Do you spend more time fretting about writing a book than actually writing it? Do you wonder how some people can write a book fast? Then you need to meet Kimber Simpkins, author of the Nautilus Award-winning memoir, Full: How I learned to Satisfy My Insatiable Hunger and Feed My Soul and 52 Ways to Love Your Body.
Lisa: Kimber, your first book, which you self-published, got picked up by New Harbinger even before it won the Nautilus Award and you share that story in an earlier interview about publishing Full. I’d love to compare the two experiences.
Lisa: In your interview with Charlotte, you talked a bit about the trailer for Full, which went viral and was picked up by Self magazine and mindbodygreen.com. Can you say a bit about how that experience has informed your understanding of your market and if, in any ways, it inspired some of what you write about in 52 Ways to Love Your Body?
Kimber: Recording the video in the park in Oakland, we talked to about 20 different women about their body image and I was struck by how universal the experience of feeling uncomfortable about our bodies is. All these random women on the street had excellent self-awareness and critiques of body image culture, but it’s hard to access that wisdom on a day to day basis. 52 Ways to Love Your Body is meant to help us live into and embody the truth we already know: that no one has the right to tell us our bodies aren’t worthy of love.
Lisa: When I met you, you’d already been working on your memoir for several years, and you spent a total of eleven years writing it. By contrast I think you said you wrote 52 Ways in 75 Days. What was it like to write a book so much faster?
Kimber: I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. The publisher gave me a 105 day deadline to write a book about half the size of Full. That included editing time, so I knew I actually needed to finish the book in 75 days so that the editor could get back to me with changes to add in. It was intense, but I brought together all the materials I’d been using for my love your body blogs and workshops and classes and retreats, edited some of that material and added brand new material too.
Lisa: How did you write it that fast?
Kimber: It was a huge help to have taken your Bring Your Book to Life® program. I realized it was a real life scenario of writing my book in ten weeks and that I already knew how to divide my time up and get and stay organized and on track. It wouldn’t have even occurred to me it was possible to write a book in 75 days except for Bring Your Book to Life®. I seriously couldn’t have done it without you. I basically wrote a chapter a day, taking the occasional day off. Fortunately, they were short chapters, and having a table of contents to work from was a tremendous help.
Lisa: I feel so honored and pleased to have been a catalyst. I agree that having that structure ahead of time can make a book go so much faster and also have it really hold together and flow effectively. How might you compare writing a memoir to writing a self-help book. What’s similar and what’s different?
Kimber: Writing from a table of contents was a revelation for the second book. So much easier than writing the memoir, which unfolded more organically, and was very disorganized at first. The memoir required a tremendous amount of editing, while the self help book was much simpler.
Lisa: I love the exercises in 52 Ways. They’re so creative–like “Couples Counseling for You and Your Body.” Had you been using most of these exercises in your yoga classes? Or teaching workshops, or did you have to come up with a boatload of new ideas quickly?
Kimber: I’m so glad! All the exercises in the book are ones I tried out and found effective for me. A lot of my process around learning to love my body was trial and error: does this practice lead me towards more love or away from it?
Lisa: I love the exercise to cheer yourself on which came out of a conversation with your son. Did that idea come right away or did you access it days or weeks later?
Kimber: It was an idea that percolated for a while, a thought I kept returning to, letting me know there was something important there about how I could treat myself differently.
Lisa: How did you tap into creating these new ideas for exercises? Do you have a writing ritual or process? Or do ideas come to you throughout the day just living life and teaching yoga?
Kimber: Anything can spark an idea…a book, a video, a conversation with a friend, a moment on my yoga mat when I suddenly see where I give myself a hard time. I listen to a lot of dharma talks too, and there’s often a lot of wisdom to be applied to my body and heart. My writing process is different right now than when I was writing the books. When writing a book I like to write a little every day. Right now I write when an idea strikes me or when I have time to sit with my notebook.
Lisa: In terms of book sales and reaching readers, what did you do the first time around that was most effective?
Kimber: I think the most effective and rewarding thing is making personal connections with other people in the field of body image awareness and eating disorders. My friends and colleagues in this area have been wonderfully supportive of the books and have opened many doors for me. I’m so grateful to be doing this work with other amazing people, making the world a safer place for all bodies.
Lisa: Any book writing tips for authors?
Kimber: Take Lisa’s class. Do what she tells you to do. You’ll be thrilled with the result.
Lisa: Wow. Part of me is all “Aw, shucks” and part of me is beaming right now–huge smile and, “Yes, it is empowering. Great books come out of this program.” It kind of relates to loving one’s body, doesn’t it? Just taking in the compliment and agreeing instead of feeling we have to discount it with the equivalent of, “I’m too fat.” Any promotion advice you’d like to share with our readers?
Kimber: Find your tribe and collaborate with them.
Lisa: You’ve done such a great job of that–from playful ways you invited your yoga students to spread the word (that Bingo card you made where people could win prizes) to engaging the woman on the street! What’s the response you’re getting from readers of 52 Ways?
Kimber: People seem to be getting a lot out of it! It’s not your run of the mill body advice. It goes right down into the core issues of our unworthiness and starts the healing process.
Lisa: Dear Reader, I have a copy of each book to give away. The most insightful comment AND the most insightful question each win a book. Ask your question or share your comment below!
Kimber Simpkins is a writer and yoga teacher transplanted from the Midwest to Northern California. Her successful shift from hating her body to loving it surprised no one more than herself, and it continues to inspire her students and readers everywhere. When not on her yoga mat or thinking up ways to treat her body as a friend, Kimber may be found playing, meditating or hula-hooping in her backyard garden.
Update: Oh my! I completely forgot to mention I have two of Kimber’s books to give away for the two best comments or questions! Ask your questions or make comments below and you may win one of these two inspiring books!