From the outside, writing a book seems fairly simple. You just jot a few ideas down, flesh it out and get it printed right? Nope. There is so much more to writing a book than I ever imagined. It was a huge learning process for me and one which I found fascinating. Prior to writing my own book, I would have loved to have had an insight into what was involved; so I hope this post gives you a sneak peak into just that. If you have ever wondered about the world of publishing, read on.

How did it come about?

I had always dreamed of writing my own book, but I never imagined it would happen. I actually got approached by a couple of literary agents early on in my fitness blogging career and I turned them down, due to fear of failure. I thought that I didn’t have a big enough audience and that no one would want to read a book I had written!

Then in January 2016 Rory, my literary agent, came into my life. He emailed me and requested a phone call, which I almost turned down. I am so glad I didn’t! His enthusiasm for my approach to fitness was infectious, he believed in me and that I had a message worth sharing. By the time I had put the phone down, I was well and truly convinced that I had the capability to write a book. I still had a niggling fear about the whole thing, but he constantly reassured me. Soon after, we met and discussed the process of getting published… and that was when the craziness began!

How did I get a book deal?

Rory explained how to write a book proposal, which consists of a word document outlining the books contents along with sample chapters and an accompanying powerpoint presentation. You basically have to convince publishers that you are worth them investing their time, money and resources into.

This was actually one of the hardest parts, as I had to consider the book as a whole and outline everything which would be included in it; which is tough to do at such early stages. I actually ended up changing and adapting my book structure after I had got the book deal, as once you start writing you realise which areas need more or less information to be included in them.

Once I had created this, Rory put everything together and submitted it to various publishers within the industry. This is when the tables turned and the publishers started to try and impress me. Rory and I then had numerous meetings and discussions about which publisher we thought would work best, which team I clicked with the most and who really understood the message I was trying to portray. Rory then negotiated the deal and I signed with Headline.

How did I write it?

Once everything was settled, I headed in for meetings with my publisher to go through everything before I started writing. They asked me if I would like a ghost writer, who is someone who basically writes the book under your name. This is actually remarkably common in the field of fitness and lifestyle books, but I couldn’t think of anything worse. Being an academic at heart and a confident writer (as well as a control freak), I decided to write the whole thing myself. I didn’t know what I was getting myself in for!

I have to admit, I expected some guidance from the publisher or from my literary agent on how to actually write a book. It turns out you’ve just got to work it out on your own. Google become my best friend and I read about 8 books in the field before I even wrote a word of mine. It was very overwhelming, and the hardest part was getting started. This involved going back through my proposal and fleshing it out into an in-depth plan. To do this I read around key areas and found research to support any claims I would be making. It took about 6 weeks and the plan itself ended up being about 10,000 words!

Once I got down to actually writing the book, I did it chapter by chapter from front to back. I have absolutely no idea if this is the best way to do it or not, but it worked for me! I would set aside 2-3 days a week to work solidly on the book. I would wake up at 5 or 6am and write until about 4pm, before spending my evenings training and working on other projects. It wasn’t just a case of sitting down and writing, its a slow process of looking over my plan for a topic, reading research in each area and then combining this information into accessible and engaging text. Plus I designed tonnes of workouts, both weighted and bodyweight, as well as developed over 40 recipes from scratch. Let me tell you, developing recipes is not as fun as it sounds. I have lost count of the amount of times a dish didn’t quite work and I was on the brink of shedding tears into my saucepan.

It was a struggle balancing writing with my existing career. I somehow managed to keep up personal training, blogging, vlogging, brand work and #GirlGains alongside writing the book, but it was exhausting. It ended up taking about seven months to create the proposal, plan the book and then write the whole thing and develop the recipes. But it doesn’t end there…

What happens after you have written it?

I handed in my first full draft of my book in July, and thought that things would calm down from then on. That certainly wasn’t the case. I got assigned an editor, who went through my whole book and sent back amendments such as suggested changes in the sentence structure and grammar. There ended up being tonnes of edits, drafts and amendments. My book went back and forth more times than I can count. I also had a dietician read over the book to check that all my nutritional guidance was legitimate, and a lawyer to make sure I wasn’t making any unreasonable claims. It was a stressful time. I remember exchanging emails with my editor at 10pm on Saturday nights, desperately trying to get everything finished in time for my deadlines.

Once the book was finalised, then came the photoshoots and design process. I made a multitude of pinterest boards, I practically had them coming out of my ears! I had a series of meetings discussing how I wanted to layout the book, the colour schemes and the photography style I wanted to use. I had 4 days of lifestyle and fitness photoshoots which included all exercises as well as the cover itself. Then there were 4 days of food photoshoots. All of these included a huge team from makeup artists through to food stylists. I loved every moment, and it felt incredible to see the book come to life!

Headline have an awesome design team and I was lucky that I loved the overall initial layout of the book that they proposed. However, there was still a lot of back and forth on tiny details from font sizes to picture formats. I was sent huge print outs of the complete book design which I had to draw on, amend and write notes about – specifying the tiniest changes I wanted on every single page. This was all done on extremely tight deadlines, I am talking about having a couple of hours to turn this around. Eeeek!

Perhaps the toughest decision was settling on the cover design. We went back and forth on this many-a-time. I struggled to decide what image I wanted on the cover which would accurately convey the message of the book. In the end I settled on a collage design which allows every element to be represented, and I absolutely love it!

Hundreds of emails were sent back and forth in the final few weeks before the book was sent to print. I was constantly looking at page designs, tweeking text and amending picture selections. Finally, everything was agreed upon and I gave the go ahead to send to print at the end of September. Phew, what a relief!

What about marketing and PR?

Throughout the whole process of writing the book, editing and designing it; I was having meetings with the publishers in-house PR and marketing team as well as my own personal PR. The book isn’t going to sell itself! Sure, I have an audience across social media but so much other work goes into spreading the word about the book, securing stockists and pushing pre-orders on amazon.

I have actually done multiple talks about the book to people in the literary industry. One was in front of over 250 people…It was terrifying! I also worked with the team to set up marketing strategies and secure mainstream media coverage. I found this whole process fascinating, but scary. It made me realise that this book really is going out into the big wide world, and it needs to sell. The whole publishing house have bought into me and my message, and now I need to convince everyone else that it is worth investing in too. It is a scary prospect, but I am working my booty off to try and make my team proud!

What next?

The book is printed and will be released on December 29th. I am currently focused on building up to the release date alongside the marketing team; with pre-order competitions across my social media and an epic launch party with all my favourite people. I have received my first hard copy of the book, which was SO surreal. It got shipped to work and I actually cried right in the middle of the gym! It just felt so incredible to see it in real life. It made me realise how much hard work went into it and I am not ashamed to say that I felt so overwhelmingly proud of myself.

Once the book is released I will be completing a book tour across the UK in January. Locations and dates are yet to be confirmed but likely cities include London, Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester. I will continue to do events through the whole of 2017 including supper clubs, workouts and more; all based around the books content and key message of getting stronger both mentally and physically. I can’t wait!

How can you get your hands on it?

This book is my passion project. I feel kind of guilty shoving it down your throat, but it I have put my blood sweat and tears into it, so I really want it to do well. I would massively appreciate any support with it in the run up to the launch date! The main place you can pre-order the book is on Amazon, and your support with that would literally mean the world to me. It will also be stocked in most large book retailers as well as supermarkets and independent shops from December 29th.

I hope learning about the process of creating my book has been interesting, if you have any questions then just leave them in a comment below! I have filmed multiple behind the scenes youtube videos showing the making of the book which you can check out here and here!

Zanna xx