So you’ve done the hard yards and have invested ample time in marketing and advertising for your interior design business. But, despite feeling pretty chuffed that you’ve got this Instagram thing down pat and know how to whip up a Facebook ad or two, the results have been dire.
As in… no client leads.
Or only a few at that.
Could you be marketing your business all wrong?
Read on to find out the top 5 mistakes you could be making:
MISTAKE #1: Not having a niche
The number one mistake is trying to market to absolutely everyone, often getting lost in a sea of competition.
Start with the basics: what is your niche? What is your genius zone? What is your area of expertise?
If you are the interior designer who designs glamorous home offices for creatives, then be known for that. If you want to be known as the interior designer who conjures up covetable nurseries for new parents, then be known for that. Pick something that you want to focus on and get known for that, so you can stand out from the crowd.
Once you know your niche, market it obsessively (but not desperately) and ensure you are specifically communicating this niche across all of your business touch points so you can more effectively reach your desired customer avatar.
#TIP: Research people in your industry that have nailed their marketing dialogue – whether it be through flyers, ads, social media content, blogs and the gamut. See how they are communicating to their target consumer and take note.
MISTAKE #2: Not being consistent on social media
While social media can seem far too time-consuming and competitive, having a poor excuse for a social presence (or no social media presence at all!) can be losing you money every single day.
Social media marketing helps to validate your brand. A company’s social media presence, when done correctly, tells consumers that their brand is active and open for business.
But so many interior designers are scared to promote themselves or fear they’ll be advertising to crickets. The secret here is to show up consistently, even if it means you might not get a client lead right away.
Choose the platforms that work for you and get active! Post pictures of your work. Get on Facebook. Share testimonials. Jump into an Instagram live. Do whatever it takes, for your future client to discover you, get to know your brand and get excited about using your services.
#TIP: Schedule posts in advance to reduce the overwhelm of running social media accounts and use an effective hashtag strategy to reach a broader audience.
MISTAKE #3: Not having an email opt-in (or an email list!)
Not investing any time in growing an email list? Ba-bow. Wrong move.
Building an email list is crucial because it’s the best way to build a relationship with potential customers. The more people you have on your mailing list, the more potential buyers see your services.
If you’ve got a pre-existing email list but it’s not really growing, try offering an email opt-in by way of a free downloadable (for example – 10 things you need to know before hiring your next interior designer).
Because you’re building your email list, you want to make sure that your opt-in goodie fixes a problem your dream client has and relates to your design service so always aim to be relevant and specific.
If you don’t have an email list yet, get it set up quicksmart, create your opt-in and market this on social media and beyond.
#TIP: Try to offer a service at the end of the opt-in. As an example, if your freebie is about picking the perfect grey paint colour, try offering a paint colour consult service to sell to your clients and step up your sales funnel.
MISTAKE #4: Not following up client leads
An all too common mistake is when designers let warm leads fall by the wayside as they forget to follow up or are afraid they’ll sound too eager. But this can be a serious biz killer.
Pick up the phone or send an email to any client leads that haven’t gotten back to you so you can potentially turn them into qualified prospects.
You might also want to turn cold leads into warm leads by creating bonus offers. For example, if they sign up with you that month, they’ll get a complimentary consult (normally worth $XXX).
Case in point: chase up client leads at all times for optimum results.
#TIP: Studies show that 44 per cent of sales people give up after one follow up, but 80 per cent of sales are made after five follow-ups. Seems excessive, but I say go for whatever amount of follow-ups feels comfortable to you, and don’t give up.
MISTAKE #5: Not promoting your services with public relations
Being heard among the proliferated and competitive interior design crowd can be challenging. That’s why it’s incredibly important to take strides to ensure your business is reaching a wider audience so more people can find you.
However, a common mistake interior designers make is assuming that PR is only for those that have massive budgets or love the limelight.
You can do your own public relations in a budget-friendly way to get your name out there simply by reaching out to publications and offering a value exchange.
Submit projects or guest blog posts to be featured. Email an interior design podcast and ask to be a guest. Research websites that post media story callouts and respond accordingly.
The options are endless! And the end reward can be priceless.
#TIP: Create a database of as many media outlets, blogs and social media channels you’d like to appear on, and aim to reach out to several each week to become the must-know expert in your industry. If you do have a budget, employ the help of a public relations agency that specialises in interior design to speed up the process and gain quality results.
Feeling inspired and pumped to up-level your business even more? I’d love to have you part of my 4-week Mentor Program for creatives just like you! We’ll delve into the nitty-gritty of running a successful business and I’ll hold your hand every step of the way, while unlocking the areas of your business which have been holding you back, to leave you feeling in control and confident.
The one question I get asked all the time is “where do I even start with my decorating project”? It can be an overwhelming task to decide on everything from the look you want to achieve to the colour palette and even what budget you’re able to work with. To simplify the process, I’ve made a handy list of everything you need to get your decorating project started and have you one step closer to designing your dream home.
1 | ASSESS YOUR SPACE
Have a think about who is using your space and for what purpose. In my book HOME: The Elements of Decorating, this is the first step in the decorating process and it’s called “Assessing The Needs & Wants”. You’ll need to make a list of the people using the space and what needs and wants they each have. For example, do you and your husband use the living room for TV watching in the evenings but during the day it’s a playground for the kids? Therefore, the room has different uses and functions so needs to be flexible with the furniture and floor plan.
2 | THINK ABOUT THE SIZES AND SHAPES
Get an understanding of the sizes and shapes you need to add to your space. For example, if you have a lot of linear lines in the room, such as windows, doors and entertainment units, you may want to introduce some rounded edges to soften the straight lines.
3 | ADD COLOUR AND PATTERN
Introduce colours and patterns to your room through soft furnishings and smaller decorative objects. The key to achieving the right balance is to stick to a 3-5 colour rule. This could be varying tones of the same colour or 3-5 colours which work well together.
4 | WORK OUT YOUR PROPORTIONS
Think about how big or small you can go with your furniture purchases. A quick hint – you’ll never regret a large rug as they are excellent for zoning a room.
5 | DON’T FORGET LIGHTING
Have a look at the room and think about if you could add lamps, wall sconces, pendants or even candlelight. Also, don’t forget warm white globes over cool white globes, as this will help you create more atmospheric lighting.
6 | HIRE AN INTERIOR DECORATOR
Your time is valuable, therefore, if you decide that you’re putting too much energy into decorating your space and you’re still not achieving your desired look, then it may be time to hire an interior decorator. I offer a range of clients all over Australia one-on-one specialised advice specific to their home. The benefits of hiring an interior decorator are that they will be able to stick within your budget (no matter how big or small), connect you with their black book of furniture suppliers and apply their expert know-how to create a beautiful space you’re proud of. If this sounds like the helping hand you need then take a look at my rates and design process here.
I’ve been working on an exciting project with The Bespoke Corner to design their new store in Melbourne and I’m delighted to share with you a look behind the scenes of the before and after. What a transformation it was for such a short turn around!
The Bespoke Corner has been noted as “The best personalised tailoring service in Australia” by GQ magazine. So when they came to me with the project of transforming their Melbourne store into a luxurious and exclusive destination for made to measure suiting, I knew we were going to have to create something pretty special. Let’s take a look inside the store before we began the transformation…
Just like a tailored suit, each decorating project is completely unique and requires a specialised approach to create a seamless end result.
We were working to a really tight deadline so we didn’t have the usual time to work through the design process. Luckily I had worked with the boys on their Sydney store so I knew their design style very well which could speed things up a little faster.
The first task to undertake was drawing up the designs for the custom cabinetry that needed to be made specifically to fit the custom suits, shirts and ties. After a few rounds of revisions, we finalised the cabinetry and they went into production. From there we needed to sign off on the flooring. As it was uneven concrete our options were quite limited and we ended up going with a black epoxy resin with white flakes through it and it came up an absolute treat!!
We added only two walls to the final design to house a small office and storage area which meant the change room was next to this and needed a bit of a wow factor. We hung a large black satin curtain across the front of the change room and had a custom mirror made up for the centre of the change room. We then added in a rug, armchair and of course, a bar cart!
The store isn’t your typical retail store so the vibe needed to be more of a showroom and entertainment type of feel, so we added two grey sofas and a coffee table as a meeting area to discuss suit designs with clients.
The final touches were to wallpaper the back wall in a complimentary design so I opted for a black wallpaper with gold crisscrosses to tie in with the other gold elements in the space.
The finished result was a super slick fit out with lots of shiny fixtures and finishes to create the ultimate tailoring experience. Take a look at their brand new store and don’t be surprised if you suddenly want to visit for your own made to measure suit.
Decorating your home or a brand new store can be an overwhelming task. That’s where I come in! I take the pressure out of designing the perfect space and hold your hand throughout the process. You receive one-on-one specialised advice specific to your project, gain access to professional know-how and tap into my huge furniture supplier base that work specifically with interior decorators and designers.
If you’ve got a decorating project you’ve been putting off for a while, then take a peek at my portfolio and feel free to get in touch as I would love to hear all about it and help you create something truly remarkable to call your own.
Guess what?! It’s trade show season again and as the design industry is gearing up for a few weeks of networking, inspiration and craziness I thought I’d put together my guide to mastering the upcoming trade shows.
Whether you’re a newcomer or trade show pro these helpful tips will make for a productive day as you discover the latest trends and put your networking hat on!
Allow plenty of it! You will need at the very least half a day to explore the entire fair and that doesn’t account for time spent chatting and networking along the way. If you only have 2 hours to get in and out you will miss a fair chunk of it so allow plenty of time. If you have time, research the exhibitor’s list on the trade fair’s website prior to arriving at the fair so you know where you’re preferred suppliers are on the map and who you’ll need to spend the most time visiting. It would also be wise to make a little list either on your phone or notebook so you know where they are in the exhibition hall.
Wear the right attire
You will have walked a few kilometres by the end of the day so ditch the heels and go for the comfiest shoes in your wardrobe. Then the next thing to bring is a cross body bag, which may seem like a weird one but you’ll thank me later when you realise how much easier it is to keep your hands free when you’re taking catalogues and picking up products all day long. You get a big bag at the start of the show to put catalogues in so you don’t need to worry about juggling two big bags at once.
Take business cards along
Hand these out like lollies, I do a tonne of networking at trade fairs and often hand out business cards to not only suppliers but also to other designers and industry peeps who often go on to become great sources of client referrals. It’s not just about seeing new trends and products for me, I get just as much networking out of trade fairs as I do trend and product sourcing.
Stop and hydrate often
Don’t go into the trade fair hungry or you’ll be hangry in no time, stop for regular breaks so you don’t faint from starvation and maybe bring a few snacks to keep you going.
Take a notebook
You’ll see tonnes of new products in one hit, it’s a lot to take in so take a notebook and write down notes of items you love and can refer back to when you’re back at your desk sourcing items for clients.
Take catalogues and flyers
I often refer to these months later when the right project comes up that will suit a product or range I’ve seen previously at a trade fair. Which makes it essential to grab all the catalogues and flyers you can from brands you like to keep them top of mind.
Buy The Next Day
If you’re there to purchase products for your store or on behalf of clients, sometimes it helps to spend two days at the fair. The first day spent researching products, taking catalogues and chatting to suppliers then that evening flicking through the material and making a short list of purchases so you can go back the next day and place your orders without getting too carried away and overspending your allocated budget.
Shop From The Stands
If you have a way of getting the items home or to your office/store, a lot of the suppliers sell off the stands on the final day (usually cash sales) so that they don’t have to pack up as many products. You often get about 20% off the wholesale price and can nab some great bargains!
Do you run a creative business of your own? I’d love to introduce you to my exclusive Mentor Program launching soon for business owners just like you! It’s an intensive 4-week program designed to up-level your business skills and have you taking action towards achieving your dreams in no time!
When starting a business it can be hard to figure out where to invest your money to get the best results. Let alone getting a handle on your marketing, finances and branding just to name a few of the tasks that come with running your own show!
With this in mind, I’ve jotted down the four best investments I’ve made into my business over the years. To help guide you along the crazy journey of growing your own successful creative business. Let’s dive in!
You’ll never feel truly ready to start paying other people to help you with things that you’ve got comfortable managing yourself, until you simply bite the bullet! Once you get some help a few hours a week, you will soon realise how much more productive you can be when you don’t have to do the mundane tasks you no longer enjoy (or aren’t great at). These things are usually financial (accountant), marketing (social media strategy planning), assistant for design work (helps check stock levels with suppliers, handles delivery details or general customer service with clients).
Instagram is not so much a financial investment but more of a time investment that does pay off because it’s the ‘social proof’ to your website. So many of my clients find my website first then jump onto Instagram to get more of an idea of the work I do and how I work. When investing time into your Instagram it’s important to think about your unique tone of voice, brand aesthetic and who your target market is. This will help you plan out your images and write engaging captions which will grab your potential new clients attention.
Taking time to write blog posts, articles for other blogs and answering journalists questions – not to mention writing two books has been an invaluable investment for my business and has helped spread the word about me and my skill set. Now writing a book may not quite be on your to-do list just yet but a great place to start is by writing a few blog post for your website which will aim to educate, inspire and connect with new clients or keep your previous clients engaged with your business so that you’re top of mind next time they need your services.
Photographing My Work
Investing in a professional photographer is some of the best money you can spend in your business. Your completed work is what is going to bring in new work so it’s imperative you photograph it professionally to show it off! Once you’ve got your beautiful new images, put them on your website and social media to show everyone why you’re so great at what you do! Take a look at my portfolio to see some of my recent projects.
Are you a creative business looking for more clarity, focus and direction when it comes to your marketing, branding and pricing? I’d love for you to join my Mentor Program which is designed to help you take action towards running your decorating business with intention. We’ll cover all these topics and more to get you feeling confident and in control of your business.
I recently had the chance to install a VERY special makeover project with Afsoon Kisirwani, from Rug Culture for Lou’s Place, which is the only daytime women’s refuge in Sydney. The project began in March when we met with Nicole, the Director of Lou’s Place to discuss the makeover of the shelter. We put our heads together a came up with a fresh new decor plan for the common room and healing room that was looking very tired and cluttered, as you can see in the images below.
Nicole and her team put in hour upon hour to clear out the clutter and make way for the amazing new furniture that was being donated by our generous suppliers to breathe new life into the space. When everything arrived we rolled up our sleeves and got to work decorating each of the rooms to transform them into a space which felt inviting and nurturing. Everyone was thrilled with the finished results and I’m so excited to finally be able to share them with you!
Lou’s Place is an amazing daytime refuge in Sydney for women in crisis, suffering homelessness, fleeing domestic violence or in need of support. The terrace house is a private charity which receives no government funding and relies on the generous support of the general public, partners and volunteers. We want to say a BIG thank you to our wonderful suppliers who helped make this project happen and if you would like to help you can visit the Lou’s Place website here.
THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPLIERS FOR THEIR GENEROUS DONATIONS
Rug Culture for the rugs
Wall Mural by Stuart Sale
Urban Road for the artwork
Photographer by Liam Molloy
Choices Flooring for the floors
The Wall Sticker Company for the wall stickers
Zanui for the sofa, chairs, coffee table and lamp
OzDesign Furniture for the cushions, dining table and chairs
The TV, DVD player, coffee machine, toaster, kettle and Bluetooth speakers
were donated by a major electronics retailer who wish to remain anonymous
Over the last few weeks, I’ve hosted a workshop in Melbourne with Mercer School, then to Brisbane for some meetings, then to the Gold Coast for more business meetings with Little Branch. After that, I jetted up to Noosa for my Grandma’s 97th birthday and arrived back home in Sydney to work on a very special charity project with Lou’s Place. All while looking after my interior design clients AND finalising the manuscript for my second book!
Managing a business while being away can be tough going but there are a few secrets I use to keep the wheels in motion:
Boomerang for Gmail is a lifesaver
This nifty plugin for Gmail makes life SO much easier, as you can ‘boomerang’ an email to come back into your inbox at another time rather than clogging your inbox while you’re trying to filter through everything and manage being out of the office. Which leaves you to focus on only the important emails.
Set an out of office
Even if you’re still going to be responding to emails while you’re away it’s important to set an out of office with plenty of information. I added that I won’t have email access during the day but I will respond in the evenings or when I can. Often clients would get the auto-reply and reply back saying they’d sorted out their problem and didn’t need me to respond.
Book a car in advance
Booking a car makes things so much easier when you’re travelling around a city over a period of 3 or more days. Ubers and taxis really add up otherwise. Then you can explore all your favourite places with ease and enjoy yourself without the stress of booking a car and waiting. We used Go Get in Melbourne and it was super simple and easy to organise.
If you’re a frequent flyer then having access to the lounge is a life saver! Wifi, charging stations and endless food makes travelling a lot easier, especially if your flight is delayed like mine was from Melbourne to Brisbane. If you aren’t a frequent flyer you can pay an annual fee to access the Qantas lounge.
Travel with someone who understands
This is one of my most important tips and one which will make managing your business while being away fun! I was travelling with a friend who also ran her own business so we knew that our evenings would be spent emailing or we’d have to take various phone calls throughout the trip. It’s just part of life, you can’t completely switch off or hope that clients will work out their own issues if you decide not to check emails for a week.
Thank you to Fraser Place Melbourne for the lovely stay.
It was such a fun day at Mercer School teaching students how to make the most of their Instagram while setting up their businesses.
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Tell me dear reader… What would you like to listen to?
I’ve been saying for almost a year that I want to launch a Podcast so I’m telling the world that it’s happening (that way I have someone to keep me accountable and then I will actually do it!!).
What’s the Podcast about?
Great question! It’s going to be called The Business of Decorating. Kinda broad I know but I didn’t want to skip out on any cool people that fit into the decorating industry because I’ve met so many cool people over the years, each with their own ‘zone of genius’. So I’ve lined up a dream list of people in the decorating industry – some are from other industries but offer great insights that can help interior designers, creatives and homeowners. Now I’m handing it over to you guys, what do you want to hear about?
Are you struggling with a certain issue in business? Is there a room in your house you’re totally stumped on and would like some professional tips? Are you interested in the world of Feng Shui? Or do you want to know where to best spend your cash when starting a reno?
Add a comment below or email me ([email protected]) and let me know what your burning decorating questions are and I’ll do some recon to find appropriate experts to interview!!
This is not your typical blog post title that’s for sure…The other day whilst driving to a client meeting to discuss a new project I had the realisation that as a decorator I get to know my clients on a much deeper level than most trades or service providers would. It’s a funny thing being that involved in a strangers lives and seeing inside their most personal and sacred spaces. It’s not something I take lightly and am always careful to respect their space and their items when discussing existing pieces they own or making any changes to the home. You can very easily offend someone by making a casual remark about an item in their home that may actually mean a lot to them.
I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years, some I never meet in person (as we work via my eDecorating service), others I see almost weekly to check in on progress. It’s not always the case that I get so involved in their lives but the bigger jobs or the more intense jobs on tight deadlines often mean we have to dig deep into what their homes really mean to them faster and what events are taking place in their lives that will impact the job.
When first meeting a new client we do a walk around their home and chat about the decorating project. Then once I get a feel for the space we sit down and have a good chat about their current living arrangements, what needs changing, what bothers them about the space and any planned changes. I’ve often sat down with clients for this section of the consult and been told they are expecting a baby but not yet announced it to family and friends or shared that their child has a disability and therefore the home needs to work in a way that supports their child’s needs. Other times they’ll tell me that they have a sick parent who will be coming to live with them in their dying days and a special space needs to be designed for them.
I’ll never forget the family I had been working with for nearly a year. They emailed me excitedly one day to ask me to start work on a nursery as they’d just found out they were expecting. I made a start on the nursery design, excited for them at the prospect of a new family member only to be contacted a week or so later to say they had unfortunately lost the baby. I was absolutely devastated for them and was even sadder knowing they hadn’t had the chance to announce the pregnancy to friends and family and were suffering in silence yet still had to remember to email me and tell me to stop working on the nursery. Happily, they have gone on to have a healthy baby who has a beautiful nursery of his own.
There are other stories like the couple who had been trying for years to fall pregnant so the spare room was ignored during the decorating process in the hopes that one day soon I’ll be back to plan the nursery but they didn’t want to get their hopes up in the mean time. Or the husband who’s wife had just moved into higher care because living at home with her illness was no longer an option but he needed to make some changes to the house to make her visits home a little easier.
Sometimes I get really overwhelmed at the stories my clients share with me. Often it’s the first time we’ve met but they’re important details that help me craft and create a beautiful space for them. It amazes me that they are so trusting in telling a virtual stranger who’s just stepped into their home all of these personal details but ultimately their honesty and bravery in telling me the first time we meet their stories helps me make their homes that much better for them. And maybe I even contribute to them feeling a little bit happier or cosier in their newly decorated space.
Everyone loves a good before and after transformation and boy do I have a fabulous one for you today!
I started working with this client about 9 months ago after she got halfway through the renovation process and decided she needed an extra pair of hands to help get through stage two – picking furniture! Renovating is a stressful process filled with a tonne of decisions that all effect the next so when it comes to choosing furniture often my clients are totally overwhelmed and ready to give up. This client had a really clear idea of what she wanted, she just didn’t have the time or the patience to spend hours on end sourcing all of the pieces so she was a dream to work with…
Scroll down for a run through of how we pulled the unit together.
The lounge room brief was modern eclectic. I wanted to add a bunch of textures to the room and the first piece I chose was the TV Unit. The TV was going to be wall mounted so a low lying TV Unit wasn’t going to work. I’m a big fan of using buffets as TV Units as you get a tonne of additional storage and the wall ends up looking more in proportion with a wall hung TV as there isn’t a heap of blank wall space between the two. From there I added the blue velvet armchairs and a tan leather sofa. My client had already found the gorgeous vintage rug so it was just a matter of pulling together some finishing touches to finish off. Faux plants always seem to find a way into my client’s mood boards too so I love that this one found a special home in the corner of the room to fill it out nicely.
The kitchen selections were all done prior to me meeting the client but we wanted to do something fun for the barstools at the island as there’s no dining room in this apartment. I wanted to contrast against all the white cabinetry and splashback so went for black rattan weave barstools that also tied in with the pendant light strings.
Here’s a peek at some of the other rooms in the apartment too…
If you’d like a helping hand picking out furniture, decor, art and finishing touches for your home shoot me an email to see how I can help. We did this on a relatively small budget and couldn’t be happier with the final outcome.
Once upon a time in a previous job I won the “Prettiest Desk Award” for how beautifully styled my desk was. No matter where I’ve worked in my career I’ve always brought in a few little styling elements of my own to jazz up my workspace.
Now that I work for myself I have free reign to do what I like so I thought I’d share what usually features on my desk as well as details of a fun competition you can enter too!
My Desk Favourites
- Rose quartz, citrine and clear quartz crystals – each crystal has its own healing power, whether or not they work I don’t really know but I like to think they do!
- A diffuser – I’m loving the Air Wick Essential Mist Diffuser! I’ve had one on my desk for a few weeks now and have been really impressed with how easy it is to use.I don’t even have to top it up or give it any attention, he just sits there doing his thing, looking pretty.
- A stack of books – I always have a rotation of different books on my desk, some I want to read and others that I’ve read and loved. Oh and of course my own book is on my desk too.
- Drink coaster – I picked this one up on my recent trip to the US and love the gold edging. I alternate a drink and the Air Wick Essential Mist diffuser on it. It’s just so pretty!
- Storage drawers – I don’t use a tonne of paper in my day-to-day work so I don’t need to store much besides receipts and a couple of furniture catalogues. Naturally I chose a pink filing system to coordinate with everything else 😉
Do you have a desk essential you always have sitting by your side while you work? I obviously have a few! Now for the good news..
Last week I wrote about the 5 senses and how to carefully consider these senses when decorating. This week I’m back to tell you one lucky reader will get the chance to win an Air Wick Essential Mist Diffuser!!
Jump on over to my Facebook page for all the competition details and to enter.
Winner will be announced Tuesday 17th April.
I’m less than a month out from submitting my next manuscript in to my publisher and I’ve been sharing some of the journey with my social media followers as I go. Each time I post about the process it brings up a few questions. I answered some of these questions in May last year but since then I’ve had a lot more people reach out to ask some interesting q’s. It’s a road I’d obviously never navigated before and there were a couple of bumps along the way and I didn’t really know who to turn to for advice… So here’s a summary of the most frequently asked questions I get and hopefully if you’re thinking of writing your own book one day or you’re just curious to know about the process this helps. If you have any more questions please leave a comment and I’ll answer in the comments 🙂
BOOK PUBLISHING 101
Q: What’s the difference between self published and working with a publisher?
A: Self Published means you take responsibility for the entire book publishing process. You foot the bill for everything from paper choice through to paying a distributor to send the books out to retailers. Whereas when you work with a publisher they look after that entire process on your behalf, you just submit the manuscript and images and then their team takes over the designing process and you’re brought in along the way when key decisions need to be made.
There are pros and cons to each of these. I obviously am published with Hardie Grant Books in Melbourne so can only really answer from the publisher side of the fence but I have a couple of friends who opted for self-published and loved the process so much they’d never work with a publisher so you need to weigh up what works for you. If you have the time and money to research how to sell the book through different distribution channels, market and sell the book and work on things like fonts, graphics and paper choice then self publishing allows you much greater control over the whole process. Working with a publisher can mean you are handing over a lot of the creative control to someone else as ultimately they get the final say on most elements along the way. You want to ensure you’ve communicated your brand/purpose very clearly to them so that the finished product is one you are proud to promote.
Q: How do you pitch a book to a publisher?
A: I was lucky enough to have been approached initially to write the book so I never went through the pitching phase to get my foot in the door. However, when my publisher asked me to put together some ideas for book number two I drafted up a little presentation with the following information on slides:
- Book synopsis – what the book is going to be about
- Target Market – who I expect will want to buy and read the book, including some key stats about them.
- Topics Covered – what will you be writing about specifically? List your table of contents here if you’ve got it.
Q: Is it hard to write a book?
A: Yes and no. I don’t find it a particularly difficult process to write and that may not be the case for a lot of people. For me the hardest thing is finding solid chunks of time to sit and write. I can’t focus on writing during the working week. I have too many distractions like emails, client meetings, appointments with builders to pick out bathroom tiles, strategy meetings, photoshoots and styling jobs so I try to find chunks of time like weekends, long weekends or Christmas holidays to tackle large portions of the book writing process. I also find I forget what I’ve written when I come back to it months later so I waste time re-reading what I’ve already written.
I’ve also always said that if you’re writing about a topic you know back to front it’s a lot easier to write about it than a topic you aren’t as familiar with. It surprises me every time I sit down to write a book how much I actually know about decorating but hadn’t stopped to think about it.
Q: Where do you start?
A: Good question. My first book HOME was based on decorating workshops I was teaching across Australia so I had a loose format to work to already before I started and it was just a matter of sitting down and working out where each section should go and then filling in the blanks under each heading. For book two, it’s been much more fluid and I’ve found myself jumping around from chapter to chapter as I go. I always start by fleshing out the table of contents and go topic by topic as I write.
Q: What happens over the span of the 12-18 months it takes from writing to it being on bookshelves?
A: LOTS! I first wrote the concept for book number two “Keeping House” in about August 2017. I signed the contract with my publisher by November 2017 and have until May 2018 to write the manuscript. When that’s been submitted to the publisher I get started working with my editor and creative team to work out all the fun details like illustration designs, front cover design, chapter inserts and so much more. Since Keeping House is my second book we have already established a few things with the first book so less decisions will need to be made in terms of graphics and fonts but we are going for quite a different look and feel with this one so I expect it will result in a really fun collaboration between myself and the Hardie Grant team.
Q: How many words do you have to write?
A: Most publishers will give you a word count but it’s not always adhered to. With a topic like decorating it’s less about quantity and more about quality, especially when there are also a lot of illustrations to be worked into the book as well and you aren’t just relying on the text to tell the story (so to speak!)
Hopefully that’s filled in a few of the book publishing gaps for those of you who are interested in one day writing your own book or have already started on the path!