How I manifested a book deal (or did I?)

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I came across the concept of manifestation relatively recently. My ignorance might have something to do with the fact that as a medical practitioner I value empirical evidence over blind faith. My friends are aware of my scepticism when it comes to anything remotely woo and tend to exclude me from those discussions. But since joining the writing community, I’ve been exposed to all manner of new ideas, including manifestation.

The theory is that you can manifest an outcome by wanting something enough. Your thoughts, feelings and beliefs can bring about a desired physical reality. Put simply, you can get what you want by thinking about it. Some people make vision boards, others repeatedly write down their goal, and others employ meditation techniques to ‘raise their vibrations’. At its heart, manifesting places trust in the universe to bring about an individual’s (often self-centred) goal.

This is in part my problem with the concept: why should the universe care whether I get a book deal (I’m getting to my big news, I promise) or whether Jenny gets that convertible she’s always wanted? If it’s such a powerful tool, why don’t we all work together to manifest a solution to climate change or a cure for cancer? To that end, if someone doesn’t get what they want, does that mean they didn’t try hard enough? The doctor in me is horrified that seriously ill people might throw their efforts behind manifestation rather than evidence-based cures. Or blame themselves when it doesn’t work.

And yet, there are many anecdotes about people successfully manifesting their deepest desires. In an underpowered, unscientific study, I recently put the question to Twitter:

As you can see, the results were inconclusive. Little wonder so many people are attracted to the self-proclaimed certainty of alternative medicine and new-age spirituality over tedious scientific rigour. The quiz wasn’t a total waste of time, though. In the comments, author Kate Forster pointed me towards this interesting article about manifestation from a neuroscience perspective, which went some way towards convincing me that manifestation might hold value, especially if I could shape it to my own purpose and align the practice with my own belief system.

I came to view manifestation as a more positive version of ‘fake it till you make it’, something I’d been doing for years. I’ve always set myself goals and consistently worked towards achieving them. The problem was that when I didn’t achieve those goals, my perceived failure fed my imposter syndrome. What I wasn’t good at, it turned out, was honest self-examination. I decided to ask myself what it was that I truly wanted from writing, and why. Soon afterwards, having spent almost three years pitching my debut thriller All You Took From Me, I had a publishing offer.

How did I manifest that deal? In October 2022, I posted the above quiz on Twitter. The concept of manifestation was clearly on my mind, even if I wasn’t sold on it. Around the same time I had professional headshots taken by talented local photographer Syl Marie, something I’d previously told myself I could only justify if I had a deal in hand. I continued to send out my manuscript, but rather than submitting to every small publisher with open submissions, I eventually resolved to only send my manuscript to those publishers whose values aligned with my desired goal – a high-quality book on bookstore shelves. Meanwhile, I shifted focus to my work in progress and reminded myself of my overarching aim – to build a sustainable career as an author, whatever shape that might take.

In February this year, two-and-a-half weeks after sending my manuscript to Transit Lounge’s open submissions (the slush pile), publisher Barry Scott emailed to tell me that he’d like to publish my novel. I phoned my husband in tears, read the email another six times, then had two glasses of red wine and a profiterole for dinner. Heady times! I’m delighted to announce that All You Took From Me will be published in August 2024.

Now that I’ve achieved the goal I’ve worked towards for the last few years, I again ask myself whether I believe in manifestation. My story could be held up as evidence that once you honestly examine your goals and set your mind and actions to achieving them, you will do just that. Yet, the scientist in me would argue that one manifested book deal is anecdotal evidence at best. Show me an adequately powered randomised controlled trial and I’ll be more inclined to believe.

What do you think? Do you believe in manifestation?

By Lisa Kenway

Lisa Kenway is an Australian writer and doctor. Her debut psychological thriller, ALL YOU TOOK FROM ME, is coming in August 2024 from Transit Lounge Publishing. An early version was long-listed for the 2020 Richell Prize. A 2023 Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre fellow, her work has appeared in Island Online, the Meanjin blog, Meniscus Literary Journal and elsewhere. Find her at or on Twitter @LisaKenway.


  1. Wow Lisa, I love this post. I would say you definitely “manifested” your publishing deal. That is, if manifestation is as Dr Tara Swart says “when you combine strong intentions with sufficient action to make a desired outcome real.” It’s true that your manuscript has been sitting in a slush pile for years, but you have also kept working to raise your profile and improve your writing. Perhaps those actions prompted your publisher to offer you the deal after all this time. I feel sure they probably looked at your social media and your blog posts and other published work before offering you the deal.
    So huge congratulations on your book deal. I can’t wait to read.
    P.S. thanks for sharing. I have lots of thoughts on the power of the brain so this was all a wonderful reminder.


  2. Loved this look into your journey, Lisa! Congrats again on the deal and for persevering all these years. It sounds like manifesting did help you out, but so did your hard work and talent. I can’t wait to read your book.


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