My book, STYLED is officially on sale today, friends. We are friends, right? Friends that, say, buy each other’s books, for instance? Friends that promote each others hard work on the interwebs? Friends that tell each other when we have crossed the line from “encouraging” to “TOTALLY NAGGY?”
I’ve stewed, pondered and brainstormed for months about what the most accurate analogy for this book publishing process is and, unfortunately, I can only come up with the old, ‘It’s like giving birth’ analogy. You moms out there are probably thinking impossible, but trust me. I’m not the first one to make this comparison, nor will I be the last, but it’s so accurate that I can’t help but climb on that proverbial train. It’s such hard work, but so incredibly rewarding.
You think you are “ready, ” and that it will be “fun.” Ultimately it will help give you the future that you’ve dreamed about. So, while you know it’s going to be a lot of work and really painful you say to yourself, “lets do it!”
The next two years after signing the book deal are both creatively inspiring and pretty harrowing at the same time. I knew it was going to be a lot of work but it was 147x more work than I could have ever predicted. It didn’t help that I had a baby, a design firm with lots of active clients, the blog, major partnerships, blah, blah, to stay on top of. The book was a top priority but all of those things were fighting for first priority, too.
There are a few ancillary reasons why this book was more work (and more worth it AND now WAY MORE FUN) than I thought.
Be prepared to be emotionally manipulated by me:
1. STYLED Is a book FULL of information, tips and original styling content. I recycled nothing from the blog. It’s not just text, nor is it just pretty photos with some intro text per chapter. I used to look at those huge $70 picture filled coffee table books with such envy, as I could see how much easier they would have been to produce being mainly beautiful photo after beautiful photo with nary a ‘tip’ in sight. On the other hand, this book has 412 original photos, over 1000 tips and more words than you can possibly count. All of that had to be written, organized and laid out in a way that was linear and yet unpredictable and interesting. It’s not like it’s ‘Tip #1, Tip #2’ and so on. It’s is a massive resource about how to find your style, hone it, love it and then style every. single. thing. in. your. home. Exhausted yet? Stay with me.
2. We (myself with Scott and David) shot all original photography (technically there is one photo that was a pickup). That means we had to find, book, style, shoot and edit 25 different homes around the country (we concentrated in LA and Portland). We picked these homes, keeping in mind that each home had to be unique and different from the previous. Every room, every surface, needed to be presented in a fresh way so I would have something new to talk about in each. If we had already shot a room with simple textural white bedding then we had to change out the bedding on the next house’s bedroom to make sure that I could talk about, say, patterns instead. We didn’t just make the bed, we created the tips as we moved around the house, then we obsessed about every single GD wrinkle on that bed.
3. We wrote and shot it at the same time in order to meet the deadlines. I say ‘we’ because I ultimately needed (and received) incredible help with the writing, organizing, and laying out text from my editor (who turned into a writer for the book, Angelin Borsics). When I originally got the book deal (I was a naive what-felt-like-25 year old) I really thought that I could shoot all the photos then lay them out in an adorable scrapbook-like manner, and then write the copy for the photos. Not the case, folks. The outline was done first, and then I wrote the content as we shot everything. STYLED is not a narrative that goes in order by room – it starts with the style diagnostic, moves onto 10 steps to styling anything, then dives into the specifics of each surface, room, etc. It is such a beast to organize and determine which photos go in what chapter – you have no idea (or maybe you do). There are “captions, ” “deep dives, ” “body text, ” “sub-titles, ” “chapter headings” and lots of other book jargon that Angelin helped me understand.
It was hard, but satisfying work.
Also like having kids, the second you see that baby you are: a.) So incredibly happy that you want to cry, b.) Would do it all over again and, c.) You totally forget the pain.
HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? I’m so insanely proud of this book and It makes me so much happier than I thought it could. Like my own child (soon to be children) I’m sure I am biased, but I think its FULL of quality decorating information which is all illustrated through such beautiful original photos (thanks to everyone who worked on the book – I’m talking to you David and Scott).
There were a lot of people involved that need to be thanked.
Angelin Borsics – Long story short Angelin was the original editor at Potter Style, who had been trying to get me to do a book for years. Right after I signed this book deal – knowing that she was the right one to sign with, she left to work elsewhere. I was deflated, at first but then I was assigned another editor, Aliza – who was wonderful, and we moved forward with the book. But I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed Angelin. I was CRAZY busy, she knew this project, the blog and all of the book potential better than anyone else – even better than I did at times. I had all the styling information, but she had all the ‘how-to-make-a-successful-book’ information from years of working in the industry.
So I did what busy people do best – I hired her as my own personal editor and she was highly, HIGHLY involved in the editorial process. We had 2 hour weekly conference calls (while I was on walks with Charlie) where I would ramble out the content and she would write it in the most concise and digestable way possible. She helped determine what tip should be a “deep dive” or a “side bar.” She monitored the photos as they came in, assigning tips to them, and helped create the overall structure of the book. It’s actually impossible for me to overstate how much she did and how valuable she was to this whole process.
She made this all possible and I may have died without her. Having her expertise of the publishing world (i.e. knowing what an audience wants) was priceless. The fact that she had been reading the blog for years meant that when absolutely needed she could even write in my voice. She babysat me with the deadlines, helped me organize all the outlines and filled in as me when I simply couldn’t get back to the publisher in time. Then at the 12th hour, a couple of months ago, she decided to return to Potter Style and she became my editor again.
Angelin, you are a very special, valuable, wonderful person and while I know that I’m getting most of the credit for this book – YOU deserve so much of it. Let the record show – Angelin Borsics is a genius book editor and writer.
David Tsay – The photographer. I have been working with David now for almost a decade. We’ve travelled all over together and spent so much collaborative time honing our chemistry and process. He is an incredible photographer and can do things to spaces, angles and light that few can. When I signed the book deal my first thought was DAVID!! And my second thought was ‘HOW CAN I AFFORD HIM?!’ In an era where everyone is a photographer (and stylist) there are few who can turn out beautiful, professional interiors photographs with sophisticated lighting and story telling abilities. In short, he’s the real deal. Even more surprising is that he has very little ego. He is full of opinions, suggestions and wants things a certain way but he is extremely easy to work with and open to others opinions and suggestions. He knows that making a beautiful photo is a collaborative process. He’s extremely talented and so enjoyable to be around. We had so much fun together and I hope to work with him for the next 10 years if he’ll have me.
Scott Horne – Scott is one of my very best friends in the whole world. In fact he was the subject of one of my first blog posts 7 years ago. We met on set, both as assistant stylists, 12 years ago and have been pretty inseperable – emotionally and physically – since. Our careers have both taken off since we were 24, in different ways. Now he styles massive ad campaigns and huge Martha Stewart like lifestyle shoots (he trained at MS). He moved to LA just after I did (thank God). At first I thought I could style this whole book myself – I am a stylist, after all. But…I couldn’t. I was way too busy and couldn’t give each photo the proper attention it needed, while staying on top of the blog and client work. You don’t just go into a house, set up the camera and shoot. You buy/schlep flowers and props beforehand, then completely rearrange the house for each shot you are trying to capture. It’s a total snow show. On top of that someone has to be a.) Making sure that stylistically it looks amazing/interesting/not generic as well as b.) Making sure there aren’t wrinkles, lint, unnecessary cords, etc, trying to creep into the shot. He wasn’t cheap (oh, I tried to get a friends and family discount, I did) but he was worth every. single. penny. We were both there together most days (he missed a few and I missed a few) and I think having both of us styling and babysitting each shot is one of the reasons why every single photo in the book is so beautiful.
I didn’t do it alone – those three people made this book what it is.
Of course I need to thank my agent – Margaret, the designer of the book – La Tricia Watford, my team (Ginny, Brady and Sara) for keeping up the company while I was on set and of course, Brian and Charlie for their general patience while I was either shooting or having mental breakdowns.
Lastly I want to thank all the designers and homeowners who let us shoot inside their beautiful homes. These aren’t all of them (just the ones who wanted to be credited).
Scott Horne, Sally Breer, Jason Tauritz, Ellen Lacompte of Amsterdam Modern, Corbett Tuck, Mike Andrew of Inheritance, Shanne Feste, Isabelle Dahlin of DekorLA, Noah Riley, Cleo and McShane Murnane of ProjectMPlus, Taylor Jacobson, Brian Faherty of Schoolhouse Electric, Emily Katz and Adam Porterhouse, Jessica Helgerson, David Peralta of Mid Century LA, and Tomer of Native Content.
I’ll be posting about each of them, and tagging them on social media the next couple months, so keep an eye out. Thank you so much everyone for creating such pretty, shoot worthy spaces.
All the beautiful photography is done by the talented David Tsay. While I may be leaking some photos here and there, there are hundreds of photos in the book and you simply have to buy it in order to really read it, see it and judge it for yourself.
Just in case this post wasn’t manipulation enough, you can watch this trailer:
Video by Scrunch Media.
I want this book to succeed so hard. Like a child I just want to see it succeed. I’m so proud of it. So much of my creativity, energy, time and heart went into this book.
In fact, I love this book so much that If I had to do it all over again, with the exact same pains and challenges I would in a heartbeat. I may, however, opt for an epidural this time 🙂
P.S. If you purchased it and wouldn’t mind reviewing it on Amazon I would be SO grateful. Good reviews help it show up in the purchase recommendations of other shoppers, which boosts sales.