Cards on the table; I wasn’t born an author, and despite these bloggish scribblings, the thought of writing a book hadn’t even occurred on a post-hypnotic, unconscious, or inebriated level! The journey to writing my book Fit In 3: The Scandi Plan [it’s out on dec 29th, it would mean the world if you pre-order a copy!] was a grueling marathon of soaring highs and gloomy lows, and certainly one of the most intense challenges of my life. I can confidently say that I’ve thrown everything at it, and left nothing on the table – the book is 100% of me! But if, like me, you’ve never seen this mysterious process from behind-the-scenes before, you might also have casually assumed that these tomes magically appear, fully-formed, on shop shelves one day, conjured by the book-fairy, never paying thought to the dozens of people’s time, attention, grind, detail, and professionalism that goes into it. But much like writing a blog [which to the reader, can look like one macaroon-punctuated holiday after the next, but requires relentless toil], a book is a gigantic effort employing dozens of world-class talents, all working to fold their very best work into this little, printed package on a shelf! This blog post lifts the lid on the whole hidden process, shows you exactly what I went through, and might give you some thoughts on how to go about your own book! If you’re curious, read on! If you doubt it, read on! If you hate it, perhaps read on anyway! And if you think it’s easy, think again ! Faya x
FIRSTLY, WHATS THE BOOK ALL ABOUT?
I’m incredibly excited to say that my book Fit In 3 hits the shops on December 29th 2016, just in time to make your 2017 unrecognisably healthy – you can pre-order your copy HERE! But first, a word of warning. Slackers beware: Fit In 3 is not a quick fix, it’s not a shortcut, it’s totally different to every other fitness book out there, and is absolutely no substitute for sweat. This is the original get fit slowly scheme! Forget the tired notions of yoyo dieting and fruitless sit-ups – the world evolved beyond those a long time ago. Humankind’s wellness philosophy has undergone a quantum leap over the past 5 years, but whilst obesity and diabetes stage their global takeover, fitness 2.0 has silently and swiftly emerged; the fiterati have cast aside ’low fat’ diets (which, by the way, are simply high sugar diets) and rejected those trudging hours of long-distance cardio (which is both dull and ruinous to the joints). There is a new formula by which early-adopters are already living their lives in an immeasurably more rewarding, sustainable and healthy way. My book shows the 3 pillars by which you can live a sustainably healthy life, for the rest of your days; it doesn’t have to be bland, and it can involve chocolate!
HOW DID THIS BOOK COME ABOUT IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Back in October 2015, my Agent (a legendary Glaswegian who does the difficult job of bringing order my chaotic professional endeavors) kicked the tires around a Fitness On Toast book with me. The prospect was super exciting, but a totally foreign, unknown quantity to me; what did it mean in practice? How would the writing process actually work? Would anyone even want to read it?! After spending a week worrying about the latter (yes I’m a worrier), I started to think about all the fitness ‘life hacks’ I’d unlocked in my 10 years as a Personal Trainer; all the food myths I’d debunked when studying Nutrition at uni; all of the random thoughts I’d ever had about fitting it all together. The more of these I jotted down, the more the notes wrote themselves and got me all fired up. And then, I realised that I had a book in me!
OK, WHAT NEXT?
When you find the team who totally share your vision and come back with a remarkable plan to make it come alive, then you’ve found your Publisher! In my case, by quite some way, that was Little, Brown, the most creative company within the Hachette Group (one of the UK’s largest publishers, and home to the Gwyneth Paltrow books, both of which took pride of place on my shelves for some time) – check out their awesome and historic Thames-side offices in the shots below! The publisher looks after the physical process of organising, compiling and distributing your work, so all that remains for you is to write it! Sounds simple enough…
WHO WRITES IT, ANYWAY?!
In a surprising number of books, not actually the author; ghost-writing is so widespread that some Publishers’ offices are basically haunted houses! The idea of me authoring a book, but not actually writing any of it, tickled me pink! I remember once hearing the quotation ‘there’s nobody better qualified to write your story than you’ (couldn’t tell you who said it, nor can Google so perhaps I made it up?!), so I thought I quite fancied writing all 45,000 words. I didn’t realise the challenge ahead…
HOW DO YOU START?
That was the question that occupied 97% of my headspace for a good solid month. That, and where do you start?! Depending on how involved you want to be (totally), books are incessant waves of deadline following deadline. And for good reason; I counted 12 different departments that need to be involved in the process. I had 8 pages of A3 plastered across walls and cupboards at home – known as the ‘Master Flat Plan’. I annotated everything, colour coordinated it with neon highlighters, tried to conceptualise what needed to go where, as if it were a massive game of Tetris on level 10 speed, then tore it up and started again… a few times!
WHAT ABOUT ‘PLOUGHING AHEAD’?
With your structure eventually in place, it’s a process of working through, section by section, and it’s quite satisfying seeing the progress! But it’s not all about the writing…
– To review my Scandi-inspired recipes, I was in touch with a professional practicing Dietitian for a strong second opinion.
– I insisted on making several trips out to Sweden, and spent days scouring the Stockholm archipelago for the best spots to shoot the most awesome photographs I could possibly shoot with my in-house photographer. We came back with 3,500 captures, and whittled that down to the handful you see in the book! I felt that was the best way to show you what I’m talking about most authentically, as the Swedish ethos features heavily in the chapters.
– Back in London, we hired out a special, modern kitchen location to shoot the recipe images with an incredibly talented food photographer and team, and spent quite some time making (and devouring) all 60 of the dishes over the space of a few weeks. Then we hired another location to shoot some of the stretching and exertion imagery…
– We worked with an amazing illustrator who translated all the exercise images of me into easy-to-follow silhouettes that really look like little outlines of me!
– There are daily calls with the Editor, Assembler, Execution team, Publishing Agent, Marketing and PR teams etc. Before you know it, the first 10 hours of your day are taken up with your book! It’s both awesome and terrifying in equal measure, as you don’t want to let the team down, but as you make progress, you soon fall into a rhythm and start to haul ass!
– The to-and-fro email trails on each sub-chapter can quickly spiral into 30-strong exchanges; multiply that up across all the chapters, and you can understand why I have over 1400 emails just in my ‘BOOK’ folder!
THAT SOUNDS FUN – WHY WAS IT TOUGH?
Apart from the weight of admin/organisation unlike any I’ve experienced before, it’s all on top of everything else you’ve been doing for years. You haven’t created an extra 10 spare hours in the day to work on the book; you basically need to sacrifice weekends, evenings, and to an extent, borrow from sleep hours to get it all done. For months on end! That, by the way, is totally worth it…
But on top of that – and you might find this mad – I’m actually quite shy and reserved, and don’t like to put myself out there too much. Yes, I have a publically-readable blog, but I’ve always wanted it to be a resource with substance, informed by my study, training and scientific understanding, coloured by valuable experience, sharing applicable wellness with readers… A book is as ‘out there’ as it gets; I’ve shared way more of myself than I ever thought I would in it, and getting to that stage has not been easy. From that perspective, I’ve learned more than I ever could writing digitally; if you shoot photographs using a 35mm film camera with just 20 precious exposures, you’re going to think harder about each capture than when using an inexhaustible digital SD card. It’s the same with each word on each page… I’ve invested the full range of emotions into the book and I really hope you love it!