In part one of Writing a Book 101, I took you behind the scenes of what securing a book deal with my publishing house, Quadrille, was like. Today, however, I wanted to delve into the process of actually creating Baskets, and what happened along the way.
The Writing Process
After signing my publishing deal, the first step was to submit a list of content ideas for the book to my editor and by February 2018 we had an initial flatplan to work from. Although the initial list changed quite a bit throughout the following six-seven months, it was a great framework to begin working from.
I wanted to keep as organised and on track as possible – running La Basketry full-time as well as writing the book was challenging at times but having the flatplan printed out on A0 paper and fixed to the walls of my office certainly helped me work towards each timescale.
I had four deadlines in total set by my editor spread across several months.
The projects were fun to make and my editor, the book designer and I created a Pinterest board with ideas we loved and visions we had for the book. It was clear to see we had a similar vision throughout the process which set my mind at ease. I also consulted the head designer at La Basketry, Khady, who manages all the products we create – I wanted opinions from not only those people I trusted but those who knew the business well.
Writing the instructions to go alongside each project was definitely the hardest part of the whole process – it was then it really hit home how much I still think in French, my mother tongue. English is my second language, and I suspect the copy editor had their work cut out for them on the first draft of the book.
The editorial pages such as the history of baskets, my story and home décor tips, meanwhile, flowed much easier and working on the book allowed me to plan a trip to Senegal to gather inspiration and immerse myself in the craft of basket weaving. It also meant I spent several hours at the British Library getting lost in their basketry section – they have hundreds of craft books, with inspiration on every shelf.
The Creative Side of Writing a Book
The creative side of producing Baskets was probably one of my favourite parts. I worked with a stylist and a photographer over four days of shooting to produce all the visual elements of the book.
The first two days took place in a beautiful location house in Peckham, South East London, and the other two days in a studio. The studio shots were mainly to capture the craft projects – you have to remember to stop throughout the process to take photos that were to be later be used to create illustrations, as well as making a note of the exact materials you used.
In regards to the team, Penny Wincer is a photographer I contacted when I first launched La Basketry as I long admired her work, and almost two years later here she was as the photographer to my debut book. The circle of business if you like.
I also loved working with interior stylist Nuala Sharkey, who found the most amazing props that really brought the baskets to life.
The most challenging part of the shoot was the cover but on day four we nailed it after trying a variety of combinations. With a front cover, not only are you taking into consideration how visually pleasing it is, but also how the masthead and by-line sit on the page alongside the image.
After the shoot, I was on cloud nine, in total bliss. I was in awe of the team and how they had brought my vision to life. Seeing the book come alive like that is still one of the proudest moments of my life.
The Final Product
The next three to four months were spent editing, amending, proofreading and making sure the page designs were as I wanted them. I was meticulous in checking the pages and felt comfortable enough to return to my editor if I felt something needed to be altered. I was privileged to work with the best team possible who explained the whole process in detail and made sure all my questions were answered. My tip here would be no question is too stupid or irrelevant.
The book finally went to print at the beginning of 2019 and in February I was sent my first actual hardcopy through the post. What a feeling opening that envelope.
Promoting your Book
Although I’m still very much in the process of promoting Baskets ahead of its release date, I wanted to share some tips I’ve picked up along the way so far.
1) Leverage your network. Reach out to anyone you may have worked with in the past and see if and how they can help to promote your book. I spoke to press contacts, influencers and podcast hosts I’d worked with previously, which means the book is already seeing traction just by reaching out to those people. 2) Utilise the PR department of your publishing house
3) Shout about it across your own social media channels
4) Not every release comes with a book launch party so plan other ways you can promote and celebrate your book
5) Amazon is king - it’s especially satisfying seeing your book climb up the charts
I suspect there will be a part 3 to this series but for now, all I’d like to say is thank you so much for all the support the La Basketry family has shown me in the run-up to Basket’s release. If you’d like to order your own copy – and I think you should! – just head to the link here and be sure to tag me on social media.