they.

The steepest learning curve was creating the structure and having some kind of order and flow to the whole book. Megan helped me go back to my book after the first draft, and create a whole new structure for the entire book. We  focused on each chapter having a specific and important message. Pulling this structure together and writing not only chapters but sub-headings, four parts, and case studies was a huge amount of work. But, in saying that, I was able to produce something beyond my expectations. Like anything, the foundation and structure needs to be there before you can build on it and produce a product that can be taken to the marketplace.

Through writing the book, I did an enormous amount of research and interviewed other second wives and step-mums. This taught me a great deal, especially about myself. It taught me that the message I share in my book is an important one and needs to be heard. It showed me how far I had come in building my own blended family, and that I was grateful and proud of what I had achieved. It proved to me that many of these second wives and step-mums were looking for advice, support, and validation. I realized that we needed to create the Second Wives Community and let these women know that they are not alone, and they are second to none!

To anyone else planning to write a book on their expertise, I’d give this advice:

Before you do anything, start with the end in mind, and get your structure down! Be as clear and specific as you can on this part: this will set up the flow of the whole book. Try working on it every day, even it is a just a little bit, to keep momentum going. Don’t give up on your book – no matter how hard it gets, finish it! Focus on your message and your area of expertise, and write from the heart. People need to hear your story!

You can find out more about Angela Vassallo’s book and her company at The Second Wives’ HQ, watch some of her TV interviews here, and buy the book here.

If you’d like help writing your book, let’s start with a chat.

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