09 Jun 2017
Behind the Book with Ginny Gaulin
Ginny Gaulin has the unique background of being a trained counseling psychologist and a wedding-planner. Having helped dozens of brides have a beautiful day, she saw that they needed more than one kind of preparation. Combining her skill sets in counseling and event prep, she developed a guide that would prepare couples not only for The Big Day, but a beautiful life together, as well. We caught up with Ginny to go behind her book and brand, The Wedding Check-in.
What inspired you to create your book?
I recently moved to Chicago, and I never thought that being in a large city could open up ideas or possibilities like it has for me this year. It really made me feel like anything is possible, even writing and self-publishing a book! I got plugged into the wedding industry right away after moving and while I was looking for work as a therapist, I couldn’t help noticing how much I wanted to counsel brides beyond just coordinating their day. Something was missing from the whole event, and I think it is genuine attempts at understanding your partner on all levels, not just whatever challenge presents itself in the moment. It’s funny—the people who have had the most positive response to my book are other wedding industry folks! From our viewpoint of attending weddings more weekends than not, we can see that the event is only one small aspect of the rest of your lives together.
How did you find Blurb? What tools did you use to design your page layouts? How did you decide on your particular format?
I have always loved Blurb! I used it for the first time back in 2012 to make a personalized cookbook to thank the family I lived with abroad. For this project, I used the Adobe InDesign plug-in. It was my first time publishing a book and also my first time using In-Design, so it was definitely a learning process. I found the formatting guidelines that Blurb uses in the plug-in so helpful!
A lot of the pre-martial counseling books available now seem very outdated or reference specific religious views. I wanted this book to be for every modern couple who plans to get married, period.
How did you go from professional counseling to wedding work? How does this project put those two worlds together?
Since graduate school, I have worked as both a professional counselor and a wedding coordinator. I found the counseling work so challenging but rewarding, and the wedding work is always so positive and uplifting. It’s such a great combination! This book feels like something that has been missing from both sectors of work for a long time. A lot of the pre-martial counseling books available now seem very outdated or reference specific religious views. I wanted this book to be for every modern couple who plans to get married, period.
How did you know what you wanted it to look and feel like?
Trial-and-error! I designed and redesigned almost every part of the book several times, from the cover to the page numbers to the placement of the photos to the title placement. I knew I wanted it to be clean and contemporary, but I wanted it to feel approachable, not overly fashionable. The white linen Blurb found for me was exactly what I was hoping for – white and gold just screams, “Wedding!” I also put a lot of thought into the size. I was hoping to avoid the book being overwhelming or feeling too much like “homework”, so I finally settled on the 6”x9” size—something a couple could carry with them to a coffee shop! I worked closely with my uncle, a wonderful photographer, and we had some late nights arranging flowers and taking photos for my original design idea. When that felt too sparse and cold after my first proof, I completely revamped and updated every single photo in the book. I also got the opinion of my husband on practically every step of this process. He is an artist and I really respect his taste and point of view. He just always knows what looks good! I remember the day I showed him my cover design, and he responded, “Wow! You made this?” Coming from him, it was the best compliment.
How did you develop the content for it?
The content creation was the easier part of this process. I reached out to friends about topics that they wished they’d explored before marriage and took a look into my own marriage about discussions that have become relevant and important over the years. I researched several existing pre-martial counseling books, which really solidified my want to create something new and updated! I wrote the rough draft of the content in two weeks. It was edited professionally, and by close friends, 2 weeks later.
You have some lovely photography and you thank photographers in the beginning. Where did you find them? What was it like to source images? How did you decide what went in the book?
I finally found Unsplash, Inc. for all of the photos in the book. It is an inspirational photography community that lets you use their high-resolution photos for any purpose. I was very conscious of licenses for photos, fonts, etc. when writing this book, because I really respect the artistry that goes into every piece of the book-making process. For example, I initially attempted to style and take all of the photos for the whole book by myself. I learned right away how difficult styling and producing beautiful imagery is, and I am so grateful for the photographers at Unsplash that make their work available. I chose images that matched the “modern yet comfortable” feeling I was attempting with the book. I also wanted a ton of floral imagery. Flowers make the wedding, in my opinion.
What factors encouraged you to self-publish?
I knew I wanted a project—a real challenge—when I thought about creating this book. I was excited by the possibility of picking my own fonts, arranging the photos how I imagined, picking out the end sheet colors, etc. I wanted full creative licensure and I figured that self-publishing was the way to go. My colleagues at my current wedding coordinating company really supported my ideas and knew the book could be a big success. With their encouragement, I just decided to go for it!
How did you decide on the specs of your project? How did you know how many copies to print? What was your timeline like? What inspired the bespoke details?
I took a lot of courses on self-publishing through Skillshare to learn how to market, promote, and estimate the success of different projects. Since I was going to continue working as a therapist and wedding coordinator, the pressure to make tons of money or turn the book into my full time job was off. On the other hand, I wanted the time and effort I put into the book to be paid back. I started with the smallest numbers of prints available, just to be on the safe side. As far as my timeline, it took 2-3 months longer to submit my design for final printing than expected. Writing and publishing book is all encompassing and feels like such big deal. You want everything to be absolutely perfect! I was happy I took my time with editing and final details because I love it turned out!
What successes did you find with financing the project? What hurdles? What were the hardest and easiest parts of the process?
I am learning more and more that you get what you pay for! I ended up going with more expensive color printing and a specialized silk ribbon because I knew people would be touching the book and looking at the pages. I also paid for more than one proof to be printed because I am such a visual learner. I had to see what the book would really look and feel like before I gave the go ahead to print in bulk.
What have you learned in the marketing process for your book?
Some of the best advice I learned during this process is that the more marketing you do, the more followers you have, and the more followers you have, the more you sell! It’s that simple. I try to reach people mostly through Instagram. The book is so visual that I feel like photos most easily convey what I am trying to say. I also read that you should put seven minutes a day into marketing campaigns, and that will slowly but surely build more interest. I try to post every day and interact with others as much as I can, but I need to do even more. I am not a natural salesperson, but I’ve learned that if you are interested and excited about what you’ve made, others will be too!
We’re so thankful Ginny took the time to talk with us! Check out her book The Wedding Check-In, and we hope you’re as inspired by her as we are!