Photographing and Publishing My Travel Book (Behind the Scenes)

World of Wanderlust Book - How I published a book
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I can hardly believe it has already been a year and a half since my travel book, World of Wanderlust, hit the shelves. Publishing a book had long been a dream of mine, though if I’m completely honest I never thought that dream would come to life until the moment I received my first copy in the mail.

Blogging has truly changed my life inside and out, so I wanted to do a little throwback post to share my story – how I came to blogging, how my blog became my full-time job, how I came to publish a travel book with Penguin Random House and a behind the scenes of what that journey looked like!

World of Wanderlust Book - How I published a book

My Journey: How World of Wanderlust Came to Be

I was just thirteen years old when I embarked on my first international adventure. I had been selected to join a group of kids my age to visit Hong Kong, sing at a movie premiere (in a choir – oh the joys!) and experience the city sights for nine days.

Prior to this trip, I had absolutely no exposure to cultural experiences. This was a time when international travel was still relatively expensive, my parents had never left the country, nor had they ever endeavored to do so.

I landed in Hong Kong all starry-eyed, felt like a kid in a candy store, and left with a strained neck from constantly looking up towards the skyscrapers (the tallest building in the town I live in is four stories high. Its a department store).

After that trip, I was desperate for adventure. I spent all of my spare time reading about foreign places and soon after the trip, discovered the wild world of the interwebs. My active mind went into overdrive and as travel became more affordable, I saved my pennies from my first jobs (McDonald’s, later a supermarket) and began planning a lifetime of adventures.

Fast forward to the day I decided to start a travel blog.

I was at the end of my second year of law school, completely burnt out from working 45-60 hours a week alongside full-time study. I had been living in a new city in a small dormitory room, passing up a social life for Torts & Contracts, slowly seeing my creativity die in a pool of essays and assignments. What did I do? What any gypsy would! I booked an impromptu two-for-one flight deal to Thailand and invited my mum to join me.

I was constantly being asked by friends, family and friends of family “where should I stay in this destination?” or “what should I do in this city?”

My responses were often long and in-depth, ranging from budget options through to my personal recommendations off a restaurant’s menu. There was no other option: I had to streamline my tips, place them online, and proceed to send email links to the information to anyone who asked for my tips.

World of Wanderlust was born.

World of Wanderlust Book - How I published a book

How I Taught Myself Photography

The other love in my life (the first being travel) was photography. I’m a firm believer of experiences only being real when shared, so I spent a lot of my time, energy (and life savings) on developing my photography skills.

I figured if I was going to spend all of this time and money on travel, I might as well be able to remember it well, through the magic of a photo which I believe allows you to return to a place, feeling, or memory.

I didn’t always have an Olympus camera, having read and researched camera options online and (incorrectly) concluding that the most expensive choice must be the best.

A few years back as I was sitting in a cafe in Bruges (Belgium), a photographer convinced me to sell my Canon camera and lenses to re-invest in a cheaper, lighter, and more compact option: a mirrorless camera. I haven’t looked back since (especially considering Olympus look after me so well with gear!)

After travelling for 6 years solo, I’ve learned the below camera equipment is necessary:

Camera

Lenses

A Camera Bag

A Tripod

Editing Software

Knowledge to use all of the above

Sure, there are many other items I use and would recommend, but these are the bare necessities (you can check out my entire gear list here).

The final point is the most important because no matter what you buy if you don’t know how to use it, what good is it to you anyway?

As a firm believer in Google (and that anything you want to learn is googleable), I spent years using the search engine to answer my questions regarding photography if and when an issue arrived. I taught myself about lighting, composition, how to shoot in manual, how to edit my photos, workflow, and so much more. What helped me most was finding blogs with the information I required, so if you want to read any more of my photo tips, check out the photography section for a little more detail.

Positano_Amalfi_Coast

Who Takes your Photos?

Hands down the most asked question of the better part of the last decade for me has been “If you travel solo, who takes all your photos!?”

Me – I just published a new video explaining how I take the majorty of my solo travel photos with a camer,a tripod, and remote control.

Friends & Family – Every year I try and take a family member on a trip somewhere new and for friends’ birthdays I usually wind up on a wild adventure somewhere new to both of us. Whenever I have a friend or family member in tow, they’re bound to be asked to take a snap or two!

Strangers – Avoid. At. All. Costs. I don’t think I’ve ever had a stranger take a decent photo – not that I’m complaining – what do they care about my blog!?

For my book, many of the photos were taken by friends and family, so I wanted to take a moment to thank them and provide a little context on these scenarios.

Photo by: My mommy!

Location: Prague rooftop

This photo was taken on the rooftop of our hotel, where I dragged my mum up the stairs to see the view I had snuck up to discover a few hours earlier.

Photo by: Stef

Location: A private jetty we snuck onto in Venice

This photo was taken by my dear friend Stef who I met as a reader of my blog and went on an adventure with throughout Italy. This is also the cover of my book for the Dutch publication!

Photo by: A complete stranger

Location: Machu Picchu, Peru

This photo on page 141 is an example of a photo by a stranger – not too shabby! I find the best practice when asking people to take your photo is to give lots of direction:

a) “I want to be in the centre of the frame”

b) “I’m going to face away from the camera and look at the view” (if I had a dollar for every time a stranger didn’t take a photo because they were waiting for me to look at the frame…..)

c) Set up the shot with the lens zoomed to your preference, hand them the camera and tell them where the button is (also, if I had a dollar…)

The Process of Publishing A Book

I was in the midst of a two hour drive in Tasmania (home) when I received an email from an editor at Penguin Random House praising my blog and planting the seed for an idea of publishing a book with them. My response? I phoned the mobile number on the footer of the email immediately and excitedly confirmed my interest. Theirs? They flew down to Tasmania two days later to meet me.

The process of publishing a book is a lot easier when you already have a presence online. The publisher had already seen my blogs, photos and social following, which is what led them to approach me.

From there, it was a long 12 months before my book came to life (and I had to keep it secret – boooo!)

After accepting the offer comes a lengthy process of contracts, negotiations for an advance, detailed planning, writing, editing, more editing, and finally, a book.

I submitted my “manuscript” on the deadline (I was given 2 months) with an abundance of ideas for what I would like to go in the book – less than half was actually published (partly because I sent them SO MANY IDEAS.

From there, I travelled to Melbourne to see the pages of the book in paper form (not bound) and make my final edits, approvals, and snoop around the publishing offices all giddy with excitement.

 Evolving & This Year’s Plans

Since starting my blog 6 years ago, publishing a book was definitely the ultimate highlight of my career. None of these experiences (publishing a book, staying in five-star hotels, flying business class) would have been my reality if it weren’t for this blog, my readers, and the people who have believed in me over these years as a creator.

Photography is still my number two passion (first being the art of exploring), but this year I want to spend more time working on video content and creating a unique experience for my readers and viewers to follow along on adventures and feel a part of this crazy life I’m living.

This week I fly out to Dubai. Afterwards I’ll be touring Europe (France, Italy, Spain, Iceland), before returning to my spirit city: New York. I plan to spend a good deal of this year living in New York (between adventures) and seeing where city life takes me.

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Thank you.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. To all my readers, friends, family, readers-turned-friends-and-family and everyone in between who has shared the past six years on this wild ride. Here’s to another year of craziness & jetlag.

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

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18 Comments

  1. bilal.ahmed.faw@gmail.com'

    moviesbelt.com

    April 6, 2018

    your website making image watching addict, that glamour of images and places that beautiful things making go out become a photographer

  2. Brooke Saward

    April 4, 2018

    Thanks Tilen! 🙂 x

  3. terzantilen@gmail.com'

    Tilen

    April 3, 2018

    Beautifully written! Thank you Brooke!
    Lots of love

  4. worlddreamingblog@gmail.com'

    Joana

    April 1, 2018

    Can’t tell you how excited I am for reading this. Always loved your blog and your photos. You are my number 1 inspiration and the reason why I’ve started my blog! Thank for being such a good role model, such an inspiration!

  5. rebecca.dargay@gmail.com'

    Becca

    March 29, 2018

    Thanks for sharing your adventures with all of us! I really hope to become better at taking my own pictures this year. I bought my first Olympus a couple of months ago (yay!) and I’m looking forward to using your camera tips you’ve shared over the years. If you need any recommendations for Spain send me a message, I lived there for two years!

  6. lakshmi.multai123@gmail.com'

    multail

    March 28, 2018

    Nice Blog Thanks for posting.

  7. justine.f.cross@gmail.com'

    Justine

    March 23, 2018

    Great post Brooke, thanks for sharing. I went out and bought your book as soon as I heard about it, and I loved it! An easy read, inspirational and your photography speaks volumes! Congrats again on living the dream!

  8. elina_mic@hotmail.com'

    Elina Michaelidou

    March 23, 2018

    So inspiring!!! 🙂 I found myself in a similar situation last spring – feeling overwhelmed by my upcoming exams – not doing anything or at least not supposed to be doing anything else apart from studying. The result that came out of this after my exams were done was the idea to create a travel blog which came to my mind after watching some of your videos. So, thank you! 🙂

  9. petite.exploreruk@gmail.com'

    Natalia

    March 23, 2018

    This is such an informative and inspiring post! Well done on the book! It’s my very distant dream!

  10. m.evecorbin@gmail.com'

    Marie-Eve

    March 22, 2018

    Wow great post! How do you deal with you relationship and your restaurant?

  11. proema01@luther.edu'

    Maja P

    March 22, 2018

    Love this post – and love your book! I’m glad to see that you’ve been able to take meaningful time “offline” and come back and have that energy and enthusiasm for exploring. I’ve been following you for several years and you’ve been such a huge inspiration to me in starting my own travel blog and seeing so much of the world! Can’t wait to see what you’ll discover in the next few months! 🙂

  12. twentysevenanna@gmail.com'

    Anna

    March 22, 2018

    What a lovely story! I’m definitely buying your book soon! I’ve planned a trip to Paris and a trip to Finland for this year! I’m so excited! Much love, Anna

  13. annie@latteandluxe.com'

    Annie

    March 21, 2018

    This is awesome to see a reflection post and see how far you’ve come! Thanks for inspiring me and my heart so much 🙂

  14. bethrrstylist@yahoo.com'

    Beth

    March 21, 2018

    Love this post and your journey! I am a retired elementary educator turned travel designer. I have loved traveling since camping across country with my family as a child. I began a blog for my business and have always been the one taking too many photos! LOL I am glad I stumbled across your blog. #sympatico

  15. info@xiv-blog.com'

    Jas

    March 21, 2018

    I love reading your posts and can’t wait to read your book. Your tips have made my travel list (and wish list with all the photography gear) a whole lot longer!
    Hopefully I have the guts to go traveling one day and in the mean time I keep feeding my wanderlust with your pictures and posts 🙂

  16. faith.contiki@gmail.com'

    Faith

    March 21, 2018

    Loved this post. I too am a Tassie girl embarking on the travel blog journey and find such inspiration in your work. Your photography is definitely one of my favourite parts of your page and love following along. Hopefully I will run into in the great wide world one day. This post really encourages me to keep going. Thanks!

    xx

  17. ashy_jane89@me.com'

    AJ

    March 21, 2018

    It’s really awesome to see you do a reflective post. I don’t even know how I stumbled upon you first, it was at least 4 years ago and around the time you were finishing uni, and I just loved the way you write, your content, even the photos that probably seem amateur to you now at best. It seems like so much has happened for you since then… your journey has been nothing but excitement to follow and the blogs/captions and raw videos make me laugh a lot Brooke!

    I love to travel and I totally understand that small town girl mentality being from Perth. I have been on the road globally for the past 6 years with less of a fortnight break home, trying to craft my profession in teaching around expat working opportunities, particularly following snow avenues (more of a winter girl).

    Anyway sorry about the ramble, where I was getting to – your post here however, really hit home with a strange desire of mine always lingering there to publish a book. So I just want to THANK YOU for sharing the intricate details, it makes it all seem more real and plausible to do.

    ALSO pps. I’ll be in Spain/Portugal next month 🙂

    Keep being amazing x

  18. nabamita2404@gmail.com'

    Nabamita Chakraborti

    March 21, 2018

    Beautiful post. I came across your blog post while searching for online book clubs & spent a nice one year reading along with you & the other readers. But apart from that, have also been religiously following your other posts as well – your travels, new home decor, the new cafe! Planning my itineraries has become a much easier activity since then. Thanks a lot & wishing you so many more years of new & exciting adventures.

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