Another Book Journeys Radio episode with Angela Lauria last week featured author Hope Karan Gerecht who talked about her first book, Healing Design: Practical Feng Shui for Healthy and Gracious Living. Hope is a Feng Shui Consultant/Designer and Educator and has been in the practice for 30 years. Her book was first published in 1999 and was one of the first feng shui books to bring together more than one system of feng shui. The book is about how to recreate an environment that supports people in body, mind, and spirit and targets both homes and businesses that want to apply different design techniques in their environment that create more health, happiness, and prosperity.
Hope’s book journey started in the late ‘80s when she came across a book on feng shui at a health food store. Having finished Interior Design in college, Hope says she got hold of the book because there was a drawing of a house. But within five minutes of going through it, she realized that it was what she was really looking for. From that time on, she set about studying feng shui and after ten years into it, she felt she needed to share to others through a book what she knew about feng shui. She had originally planned to write the book in nine months but this stretched out to two and a half years instead. Finding a publisher though was not difficult for Hope as she narrated how unusual circumstances landed her into the hands of a publishing company. She was introduced to an editor who was just starting to become a book agent and this person helped her come up with a mock-up presentation of her book. She was then connected to a local print house that was willing to mock up the sample at a ridiculously low price. This editor-newly-turning-agent then took the sample to the Chicago Book Fair and got two companies instantly interested.
Hope’s writing process did not go with the benefits that modern technology offers now as it happened well before voice-to-text became popular. Using a cassette tape recorder, she would work talking her book and just speak in conversational style and go off on related tangents. She describes how writing happened for her on different sides of the brain and she needed to stay in the flow of stream of consciousness. But she found the editing process more daunting, especially when she got her manuscript for the first time with the entire book full of red marks. Yet she appreciates the work of editors and found her own work much better, clearer and more elegant after the editing process. She says it is important to work with an editor who is open and sits well within the writer’s belly while at the same time respects that the writer is the ultimate authority.
One of the hard lessons Hope has learned in her book journey is the importance of a book’s title being able to capture the essence of the book, which she realizes she missed in her own book. While it has actually been successful, selling out its first 10,000 copies immediately within four months of release, Hope says that having the term feng shui in the main title instead of the subtitle would have made a big difference. So while it was a big slip-up on the part of the publisher, she realized that it is important that as a writer, one should really be in tune with the message they are trying to portray and find ways to make it crystal clear in the title because they are the ones who know their subject more intimately than anyone.
Watch out for Angela’s interview with another exciting author.