RADIANT is my first book. The whole process has been the biggest, most exciting rollercoaster from start to finish! I love amazing tales of how someones book came to be. Mine is not a story of knocking endlessly on doors, being turned away and serendispiudously meeting a publisher in a cafe when I was down to my last pound, but I like to think it’s a beautiful story nonetheless.
My little book journey started exactly three years ago. I’d had a lifetime of struggling with skin issues, ranging from teenage spots to psoriasis so painful I could barely sleep at times. I’d had it with antibiotics and steroids, non of which ever really resolved anything. My Drs suggestion we try a chemo drug to suppress my immune system was the catalyst to quitting medication and searching for a better, more permanent solution.
I won’t recount the entire tale as it’s well documented in the book, but much research later I finally had a plan in place. It’s a plan I followed strictly for 30 days, then 60, then it became life. It worked. It didn’t just work for me, followers on social media saw the results and asked for my help. They followed the plan. It worked. And so the idea of sharing this story to a bigger, worldwide audience came to be.
There was never any doubt in my mind I was going to write a book. It’s like knowing the best, most amazing health secret and desperately wanting to shout it from the rooftops. To get well after all those years and not share the story … the universe would have been rather disappointed in me! So, one way or another I was going to publish a book. I’d very much made my mind up about that.
I wrote the book in Portugal. I find taking yourself out of an every day environment can be hugely conducive to getting the important stuff done. We see it as a luxury and yes of course it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to travel, but we’re almost a little embarrassed and apologetic about investing in ourselves, as if we have to explain the reasons behind it rather than just accept it puts us in a better place (physically and mentally) Whether it’s jumping on a plane, relaxing in a spa, going on an adventure – or in fact doing all three at once – taking time out to decide what you want to do and how you want to do it is a brilliant investment.
So, two weeks on from that Airbnb in Portugal, and I finally had the bones of what I considered to be a very brilliant book. When I look back at the original copy which I had printed when I got home, it’s a million miles from the finished article and not quite anywhere near brilliant! That’s why you need a great agent. There is no doubt about it, without Becky my book would not be in the window of Waterstone’s right now!
When it came to publishing I was completely clueless. I have friends who have self published and they gave me some brilliant advice. I remember chatting to Craig about my book and how I had a vision for it being this beautiful, hardback version which people would be proud to add to their collection of Kitchen shelf recipes. I knew exactly what I wanted it to be.
It seems the first step in publishing is getting an agent. I didn’t know that at the time. My friend Rachel and I sat down at her kitchen table and began googling publishers, the more we read, the more we realised an agent is your gateway to being noticed. Publishers of course receive thousands of manuscripts each week, a well respected agent is going to get yours out there in front of the right person. So Rach and I switched tack and began googling agents. By that afternoon we’d sent off about thirty emails. By that evening the replies began coming back!
I hadn’t even left Rachel’s kitchen by the time we got our first response. All the advice online had suggested we might need to wait 6-8 weeks to hear anything, there were very specific guidelines on what to send, most of which we ignored! This wasn’t even 6 hours and we had agents interested. I knew we were on to something.
I met Becky at a little cafe not far from Euston station. We drank tea and talked about the book. I’d brought my very rough draft, printed out in A4 by a company I’d found online who, for a very reasonable 20 quid, will format your work into something resembling a publication! Becky asked if she could take it away. My only copy. It had taken me months to get it on paper. I had other meetings to take it to. But okay then, she could take it away.
In truth I really liked Becky from the moment we met. She completely understood the book and my story and I left the meeting on cloud 9. She’d worked with Ella and the Hemsleys and other well established health food authors. I had other meetings booked in with bigger London agencies and went through the motions of meeting with them later that week. But in the back of my mind I already knew Becky and I would work together. I didn’t want to be the little fish in a big pond, some of these agencies were huge and had super famous authors on their books. Becky was going to dedicate her time to helping me and it’s thanks to her that the book is as amazing as it is today!
My original copy came back to me with notes and scribbles and crosses all over it. We took big chunks out and added new chunks in. We swapped bits here and there and replaced sweet recipes with more savoury ones. Becky was not just my agent but my advisor and editor all rolled into one. If you are interested in publishing a book, getting a brilliant agent is invaluable.
Redraft complete, the next step was to get it in front of the publishers. As a newbie author I had a million questions – most crucially, how long does it take for them to reply? Weeks. Sometimes months. Be patient. I am terrible at being patient, it’s something I have to work on constantly and I’m getting better at it, but I most certainly did not like the thought of waiting weeks or months for our replies. A week later we had a response, and another and another. The publishers wanted to meet with us and with Becky constantly working to temper my excitement, we spent the day bobbing across London from publishing house to publishing house chatting about my book.
It’s so interesting seeing what others see in your work. Some publishers completely grasped the concept, others loved the basis of the book but wanted to completely reshape it. You’d think at that stage the opportunity to publish would overshadow all else, but I found myself becoming quite precious over what we’d created! No, I most certainly did not want to change the title or take this bit out or convert it into a guide book or remove the recipes or make any other amendments to what I fast realised had become much more to me than some words on a piece of paper!
We chose Kyle. If it wasn’t for Kyle and the wonderful girls I’ve worked with there, I have no doubt the finished book would not be as beautifully designed and wonderfully put together as it is. For a publisher to have so much faith in me, to put all that time and investment into this and to give me a team to work with who reshaped what Becky and I had given them to become this beautiful book is just incredible. I could not be more grateful. You would not believe the design work, editing and photography that goes in to creating a book. I actually can’t wait to share some behind the scenes stories of our photoshoots with you! You will never look at a recipe book in quite the same way again.
And if you do spot the book in a window or on a shelf, please take a moment to send me a pic. Because that never stops being ridiculously exciting!!