Skip links

How To Write and Publish a Book

First blog post on the “How To” series, featuring published author Sarah Tester.

Something I’ve been working on this year is actually following through on things I say I’m gonna do. I started that MBA I had been thinking about for a few years, I launched the website I had always wanted to own, and I finally unpacked the last two boxes I had in storage from my move two years ago. I know! Procrastination at its finest.

See: Why social media was killing my creativity!

When I talk to others who have big ideas but take a long time to execute them, I often encounter similar answers … all along the lines of “I don’t even know where to start.”

To help all my go-getter readers get over that creative block, I’ve decided to launch a series on “How To.” Through the next few weeks you’ll hear from artists, writers and entrepreneurs on topics like how to start a business, how to look for a new job, how to take the next step in your career … I’ll try to cover as much ground as possible! I hope my blog will be the push you’ve been needing to help you achieve those wild dreams.

To start this series I invited my dear friend and published author Sarah Tester to share about her creative process and the steps she followed to get her first book, The Russian Table, published.

C: Sarah, tell us about getting the book going. Did you have that “I don’t even know where to start” feeling? 

S: I think the overwhelming feeling came later on for me. I sort of started this book unknowingly. I followed my passion of cooking and combined it with the love of my family and culture so I could preserve our family recipes that have been around for generations. I started writing down a few recipes from my mom, but that list of recipes grew and grew! It was a long project that took two years, but the satisfaction I gained from finishing it and making my family proud is absolutely priceless. 

C: How do you overcome that fear?

S: Procrastination was the biggest struggle. I feel like when most people, including myself, get overwhelmed, we just shut down. I took a 6 month hiatus on this project because the list of recipes was so long I simply didn’t know how to continue.

C: How long did it take to write your book?

S: It took two years for me to write my book. But, it only took six months for me to write my second book, “Nibble + Feast,” which will be published soon. Time is relative. It took a long time for the Russian book because we had to recreate a lot of recipes, because my mom’s directions consisted of “a dash of this and a sprinkle of that.” My second book was recipes I have been making for years, and I didn’t have to rely on anyone else to write them down. The creative process for each one is unique and hard to recreate.

C: Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

S: I wish I had started sooner! I feel like I definitely wasted some time because I had no idea what I was doing and couldn’t help but feel I was doing it wrong. Now, I have so many books I want to write and I’m obsessed with creating cookbooks. I love teaching people new recipes, especially international recipes that many people have never heard of. The fear has slowly faded away.

C: Where did you find resources to know what steps to take?

S: Google! Google is your best friend. I learned about everything from margins to pixels. I also found a great editor online and have used her multiple times now. Building that relationship was key.

C: So how can you summarize the steps for someone who wants to publish a book?

The hardest part is writing the book! This is where most of your time will be dedicated. Whatever you do or write about, make sure you are a true expert. Books are meant to be a transfer of knowledge. The best advice I got is “write what you know.” After you write your book you’ll need to get an editor and graphic designer. You could also get a photographer. I always write the back of my book description last. 

S: Tell us about that feeling of fulfillment when it was done.

It’s really magical. I’ve always wanted to create something and share it with the world. I wanted to create a name for myself and pass it on. The first book is really exciting. I can’t express how proud I was of myself. I’ve written a children’s book, “Happy Days at Home,” and my second cookbook, but I think “The Russian Table” will always be my favorite because my mom and I worked on it together. It created a special bond I’ll always cherish.

C: What would you say to anyone thinking about writing a book?

S: Just do it! Do it now! It doesn’t matter if it’s bad or you don’t have a clear picture yet. Getting pen on paper is the hardest step. Once you do it and you’re passionate about it you won’t be able to stop!

You can follow Sarah’s journey on her social media page.

Seeing Sarah launch her first book was incredibly inspiring, and I can’t wait to see her continue growing her collection and encourage others to do the same. What are the things that help you fight creative block?

Don’t miss next week’s blog post on How To Quit Your Job and Start A Business, featuring singer/songwriter and entrepreneur Brianna Shelko.

Leave a comment