Following the launch of her third book Thrive Through Yoga, we got chatting to Nicola Jane Hobbs about the process of getting a book deal and how finding the right publisher was the result of perseverance that paid off.
How did you make sure you kept yourself accountable whilst writing the book?
I write because I love writing. I only write about topics that I am really passionate about such as yoga, psychology, mental health, and nutrition which means I actually find keeping myself accountable pretty easy.
My books always have a practical element to them which helps with accountability as I can share the process with other people.
For example, for Thrive Through Yoga (out now) I explored different yoga sequences and meditations with friends and family, and as Fear-Free Food (out in March 2018) is a recipe book, I hosted regular recipe testing parties to ensure the book remained a priority.
When you get a publishing deal, you are given a deadline to meet to for submitting your first draft and also for when the book will be sent off to the printers so I always have that in the back of my mind too!
I coach a lot of new writers who are starting out on their first book and some of them struggle with accountability because of fear.
It takes courage to write and share your message with the world so if you really want to write a book but you keep finding yourself putting off then I would encourage you to get a writing coach or an accountability writing buddy to help you work through any anxiety so you can put pen to paper.
How did you create a clear outline for your 21 days challenge?
Thrive Through Yoga was an idea I had been brewing for a long time (years!). Publishers only ever want to see a book proposal and never the entire book which is actually really helpful as it means you have to create a clear outline for your book before you write it.
A book proposal usually includes things like proposed title, subtitle, target audience, chapter outline and some sample chapters. I spent two to three months researching and refining the outline for Thrive Through Yoga.
From my own experience of yoga and from working with clients I know how powerful it is in helping people to heal and grow so I wanted to combine the poses and spiritual aspects of yoga with a more scientific approach (both my degree and master’s degree are in Psychology).
This meant that each day of the 21-day journey in Thrive Through Yoga is based around a theme (e.g. nourishment and self-care, loving your body, re-authoring your life story…) and for each day there is an inspirational quote, yoga sequence, heart-centred exploration, and meditation.
Once I broke it down like this, it was much easier to focus on writing the copy for each day instead of getting overwhelmed at the thought of writing a whole book!
Did you have any content you repurposed from existing articles / social posts?
No, I would advise anyone not to repurpose content from existing articles of social posts in their books or book proposals because publishers and readers want to see original content in a book.
You may also find that you want to change the tone and style of your writing slightly when writing a book compared to the voice you use when sharing ideas and content on social media.
How did you find the right publisher / agent?
I wrote my first book proposal back in 2012. It was for my first book, Yoga Gym, and it took over two years to get a publishing deal.
I researched literary agents and after a few rejections, someone agreed to take it on. He didn’t have any success with getting a publishing deal so, after a few months I gave up. Then, I found another agent based in London who spoke highly of the proposal but again, couldn’t get a deal with a publisher.
So, finally I started submitting the proposal directly to publishers myself (many publishers only take submissions through an agent – it usually says on their website if they accept them directly from writers). After around 30 rejections, I finally got a deal with Bloomsbury Publishing in 2014.
What did you learn from the process of finding a publisher?
Finding a publisher definitely taught me how to cope with rejection! But each time I got a rejection letter I took their feedback on board, edited the proposal and sent it off again.
As a new writer it is difficult to get a look in with big publishing houses and it is easy to get disheartened by rejections. This is why it is so important to fall in love with the process of writing itself and write about a topic that you are extremely passionate about.
What was the most challenging aspect about writing a book?
For me, the most challenging aspect of writing a book is fitting it in. I love writing, but the work I do with clients is also incredibly important to me (as is spending time with friends and family, training, yoga, self-care…) so I had to carve out time and give myself deadlines.
Everyone’s writing process is slightly different – some people do a couple of hours a day, other people aim to write 500-2000 words a day…
I find it easiest to have full writing days and full coaching days so I can spend entire days in writing mode and give my book my all and then entire days in coaching mode and give my clients my all.
What is the thing you wished you knew when you started?
I wish I had known how important it is to dream and let me imagination run wild. It’s really easy to get sucked into productivity mode when writing a book, when we need to access more of a creative mode if we are going to generate ideas that really matter to us.
As a yoga teacher, I have learnt how important it is to meditate and how my best ideas come when my mind is calm and free from mental chatter. And the same is true for writing – it is part of the process to make time to be quiet and let your mind roam free because it will usually roam to the things that are really important to you. And those things and what you need to write about.
What would you tell someone thinking about writing their own book?
- Take the time to discover what really matters to you
Writing a book can take years so it’s important you are writing about something that holds meaning in your life and moves you everyday.
- Find your voice
Everyone writes slightly differently so explore different writing styles and what feels most natural to you. As long as you can spell correctly and have a good grasp of sentence structure and grammar, then your voice can be as unique as you!
- Keep writing
It won’t be easy. It won’t always be comfortable. You will get rejections. You will be criticised. But please keep writing. It will change your life. And it will impact the world.