Books, Personal

Writing my first book, Your Best Self.

For those of you who know me, you’d know that one of my ultimate life goals is to write and publish my own book. It is something that I have always dreamt of doing ever since I was young. After all, I grew up literally devouring books after books, and I’ve always wanted to see my name on a book cover one day.

Well, I’m happy to say that that special day has arrived, finally!

July 2010: How it all started.

In 2010, I met a rather annoying guy through one of the Facebook groups I was in. Somehow, we hit it off, and we became fast friends. I call him my Doktor Gelak, mainly because he could make me laugh with his stupid jokes. On his 16th birthday, we were talking about random stuff, including my love for writing. And, somehow, I made him a promise – I’ll write and publish a book within 10 years.

For the next couple of years, while we never actually talked about the ‘promise‘, and while writing a book was never at the top of my to-do list, it was still lingering somewhere in the back of my mind. We both knew that it was just a joke, but somehow, to me, the promise was still a promise that I need to fulfill.

November 2018: A glimpse of hope.

A friend, Alia Fauzi, reached out to me about a potential collaboration. Alia’s business, Flonerch, is a lifestyle and motivational brand that focuses on self-love. Initially, our conversation revolves around a collaboration where I would help to create content and blog posts for their website. Considering my background in writing motivational blog posts, this seems like the most straightforward suggestion.

Then, somehow, the conversation changed. Alia suggested that instead of working on multiple blog posts, I should look into writing a book for them to publish. It was going to be Flonerch’s first time publishing a book, and it was going to be my first time writing one.

Despite it being a new thing for both of us, we were both excited about the collaboration. I didn’t think too much about the suggestion and dived right into it.

Let me tell you, writing my first book is a real challenge.

The last 1.5 years have been a real challenge. Since Flonerch gave me the freedom to write and shape the book however I see fit, I had to figure out the best way to structure the book.

To get started, we did some market research. Flonerch & I both posted a poll on our Instagram stories to see what our followers and readers would want to know more about. I also did a small survey on my LinkedIn profile among my networks and followers. Of course, I wanted to keep the whole book project a secret for as long as I could. So I didn’t specifically mention that I was surveying topics for my book, purely for a ‘writing collaboration’ with a friend.

From the responses received, I then put together a rough structure of the content based on overall themes. Of course, the structure changed as we go into the writing and editing process, but this helped a lot in getting started.

Having the ideal reader in my mind.

I consulted a few people when I first started writing, and one of them was Aiman Azlan. One of his advice to me was to have an idea of my target audience. I need to identify their needs and wants, and work on providing solutions to their problems.

The survey I did proved to be useful as it helped me to know what issues or challenges my followers are facing. My career coaching experience with TalentCorp and HRD Corporation also came in handy as I get to see what problems the students and graduates are worried about.

Throughout my writing process, I keep on revisiting the content and trying to see how it would relate to my ideal readers. What are the main challenges that they face? How can the book help them in facing those problems? I was never a fan of telling people what to do, so I adopt the next best thing – teaching people the skills that they can use to overcome any challenges that they face.

Finishing the book took longer than expected.

The manuscript took longer to complete, mainly because the never-ending lockdown in Malaysia kept messing with my writing mood. The book was initially scheduled to be published in August 2020, but that didn’t happen. We then planned to have it out by December 2020, but MCO 2.0 happened and postponed it again. I put a pause on writing for a few months earlier this year for personal reasons.

In April 2021, I started writing again and pushed myself to finish it by June. There was only one goal in my head – I want to launch it on my 27th birthday. Having that one goal (however insignificant it was) was super helpful to motivate me in finishing the manuscript.

Flonerch and I then worked on the finishing touches on the book, which included the illustration, formatting, and the design of the book. Flonerch did an amazing job with the illustration and cover designs (I am in love, despite it being too pinkish for my personal taste). I also got a couple of friends to help proofread and comment on the content and design, because, honestly, after looking at the manuscript for 1.5 years, everything looked the same to me and I can’t really spot the little mistakes here and there.

It was all worth it in the end, because the book is finally here!

Alhamdulillah Alhamdulillah Alhamdulillah.

Your Best Self book

No words can describe how excited and happy I was on the day I received the final mockup of the book. I was jumping up and down and legit couldn’t stay still. It so happened that the day I received the mockup was also the day I planned to go back to my parents’ and in-laws’ for the weekend to break the news to them (as I managed to keep the book a secret from them for the past 2 years).

As it was our first-ever book, Flonerch and I were not sure how many copies we should print out. For Flonerch, it was hard to estimate as this is their first book, and they can’t really rely on their past sales data on their other items. And from my end, as a new author in the scene, it’s hard to gauge what the reaction would be from the community.

So we decided to run a pre-order period in order to see what the demand and reaction would be like from people. And, so, on my 27th birthday (23rd August), we officially launched the pre-order sale. And, to make it special, I recorded a fun reel to make the announcement, because I’m extra like that :p

I will share more on the sales and outcomes once we’ve mailed out all the pre-orders and everything. But, for now, I am so very much grateful for the support and positive responses that we’ve received so far. I am just so blown away by how much love I’ve been receiving from friends and family alike. And I am super excited to see the feedback and reviews once people actually receive and read the book. πŸ™‚

Final thoughts (for now)…

Before I end this post, I just want to give a major major shout-out to Suraya from Ringgit oh Ringgit. I cannot say how much her blog posts have helped me in the whole process. I learnt a lot from her blog, from publishing and marketing the book, and everything in between. Heck, I even referred to her blog when setting up my blog shop using WooCommerce! Suraya has just been a source of inspiration and guidance, and I’m just super grateful for her openness in sharing her experiences. Thank YOU so very much Suraya – you’ve been such a gem!!! πŸ™‚

I will write a separate blog post (or maybe a page itself) about the book and the content. But, until then – stay awesome, take care, and go buy a copy OK! And go check out Flonerch on Instagram for all the other fun and cute stuff that they sell too! πŸ™‚

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