How to Write Design and Publish a Book from kiwiconnexion practical theology
David: Welcome along to this edition of Live
On Air this evening, from Trinity at Waiaki – the learning centre. I’m delighted to have
with me again Laurinda Erasmus. Laurinda is an author of no mean repute, and we’re going
to be talking about one of her award-winning books this evening. Let me just hold this
book up so that people can folk can see it. Laurinda: It’s quite a long title, but it’s
Benessere Wellbeing, and it is a vegan [ eating for a healthy lifestyle. Benessere means wellbeing,
so I just repeated that part in the title. Yes, when I went vegan I went to a lot of
bookshops and I wanted to know more about cooking. I’m quite creative in the kitchen.
I don’t want to put a meal together; I’d like to have it fantastic – nice tasting – colourful
– textures and everything. Then I was disappointed to see there was actually very few and almost
no vegan recipe books on the shelves. A few that were bound with ring-binding, believe
it or not, for sale in some bookshops. That was certainly not good enough for me. So after
looking around a few bookshops in New Zealand, the United States as well as in the UK – all
three countries, I decided, well why not put something together myself. So that was the
starting point. David: It’s a very unique book. We know that
because of your research trying to find vegan recipes, et cetera. It’s also actually a huge
book in terms of the number of recipes that are available there. Tell us just a little
bit about how did you get into the vegan lifestyle in the first place, Laurinda?
Laurinda: I was always very interested in health, wellbeing – the whole spectrum, but
specifically also nutritionally. So I did a lot of research, right up to cell level
in terms of what happens eating various foods; the peptides, proteins, irons – what type
of irons – heme and non-heme – that sort of thing. Then I wanted to, for myself, also
for family create recipes, meals, meal plans, a whole nutritional plan almost, that is nutritionally
sound and balanced – that sort of thing. So it was a lot of research behind the scenes
of plant and nutrition per se as well – even different types of zinc. You get for instance
zinc that’s not so bioavailable [2:52] in plants, as an animal, but you make other connections
in terms of how to eat certain foods together to make it more bioavailable for your body.
So, before I’d even put the recipes together I already had that knowledge as well.
David: So, what we’re seeing by the time we start talking about books and book production
itself; there’s an incredible amount of research and thinking that’s gone in before you would
even consider writing a book about it. Laurinda: That’s right. So, way because one
gets to the creative process, I think it’s very important to do some research into your
subject, that you know your subject very well, and then once the creation – when you start
your project, then to know exactly what to do there, and then right up to the point of
marketing as well. So it’s quite a long road but very exciting. It’s very good to do.
David: It is a long road. It’s not just from A to E; it’s from A to Z – go to whoa kind
of thing. Laurinda: That’s right. Yes, exactly. I’ll
put some recipes together, and then creating it – it’s quite a thick book, so there’s 525
recipes about in there. Then I’ll approach some publishers as well, and got turned down
by two, and I thought, this could probably be going on for awhile and wasting a lot of
time. In the meantime some other vegan recipe books may appear on the shelves and I might
just lose out on that opportunity as well. So, after just two that turned me down in
terms of I’m unknown author and small niche market, which exactly it is, which is in fact
my attraction to it – I like it to be in the small niche market – I just decided to do
it myself. David: Well, I think that’s absolutely incredible,
and by doing it yourself, in no sense did you lose out, because you weren’t going through
a known publisher. This book went on to collect an award. Tell us a little bit about that.
Laurinda: That’s right. So that happened basically in the time when I did my marketing part of
the book, because I approached a lot of libraries, book sellers, book fairs – that sort of thing
as well. Then it was picked up by one of the companies that I should enter my book for
the Living Now book awards that’s in New York. I entered that, and in that section of cookery
and natural foods I won a gold medal for that. David: A very well deserved gold medal. The
book is just fantastic. It’s a treasure trove of information and recipes. What I’d like
to do this evening Laurinda is to talk about the creative process. There may be some people
that watch this that think, how do I get started – what’s really involved in writing a book
– do I have a book within me? Not necessarily in the recipes niche, but their own niche.
We’re going to explore that. It might be quite helpful if you were able to say if there’s
any particular project in the pipeline at present?
Laurinda: Yes, so I’m actually thinking of doing a gluten-free recipe book as well, and
again it’s because I’ve been looking around at some bookshops in all countries while I
travel quite a bit, and I just saw there’s not a lot of solutions for different types
of baking, which is my passion. It’s not [6:31] but baking per se is my passion – both savoury
and sweet. I also noticed at cafes that there’s not a lot of scope – a lot of choices. It’s
just one or two, and sometimes the sweet things are overly sweet and the savoury are quite
boring. I also find that sometimes different types of gluten free flours, that they just
lump it together and use sometimes just one solution as a gluten free flour for everything.
That is not possible; you don’t create something like that. So that’s in the pipeline for me
as well as a travel book as well. I travel quite extensively, and just be about food.
I’m also interested in architecture, history, cultures, traditions – that sort of thing
– languages. David: The niche has suddenly expanded.
Laurinda: Yes. David: Well, let’s get into our topic tonight.
I’m just going to swap the layout so that we can actually have a few examples of what
we’re going to talk about in terms of creative process along the way. Now, this is the award-winning
book. The very first thing about this is you’d been researching – you’d been thinking about
recipes – you’d obviously been practicing recipes for a very long time, because it’s
your passion; was there a moment at which you actually thought to yourself, yes I need
to write all of this down and publish it? Laurinda: Yes. It happened very early on,
and a few friends suggested that it’s becoming such a thick – well, the manuscript – all
my papers – all my notes; why don’t I put that together in a recipe book? Then I thought,
that would actually be really nice, because I haven’t seen anything that was available
that I would buy. My mother was for instance a librarian, so from a very early age I had
a feel of what makes a good book, what doesn’t, which book would you put down, which would
you actually go through and read. So, yes I had all the pages and when I started the
process and into the creative process specifically, I just had my head down and I just went from
– well, three years it took me write the recipes. So first year just to write the recipes, the
second one to test it and fine-tune it, and the third one to take all the photographs,
and I just knew it would be published. David: Now, I think that’s incredibly helpful
for a first time writer/author that wants to get something out there; it’s not a matter
of sitting down and in a week or so, churning out everything that’s needed for a book.
Laurinda: No, not at all. David: It doesn’t work like that. You may
actually get a whole lot of ideas down on paper but there’s a tremendous process or
flow that must occur in order to go from A to Z. I think the number A if you like – point
A is, I need to publish it. Nothing will happen until you discover the inner need to say,
I’ve got things to say that must be put out there for a wider audience.
Laurinda: I think so, because it’s a sense of pride as well; as you’re busy into the
process already and see where this is going, and morphing into something more tangible,
one feels that I would like to present this to a wider audience than just the immediate
family members or so. So it’s a really satisfying process to see how it’s developing from just
sheer notes to manuscripts and eventually on your computer where you’re editing it,
and eventually it’s two or three things – it’s not uncommon; that’s the usual sort of timeframe
if you’re doing something that we did research as well, eventually holding a physical book
in your hands – very satisfying. David: Very satisfying and very difficult
to achieve. It’s not an easy thing to work from the idea or the concept through to the
conclusion. Laurinda: Oh yes, there’s learning curves
all the way from writing style to eventually your type-setting and setting the page as
well, photography I had to learn as well – I’ve never done food photography – it’s a completely
new area I had to explore as well. David: When you just said food photography
I thought, let’s go into the title page of the book, and there’s a splendid photograph.
Festive occasion or lots of red – is that a Pohutukawa?
Laurinda: It’s in fact – yes it is Pohutukawa. Yes, that’s right. It was during December
that I did that. So with the red table cloth – that sort of thing as well, what you’ve
just said is quite right. There was some recipes that I did for Easter so I researched recipes
from Poland to Germany – what would they serve for Easter, and some of the recipes are over
200 years old. For instance, I’ve got a Tuscan recipe that’s over 250 years old. So then
you would for instance, when you do the photograph, put that festive occasion in there just for
a little bit of interest, because people would sometimes expect that to see the usual baking
over Easter or Christmas and sometime for people who’ve gone vegan and looking for duplicating
those recipes but in a vegan way and then find that it is possible. So, it is important
to link those together. David: Laurinda, with that very old recipe
– 250 years is quite a few generations; has that been a family recipe that was handing
down or has it come in a different way? Laurinda: It probably was a family recipe
as well, but it was an Italian one as I say, from Tuscany, and those recipes don’t really
change over time. So it is very traditional. It was in fact a recipe that I adapted for
it was [12:42] recipe with different spices and it came through with different peoples.
It’s gone through, and also the spices brought in, so then I just adapted that, but most
of the recipes have been written purely from scratch, but some as I said – research into
ethnic cuisines just to make it interesting as well. Some of them are really old and I
wanted to go back to the original ones – not how it morphed over the years, and changed
its look completely. David: It’s not dissimilar to going into a
super market or a fruit and vegetable shop today and you’ll see tomatoes – some are called
Heirloom tomatoes, and you know that you’re getting something that’s been produced over
a long period of time. Often those old varieties have qualities that are no longer there in
a way that food is sort of mass produced today. Laurinda: That’s right, yes.
David: Well Laurinda, we’ve had a viewer question come in, and it’s really quite a fascinating
one; it’s asking how many books did you print and sell?
Laurinda: My first run was 1000 copies. That’s obviously the most cost-effective way to do
that – to print bulk. So I printed 1000 through Hong Kong and I sold those. It took me about
a year and a half to sell those, and in the meantime I also went through – it’s another
company in America and I sold eBooks as well through Amazon and also the Apple store.
David: I think anyone that’s serious about writing a book, whether it’s fiction or a
factual book, has to take into account the various formats now that you can output. I’ve
asked the question before in Kiwi Connexion – Laurinda wouldn’t have been part of the
conversation; what is a book? The conventional books that we all grew up with, yes they’re
books, but there may be other ways of considering what a book is now. So, that whole marketing
issue, we will come back and discuss a bit further, but 1000 on a print run is significant
in New Zealand terms. I can’t remember the statistics now, but I
was talking to a South African guy who was a part of this congregation, and he wrote
a number of military histories and similar things, and he had the statistics; if he could
get sales of about 4-5000 that was significant internationally. So we’re used to thinking
Dan Brown and the De Vinci Code selling a million copies, but there are hardly any books
in terms of the total number of books that are produced, that achieve anything over 10,000.
Laurinda: Yes I would say so. So, anything above 2000 copies sold is apparently New Zealand
considered a best seller. David: It was very interesting when Stuart
Mannins and I collaborated and I produced the lead worship books in the Effective Church
Leaders series, in the end we never knew how many we actually sold because we didn’t sell
them in that kind of way. Some were free, some were part of courses, et cetera. The
printer who was – he lost count. He didn’t keep – and he reckoned there were well over
2000 of the lead worship books. The effective leaders I think was probably like 300-400
copies. So we’ve got a number of published authors in here, and Stuart Manins with his
own music books too, which were international best sellers for early childhood music. Okay
Laurinda, I’m just wondering; you talked right at the start about a niche audience. You don’t
really get much more niche than vegan recipes, do you?
Laurinda: That’s right. It’s even a smaller market than your vegetarian section of any
society. I think vegetarians – I saw a statistic once – is seven per cent of a population to
be vegetarian, so vegan would be even smaller than that. So, yes it is small. It was at
that stage quite a growing market as well. In fact, that wasn’t my market that I wanted
to sell to specifically, because when I went – I already knew that, but when I for instance
exhibited the book at various organic food shows and allergy shows – that sort of thing
– it wasn’t fact vegans who bought the book from me, because I knew they would already
have their nutrition sorted out, or have already food plans and meal plans for their families.
People who came to me were in fact mothers who wanted to introduce their children to
vegetables in interesting ways. So, for instance in my book I’ve got beetroot baked into cakes
– that sort of thing – or dips made out of vegetables.
So that was something; they were concerned whether their children were not eating enough
vegetables. The other market was just people who liked to dabble in the kitchen, and just
wanted to make dishes more interesting as well – see the variety of vegetables, because
one is busy; you want to have a meal on the table within half an hour or 40 minutes, and
then one tends to land in a groove, that you just make the same dishes over and over again
with maybe a little bit of variation of flavours. They came to me as well, to see some other
variations and completely new dishes, even reminding them of childhood dishes, and interesting
ethnic dishes. Many people have also travelled and want to see how they can make a dish vegan
in a way that they were used to before when they were not vegan. So that was basically
my market. David: I just took some photographs at random
through the book that we’ve been looking at, and when you take these two pages side by
side, everything that you were talking about there comes out in both a graphic way as well
as the text accompanying obviously. What you’ve got there are some very attractive looking
dishes with a remarkable set of colours in there. So the idea that – I said that you
defined your market as vegan – very niche, you’ve actually correctly that; these are
vegan recipes, but not necessarily designed just for the vegan market. That I think is
a key thing again for someone hoping to get their book into print. If you don’t have a
clear idea about what audience you’re writing for, well I think few people will be interested
here. What we’re seeing is food presented, and everyone’s got to look like cooking food
– food presented in a way that becomes attractive. Did you say vegetables are attractive for
children? Laurinda: That’s right. Often with a book
like this, it might be what’s often a called coffee table book; somebody would just like
to page through. So, I find that a lot as well when I had the books on the table, and
friends of mine also said the same; people who are not vegan would sometimes just page
through it and just for enjoyment of just looking at the photographs, find enjoyment
with the colour, presentation as well, and just simply getting ideas so one can use the
same recipes, and in fact then put meat in it if one wants to do that. So it can go either
way. It’s quite versatile. David: What a great idea. Now we’re seeing
the idea, the concept starts to crystalise out in a variety of ways. In terms of this
book -it won’t be so for all books, but in terms of this book you must have had a tremendous
ride in terms of the creative process, because you’re not simply outputting text, are you?
Laurinda: That’s correct, yes. So it’s a lot about writing a recipe in terms of balancing
the nutrients in it as well. So that is something I would come forward with and then there’s
the research behind it as I said. Then the day before I would photograph it, I would
draw up – especially in the dessert section – draw up the way I would like to have it
presented eventually on a photograph, whether it’s a side view, or whether it’s a face-down
one or sort of blurring that one – can focus on one dish at a time – something like that.
Then the photography was a tremendous learning curve for me, because I haven’t had any training
in food photography. In fact, I started to photograph some dishes
first and then started to look up a little bit of hints about it and then I saw that
I’ve already discovered that along the way of sheer creativity – that sort of thing,
by just photographing oranges in the bowl for instance and seeing different aspects
that you get certain – the colour variation – also the light – the shadow thick, and also
the size and how close you want to be with that. I didn’t have any fancy camera equipment.
It was a small Pentax camera. It had enough functions in it for me to have the various
interesting photography potential in it as well, which makes it interesting, and of course
afterwards you crop and edit, and do that as well afterwards. So, to get a variety of
different photographs – when people page through books they don’t want to have one boring photograph
set in the same design setting in one way all the time. So I was very conscious of that
as well, but I didn’t have a special room to photograph in or a box.
I know that people do that in a box with special lighting. Sometimes actually lighting away
from – because you can’t have lighting directly on food; that you cannot do at all. It becomes
different colours in terms of whatever lenses you use. It sometimes make a slice of bread
look blue or green which is quite horrible. So I just photograph it in a sunny room and
sometimes I saw on the lens that when the sun goes, it changes colour in front of me.
So it’s important to take about 30 shots or so and then look at a computer afterwards,
and while the food, if it’s still possible, go and check that, come back, photograph some
more and see what works and what doesn’t. David: Now, I think there’s a really important
principle that’s emerged there; you need about 30 photographs minimum before you are able
to choose the right one to work. That’s also true of doing the recipe itself; you don’t
do this recipe once – cook it and say that’s it. You’re using the recipe a number of times
and refining it and thinking it through. So now we’ve got two creative processes that
are going on simultaneously; we’ve got the actual making of food, but now how are we
going to display that food? Then, in the background, how am I going to write about that recipe?
Laurinda: That’s right. So, often – well, not -a lot of times I would edit the recipe
after the photograph so I was very clear on what I wrote about – what I’m going to photograph
afterwards as well, but it’s important to – what I did for instance, do blank shots
first where you just photograph the plate first and then as I say, something else in
it like a small plumb in it, just to see how that’s going to look, but sometimes I had
to re-do a recipe because funnily enough when you zoom in on certain dishes, for instance
if it is a stew dish that I wanted to have the colours to pop – to really come forward,
then I would for instance just cook it half way and then you really zoom in, you find
that the – you don’t display enough of all the ingredients to make it really feel that
you see it as your eye would look at a plate at normal distance.
So I would re-do the recipe sometimes and then cut the vegetables even smaller, or the
nuts even smaller, and display it on the play literally this size which is a dipping bowl,
and then when you come really close to it, then it looks like a dinner plate. So there’s
all sorts of tricks one can do as well if you want to have a close up shot but not of
a dinner plate size, but small that it looks big after it’s on the page.
David: Having talked about that part of the creative process and the sort of techniques
and tips that you’ve got to do for the photography, I’m just going to look at this page in particular;
when you’ve chosen your photographs and you’ve written up your recipes so that the steps
are exact, you then have to consider the layout of the page. Now, we’re here we’ve got a number
of different shaped bowls, so would it be fair to say that in terms of your creative
processes, these needed to be in round plates – this needed, in the end to be in a square
plate to get the pop of colour… Laurinda: That’s right, and the variety from
page to page; as you page through you don’t get the sort of same colour, the same dishes,
the same decoration, and that is why I didn’t write the recipes in chronological order.
I jumped around. So I would, for instance do and photograph a soup, a dip and maybe
a dessert on the same day, and not three desserts or something like that, because you tend to
fall into a rut and start to photograph things in the same way to present it.
David: So, when we’re talking about three years from A to Z, there’s a lot of things
that go on in that three years, but it’s not just a question of writing the recipe.
Laurinda: That’s right. Sometimes one’s mind does change in terms of what alternative sugars
to use, because this recipe book doesn’t use the refined sugars – that sort of thing. This
is not a gluten free book, so I used different types of flours. Sometimes not everything
is available in New Zealand so what I did is then to give – not in terms of variations,
but also [27:57] – how you can substitute different ingredients or flavours or whatever
also in season, but also ingredients is not available – different flours – that sort of
thing, just to make it easier and broader for people to use, because sometimes if one
reads a recipe and sees – oh well there’s two or three ingredients I don’t have – then
I won’t make the entire dish then. So just to make it more accessible for people, and
for mothers on the run as well, to see, oh well I can see a hint there to how quickly
substitute things. David: I’m not sure whether that’s a hint
just to the right of that… Laurinda: Yes.
David: Yeah, it is a hint. We can see that on my mouse on the screen, but it doesn’t
show up in the recording, but that hint will be printed in a different font size. So another
part of the creative process that you’ve had to work through, and it comes relatively – not
towards the end – it comes before then – what fonts am I going to use in order that this
will be a very readable book. Typography plays a key role. Recipe title, and the hints – how
does the eye get led to a hint? There’s a lot of visual information on this page.
Laurinda: That’s correct. So one needs to guard against the discretion in terms of a
recipe book that your page doesn’t get too busy. It’s all very interesting for maybe
the person who looks at few pages – one or two pages, and that interest is there in terms
of, wow this looks interesting – it’s colourful. Then in your mind you suddenly almost start
to tire because it feels – it’s too much going on; I can’t pay too much attention anymore.
So what I did is put the title – I used almost a decorative font that was Papyrus and then
for the rest I used [29:55] and then for the font sizes I just made it smaller, so for
the hints that is really small – for variation I put weight into it so that it was bold print,
and just for a bit of playfulness, because sometimes people get bogged down with all
the steps, I used the numbering for the steps – I used that just in a different colour light
green. Apart from that – I wanted to keep it not as busy, because it’s too much with
the photograph there as well. David: Yeah, what we’ve got in these facing
pages is quite a calming influence. The text is – the visual hierarchy if you like, is
very clear. The photograph just sits there very nicely – very well done. So book production
is for authors that are going to be self-publishers. Book production is actually a very significant
part of the process. It’s usually at the book production level that a decision has to be
made; am I going to continue to run this project for myself or am I going to hand it over to
a publisher? Now, there are many great publishers. In Kiwi Connexion we’ve got a special connection
with PGPL – Philip Garside press. Philip works a lot with authors that are – they don’t necessarily
know that they’ve got a market that’s going to buy. So that kind of publisher is very
helpful. For Laurinda and myself, we’ve gone through the whole process and from idea, designing
it, getting it, all the visual elements, et cetera – but then we come to this question;
we’ve done it – how are we going to market it? You know? There we have quite divergent
paths. So let’s hear your path for marketing, Laurinda.
Laurinda: Yes, certainly if one goes to a publisher, what I did is to target publishers
that would for instance publish and market books that are in a direction of lifestyle
or diet or healthy eating – something like that. So it’s not going to help to target
publishers that’s not in that direction, because that’s not their thrust. That’s not what they
know – not the context they’ve got as well. So certainly from a marketing point of view,
one has to be very clear on – it possibly can be your market and your audience and then
broaden just a little bit. So what I did for instance first of all is – of course you get
an ISBN number here at the back, so that’s the first thing that I did here in New Zealand
when I was still editing on my computer. You can get that through the National Library.
Then what’s picked up from there is other libraries will see there’s a new book that’s
been registered. Of course you do give six copies of the book to the library.
They keep it as copies – anything that’s printed in New Zealand is kept there as well. Then
libraries would approach one and then it’s also very good, if one is in the writing process,
to – especially someone like myself – this was my first book – I also joined the Writer’s
Association in New Zealand because they give one a lot of help, especially your legal rights.
I for instance, went to them with some legal issues and questions, and they offered that
service for free. Then, also your public lending right to libraries, so they also offered advice
there. Also, just to go along to the evenings to hear what other writers have done, successes
they’ve had, failures to see what works – what doesn’t work, and then speakers who came.
Some well known authors in New Zealand came to speak, and that was invaluable also to
see the process, and maybe a little bit of a comment if it is on the right track, others
have done it; that’s very valuable. Then, of course if you go through a publisher,
they do all the marketing – wonderful, but then they also change your title – then they
change a significant part of the book, which is not nice always. So one might go headlong
in a direction, maybe stubbornly one keeps your title, that maybe the publisher will
throw out – that sort of thing, but I would say, go along with one’s passion – go along
with your gut feeling in terms of where you think the market should be. So it would be
a variety of ways. It would be a lot of footwork to go to bookshops, present ] to the person
who does the actual book-buying. I, for instance, went to all the organic shops
in New Zealand. They all stock my book as well. All the bookshops did as well – the
big and the small family-run ones as well – and then to exhibitions. I did, for instance,
a lot of cooking classes, both at shows, at organic shops, at home – set it up; that’s
fun. It’s enormous fun. I love it. You meet a lot of interesting people. As I said, the
libraries a good option as well, and then internationally I also joined the Vegan Society
of the UK. Eventually they approached me and asked that I write six recipe starters which
can be used as small dishes, six mains and six desserts that’s going to used in all the
hospitals in the UK as a vegan option for their patients. So that’s what they did, as
well. David: Well, I think that’s a fantastic summary
of the effort that’s required in marketing. Now, Laurinda has taken a huge project and
turned it from concept into reality into that printed book, and as we heard, she’s working
on a few more. I wouldn’t want people that are budding authors to be put off by thinking
that they don’t have such a massive project to do, because to get published you could
be just talking about a 10-page little local history – a family history, et cetera. You
will find that there are some niche publishers that will help you to get that into print.
We wouldn’t want to neglect the online component of marketing that’s through Amazon, Kindle
– all of those kinds of things, but maybe that’s a separate story from what we’re talking
about here, which is a highly successful print-run. Our message, I think Laurinda to anyone that
watches this – and we will be providing it on YouTube – is, have a go. Think of it as
three stages; your concept and where you start to think who you’re writing for, the production
of it which includes the text and may include some graphics, and finally the effort that
you’re going to put into marketing. The vast majority of books that are produced require
the author to do some quite strong leg-work, taking it round and being unafraid to say,
hey we think you might be interested in this. Thank you very much for joining me and we’ll
say good evening for everybody. Laurinda: Good evening.
Writing a book from Go to Whoa kiwiconnexion practical theology