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 Look. 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 Decor 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 ed 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 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!
Come and join me and Katrina Read from , Thursday 19th April at Chatswood Chase shopping centre to learn the ins and outs of decorating and renovating your home without losing your mind.
Enjoy a beautiful morning with us in a cafe and discuss all things decorating, before retreating in-store at the gorgeous shop for more tips and tricks in this guided design class.
I’ve taught hundreds of students at my workshops and see the same issues popping up time and time again with renovation plans. We are deliberately keeping the classes small so that I can work my way around the group and give you one on one advice specific to your renovation and decorating plans. Bring along any floor plans or images of your home to help get a proper plan together so you can walk away and start implementing the changes in your own time.
*All materials included.
*Event particpants also receive a gorgeous goodie bag from Arty Hearts on the day.
SESSION 1 – (MORNING SESSION)
Times: 10am – 12pm
Date: Thursday 19th April
*NOTE: Space is limited to just x8 people per session.
SESSION 2 – (AFTERNOON SESSION)
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Date: Thursday 19th April
*NOTE: Space is limited to just x8 people per session.
Cost: $120.00 (+GST)
Hope to see you there!
I’m just past the halfway point with writing the content for my second book… This time I’ve focused heavily on the five senses of the human body and their effect on decorating as they each play a significant role in how we interact, move through and perceive a certain space. The five senses are not really something you ever stop to think about when you start the decorating process but I think unconsciously we all weave them in along the way. I thought I’d share a few ideas on what role each of the senses plays in decorating.. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments too!
THE FIVE SENSES IN DECORATING
Well I guess this one is a pretty obvious for decorating since it’s such a visual concept but worth pointing out nonetheless. What we surround ourselves with has great impact on our emotions and feelings whilst being in that space. Think about light, colour, styles etc. Let your room tell a visual story as your eye moves around the room to discover all of the elements in the space.
Where we plant ourselves down for the evening needs to be comfortable. Our skin comes into with most surfaces in a room so we want them to feel nice to touch. Velvets, wools, cottons and linens are all lovely to the touch so we’re more inclined to linger a little longer in that space. If the sofa fabric is itchy and scratchy you’ll be forever bothered by the touch. Mix up the textures in the room to keep it visually interesting if you aren’t using a lot of colour.
Ambient music is a must in my house, I can’t stand silence (excpet at night of course, I have to sleep in total silence). Spotify playlists are always on rotation through my bluetooth speakers and I travel with them too so I’m not sitting silently in a hotel room while I’m travelling for work. You know when you move into a new house the whole place echos until you put your rugs, sofas and armchairs in? Your furniture will absorb some sound too.
Okay this one is a long shot since we don’t really sit around licking our sofa fabric do we…. Well I don’t any how. But it is important to consider where the tasty items you’ll consume in the room will be placed. If it’s your living space, will you have a spot for an evening glass of wine to sit? What if you eat your meals on the sofa, is there a coffee table or side table you can rest your bowl on?
Memories are supposedly strongly triggered by smell. I know if I was to walk blindfolded into my Grandmother’s house I would know exactly where I was without seeing a single thing. So the scent of our homes will have a lasting impact, maybe even for generations to come. Think about this when selecting a scent for your home. Don’t over do it by adding multiple layers of scented items within a room. Stick to the one and let it do it’s work! I’m a big fan of essential oils and I’ve been trialling the Essential Mist diffuser on my desk for the past week and love it.
A few reasons why I love it…
- It uses unique technology to put scent in the air via a release of gentle mist created by vibrations, providing a more holistic and consistent fragrance in the room
- It is infused with essential oils and the mist helps carry the scent through the air
- I can chose from four scents: peony & jasmine, fresh water breeze, mandarin & sweet orange and cinnamon & crisp apple.
- It’s waterless so no need to refill every few hours. Plus it doesn’t have any cords!
- And lastly, it looks nice!
The Air Wick Essential Mist is available from the Air Care aisle of Woolworths, Coles and all leading supermarkets for RRP$30.00
#AirWickEssentialMist, #AirWickPartner, #Sponsored
This post was brought to you in partnership with Air Wick. Any product notes not related to Air Wick are of my own opinion.
The interior decorating industry is built around making things look beautiful and using all sorts of tricks to make a room look better than it actually does. There’s a lot that goes into running a decorating business beyond the pretty scatter cushions, fresh paint and beautifully curated furniture choices. It can involve long hours, stressful moments and unpaid bills..
I receive emails and direct messages on Instagram every few days from people wanting to get into the interior design industry or about to embark on two years of study and want a little bit of guidance. I remember when I was at that stage in my business and how many people just never bothered to respond to me when I sent off a resume or tried to make so I always make a point of responding to them all even if I can’t offer them anything the’ve asked for. Often their opening sentence starts with “I’ve been following your work for a while now and it looks like you are killing it….”. I’m definitely guilty of sharing the fun, pretty and exciting side of running an interior decorating business so I do often feel a sense of guilt when reading those emails because it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. Some days one email can throw off your entire day or you sit at your desk trying to hold back tears when things don’t always go to plan (NB: I’m not a crier at all. Like ever. But some days I am reduced to tears when it gets tough).
So, what’s the point of this blog post? I wanted to share more of what happens day to day running a decorating business. For the most part I’m extremely thankful I can carve my own path in a really great industry so I’m not here to complain, I just feel I need to share some of the more realistic parts so I’m not setting anyone up for false expectations in the industry…
The Realities of Running A Business
Here are some of the kinda shitty bits about running a business (and trust me, they aren’t specific to the interior design industry, I have plenty of entrepreneurial friends who complain about similar issues but we very rarely share them on social media.
Sometimes clients don’t pay you. Ever. I usually invoice for a percentage deposit before starting work but occasionally a client just goes AWOL and never responds to you. It’s a real pain to follow them up and still get no response or no final payment. I’m changing the way I invoice this year to try and combat this.
Stock can go missing
If I tallied the hours I’ve spent on hold with freight companies chasing client orders I’d probably gain a whole month of my life back! Plus, when something goes missing usually no one wants to take responsibility so it can end badly for everyone.
Now this one comes with a disclaimer because 99% of my clients ROCK, pay their bills on time, are polite, respect my working hours and sometimes we end up celebrating their finished house with a glass of bubbles on their sofa. BUT, every now and then a rude one will pop up with unrealistic expectations. I recently worked with a client who spoke down to me and questioned the value of my services. I don’t need to take those kind of jobs on because they’re usually the most time consuming yet the smallest/cheapest jobs. Don’t forget that you are able to say no to clients, you don’t have to give them the exact reason but you also don’t have to put up with their crap.
I’m also a marriage counsellor
No I’m not a trained counsellor but the amount of couples I’ve seen argue in front of me is actually quite astonishing. Like full on disagreements with raised voices… Managing a husband and wife is often tricky as two different styles and personalities need to be considered so reminding myself that they’ve engaged me as the professional and trying to bring the decision down to a more practical decision as opposed to a style decision is often the best way out of these arguments.I’ve also had a couple of clients joke that I’ve saved their marriage because they go with my decision and don’t have to argue with each other to come to an agreement 😉
They want YOU
I outsource as much as I can to my fabulous assistant Holly or to a freelance team of contractors but ultimately my clients want (and pay!) for direct access to me and my styling ideas so I have to be available to make quick decisions for their builders to implement on site the next day. This brings me to the next one….
You’ll work 80 hours a week so you don’t have to work 38 for someone else
Yes you can set your hours to some extent but it’s not a 9-5 job. It’s a 24/7 job, especially if something goes wrong and you need to fix it out of hours. No one else will magically step in and fix something for you if you want to go to the beach that day instead. Often I need to meet clients out of hours because they work full time so that means my hours are extended too and I don’t always get those extra hours back later in the week.
Some days you sit in the car ALL day
I try to schedule my client visits to be in similar areas of Sydney but it’s not always possible. Some days I’ll leave the house at 8am and not return until 6pm or later because I’ll be sitting in Sydney’s revolting peak hour traffic to get to the other side of Sydney and then cross the city again to get to another client meeting. I know where all the McDonald’s restaurants are because they come in handy for toilet stops, food to refuel and they have wifi so I can quickly check the inbox while I’m on the road. Again, if I counted how many hours I spend in my car I’d be shocked! On days when you’re out all day the inbox doesn’t resolve itself, I either need to work late that night or respond quickly to say I’ll get in touch the next day. Scheduling your client visits is a big juggle as it does take you away from designing client concept boards so try to consolidate consults to one or two days a week rather than being out on the road throughout the week.
Ok that’s enough whinging from me.. I met with a lovely couple today who have engaged my interior decorating services for their brand new home (no arguments were had in front of me) and I need to get started on their project documents which I’m really excited about (see, I do love my job!)
If any other decorators read this, I’d love to know I’m not alone so send me an email or leave a comment below!
The summer months are prime entertaining months! I love nothing more than throwing a party for a group of friends and especially if it’s nice weather so that the doors can be opened right up, the cocktails can flow and no one is shivering in the corner! My next book that I’ve started writing this week has a huge focus on entertaining and I thought I’d share a few tips about entertaining that I’ve learnt from parties I’ve thrown for friends as well as parties I’ve thrown for clients over the years. These photos are from my 31st birthday at the end of last year. PINK PINK PINK!!
PARTY FOR THE SENSES
- TASTE – Probably one of the most important elements of hosting, what to serve! Determining a food theme will help you work out what to serve your guests, or help you delegate certain dishes to the guests to bring. I’m a huge fan of serving giant cheeseboards that people can graze from. If you aren’t known for your cooking skills you could always outsource and get takeaway that you then dish up in beautiful platters for your guests to help themselves to.
- SIGHT – What sort of theme is your party? Typically mine feature some level of pink! Working out your style theme will help you to decide what props you need for the table to fit the theme. Make sure your party is properly lit too, if your event is running into the evening you’ll need to account for adequate lighting. The is a great option for lighting your outdoor area all year round.
- SMELL – Food helps with this one but lighting candles also helps to add to the aroma of the room and in the evenings adds a nice warm glow too. I always burn a couple of different candles on the table and around the room as well as in the bathroom and on the kitchen bench.
- TOUCH – What will your guests be sitting on? Will it be cooler later in the evening? Thinking about the temperature and preparing ahead of time won’t go unnoticed if the weather changes. We installed the IXL Fresco Aurora prior to Christmas in our outdoor area and it came in handy not only to light the area at night but also to warm us up when it got a bit cool for a few days after Christmas. It doesn’t get as hot as a mushroom gas heater but it definitely takes the edge off and allowed us to sit outside a lot longer than if we were out there without heating.
- SOUND – Party tunes are a must! Or if you’re aiming for a more relaxed vibe, some nice atmospheric music is a nice touch. No one wants to sit in silence at a dinner party with people they don’t know very well and try to make small talk that the entire table can hear. Soft background music is a nice filler. I like to create Spotify playlists before the event and just have these playing throughout the evening.
I was generously gifted the IXL Fresco Aurora to test out just prior to Christmas. I installed it at the family property in the Hunter Valley as that was where we were having a big family Christmas. We tend to entertain all year round in the outdoor area (even when it’s freezing outside we still gravitate towards the outdoor entertaining area) so we were keen to test it out and it is a great gadget that will get a tonne of use. There are various coloured light options and we can control the light with our phones so while we’re out doing things on the property at dusk we can turn the heater and light on back at the house and be toasty warm when we sit down for the day.
The IXL Fresco Aurora retails for $1,499 and is available to purchase
I’d love to know what some of your favourite tips are for entertaining. I’m always looking to simplify the process for myself as I always tend to over-cater and over-decorate!
2017 has been one for the history books. Not only did I release my first decorating book, run decorating workshops with , travelled to Bali for a photoshoot and got the book into my all time favourite store and now I can add Country Style cover shoot to the list of achievements for the year.
A few weeks ago the Country Style team travelled out to my family farm in the Hunter Valley to take some photos of the house for their Christmas issue. Country Style has been my favourite magazine for as long as I can remember so I was jumping out of my skin with excitement when we got the phone call!
We spent a fun filled two days with the team styling up a storm and wrangling all the farm animals to behave perfectly for their close ups! We have four fluffy donkey friends on the farm and little Toby was the one who landed the cover along with our resident wallaby friend Cracker who wanted in on the camera action and literally just hopped up into the shot. It was such a magical moment out in the paddock and one I’ll remember forever.
As a stylist myself it was fascinating to watch the team wander through the house and style things differently to the way I would have styled things. It’s always great to work with other stylists to see how they work and expand your styling skills. the stylist brought the most amazing flowers with him to make the stunning garland over the fireplace. did a beautiful job capturing the magic of the farm in the photos, we will treasure the pictures of the farm for life.
I don’t share a tonne of my personal life online but the Christmas issue of shares a lot about my childhood and life at my family farm in the Hunter Valley so I thought I’d share a little bit about “the farm” here.
- My parents bought the farm when I was 10. We would go up every weekend after school sport and my two younger brothers and I would make motocross jumps for our motorbikes (much to mums horror).
- Mum and Dad renovated a number of years using sandstone quarried from the property.
- We spend most family Christmas’s at the farm and go tree hunting once everyone arrives to find the perfect Christmas tree.
- I had an Appaloosa pony “Jay-Jay” when I was a kid. Now we have 4 of the cutest donkeys you could ever meet.
- Mum and I have spent years collecting bits and pieces to add to the farm’s decor and every time I visit we redecorate or revamp something (wonder where I got my skills?!?)
The team from were there to capture the behind the scenes magic and put together this breath taking video.
For more of the stunning photos of the farm grab a copy of the Christmas issue of and read more about how magical the farm is.
At the start of this year I made a little list of things I wanted to achieve/do/see/experience. A fair few things on that list have already been achieved and I’ll reveal more throughout the year but one of the things high on my list was to work with . I didn’t know how I would collaborate with them but I just knew I wanted to find a way to work with one of my favourite stores. So it is with great excitement that I can announce that we have teamed up with West Elm through to host two spring themed workshops in September.
Join me for a fun filled workshop showing you exactly the formula needed to pull a room together. I will run through step by step the 5 elements I use in all my client projects (hot tip, they also feature in the book!) and we’ll have plenty of time together to talk about your own decorating or renovating troubles. Bring along photos and floor plans so we can chat one on one about your plans.
Tickets are super limited so that I can spend as much time with each of you as possible so jump on and purchase tickets asap if you’d like to attend.
We will be running two workshop time slots.
DATE: Sunday 24th September
TIME: Workshop 1: 11-1pm. Workshop 2: 2-4pm
LOCATION: West Elm Chatswood Chase
TICKETS: $79 (includes snacks and drinks)
Discounts available in store and for any book purchases on the day.
to purchase a ticket.
Warning! This is a very long, wordy blog post with not many pretty pictures 😉
Since publishing my book in March I’ve had a lot of people reach out and ask about the publishing process, how I got published and just general book questions so I’ve collated them all together in one place. Hopefully my answers will help you understand the publishing process as well as shed some light on how much effort is put into creating a book (hint: a lot!).
If you have any questions that haven’t been addressed here please feel free to comment below or email me and I can update the blog post. I’m more than happy to share because I went into the publishing process with next to no experience in that world and definitely made a tonne of mistakes so if I can help in any way just shout out!
Q: How does a book deal work? Are you paid an advance and the publisher royalties or is it the other way around?
Every book deal is different so there’s not one single answer for this question. Some publishers pay their authors an advance, others don’t. Your publisher will outline all of this in your contract at the time of offer and they assess the commercial aspect of your book and the topic you’re writing about so this will dictate a lot of what you’re offered in advance anyway.
Q: Things you wish you knew rather than had to learn the hard way?
There are plenty of things I wish I knew! For starters, I wish I had known to engage a lawyer earlier than I did. Getting the contents of the book together wasn’t the most difficult part but most people assume it was. If you know what you’re talking about (which presumably you do because you’ve been commissioned to write a book on that topic!!) then actually writing it isn’t a difficult task, it’s just lengthy and time consuming…
One of the hardest parts is usually negotiating contracts and knowing your rights as you lose a lot of control in the publishing process when working with a publishing house. If you self-publish you have the majority of the control so you can choose every tiny detail down to the fonts you use inside the book. Once you hand over your manuscript to a publisher this becomes their domain and that’s partly why we all opt to go with a publisher in the first place. Publishers have YEARS of experience, sales data and knowledge to back up their decisions. Sometimes though, they just don’t mesh with your vision for the book and you need to know your legal rights so that if you aren’t happy with the direction the book is going your copyright is protected and your personal brand reputation won’t be damaged should a book you aren’t 100% happy with get published.
Q: At what stage of your business development should you consider a book and why?
I never imagined I would be able to say I was a published author by the time I turned 30 so this is tricky one for me to answer. I still remember clearly signing the contract when I was 27 years old and thinking “am I even allowed to be doing this?! Surely I shouldn’t be doing this for another decade?!” That’s totally my own issue though because I’m pretty hard on myself and had this perception that if you were a published author you needed to be a certain age (not in your twenties!), have reached a certain stage in business or earn a certain figure each year… That’s all total cr*p. If you are getting recognition in the industry you work in, have built a network of fabulous clients/customers/patients and have enough experience under your belt to know you could write 50,000 words on a certain topic then your age/income bracket/resume/sex/race etc. shouldn’t come into any of it. Hardie Grant Books didn’t question my age or my abilities when handing me my contract so I should probably remind myself of that more often when I question opportunities given to me before I think I’m truly ready!
You should only really consider writing a book when you are confident that you can write to a certain word count and back it up with examples you’ve experienced in your career. You’ll easily be found out if you aren’t able to do this and book sales will show this very fast!
It’s also important to know that writing a book isn’t going to make you a millionaire over night, it’s a long road, a lot of work and probably won’t make anywhere near as much money from a book as you would from a number of really well paying clients. Writing a book is an excellent opportunity for self promotion, business marketing, profile building and brand awareness but it’s not necessarily going to translate into overnight millionaire status so if you don’t think your business is at a stage where you can take the financial risk of taking time out to firstly write the book (it took me 3 months while working full-time) and then promote the book then hold off until your business is more established or you have employees that can take over when you need to go on tour.
Q: Details on are negotiating contracts.
Hire a lawyer. Plain and simple. Don’t try and do it all yourself, a lawyer will be able to break down the contract jargon in a way that you can understand it and know what you’re signing up for. Don’t send your lawyer in to negotiate the contract though, this needs to be you but it doesn’t hurt to get some professional advice so you know what you are negotiating for and why.
Q: Did you write a little each day, or slog it out for a blocked set of time? How many drafts did it take?
I haven’t ever checked how many drafts I wrote but I just looked and I had 11 different drafts saved before submitting it to the publishers.
My book is based on the decorating workshops I was already running in regional and rural Australian towns so I had a basic framework to work from already. I just expanded it and turned it into my table of contents when I sat down to start on the book. I then separated it out into chapters I thought would be best for ease of reading (note: the publishers only made one change to the layout I created when it came to editing and made entryways it’s own chapter where as I had had it lumped in with lounge rooms).
Once I’d nailed down the table of contents I wrote the first chapter first which was detailing the 5 elements of decorating. From there I knew I wanted to go room by room explaining how to use all 5 elements in each room so it was an easy formula for me to follow. I didn’t write each chapter in order, I wrote bits and pieces and came back sporadically until I was happy with the overall flow.
I asked my mum and a handful of friends to read the first draft once I was relatively happy with it and then made any necessary changes based on their feedback until I was happy with it all.
I was given 3 months to write the manuscript and it was over the Christmas period so I definitely procrastinated A LOT for the first month. Partly because December is typically a very busy month for me with styling and decorating work and I wanted some time out to relax over Christmas. Once Christmas and New Year was over I used the first few weeks of January to make a good start on the writing process because January is a lot quieter for me with client work I had enough time to work on projects but also schedule in some good chunks of time to write. I took advantage of my parent’s property in the Hunter Valley in those weeks to go up and write in silence without any of the distractions I would have had in Sydney. Getting away from your usual routine where you can be distracted by emails, office co-workers, employees or social activities is really useful if you can wrangle it!
Q: Would love to know what you thought was the biggest challenge during the process, and how you overcame it. Either in writing the content or getting it published?
The biggest challenge for me was the time it took to get the book on shelves. I’m a very impatient person and as a business owner if I make up my mind about something I want to get started on it immediately and get it done so sitting back and giving the control over to someone else and their timeline was definitely a challenge for me. Luckily Hardie Grant’s team are fabulous and they were very good at keeping me updated with their progress so I knew where they were at with the book most of the time and I had been given a publish date at the time of signing the contract 12 months earlier so I knew I had a goal to work towards and also a timeframe to get things in order behind the scenes with my business to allow me to go on tour with the book and still have money coming in.
Writing the content wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as I thought it might be. I think that was mostly in part because I knew what I was talking about and taught decorating workshops for years so had plenty of detail in my head that I just needed to sit down and focus to get it out onto paper. (I say paper because initially I hand wrote a lot of the ideas for the book before switching to a Word document, don’t worry I didn’t write 30,000 words by hand before typing them!!! YIKES!)
The only other challenge was logistically matching up illustrations with the content of the book and making sure the illustrations really did correspond to the paragraphs I had written. If I was talented enough to draw and illustrate myself it would have been easier because I would’t have had to explain my thoughts to another person. I was so lucky to work with my friend Maddison Rogers on it though so we could collaborate freely together. Maddison is in Brisbane but I’m in Sydney so I flew up twice for a couple of days at a time and stayed with Maddison and we just lived and breathed the illustrations the entire time I was there. It was intense but also good to block out our time together to make sure we were both on the same page (pardon the book pun!)
Q: Why did you choose to use drawings/illustrations rather than photos?
I had always envisaged that the book would be illustrated and wouldn’t be full of photography and never swayed from visualising it that way. My ideas behind this was to make the book a more classic, timeless piece that would be relevant in two decades time because decorating itself is a timeless art. I knew adding in photography of my client’s homes or styled photoshoots would probably date a lot faster just due to the nature of homewares and furniture trends. I also wanted the reader to be inspired by the illustrations and have a go at being creative in their own homes rather than being caught up in trying to replicate the exact same look as a certain room in their own homes. My approach to decorating is to allow as much of the client’s personality and style to shine through as possible and not to limit their creativity with my own design opinions too much so illustrations worked in perfectly with my business philosophy. I also made sure I included diagrams and how-tos for people to see rather than have to read and interpret, I didn’t want them to be confused by any jargon and the easiest way to demonstrate that is with visuals. Thankfully Hardie Grant saw my vision in the same way and never encouraged me to add photography to it.
Feel free to leave any comments below if I haven’t answered anything you’re dying to know 🙂