Melinda Wenner Moyer—How To Raise Kids Who Aren’t Assholes

How to Raise Kids

How to Raise Kids


Melinda Wenner Moyer
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, July 20, 2021, $23.99
ISBN 10: 0593086937, ISBN 13: 978-0593086933

Moyer reports:

Friends had long encouraged me to write a parenting book — I wrote one of Slate’s parenting advice columns for years — but I always scoffed at the idea. Who was I to tell other parents what to do? I hardly know what I’m doing with my kids.

Fast forward to 2018. I was feeling a lot of angst about the state of the country and its future. I kept thinking: How can I ensure that my kids don’t grow up to be Donald Trump? I was out with my husband when I realized other parents were probably asking the same thing. And as a science journalist, I knew I could find answers. I suddenly blurted out to my husband, “I should write a book called How To Raise Kids Who Aren’t Assholes.” And there it was.

The next morning, I emailed the agent I’d been talking to about other book ideas, Larry Weissman. I knew this was The One. I then put together a proposal with his help, met with publishers, and we sold the book on auction to Putnam. I used my advance to fund my reporting, most of which was done over the phone.

Melinda Wenner Moyer

Melinda Wenner Moyer

I started by breaking the concept of assholery into specific traits, and then identifying research that had been done on how it develops. So, for instance, one key aspect of assholery is selfishness. I knew I wanted a chapter on what the science tells us about how and why kids become selfish and how to nurture the opposite — generosity and helpfulness.

One thing I wish I’d known before I started the process: Everything about book publishing feels sloth-like. It’s so much slower than magazine publishing at every stage. Even the wait for the proposal to go out to publishers felt like years. I also wish I’d stumbled across the very informative and hilarious book Before and After the Book Deal by Courtney Maum much earlier than I did. The publishing process is terribly opaque, but Maum sheds light on what to expect, and it’s comforting to read her account of the anxiety-ridden process.

Contact info:

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Jul. 13, 2021

Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

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