The Latest On The Book

We’ve dropped a few mentions of working on the book lately, so we figured it was about time for another post about the process. Our post two months ago mostly covered the journey to getting the book deal and the beginning stages of writing, but now we’re really in the weeds of things so there’s definitely more to share… and we don’t have to use pics of Burger to illustrate it this time! Sorry Burger.

At the time of our last book post two months back, we had turned in our 160-ish page completed outline and were beginning to coordinate the design process with our publisher. If you recall, the book is a compilation of 250-some ideas for “how to show your home some love” (everything from small art projects, little tweaks, and quick ideas to bigger makeovers involving paint & furniture). Things were trotting along nicely and our publisher, Artisan, was trying to figure out whether to keep our Fall 2012 release date or hold off until Spring of 2013. Sherry and I begged for the earlier date and they agreed – but it meant putting the pedal to the metal. So we buckled our seat belts…

  • In a matter of two weeks (the two weeks that happened to fall over Christmas and New Year’s) we had to turn our finished outline into a completely written book. Yikes. But we put our heads down and two dizzying weeks later we had the manuscript done. Phew.
  • When we turned the manuscript in to our publisher, she took the next week to read the entire thing and we braced ourselves for edits or rewrites.
  • She finished without any major edits (really?!) so it went off to a copy editor – someone who would read it for nitty gritty stuff like grammar and punctuation. It spent a week or so there before coming back to us.

  • As you saw in last Monday’s post, this baby arrived last Saturday as a hard copy. Our manuscript now officially lives as a printed document that has our publisher’s edits and the copy editor’s notes marked up in different colored pencils. Our task was to use our designated blue pencil (they included it in the FedEx box) to respond to any questions, agree (or disagree with) all edits, and make any final changes. Scary. Especially because as a single-spaced, single-sided document it’s 375 pages long. We thought it was really funny because we assumed it would all be done via email, so getting a giant chunk of paper overnighted to our house felt sort of official and old-fashioned, but that’s apparently how it’s still done these days! It’s actually a lot easier to absorb the info and catch errors while “really” reading it (as opposed to reading it off of a computer screen) so it ended up being really helpful.

  • Once again, we hunkered down and plowed through. It was due back to the publisher by yesterday so we overnighted it to them on Saturday afternoon. Bless Sherry for having the focus to sit down for two days straight and do pretty much nothing but focus on that. It’s how she spent all of last weekend while I watched Clara (and did kitchen stuff while the bean napped).

  • After 16+ hours (broken up over  two days) just to read through the thing, we then scrambled to fill in some gaps and rewrite some sections just to further explain a few projects/ideas in the remaining four days. Then back to the publisher it went…

But the manuscript is only half of the book process adventure right now. It’s probably less than half, actually. Maybe a third? Because what’s really keeping us busy is prepping for the photo shoots that began yesterday morning. So here’s what’s been going down on that end of things:

  • With the 250-ish ideas we’re including, about 100 are going to be photographed. Another 100 will be illustrated and the remaining ones are pretty self-explanatory tips that make sense without an image. So that means 100 of the projects/sets need to be done so we’ve got something to actually photograph. Can we say yikes again? Anyone with a blog knows that churning out enough projects to keep things interesting (maybe 3-4 a week?) is a pretty substantial task. But completing 100 secret projects on top of that? Crazytown. But things are really exciting and fun in Crazytown so we totally can’t complain. Or sleep. But sleep is so 2011. At least that’s what we’ve been telling ourselves as we whirl through projects into the early morning. At least we got to knock out a bunch of them leading up to the shoots, so some are already waiting in the wings to be shot.

  • We didn’t really start full force on all of the projects until after the manuscript was turned in for the first time after New Year’s (we didn’t want to do a project that we or the publisher decided to later kill for some reason – but we did churn out a bunch that we knew would stay in). Not doing them all with a lot of lead time beforehand did mean that for those remaining projects, we did only have about 30 days to do them. Eeks. So on pretty much any night over the past month you could find us painting, hanging, sewing, cutting, and shopping for up to five projects. And that pace will continue for the next three weeks until shooting wraps (since many things have to get shot as “before” and “process” pics before being completed). But it’s fun because we’re transforming some pretty ugly things, like this old rusted thrift store table:

  • As much work as it’s been, we’re not doing it completely alone. Our publisher hired a producer to help keep things organized (100 ideas doesn’t just mean 100 photos, since many have a before, process, and after shots attached to them – so it’s a lot to keep straight and schedule). We also have someone who has been a big help when it comes to gathering supplies for us. Sometimes it’s faster for us to just grab things while we’re out and sometimes we email her and say “ahhhh, can you help us get blank by such and such a date so we can sand and paint it in time to shoot it? Thanks!”
  • And of course we’ve got a pro photographer who’s going to make everything look prettier than we ever possibly could with our little Nikon. So our “crew” of helpers aren’t exactly elves who do all the projects at night (we wish!) but it certainly takes a load off to have such a great team. Since we’re ultimately the people who have to choose all of the items, do all of the projects, decide what rooms/corners to shoot all of the photos, and style all of the shots, we’re still burning the midnight oil.
  • As for where things for the book are coming from, we have a pretty modest book budget so we’ve been stalking craigslist, thrift stores, and even borrowing items from some of our favorite stores with their blessing (they’ll be returned in three weeks when shooting wraps). The nice thing about a modest budget is that it keeps us honest (there are a good amount of under $50, under $25, under $5, and even some free projects in our book, so that’s pretty exciting to cheap-os like us). And yes, sometimes Sherry gets hyper when we’re picking out accessories (our aim is to style things so they look fresh for you guys, since reusing all the things we already have around our house that you’ve seen a million times would be kind of stale).

  • And our house? Well, it’s a mess. We’ve got projects at mid-completion here and there (we need to save some that are halfway done to shoot progress photos, so we can’t just knock them all out at once). We’ve got tons of thrifted furniture piled in the sunroom just waiting for a makeover. There are a bunch of fabric and frames and accessories stacked on the dining table. Paint cans pepper the floor. We even have frames missing from the hallway where we’ve repurposd them for book projects. Nothing is sacred. Haha. Again, in a word, it’s a mess. But it’s pretty exciting chaos.

  • Being the over-sharers that we are, we’d love to tell all of the details of every project right now (#ohmanit’skillingus). But I’m not sure our publisher would be very happy with us ruining the surprise. So here are a few hint-y sneak peeks:

  • Our guestroom has kinda become home to all of the completed projects. The dining room is home to all of the things in progress and the sunroom is where we’re housing all of the things we can’t touch until before photos are taken. Here’s sort of what they look like (well, as much as we can show ya)…

  • So that thing that Sherry mentioned at the end of yesterday’s post that lasts three weeks is some pretty crazy-but-exciting book photography. Most of it will be going on from 8:30am to 6pm four days per week for the next three weeks, so nearly our entire February will be spent on a photography set. Well, actually the set is our house for the most part – so it’ll be three weeks of being in our house-turned-photo-studio. We finish just a few days before flying out to Oregon for the Portland Home & Garden Show, so it will definitely be a jam-packed month. Thank goodness it’s only 29 days long!

  • Yes, we’re pretty much hosting a little crew of people in our house for the better part of a month so we’ll have to tell you how that goes! They’re all awesomesauce so far, and yesterday we banged out a ton of before photos and as soon as they left we were painting and upholstering and doing all the things we can now do since those “before” shots are in the can. Gotta tell ya, it feels good to get this thing going – and we already can’t wait for the book to be out so we can spill the beans about all these secrets. We’re taking lots of behind the scenes photos to share with you guys this fall when it comes out!

Update: Lots of folks are asking what we’ll be doing with all those secret projects/items once the book is shot. We’re actually hoping to do a charity auction/giveaway with some of them (not sure how shipping will work though) and some items have to be returned, etc. Maybe one or two especially sentimental ones will stay at our house, but they’re all “bonus” projects (we didn’t “design” any of them to fit into our house, which is actually really freeing since we can have fun with lots of color/fabric/textures, etc) so it should be fun to see where they end up!

So our apologies to anyone who left a comment yesterday and took a little longer than normal to see it pop up or get a response! We’re definitely juggling things over here when it comes to keeping the blog and the book (and the bean) attended to. And as nuts as the next month is going to be for us, we’re so grateful for the opportunity and so excited to share the whole crazy journey with you guys as we go. Anyone else dealing with someone visiting them for weeks on end? Or keeping 100+ secrets that are slowly burning a hole through their brains? Tell us about it. Or just tell us how crazy our house looks. Go.

Psst- Thank goodness our bean sleeps the night away so we can get stuff done (check out her technique over on Young House Life).


  1. says

    I knew that teaser you left yesterday was the photo shoot!!! How exciting!! How you’re going to manage the blog & all those secret projects (along with your regular activities around the house) is beyond me. I hope everything it a lot of fun and it all goes well! :)

    PS – So glad you pushed for the earlier release date… I can’t wait to grab myself a copy!

  2. julie g. says

    Congratulations and thank you for sharing this amazing experience with us commoners! I think your readers would probably agree to give you a few posts off don’t you think? Are grandma and grandpa on Clara duty or is she a member of the crew?

  3. Debra says

    Wow – I am so happy for you guys. You took a really big leap when you both decided to stay home and make this awesome blog a full time thing, and it’s wonderful that it has opened so many doors for you. Can’t wait to buy it :-)

  4. Angela Lang says

    so excited for your book to come out! i plan on buying a few copies for housewarming gifts as well ;) super happy that life is good for the petersiks :) :)

  5. Andrea says

    I’m in awe! How do you guys do it? I’m exhausted just reading about it. Good luck to you both on the book and hope your endeavor is super successful. God bless!

  6. says

    Awesome! Had a suspicion that was what Sherry was referring to… gotta admit I love the teaser photos that show the rooms but really don’t. Can’t wait to see the big unveil this fall!

    (BTW good move on your publisher’s part to let you publish them—the secrets might have made you burst by next spring!)

  7. says

    so exciting!! can’t wait for the book to come out. Question…all the projects that you’re doing…are they for your home?? Did you purposely plan projects that you wanted to do for yourself/your home?

    • says

      Oh no, since they have to stay secret until the book comes out in the fall (and we shoot all angles of most of our rooms all the time) they’re just bonus projects that we think will be the most helpful for folks trying to spruce up their house!


    • NYer says

      so just wondering what will happen with these projects afterwards? craiglist? an auction for your fans? Monday Fab Freebie raffles? congratulations! we’re all so happy for you!

    • says

      We actually added an update to the bottom of the post about that since so many folks have wondered! We’ll keep you posted after we finish shooting and talk it through with the publisher!


    • says

      Perhaps a fundraiser for one of your favorite charities? (I vote for St. Jude’s since my friend’s little boy is getting treatment there right now.) I’m sure you guys could figure out a good way to organize it, but maybe you can auction one item per day/week/whatever based on some kind of vague description (no pictures to spoil the book surprise), subtract shipping costs, and donate the rest?

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