This time last year I hadn’t even had a first meeting with the bow-tie-loving man who was to become my commissioning editor.
Today, my first book – Unlock Your Style – is available for pre-order in online book stores around the world.
Talk about crazy.
Yes, you can now add to cart and have your book sent (physical or e-book) when it’s officially released on July 29, 2014.
I’ve put the links below for you and will add to them as more book sellers get on board.
Now, I realise that many of you have been with me on through the whole process but there are also many new readers here on Styling You so I thought I’d share a bit of what the last 18 months has looked like in the lead up to my book hitting bookstores in three months time.
I honestly still can’t quite believe that it’s happening. I look at the cover and pinch myself.
There’s a whole lot of work tied up in those 176 pages. And more to come as the focus now shifts to getting the word out about it.
How it all began
In October 2012, I attended a blogging conference – Problogger Training Event – in Melbourne. This is Australia’s top blogging conference for bloggers who are looking to create a business off – or because of – their blogs. It’s professionally run and attracts very good speakers.
Darren Rowse is the blogger behind Problogger and he set the tone and message for that particular event in his opening keynote. The message I took away from that keynote and the whole event was to find 15 minutes each day to work on something that takes your blog to the next level.
I didn’t know what my 15 minutes was going to be working towards at that point but it was bubbling away inside and first culminated in the Styling You Manifesto. This free download listed the key style statements that I’d previously blogged about and formed the basis of all the advice I give here on Styling You.
As I was creating the manifesto, I realised that sitting right there in that list of style statements was a series of blog posts that could help Styling You readers find or re-discover their personal style.
I had my 15-minutes a day blog work task right there.
The plan had been to spend time in December writing a 14-day series for the blog and have it ready to publish on every week day from January 1, 2013.
That didn’t happen. I didn’t write ahead, instead writing most posts the day before they published.
In the end those 15 minutes a day didn’t have to happen, the focus did. Unlock Your Style in 14 Days – the blog series – was born.
The series was a huge success. In what can be a quiet time online, more people than I ever expected turned up to work through the tasks over those 14 days. Thank-you if that was you.
By the end of the series, people were asking for it to be available in an ebook form.
This had been part of my original plan but I guess it was reassuring to hear that that’s what readers wanted too. I commissioned my web designer Kelly Exeter at Swish Design to design the ebook and published it in April 2013. Thank-you also to everyone who bought that ebook.
Unbeknown to me, one of those buyers was Hachette Australia commissioning editor Robert Watkins. Clearly a man with impeccable taste and a man who saw more potential in me than I did.
We met a year ago next week and in that meeting he said he’d like to see that ebook expanded and created into a physical book called Unlock Your Style. He sent me away with homework – to write a proposal and sample chapters – that he could take to a meeting in June.
I made that proposal deadline the night before it was due on my birthday. It went to that meeting and I waited. Patiently. Sort of.
I received an offer from Hachette at the beginning of July and on July 22, the contract was signed.
I started writing the book the week after I returned from a weekend at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat. The weekend was well timed to clear the head, put my health in focus and prepare for a very busy two months of writing.
I’m generally organised but prone to procrastination so I had to discipline myself to stay on task. I wanted to make sure I was still blogging and publishing here each week day and I wanted to create time for writing the book.
That didn’t leave much time for anything else but it’s amazing what you can get done when you have to and are hardwired from a lifetime in journalism to respond to a deadline.
Robert and my editor Kate had me submitting four chapters every fortnight. Breaking down the long-lead deadline into sizeable chunks was just what I needed. I then broke those fortnightly deadlines down to weekly deadlines of two chapters.
Oh and it helped that I had a reward of a girls’ getaway in Bali at the end of the writing process.
Before I got on that plane and even dared dreamed of my first cocktail, the photo shoot had to be organised.
Honestly, this was way more stressful than the writing bit. It was in Sydney during Melbourne Cup Week so all the product we wanted to shoot and include in the book had to get to the studios in time.
Over three days, my girlfriend (the same girlfriend we went to Bali to celebrate her 40th) and I worked like a finely tuned machine organising the shooting of hundreds of fashion and beauty products as well as images featuring myself and three other “non-models”.
The aim – like all that I champion here on the blog – was to visually represent a range of ages, sizes and shapes. Because ALL WOMEN ARE REAL.
While all this was happening, my words were being melded into something worthy of being published. My copy editor Elizabeth worked her magic and left me with copious notes to work with in the manuscript.
I’ve been edited all my life so not at all precious in this department. Which is just as well as copy editors are incredibly detail-orientated, ie very good at their job. I’ve vowed never to use the word actually again. Actually (oops) no I haven’t, I’ve promised to cut back.
Christmas came, delivering with it my first look at the book’s cover. Best. Present. Ever.
Second best present was a break in book production duties until February. Thank goodness.
Moving house really took it out of me. I’m sure I would have rallied but thankfully I didn’t need to as the next job was another big one – working on getting the final look of the pages just right.
Seeing the book designed and printed out on paper was a huge buzz but it also makes it easy to immediately see things you’d like designed in a way that best delivers your book’s message.
I’m really excited with the final product – the result of all the team working on creating a good mix of text and visuals that hopefully you’ll love too.
You’ll find in Unlock Your Style a mixture of stories (mine), advice and “homework” so that you can work through each chapter and confidently develop and foster a personal style that makes YOU feel fabulous – every day.
I’ll have a physical copy of Unlock Your Style in my hands at the end of this month. Awesome early birthday present when you think I’d just submitted the proposal on the eve of last year’s birthday.
It will be in stores from Tuesday, July 29. Mark that date in your calendars, Stylers.
I met with the sales, marketing and PR team at Hachette last Thursday and understand a bit more about how it all works from here.
At this stage there will be launches in Sydney and Brisbane and lots of smaller events happening around south-east Queensland. I’m hoping that I’ll also be able to then get around to other parts of Australia and meet as many of you as possible – and sign your book of course.
You can let me know where you’d like to attend an Unlock Your Style book event.
But I know you want more … or can’t wait to click add to cart.
This week my book has been listed in all manner of book-type places online if you wish to pre-order your copy.
It’s available in a physical, wrap-your-hand-around-it, put-it-on-your-coffee-table kind of format as well as online for those with Kindle, Android and iEverything devices.
Here’s where you can pre-order now, should the urge take you.
I’ll add in more retailers as they come on board.
My message here on the blog – and in the book – is one that I hope resonates with you.
We’re not solving world peace but through aiming for a little wardrobe peace, I want you to feel confident in your style.
It may seem like a small, superficial thing but from personal experience and from those who have shared their experiences with me, I know it can be a very big thing.
Thank-you for reading and joining in this community. Your support for this blog and each other makes this the best job I’ve ever had.
Are you as excited about July 29 as I am?
PS. If you’re a blogger and would like some tips on how to get your work noticed by a publisher – to go from blog to book – the very talented blogger and author Allison Tait wrote this post here on Styling You: Are book publishers looking at your blog? I can also highly recommend the writing courses through the Australian Writers Centre.