2 years ago I wrote a book. I had an idea, I said I was going to write it and I wrote it. Here are the whats, whys and hows of the process.
The book, Blue is the New Black, is a fashion industry book which is a guide to developing and producing a fashion collection. As a product developer by trade, I found it increasingly frustrating to start in a job where my team below me, fresh from college with a degree and enthusiasm, didn’t actually know what they were doing, which considering they had just spent 3 years at college and racked up a huge student loan was a little frustrating to me and I have to say, a waste.
So I decided to put fingers to keyboard and break down the stages of development so that they could read, digest and understand the context of what they were doing and why. There are chapters on concept, range planning, fabrics, information flow, factories, branding, launching and sales, sustainability, reviews and it all starts with a chapter on the workings of the industry.
It is, as I see it, a high level guide to the fashion industry warts and all.
In total the book took around 1 year to write and around 3 months to structure and 3 months for the cover, layout and design…..
It was a long process for me (a novice) and one which I’m in no real rush to repeat. Why? because deciding the structuring of the book, which was not my strongest area, was like sticking pins in my eyes. Every meeting on structure was so painful, I just wanted it to be done but at the same time I knew it had to be perfect. So I persevered, and my editors also persevered until we were unanimous in our belief that the structure was right.
Why so hard? Well, when developing a collection there are lots of repeat events, the samples are reviewed between 1 and 3 times, fabric sourcing is not just done once, flow of information is throughout the process and updated daily, so trying to make a clear time line of events is very hard and very confusing for new comers to the industry. In the end we settled on fixed chapters on each subject and within each chapter was a sequence of events. The structure of the book changed 3 times in 4 months. Frustratingly necessary.
I thought that writing a ‘how to’ guide would be easier than creating characters and sub plots, and it may well be, but trying to breakdown an explanation of a process that you do daily to make it clear to a non industry person is very, very hard. You, as an author, make so many assumptions on the subject matter that you don’t realize that an non industry bod has no idea what you are talking about.
My editor used a great description… she said that I should imagine explaining to a whale how to put a sock on…. think about its, that’s brilliant! Remember this when you are trying to explain something which to you
is so simple…. it will make you pause and re explain.
The learning curve of this project was immense, I cannot even begin to describe the pain and frustration of the process and the contracting sweetness of the completion of it. When the proofed manuscript was handed over for design, it was a lovely, lovely moment. I can only compare it to finishing exams.
Ahh, a weight was lifted. wonderful.
And the verdict? A beautiful book , rich in content, stunning in design, interesting yet informative which has since gained a seal of approval from fashion schools, graduates, small design companies, Sir Paul Smith and the CEO of Tommy Hilfiger.
Blue is the New Black is available internationally from Amazon and local stockists