Thursday, May 13, 2010

How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy: The Little Pink Book That Could

by Anne Milford and Jennifer Gauvain

When our friend—and fellow St. Louisan—Susan McBride invited us to guest-blog at the Stiletto Gang, my co-author Jennifer Gauvain and I were thrilled. It’s an honor to be in the company of such great female authors!

As we write this, we are in a post-launch-week fog. Our book, How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy, hit shelves nationwide last week. Between media interviews, a 22-city radio tour, and our launch party, we are exhausted. But it’s a great kind of exhausted.

We had a sense of déjà vu on Friday night as we rolled out the wedding cake, fluffed the tulle bows and set up the bar at our one of our favorite indie booksellers—Pudd’nHead Books. Hadn’t we just done this? Indeed, just twelve months earlier we had celebrated the launch of our self-published version (How to Marry the Wrong Guy) with a pseudo-wedding reception in the exact same spot.

What a year it has been! Writing a book has been one of the most wonderful, ego-crushing, exciting, and insecurity-laden experiences of our lives. Both versions of the book share the stories of women who knew their marriages were mistakes as they were walking down the aisle but continued anyway. As a therapist (Jennifer) and a women who almost married the wrong guy (Anne), we were obsessed with uncovering the reasons why so many women ignore their gut feelings and say, ‘I do,’ when they really want to shout, ‘No, no, I really don’t!’”

Last summer we were thrilled when our little self-pubbed book received lots of local—as well as some national—media attention. While we knew our work wasn’t over when we finished the book, we grossly underestimated what it would take to sell it. We spent countless hours doing our own promotion and marketing. We booked speaking engagements, networked, tweeted, and “Facebooked” like maniacs to build a fan base. We did whatever it took to promote “our baby.” To say we were obsessed would be an understatement! (Just ask our husbands.)

Both of us sold books wherever we went: in the carpool line (10 books!), at the swim club (at least 40 books!), at the dentist’s office (three books—one to the hygienist and two to the ladies eavesdropping in the waiting room!). Both of our minivans contained at least two cartons of books at all times. Jennifer took the prize for selling two books at the OB/gyn’s office—while in stirrups! The above doesn’t even include the time we spent packing, shipping, bookkeeping, and standing in line at the post office.

Why did we do this? Because we wanted to help women have better, happier, and healthier relationships. We felt it was worth the time and effort if we helped women get “unstuck” from the wrong guys. It was thrilling to receive grateful emails from readers and we were excited to hear about four weddings (that we know of!) that were canceled as a result of our book. However, after battling distribution challenges and one too many phone calls telling us that a bookseller said our book was “out of print,” we became very discouraged.

So when an agent came a-calling we listened. A fairy godmother had placed our book in his hands and he liked what he saw. And we liked him. He very tactfully suggested changes to the original manuscript and helped us write a proposal for a larger publisher. We were thrilled with the possibility of bringing a revised edition to a wider audience. Our brilliant agent did a stellar job, so stellar in fact we had an auction for the North American rights! And on October 7 of 2009, we signed with Random House/Broadway Books.

It has been a whirlwind of rewrites and revisions. Between our editor, publicist, and marketing rep, we have a dream team at Broadway Books. We are excited about helping even more women. And while it has been gratifying to become published authors, the best part has been making a difference in the lives of women. Not to mention the wonderful people we have met along the way. And since old habits die hard, if you know anyone who is stuck in a dead-end relationship, we have just the book for them. In fact, if you can’t find it at the store, we may have a couple of copies in the back of our minivans!

Anne Milford and Jennifer Gauvain are the authors of How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy: Is He the One or Should You Run? (Broadway/Random House, May 2010). Gauvain works as a marriage and family therapist and Milford is a freelance writer and editor. For more information visit their website at To order from booksellers, click here.


  1. Hi, Jen and Anne! Thanks so much for being our guest today! Love your post. You two prove that persistence pays off in this business (or at least gives you a much better shot at that brass ring!). Hope you sell a million copies, and not just out of the backs of your minivans! :-)

  2. Congrats, again, ladies!!! (*waving to Jen, Anne and Susan, too* :) I'll be recommending it to the young single women who work at my gym and are always sharing with me their relationship stories... I know they'll appreciate your great advice!

  3. Sounds like a book all young women should read. However, glad I didn't before I got married nearly 59 years ago.

    We were from opposite coasts (and at that time the south was something I couldn't believe when I went there to live), what seemed like two different time periods, knew hardly anything about one another, I was raised by loving parents, he was raised by a grandmother and two maiden aunts--and it goes on and on. It wasn't easy, but I wouldn't trade him.

  4. I love stories like yours, Marilyn! Sometimes you just take that leap of faith, eh? And in your case, it led to something very special and long-lasting!