My first eBook.

I have a theory: we all like to take the easy road, stay as comfortable as possible and avoid exploring areas that we either don’t know or might scare us. However, I believe that deep in the frightening unknown is where the magic happens. I’ve been afraid of releasing my first eBook, but this fear has made it the most exciting project that I have worked on in a long time.

If I told you that creating my first eBook was easy, it would be far from the truth. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it would be hard for everyone, but it certainly was for me - and that’s one of the big reasons I wanted to embark on such a project.

To put it bluntly, writing is just ‘not my thang’. I wish it was, as it would make my job a lot easier, but I can’t claim it as one of my strengths. However, I want to change this, and writing an eBook is far enough out of my comfort zone that I know that it will help to grow my skill set.

I know that writing isn’t one of my “superpowers”, so I feel vulnerable sharing my words with the world. I didn’t do well in school and I didn’t grow up reading books. Just a few years ago, I struggled to piece a sentence together on the page but after tracking my progress I feel proud of how far I have come...even though I know I have a long way to go until I’ll be completely satisfied with my writing.

Creating my first eBook has been a formative and educative experience, so I wanted to share a few thoughts on how I put the whole project together as well as how I felt about the process itself. I am always interested in seeing ‘behind the scenes’ footage and learning about the ‘making of’ for just about anything.

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So, how did this eBook come about?

I spent three months on the road under the Northern sun, which led to a lot of self-reflection; especially when I was sitting alone in hotel rooms after shooting wedding after wedding in different cities.

I have always been good at creating long-term visions and everything I do has the ‘bigger picture’ in mind; this has been my approach to life ever since I was a child. I began questioning the decisions that brought me to this point in time. I started visualising my future, my new dreams and goals. I assessed what I enjoy and what I want more or less of in my life.

My first workshop was called ‘All Together’ and it took place in northern NSW in 2015. Since then I’ve put a lot of time and energy into teaching and I find that with each new workshop I get better at what I do. I always make a point of pushing myself every single time I teach and this is probably why I get asked to talk at some of the biggest photography and creative business conferences and workshops all around the world.

But despite the fact that I have been teaching and coaching for several years, it’s only recently that I feel as if I have the confidence to do the best job I can. I no longer get stagefright and I feel comfortable being myself in front of large groups of people.

I’m still not confident enough in my writing but I want to improve, so I have made this a new life goal for the next couple of years. I want to write a hardcover book one day, so this short-term goal will help towards my larger, long-term goals. An eBook is an exciting platform on which to present information because it combines content with design to create something digestible, entertaining and informative. It is the perfect tool for me to use in order to deliver the in-depth elements and information that I cover in my workshops and conferences to a wider audience.

This is a big next step for me and - just in case you haven’t already guessed - I’m pretty bloody excited!

How did it all happen?

As soon as I had the idea of writing an eBook, I wasted no time in putting a plan into motion. As I was travelling, this meant writing on planes, in hotel rooms, at bars, restaurants… Basically any and all of my spare time was put into creating this book and because it felt new and exhilarating, the whole project came together pretty quickly.

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However, while I found it easy to ‘vomit’ words and paragraphs onto the page, my biggest challenge was to bring all my ideas together so that they flowed and made sense. Creating my first eBook has taught me so much about both writing and the process of putting content together to result in a finished product.

My friend Jeff is a designer and I use simple illustrations from him for all of my projects, so I knew that he was the right choice to illustrate the eBook. Jeff’s drawings imbued my content with personality and made it more digestible, especially in clearly expressing any metaphors that I chose to employ.

I commissioned a designer, Chris, to do all of the layout and branding. I chose Chris because I love his clean, understated designs and the fact that they don’t overcomplicate the presentation. I know the value of good design and am very aware of the difference it can make in getting a product’s message across, so I wanted my eBook’s design to be the best it could possibly be.
(This meant that there was no way I was going to try to design it myself!)

The hardest job will have been for my editor. I met David while he was on a world trip as he stayed at my house via Airbnb. We hit it off straight away and became mates pretty quickly; he’s an amazing guy who is doing really cool things that inspire me. So it was an easy decision to ask David to take on the task of reading through my ‘word scramble’ and polishing it to perfection.

One of the biggest challenges for me has been playing the waiting game. I generally work alone and always set unrealistic goals for myself but as every element of the eBook’s finalisation was completed by a different person, I’ve had to relax my strict time-frames to sync up with other people’s workflow and creative processes.

So now that I’ve stepped into the scary unknown and come out the other side with a ton of knowledge in a brand new creative discipline, I’m excited to do it all again and start on my next eBook!

If you have read the eBook, would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Jai LongComment