I am currently 2/3 of the way towards completing a book about my Starbucking adventures, and I am currently seeking an agent and publisher. If you have any contacts in the publishing industry that you can recommend, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The query letter and book proposal can be seen below if you wish to learn more.
My name is Winter, and I have received worldwide recognition for having visited over 16,700 Starbucks, more than any other person on the planet.
Twenty-five years ago I dreamed up the idea to visit every Starbucks in the world. Since then, my extremely unusual hobby has generated an ongoing stream of publicity and fan engagement, including over three hundred articles, segments, or mentions in major print and screen media.
For decades, fans and reporters have asked if I planned to write a book about Starbucking, and the pandemic spurred me to finally begin writing. I have now completed nearly two thirds of the manuscript and outlined the other chapters. The focus of the book will be squarely on the highly-marketable topic of Starbucks and my quest to visit all their locations, and the narrative will be framed within the context of my highly unusual life and the philosophies that guide me and my quest.
I plan to finish the remaining chapters this year, and I am confident that, based on all of the attention that my Starbucking has generated in two decades, with almost no PR, my Starbucking book will have great market potential.
Thank you for your time and attention, and if you would like to learn more about this book and its potential, I have prepared a comprehensive book proposal that I would be happy to send you.
SYNOPSIS Starbucking is a memoir focused around my decades-long quest to visit every Starbucks in the world. The book will detail all aspects of my journey, including its inception, challenges and obstacles I faced along the way, and answers to frequently-asked questions about how Starbucking works. The book will answer the question of “why Starbucks” and how I adapted my life to pursue the project, and how, in turn the project has changed me as a person. Although focused on Starbucks itself, the book will intrigue readers by delving into my usual life, which includes a nomadic existence as an IT contractor, an urban camping lifestyle, and tournament Scrabble. To the extent that they pertain to Starbucking, the book will delve into my relationships and family. The book will address the philosophy of Starbucking, and I will frame portions of the narrative within the context of philosophical ideas about how we can create a better world.
Because Starbucks has reached iconic cultural status and has a market presence in more than eighty countries, any project that associates itself with the company, even unofficially, will have a broad audience appeal. In the specific case of my Starbucking project, two decades of media attention and fan engagement have already demonstrated that my story resonates with anybody who has heard of Starbucks, and that includes everyone in North America and much of the rest of the world's population.
Based on the two decades of attention that my Starbucking project has achieved, this book will be highly marketable. The strongest selling point is Starbucks itself, because anything related to Starbucks, regardless of whether it is official or endorsed by the company, makes news. I do not have sales figures, but here is a short list of Starbucks-related books that have all generated significant buzz...
Pour Your Heart Into It and Onward were well-known books about the company by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill is a memoir that was optioned for a film prior to publication, with Tom Hanks to star (although the film itself never materialised) Everything But the Coffee by professor Bryant Simon is a culture study of Starbucks is still getting media hits over a decade later. The Starbucks Experience by professor Joseph Michelli is a business-oriented book that seems to have a fairly high profile. Coincidentally, I was interviewed by Dr. Michelli as part of his research for the book. Starbucked by Taylor Clark has a lower profile but still large enough to merit a review in the New York Times.
Based on this history of books about Starbucks and the media hits that my project has already generated, it is almost guaranteed that an announcement of this Starbucking book will garner significant media attention. When the book is eventually published, another wave of publicity will generate sales. You can get an idea of just how much publicity my project has generated, more than 300 hits in twenty years, by glancing at the Media Appearances page on my website...
My Starbucking project clearly generates ongoing media attention, and with rare exception, all of this publicity came about without any press releases or PR. If professional PR resources were employed, this Starbucking book is guaranteed to achieve broad recognition, both in North America and internationally, and generate sales.
Moreover, my own online and social media presence is large enough to generate sales even without PR. Thanks to my regular guest appearances on the Time Crisis radio show hosted by Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig, and his generosity in sharing and engaging with my Twitter and Instagram posts, I have nearly 4000 followers on the latter platform and over 2500 on the former, and growing. I am diligent about fan engagement, and that has the potential to generate long term book sales even after the initial burst of publicity has subsided.
My starbuckseverywhere.net website is another avenue for generating steady sales. During the 2010s, the website was high in search results and received thousands of visitors a year, more whenever my story went viral, but changes to Google's algorithm and a lack of search engine optimisation have diminished its prominence. With an investment in SEO aimed at securing a high position when users search for “Starbucks”, starbuckseverywhere.net has the potential generate sales for decades, so long as I continue the project (the rest of my life).
Finally, my Starbucking story has already demonstrated screen potential. The 2007 documentary titled Starbucking, while never a commercial success, has shown staying power and is the first hit when one searches for the term online. Other shorter video segments have proven popular, including VICE Canada, Unwrapped (Food Network), Foodie Fanatics (Cooking Channel), SBS Special (South Korean TV), The Wayne Brady Show (short-lived 2002 variety series). Given the insatiable demand for content for the streaming platforms, there is a great potential that my Starbucking story will be optioned for an update documentary, biopic, docuseries, or fictionalised series.
I begin the story in medias res and detail how my first Starbucking road trip took me from simply flirting with the idea to committing the project. I explain how my project was not that serious, not a priority, during its first year, and when I embarked on that first trip, I planned a number of other activities and experiences unrelated to Starbucks. I begin to lay the groundwork for the story of my eventual bankruptcy by explaining how my inexperience, poor planning, and lack of discipline led me to spend more money than was prudent given my already heavy debt load. I conclude by explaining that the joy that I felt in pursuing my Starbucking challenge during that first trip led me to prioritise Starbucking as my primary pursuit in life.
I answer the oft-asked question of “why are you [trying to visit every Starbucks]” by going back to the beginning and detailing my history with coffee and Starbucks. I explain how I came to drink coffee for the first time, how I discovered Starbucks, and how Starbucks became my third place. I explain how I developed an obsession with Starbucks that led to extreme behaviour, and then how that obsession triggered my idea to visit every Starbucks in the world. I delve into my psychology, specifically my need for attention, my collecting instinct, and my love for challenges, to explain why I chose to pursue that idea when most people would have dismissed it. I conclude by discussing Starbucking within a philosophical context.
I detail how began documenting my Starbucking project with photographs and how that decision immediately brought me into conflict with Starbucks partners, security guards, and police. I explain how I developed a series of techniques to take photos surreptitiously and minimise conflict, and I philosophise about a world where these unnecessary conflicts would not occur.
I answer questions that routinely come up when discussing Starbucking with fans and reports by explaing in great detail the intricate and arcane rules that I have defined for my project.
I do a deep dive into the ten trips to the United Kingdom that I took between 1999 and 2016, during which time I became an avid Anglophile. Besides expressing my love for the UK, a secondary theme running through the chapter is how I changed as a person during that seventeen-year time span. Because I spent so much time in the UK, my Starbucking adventures in that country are almost a microcosm of my entire journey. As the chapter progresses, I detail how I became more mature and discipline and how my priorities shifted from a pure focus Starbucking to other activities.
I discuss how I discovered that I could camp in the back of my hatchback and save hundreds and thousands of dollars, plus an untold amount of time, during my travels. I detail how urban camping brought no shortage of challenges, from police rousting me in the middle of the night to figuring out how to shower or stay warm in the winter. I then explain how I transitioned to urban camping as a permanent year-round lifestyle choice.
I explain how my project went from a simple list of stores in a file on my computer to a website that began to attract attention, eventually leading to an AP article that went viral and began a stream of publicity that remained steady for nearly a decade. I highlight the best experiences to arise from my publicity, including free trips abroad and a documentary film. I explain how my level of recognition died down for most of the 2010s then rose to new heights due to my guest appearances on the Time Crisis With Ezra Koenig internet radio show.
I switch focus from Starbucking to my Scrabble obsession, inspired by the book Word Freak, which delved into the fascinating North American tournament Scrabble scene. I explain how Scrabble contributed to my bankruptcy and soon began to compete with Starbucking for my time. I trace the evolution of my priorities, from Starbucks to Scrabble then back to Starbucks before switching back to Scrabble, and so on.
This chapter tells the tale, alluded to in early chapters, of how the irresponsible spending habits that I developed in college led to a debt that became unmanageable once I began Starbucking and later playing tournament Scrabble. I will explain how I was force to file for bankrupcty, and how, afterwards, I adopted a cash rules philosophy and began to limit my spending to the cash I had on hand. I will conclude the chapter by explaining how this policy has left me in a much stronger financial position while at the same time costing me many Starbucking opportunities.
I tell the story of how the Starbucking documentary film came to be. I begin the chapter with a brief discussion about truth, as it relates to documentaries, and then I jump back to the beginning and detail how the filmmaker came across my story and pitched his idea for a film. I explain the process of filming, generating publicity, securing a distributor and entry into festivals. I conclude by expressing how this film has been one of the highlights of my entire project, and how it remains a point of pride to this day.
This chapter focuses on Starbucks' explosive growth and details how their aggressive North American expansion in the mid-aughts made my life a nightmare as I tried to keep up while also maintaining a job and trying to rise in the Scrabble rankings. I explain how that growth led to an unprecedented implosion, the closure of nearly a thousand stores between 2008 and 2009, and how the Great Purge force Starbucks to adjust its growth patterns. I conclude by explaining that a decade after the Great Purge, Starbucks has apparently forgotten the lessons learned earlier and resumed overbuilding, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This chapter details my views on the institution of policing, and it is one of the most personal and meaningful. These views evolved from the law-and-order attitude of a naive high schooler to the more enlightened position that American policing is an artifact of slavery and should be abolished. I explain how I began to have negative encounters with police as a teenager which increased when I began Starbucking across the country then became precarious after I began urban camping. As I recount my many anecdotes, I discuss into some of the legal details related to policing and then my philosophy about a society free of policing, and I recount my experiences attending Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.
Chapter 13 (not yet written)
This will chapter will detail all of the software and other tools that are necessary to undertake Starbucking on a logistical level. It is possible that this chapter could be combined with the chapter on rules.
Chapter 14 (not yet written)
This chapter will detail one of the highlights of my Starbucking journey, the first time that I traveled around the entire world, from North America to Australasia to Asia to Africa to Europe before I returned to the United States. I will discuss how the three-month tour changed my mindset from one of needing material possessions to that of a person who can exist with nothing but a backpack. I will detail highlights including my 10,000th store and resulting media appearances, five days filming for South Korean television, visiting Tahrir Square after the Egyption revolution, and friends I made on the way.
Chapter 15 (not yet written)
This chapter will discuss how, after sixteen years as a Starbucks junkie, unwilling to drink any other coffees, I decided to try craft coffee and instantly became a convert. I will explain how I used the lull in new Starbucks openings to focus on craft coffee, and how my taste changed to the point that I no longer enjoy Starbucks coffee even though I must drink it to satisfy my Starbucking rules. I will also discuss my attempts to balance my ongoing Starbucking with my pursuit of craft coffee around the world.
Chapter 16 (not yet written)
This chapter will focus on my philosophy and general worldview and explain how they have guided my life and my Starbucking project.
This chapter discusses a question occasionally asked during interviews, how my Starbucking has affected my romantic relationships. I explain how I was a late-bloomer when it came to women but later found a measure of success through sheer persistence. I discuss how my transition to contracting and an itinerary lifestyle, and later my Starbucking and Scrabble hobbies, limited my opportunities to meet women until I began to gain recognition for my project. I explain how all of my relationships from that point were related to Starbucking, including my most meaningful three-year relationship.
This chapter discusses the crisis that struck my parents in 2018 and led to a significant realignment of my priorities and how that has affected my Starbucking since and for the foreseeable future.
Chapter 19 (not yet written)
This chapter will conclude the book by discussing how I am a different person than when I began Starbucking a quarter century earlier, how my priorities have changed, and how I expect Starbucking to fit into my life moving forward.
Sample chapters are available upon request.
Length: At present, the 12 chapters I have written, of 18 or 19 planned, contain 60000 words, so I predict a length, prior to editing of around 90,000 words. I expect that an editor will be able to help me cut the length if deemed appropriate.
Photos: I envision this book as purely text, but there is great potential to add photographs if this is deemed commercially viable, as I have more than 43,000 photos of the 16,700+ Starbucks that I have visited.