Tag Archive for author

‘Modern Rainbow’ Q&A with Author Rebecca Bryan + Giveaway!

Today, we are so excited to feature creative quilter Rebecca Bryan, author of the new book Modern Rainbow: 14 Imaginative Quilts That Play with Color. (Stash Books). Rebecca blogs at Bryan House Quilts.

Rebecca Bryan
1) Becca, thanks for visiting us at Craft Buds today! Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started writing your book? How did you go about the very first steps of getting your book published?

Thanks for having me! After the initial inspiration to write a book about rainbow quilts, I really had little idea of how exactly one gets a book published. On top of not knowing how to publish a book, I knew it would be a lot of work and take a lot of time. Instead of being discouraged, I just started.

The bulk of the work in a quilting book is the quilts right? So I began by making the quilts I knew I wanted to be in the book. While I was making quilts, I also sketched ideas on graph paper and took notes in my journals. I also researched the whole book publishing process by reading blogs and articles and attending the “getting published” lecture at QuiltCon in 2013. Finally, I began learning graphic design programs (TouchDraw for iPad and Illustrator); each sketch taught me at least one new trick. There was a lot to learn!

At the time, this poem really encouraged me:

Persevere
[Author Unknown]
The fisher who draws in his net too soon,
Won’t have any fish to sell;
The child who shuts up his book too soon,
Won’t learn any lessons well.
If you would have your learning stay,
Be patient – don’t learn too fast;
The man who travels a mile each day,
May get round the world at last.
Rainbow Remix quilt by Rebecca Bryan

“Rainbow Remix” quilt by Rebecca Bryan (Photo C&T Publishing)

 

2) The rainbow quilts in your book are really stunning! Where do you find your design inspiration?

Thanks so much! I’d say that the quilts are a collection of inspiration over the course of that 6 to 9 month period I described above. Knowing I wanted to create quilts that showed off the glow and radiant goodness of the spectrum, I sketched and sketched while I researched how to submit a book proposal. Some of the designs I started making right away – Rainbow Streak, Rainbow Remix, and Invisible Rainbow. After I had 20 or so designs, I choose what I thought were the 15 best designs for the proposal.

Some of my ideas were for improvisational quilts, some were traditionally inspired, and some I felt were modern. But when I started choosing the top 15 quilt designs, I felt it was necessary to choose a genre. But had I chose one genre, some of my best quilt designs would not have made the cut. I found that to be stressful and wrong. Finally, it dawned on me that I didn’t have to choose one genre and maybe multiple genres could be a strength (or at least a unique aspect) of the book. Then I felt better.

Happy Easter cake and eggs

Via Instagram / BryanHouseQuilts

3) With four kids at home, how did you find time to write a book, create and sew?

While I was writing the book, I was able to work only in small bits during the day, and mostly during nap time. Much of the work occurred after bedtime, from 8pm – 2am. So basically I just stayed up until 2 in the morning to meet my weekly deadlines! NO BIG DEAL! <insert slightly crazy giggling> My weekly deadlines were self-imposed and a big part of how I kept myself on track. My goal was to finish a quilt – top and instructions – each week. It was a delirious couple of months!

Now that the kids are a bit older and the big kids are in school, I have more time to work during the day. Of course, I’m not in book writing mode so things are more balanced. I still try to work only while the littles are napping; in the morning we will hang out and play, or run errands, or go to the gym, etc. And then a couple of nights a week I’ll spend sewing. Right now, I’m trying to cap my working hours to 20 hours a week, but that really depends on deadlines.

"Rainbow Streak" quilt by Rebecca Bryan

“Rainbow Streak” quilt by Rebecca Bryan (Photo C&T Publishing)

4) Do you have a favorite quilt in the book? What’s the story behind it?

I have several favorites! I shared about Wavelength, the cover quilt, in the most recent issue of Love Patchwork and Quilting, so I can share about another favorite. Really I have a bunch of favorites – I hope that’s ok!? As an aside, I remember in art class in high school I couldn’t stand my work.

So let me tell you about Rainbow Streak. Rainbow Streak (pictured above) was one of the first quilts I completed for the book and it was the written project sample I submitted in my proposal. The inspiration comes from the traditional Streak of Lightning quilt pattern; I thought it would be fun if each streak was a rainbow. Using enough fabrics, you can capture a nearly seamless transition from color to color. There’s something about that seamless rainbow that makes it just jump off that gray stormy background. Choosing the fabrics for this quilt was fun fun fun. Also, the quilt is unique and a bit challenging, but not overly difficult. So it was fun to make but not a booger to piece. Plus, did you see the binding? Special bindings always add a special touch.

5) What’s next for you?

Apart from the staying up until 2 am, I really enjoyed the whole book writing process so I’d love to write another book. I’ve been publishing a few patterns independently, so I’m working on adding to my pattern business. Also, I’d like to expand my teaching.

ModernRainbowBlogTourButton

Follow the blog tour!

March 23rd             C&T/ Stash Books
March 24th             Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt
March 25th             Generation Q Magazine
March 26th             Jennifer Mathis of Ellison Lane
March 27th             Sally Keller of Sally’s Angel Works
March 30th            Amy Garro of 13 Spools
March 31st            Angela Walters of Quilting is my Therapy
April 1st                Rebecca over at Craft Buds
April 2nd               Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness
April 3rd               Sarah Craig of Confessions of a Fabric Addict
April 6th                Janice Zeller Ryan of Better Off Thread
April 7th                Beth Vassalo of Plum and June
April 8th                Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft
April 9th                Giuseppe Ribaudo @giucy_giuce
April 9th                Shannon Brinkley of Bottle Tree Quilts
April 10th              Rebecca Bryan at Bryan House Quilts

Modern Rainbow book cover

Giveaway!

Stash Books would like to offer a copy of Rebecca’s Modern Rainbow book to one lucky winner! To enter the drawing, please leave a comment with one thing you’ve learned from this Q&A (about quilting, Rebecca, or the book publishing process). I’ll choose a random winner one week from the date of this post. If located outside the U.S., the winner will receive an e-copy of the book.
Congrats to the lucky winner, #37, Marilyn S.!

Pre-Cut Patchwork Party Author Q&A + Giveaway!

Today, we’re excited to welcome craft book author Elaine Schmidt to chat more about the process of writing her recent book Pre-Cut Patchwork Party: Projects to Sew and Craft with Fabric Strips, Squares, and Fat Quarters.

Don’t forget to leave a comment after the post for your chance to win a copy of the book!

 

Elaine, welcome to Craft Book Month! What’s your favorite pre-cut to sew with, and why?

I love them all and find them handy in so many ways, but I really like the 2 1/2″ width-of-fabric strips that many manufacturer’s sell as “jelly rolls” or “designer rolls”. They can be easily cut into squares or rectangles for piecing. They are perfect for quilt-as-you-go projects where you sew the strips directly to the batting and backing. (Quick way to make a placemat!) And I love using them for straight grain quilt bindings. Because all the fabric prints coordinate, yet every strip is different, you can make a quilt binding that has an eclectic mix and match look.

Can you tell me a little bit about the process of writing a sewing book?

Once you have an idea for a book, you need to approach a publisher with a proposal. Submission guidelines are on their websites so make sure to follow them in presenting your ideas. If your book proposal is accepted, a contract will be drafted for you and the publisher to sign. This contract will list everything you are required to do and a timeline of deadlines along the way.

Make sure you understand everything and discuss with the publishers any concerns or questions you may have. Also, allow enough time to work on the book! Whenever I start a book, I always think I have plenty of time to get it all done in the time allotted. But, I have found that it always takes me longer to work out designs, get all the instructions written, source supplies, and do photography if that is included than I thought it would at the beginning of the process. Depending on the book, I like to allow at least 6 months to finish everything.

When writing a book for Creative Publishing, I am given three deadlines to meet. The first is for the “dummy material”, which includes the working contents list, a manuscript for one chapter of each section of the book, step-out samples or photographs to accompany the manuscript and an art log of images for what has been written to this point. The second deadline is for one-third of the manuscript with samples or photos and an art log. And the third deadline is for the final manuscript, complete with all samples and art work and the final art log.

That’s so interesting, Elaine! How did writing this book compare or differ to writing your last book, The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts?

Pre-Cut Patchwork Party is a project-based sewing book. Each project is an original design focusing on using pre-cut fabrics. Detailed instructions were written for each project. Step-out samples of each construction step had to be made so they could be photographed to accompany the instructions.

The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts includes a few projects, but mostly it is focused on various ribbon techniques with suggestions on how the techniques can be incorporated into a project. It was part of a series of “Complete Guides” and gives an overview of working with ribbons like making various styles of bows, creating ribbon flowers and trims, making hair accessories, sewing with ribbons, paper crafting with ribbon, etc. So those were the main differences.

You seem to stay busy with many different aspects of the crafting business other than just writing books. How does your work with designing products, writing for magazines and TV appearances complement your role as a craft book author?

It all works together because everything I do involves things I love to do: sew, create with fabric and thread, and work with embellishments–the “fun stuff”, like ribbons, buttons and beads. I have great working relationships with many fabric, ribbon and embellishment manufacturers and work with them to create projects that showcase their products in the best light. Cross-marketing is very important for both the manufacturers and the retailers who carry their products. I am careful when working with any companies who are competing for the same business, and I align myself up with those manufacturers who offer beautiful, quality products.

What is one thing that would surprise most people about being a professional crafter?

I don’t think it is a surprise to anyone that you will have to work hard to be successful. And, you do not do this type of work because you want to make lots of money. You do it because you love the techniques, the products and the joy of sharing with others the excitement of making something truly unique and personal. There is no greater joy than making something with your own two hands, especially in this high tech world. Crafting and sewing are a form of self expression and bring balance to our busy lives.

I have been lucky that every job I have held has led me to the next and has been an important influence on my work today. One of my first jobs was in a retail buying office. From that, I understand what buyers consider when making decisions about the products they will carry in their stores. I have also worked as an employee for manufacturers who make products for the sewing/crafting market. From that, I understand the importance of filling the needs of the consumer with new and inspiring products, as well as the challenges faced in bringing those products to market. I have also done a great deal of marketing, education and promotion work to both retail buyers and the end consumer. All that experience and those points of view help me to understand the full picture. But, most importantly, I am the consumer. My vocation is my avocation.

Do you have any tips for helping others grow their own creative business?

The best way to grow your business is to find you passion, which is what you are good at and what makes your heart sing. Then develop yourself as a brand and work on several streams of income, like writing books and tutorials, selling products and completed projects online, licensing your designs to manufacturers, selling at local and national art shows and fairs, etc. You’ll have to wear a lot of hats, but it can be very rewarding . . . and you’ll be doing what you love to do every day.

Giveaway!

Creative Publishing International is generously offering a copy of Elaine’s book Pre-Cut Patchwork Party to one reader! To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling us one thing you learned about craft book publishing from our interview with Elaine. Good luck!

(Giveaway open to U.S. readers only. We’ll choose a winner one week from the date of this post.)

Craft Book Proposals: Q&A with Casey York

Today, we’re excited to introduce Casey York, a Craft Buds reader and an up-and-coming craft book author! If you have an interest in seeing your creative work published, you’ll love the blog series Casey has created along with Stash Books to demystify the process of getting published.

Read on to get to know Casey and to learn more about crafting your own book proposal.

Casey, congratulations on your book proposal being accepted! How did you first get interested in writing a craft book, and what did that proposal process look like for you?

Thank you—I am over the moon excited! As cliché as it sounds, I think I’ve always wanted to write books. I come from an academic background so publishing has been part of my job description for a while now, and when I decided to pursue a career in the quilting and textile industry it was a natural transition to thinking about writing craft books. Also, I am an inveterate book reader and collector, and I found the quilting books on the market so inspiring that I soon found myself wanting to create one of my own.

I started developing a proposal early this year and I went to QuiltCon right in the middle of the process, which turned out to be a lucky move. I was able to meet Amy Marson and Roxane Cerda, the publisher and acquisitions editor of Stash Books, as well as Allison Rosen, who is in charge of their online presence. After QuiltCon, I followed up with a query letter to Roxane (which is a step I recommend for any readers considering proposing a book). That query led to a proposal, which led to another proposal, which was accepted!

Do you have any tips for someone else who is wanting to submit a craft book proposal?

First, do your research on the publisher(s) you plan to submit to. I approached the proposal writing process as if I were applying for a job—you want to demonstrate that your idea is a good fit for a particular publisher, and in order to do that you have to do your homework.

You also will want to explain how your proposed book will stand out in the marketplace. How is your idea unique and what will make consumers want to buy your book? I think the process of answering this question can actually help you to develop your ideas, and I kept it in mind from the very beginning of compiling my proposal and designing my projects. Also, be flexible. Publishers know their industry well, so if they give you advice on how to tweak your idea, take it.

Finally, polish your writing. Your proposal or query letter will be the first impression you make and you want it to be a good one. Publishers are looking at your writing skills in addition to your designs, and your proposal will serve as one sample of your writing, so revise your work a few times to make sure it represents you the way you want it to.

I saw on the Stash Books blog that you’ll be sharing more about the process of writing your book in a blog series. Can you tell us more about that and what we can look forward to?

Yes! I feel like there is a great deal of interest in craft publishing right now; when I attended the panel on book publishing at QuiltCon, the room was full and there were lots of questions from the audience. Yet, at least for me, the publishing process remains a bit mysterious. I thought a blog series might be a good way to shed some light on the entire process of craft book publishing for readers who might be interested in writing their own books one day.

One of the aspects of the Crafting a Book series that I am most excited about is that the Stash Books blog will be featuring posts written by my editors and others who are involved in producing the book on their end, so I think between our two blogs readers will get a well-rounded idea of what goes on behind the scenes. I know I’m excited to read about the process from the editors’ points of view.

Together, our two blogs will feature monthly posts about particular aspects of the publishing process, starting with the proposal. Some of the topics I’m going to address are the first steps after a proposal is accepted, the process of creating the projects and writing the instructions, and the process of designing the book.

Read the about Casey’s book proposal from the perspective of an author and an editor.

Casey, what’s next for you?

Right now I’m in the thick of making the projects for the book—my deadline for having them done is early this October! I’ve also been working on publishing and printing my latest stand-alone pattern, Punctual, and promoting my line with individual stores and distributors. A big personal goal is to make it to Quilt Market in Houston this fall. I went to Market in the spring of 2012 and it was a fantastic experience. There are so many areas of this industry that I would like to be a part of, and Market is a great opportunity to learn more about them and get inspired!

You can follow Casey: Casey’s blog | Casey’s portfolio | Twitter

For more advice on writing a craft book proposal:

Does Your Craft Book Proposal Stand Out?
How to Write a Craft Book Proposal

Craft Book Proposal: How to Get an Editor’s Attention

Craft Book Month: Expert Q&As

Did you miss some of our expert Q&As for Craft Book Month? Catch up with each of them below for some inspiring craft book stories!

Mary and Carol of Project Linus, Lark Crafts authors

Kristy Zacharias, Art Director for C&T Publishing / Stash Books

Cynara Geissler, Marketing Manager for Arsenal Pulp Press

Emily Neuburger

Emily Neuburger, Storey Publishing author

Angela Yosten, Stash Books author

Elizabeth Maxson, photographer for Quilts from the House of Tula Pink (F+W Media)

Nicole and Debra, Storey Publishing authors

It’s Sew Emma Patterns and Fat Quarter Shop authors, self-publishing

Anna Maria Horner

Anna Maria Horner, Wiley Craft author

Are you one of our lucky winners? Thanks for crafting and reading along with us!

Craft Book Author Emily Neuburger + Giveaway!

Today we are excited to have special guest Emily Neuburger, author of the book Show Me a Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children’s Storytelling. Emily is joining us to talk about her kids craft book as well as the writing process for her book. At the end of this post, you can also enter to win a copy of her book!

Emily Neuburger

Welcome to Craft Book Month, Emily! Can you tell me what you love about telling stories, and why it’s important?
I love making crafts that facilitate storytelling because it offers children (and adults) the chance to drift into imaginary worlds where anything is possible. I have always been a daydreamer – where twigs and dirt often became mountains and trees – and I am a firm believer in nurturing children’s natural inclination to spend time with their imaginations.  Storytelling is so healthy and good for children – it helps them practice communicating, it expands their emotional awareness, and it is often a way for them to experiment with problem solving.  And, um, it is also super fun!

This is a very unique book concept. How did you go about conveying your concept to a publisher and what did you learn?
I actually submitted a book proposal where storytelling crafts was only one of the chapters in the proposed book. The editor who I was working with suggested that I elaborate on just the storytelling chapter since it was so unique and vibrant.  The process of uncovering the heart and soul of my book served as a reminder to be willing to experiment with shifting the focus of a project.

Creative storytelling crafts - Red Bird Crafts

When it came time to write the book, what did your timeline look like, and how did you interact with the publisher?

The process was definitely lengthy with lots of different, distinct steps along the way. After signing on with Storey Publishing, I was given six months to write my manuscript. I checked in with my editor from time to time, but I mostly just curled up in my cozy chair and wrote. Once the manuscript was turned in, I shifted my focus to craft styling – and more craft styling and more craft styling. Then, there was the photo shoot, copy edits, proof edits, more proof edits, and then four months to wait before I saw my first printed and bound copy. The time frame from the time I wrote my proposal to the release date was approximately 3 years. I found the whole process rewarding and interesting.

And, now, I am excitedly preparing for my book tour! Hooray! In the coming months, I’ll be visiting book shops, craft spaces, and museums to share projects from the book.  I’m really looking forward to connecting with children and adults as they create; it will be fun and beautiful, and I can’t wait.

Scenes from Tell Me a Story

How would you compare the process of blogging about crafts on your blog Red Bird Crafts and actually compiling a book?
Honestly, writing blog posts and book chapters feels extremely satisfying and exciting for me! In the end, the two writing processes felt very similar because I approach my writing as an educator and an artist. I love to inspire people to be creative and to encourage them to have confidence in their art; both forms of writing offer me the chance to do just that.

Thanks for your insights into the book writing process! What’s next for you, Emily?
Thanks for asking! I have lots of exciting new projects and ideas coming together right now.  I’ll still be blogging at Red Bird Crafts, but in a few weeks I’ll also have a new website at EmilyNeuburger.com. The new site will showcase more of what I offer as a teacher – library and school visits, curriculum guides, and my local classes.  I’m very excited for launch day!

Show Me a Story book

Giveaway!

Storey Publishing is giving one lucky Craft Buds reader a copy of Emily’s new book, Show Me a Story. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post telling us something you learned from our Q&A with Emily. One random winner will be chosen in a week. Entries limited to North America.

Have you been hopping with us this week?

Sunday 9/9: Sweet Diesel Designsmissknitta’s studio
Monday 9/10: Sew TaraClover and Violet
Tuesday 9/11: Sew Fantasticamylouwho

Craft Book Month Prizes

Show us your craft book project from Sept 23-30 and win prizes!

Craft Book Authors: Project Linus

Welcome to our first Experts Q&A of Craft Book Month, where we attempt to unravel the mysteries of craft books from the people who make them happen. From authors to editors and others involved in the publishing process, it takes many hands to get a craft book from initial idea to the printed page.

Craft Book Month

Today we are excited to share a Q&A with Mary Balagna. She and Carol Babbitt are the forces behind the charity quilting effort Project Linus. Carol (left) and Mary (right) are the authors of a new book from Lark Crafts!

When you decided to start Project Linus, did you ever imagine the idea would grow this big?

Mary: The idea for Project Linus came about on Christmas Eve in 1995.  Although Carol and I were not the founders of Project Linus, we have been actively involved since 1998 beginning our tenure as chapter coordinators.  In mid-2000, the original Board of Directors was unable to keep up with the day to day operations of a nonprofit organization and decided to close Project Linus.

Chapter coordinators and volunteers across the country were devastated by the news.  It was at that time that Carol came to the rescue, became the National President and invited me to join with her as National Vice-president.  As we reorganized Project Linus, we hoped that we would find support from those who were coordinating chapters at the time. We were thrilled to have over 150 chapters join with us and Project Linus was reborn. Over the past 12 years, we have increased the number of chapters to nearly 400 with chapters in every state. So far over 4.25 million blankets have been donated to children in crisis.

Those numbers are astounding . . . Congratulations! Can you tell me how the book with Lark Crafts came about? Did you approach the publisher, or did they approach you?

Writing a book about Project Linus has been a dream Carol and I have had for many years. In February of 2010 we were contacted by a book agent from the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency asking us if we ever considered writing a book about Project Linus.  Of course our answer was YES – we would LOVE to!  We were thrilled to be presented with this exciting opportunity. Through our own words and personal experiences, the letters from children and their parents as well as the beautiful quilt patterns we designed and collected over the years, we were ready to share our passion and love for Project Linus!  Over the next few months we wrote a proposal which was taken to various publishers by our book agent. One year later, we accepted an offer from Lark Crafts to publish our book Quilt It With Love: The Project Linus Story.

Photo: Quilt it With Love on Facebook

From your end, what was the process of writing “Quilt it With Love”?

Once we signed our contract with Lark Crafts, we continued to collect and organize our thoughts, personal stories, patterns, tips, quilting instructions and thank you notes from recipients. We learned how to draw pattern illustrations and instructions on Microsoft Word (not an easy task for us), clarify our pattern directions and basic instructions even when we thought they were already clear, survived the rewrites and finally experienced a welcome sigh of relief when we finished the book in April of 2012.

Deadlines came quickly and although we always met our deadlines (in fact we were usually early), the days before were VERY long and quite stressful. We never felt like the wait was long – in fact it was just the opposite. We were writing the book and meeting deadlines while continuing our full time work with Project Linus, orchestrating our National Conference, running our local chapter along with taking care of our family obligations and there just never seemed to be enough hours in the day. But, we did it!


Do you have advice for someone who has an idea for making the world a better place through craft? How do you get from a small spark of an idea to an organized effort?

Carol and I both love to quilt and make other types of blankets. We knew that the hug of a quilt would bring comfort and security to those children experiencing a crisis. When you combine a craft that you love and then use that skill and expertise to touch the lives of others you create a magical combination that blossoms and grows.  On a personal note, my son and two of my grandchildren experienced a life changing health crisis (which my daughter and I describe in the book). This time of trial presented me with two perspectives when it came to Project Linus – that of a volunteer and that of a recipient parent. The personal experiences I have had, have taken my passion to a new level and my dedication to and love of Project Linus continues to grow stronger as a result.

The “spark” or “idea” comes when we recognize a need that we have the ability to fill.  The organized effort begins to evolve when “spark” ignites and others begin to share our passion.  When I could no longer fill the need on my own, I recruited helpers. More helpers = more blankets = more children served. We’re so very happy to be able to fill such a need in the life of a child, yet sad that the need exists.

If anyone is interested in contacting us to do a presentation on Project Linus and a book signing for Quilt It With Love: The Project Linus Story, we would love to discuss it with them!

Mary, thanks so much for joining us today! We are excited to check out your new book and hear what’s next for you.

Project Linus on Facebook | Quilt It With Love on Facebook

 

Giveaway!

Fat Quarter Shop $100

Don’t forget to enter the $100 + more Fat Quarter Shop Kickoff Giveaway! (Ends 9/5)

 

Also, if you are hopping with us this week, check out the craft book projects below. On Friday, we’ll post our blog hop “week in review” and tell you how you can win an amazing fabric bundle from FreeSpirit just for hopping along!

Sunday 9/2: Hopeful ThreadsThe Jolly Jabber
Monday 9/3: Stitchery Dickory DockMe Sew Crazy

From Blog to Book Deal: Q&A with Jessica Levitt

Please welcome Jessica Levitt to Craft Buds! Jessica is a first-time author of a new book about modern quilting. You may have also read her popular blog, Juicy Bits, where she shows of quilted creations and her fabric lines.

The book is titled Modern Mix: 16 Sewing Projects that Combine Designer Prints & Solid Fabrics (Stash / C&T Publishing) and includes 7 quilt projects plus 7 Quilts + pillows, bags and gifts.

Jessica Levitt

Jessica, you must be thrilled to see your first book in print. Was this the fulfillment of a long-standing dream, or something that just transpired over time?

Yes, I’m absolutely thrilled, but funny enough, it was never my dream in life to write a book. In fact, in school I kinda hated writing. I was never bad at it, but it wasn’t my thing and I have a degree in engineering so I didn’t have to do that much in college. But when I started my blog, all that changed. I love writing there because I can write like I’m having a conversation with my readers. And it’s so rewarding to be able to share all the work, that I would do anyway, with the world. So, now I’m hooked. And the idea of making beautiful projects and having a real, live, printed book in my hand that I wrote is amazing. I can’t wait until I see some of the projects people make from my patterns!

Pebble Road Quilt

Can you tell us about the process of pitching your book? How did you go about choosing your theme and communicating that vision to a publisher?

Certainly. The theme of my book was pretty obvious to me since I love modern quilts and sewing projects that use solid fabrics. I wanted to show readers many different ways to use them in their projects while still enjoying their favorite prints. Although quilting is my first sewing love, I knew I didn’t want a book that was only quilts because I love variety. I think it’s nice to have a cohesive theme that neatly ties all the projects together and makes your book different from all the general sewing books out there, but I do know it’s not 100% necessary. If you simply have a distinct style of your own, that can be enough.

When it came to pitching the idea to a publisher, I treated it a bit like a book report. I know every author does a totally different type of proposal, so this is just one approach, but it is important to know the publisher’s guidelines. For mine, I wrote a summary introduction of the book concept. I had the potential projects already divided into chapters. I completed one full quilt top (the one that ended up on the cover) and wrote out the full directions for it, including illustrations to show that I was capable of writing clearly. For the other projects I included computer sketches or pictures of similar previous work that I had done with a short description. The publisher had a couple of questionnaires to fill out, and I also included a small photographic portfolio of my work to give them an idea of my style and potential.

I sent all this information in as a hard copy, but I think many publishers prefer them electronically now. Then it becomes a waiting game. In the end, they didn’t want to include every project I pitched and I was free to alter some as needed, so the final book didn’t look just like the proposal. For some projects, they even asked for more information, like fabric selections, etc.

I was reading about your trip to quilt market when you pitched your fabric line Timber to several manufacturers, and you said it was a bit nerve-wracking. Did you feel that way with the book as well?

Honestly, not really. That’s because I didn’t have to pitch it cold to a bunch of publishers. In fact, my publisher, Stash Books, an imprint of C&T, approached me. Their acquisitions editor noticed my blog and asked if I was interested in writing a book. I probably wouldn’t have done it if she hadn’t made me think of the idea. So I met with her when I was at quilt market and talked about the process, and when I was finally ready, I submitted only to her. And don’t think I’m super-special or anything. They ask plenty of designers for submissions and then can choose from amongst those. A blog is a great way to get known and also to direct them back somewhere when you do submit a proposal.

I know that it often takes more than a year to publish a book. What parts of the process were you most involved with, and what has the waiting game been like?

Yes, it seems to take forever. I did the bulk of the writing and sewing last summer so it does feel like along time ago. Obviously I was most involved in the writing and sewing. I had more that 6 months to do that all that, but it’s never enough time! I think next time I’ll probably do more projects up front before I even submit a proposal, so there is less work to do. It made for a crazy, busy summer. After I sent in all the projects and text, then the editing begins. Stash is excellent at reviewing the text and illustrations to make sure they are both clear and easy to follow, and technically accurate. There are several rounds of edits, and for each one, we went back and forth, making it the best book possible. At the same time, they take the photos and start the design. I had input into both processes. Basically I gave them guidelines and lots of examples of my vision for the book. But they took it from there and did the photos and design on their own. Finally I requested changes or reshoots as necessary. It’s so cool to see the basic Word document turned into a pretty picture book, but waiting for your advance copy is torture!

Modern Mix Book

Can you tell me about one of your favorite projects in the book, and how you came up with the idea?

That’s a tough one. I get inspiration from anywhere and everywhere.

The cover quilt, called Pebble Road, actually came the from the quilting idea first. I love round “pebble” quilting like that. I wanted to make a really big quilt (it’s king size!) that had a lot of impact but that was relatively easy to piece, so I got the idea to do a stripe of circles that really pop. I love the bright Kaffe Fassat fabrics with the grey background.

Another favorite is the Diamond Strands quilt. For that one I wanted to feature large pieces of large-scale print fabrics, so I made them into vertical stripes. And, I’m usually not one to use templates, but I loved the idea of diamond shapes rather than squares because it’s more unusual.

There are also a lot of fun smaller projects. I love bags, and in this book the Essentials Bag is one of my favorite. It’s a great size for carrying a wallet and a few other essentials. I wanted something that came together relatively easy and was a fun showcase for some print fabrics.

Modern Mix bag

Do you have any advice for an aspiring author or fabric designer?

Oh boy, if someone has the answer to balance, I want to hear it. I struggle with that constantly, but when I get it right, it can be so rewarding. I guess my advice it that you don’t have to rush into anything. Figure out what your goals are, and then give yourself some time to get there. I took my time submitting a book proposal, waiting until I was ready to make it a real priority, and I’m so glad I did. I want to make sure I get enough time with my kids as they’re growing up, so that means sometimes passing up on a work opportunity. But I can’t say enough good things about blogging. Sometimes it can be a chore and I neglect it (like this summer), but it has helped me so much. There is a ton of inspiration out there as a reader, and if you get a decent following, it can open you up to a lot of opportunities. To get yourself more known, my advice is to offer something for free. I’m not talking just giveaways, but patterns, etc., that people will keep coming back to. And devote some time to communicating with other bloggers.

 

Giveaway!

Stash Books is generously giving away a copy of the book Modern Mix to one lucky Craft Buds reader. Leave a comment with something you learned from this interview for a chance to win. We’ll pick one winner on Friday, September 30th. If located outside the U.S., winner will receive an eBook. This giveaway is now closed, congrats to #23, Jenelle!

Build Your Brand: Q&A with Margot Potter and Book Giveaway

If you’ve ever wanted to write a craft book, get your handmade work published in magazines, and make money doing what you love, read on!

Margot Potter

I’m excited to share this interview with Margot Potter, a jewelry designer and mixed-media artist who just released her seventh book, New Dimensions in Bead and Wire Jewelry: Unexpected Combinations, Unique Designs (North Light Books).

Also known as The Impatient Crafter™, Margot’s varied experiences in the craft industry as a designer, consultant, teacher, and TV personality make her the perfect person to talk about building a brand for yourself in the crafting industry.

New Dimensions in Bead and Wire Jewelry

Welcome, Margot, and congrats on your newest book. I also see that you’ve contributed to many, many jewelry books. How do you manage to come up with so many new ideas while working with the same medium?

Well to start, I don’t really work in the same medium, I’m what you might call a highly restless creative person. Jewelry making is what I call my ‘gateway craft.’ It’s how I first started as a designer in this industry, but I’ve been creating things long, long before I started making jewelry and continue to do so.

My studio is filled with inks, paints, papers, ephemera and oddities, beads, wires, die cutting machines, clays, tools from every aisle of the craft store and many culled from hardware stores and flea markets, old game pieces and playing cards, rubber stamps, fibers, you name it, I’ve got it! I will make jewelry from almost anything, but it’s not the only trick in my bag. My second and third book included a variety of non-jewelry projects, I’ve contributed to non-jewelry books and I have created non-jewelry focused projects for a wide variety of craft companies including a weekly Teen Craft column for ILovetoCreate last year before taking the full time job at Jewelry Television as their Creative and Education Coordinator.

If you poke around my blog archives, you’ll see lots and lots of non-jewelry projects. All of that being said, I never, ever run out of ideas. I’m endlessly inspired by the world around me and there is a queue of designs in my brain waiting patiently to be explored every moment!

Controlled Chaos Copyright 2011 Margot Potter for Jewel School

Controlled Chaos Copyright 2011 Margot Potter for Jewel School

What jewelry trends or techniques are you loving right now?

I love that there is a real embracing of the idea of mixed media in the mainstream craft world. I’m also loving the potential for that to blur some of the lines between art and craft. It’s really exciting stuff. Personally, I am so busy making content for my new job; there isn’t a lot of time to explore things outside of that. I am itching to study metal smithing and casting, I’d like to have more skills in my bag of tricks. Also hat making, sewing and shoe making. As for trends, I think we’re kind of stuck a little right now, though I am mad for the big black goth pieces Proenza Schouler showed on the runways this Fall and I love the bold metal jewelry trend.

Margot Potter ad As a “professional crafter/artist,” how do you maintain work/life balance?

I have a full time creative job working for someone else now, so I try to leave work at work (though it’s tough since a lot of my work takes place in my home studio). It is not always easy when there are lots of deadlines looming and my daughter really needs my attention. She trumps everything though. Family comes first. Making stuff is what I do, it isn’t all of who I am. I will never stop loving the wonder of exploring creativity. It is powerful stuff indeed.

How do you use social media or personal networking to help promote your books and blogs?

I built my entire brand on the internet. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s powerful. At the moment, I am finding Facebook to be king in terms of reaching the most people in the shortest amount of time and most effectively. It seems as if there are so many blogs with so much content, it’s becoming a lot of white noise. Twitter is so linear, and I feel like most folks that use it treat it like a monologue. I have four Facebook pages, which is at times overwhelming, but it helps to niche things. I think Google+ is on to something.

I don’t have as much time to devote to social networking now that I’m working full time for someone else, so I have to carve out time in the spaces in between. For folks who are building a brand, it is without doubt the best way to do it. The key is to know your audience and to interact with them. It’s all about dialogue on the internet, even though that presents challenges. Transparency is key.

Delicious Denim Necklace Copyright Margot Potter for Jo-Ann Fabrics

Delicious Denim Necklace Copyright Margot Potter for Jo-Ann Fabrics

Do you have any tips for an aspiring professional crafter or craft book author?

Yes, they’re all on my blog. I have written endless posts about how to write and publish a craft book, how to get your work into magazines, how to negotiate contracts, how to do what you love and make money . . . you name it. I have freely shared it in painstaking detail! I figure if people really want to know, they’ll take the time to dig around in my archives and find the information. I get so many emails on a regular basis from folks asking for advice, it was easier to just write it all out and post it.

The biggest thing I want people to know is my three pronged approach to success: Do what you love, do something for which you have a true proclivity and be willing to do the hard work to make it real.

Giveaway!

New Dimensions in Bead and Wire Jewelry

We’re giving away a copy of Margot’s newest book, New Dimensions in Bead and Wire Jewelry: Unexpected Combinations, Unique Designs.

Leave a comment on this post telling me something you learned from this interview. One entry per person. Giveaway open worldwide. We’ll pick one winner via Random.org on Friday, August 5th (11:59pm, EST).

Thank you Margot!

Business Tips from Jennifer Paganelli, and her book Girl’s World

I had the privilege to interview fabric designer Jennifer Paganelli, the business woman behind Sis Boom. She’s a crafty mom who seems to do a little bit of everything!

Jennifer’s creative work includes sewing patterns and juicy, vintage-inspired fabrics (produced by FreeSpirit). We got to chat a little bit about her journey as a creative business woman, as well as her first book, Girl’s World, with 21 projects made for little girls!

honey child border
Jennifer, congrats on your first book, Girl’s World. Can you tell me a little bit about how this project came to fruition?

JP: Well I’ve always wanted to do a book for years and it just took time to find the right fit. I also am not a great sewer so I wasn’t certain I could do a how-to book, but then I found Dolin Oshea who is the technical writer and illustrator for Girl’s World and it was a marriage made in heaven!

How have you enjoyed the process of working on Girl’s World as compared to working on individual patterns or fabric lines?

Girl's World by Jennifer Paganelli Girl’s World is an incredible platform for me. Until now the vision I had set forth for Sis Boom had really never been seen. It’s colorful but decidedly vintage, and I wanted that to be the principle factor. The book coming to life reveals the sensibility that Sis Boom is all about. It’s about color, but also draws back to a simpler time.

What’s the general theme or idea behind Girl’s World?

The general theme is how to create a pretty room or dress for a certain occasion, all the while being inspired by that cozy nook in your home. I love that these dresses are all cotton and washable, not fussy or demanding.

Do you have a favorite project in this book?

I love the Josie dress. I love that it can be used as short or long and I love that it can be worn to the beach or fancied up for a wedding.

Sis Boom sneak
Aside from the cute Bosco Bowtie, can we look forward to any Sis Boom patterns for boys?

I love this question, and yes you will see more! Don’t forget the Sis Boom Louey Boxer as well as Carla Crim’s own collection of Scientific Seamstress items for boys.

You are an inspiration to moms who dream of having their own creative business, while balancing work with family life. Can you tell us how you’ve made it through the tough times?

You know I love highlighting other women and giving them a chance to shine because it can be so competitive out there and I think we are coming into a new time of more cooperation and sharing. Coveting keeps us lonely and isolated. Sharing is really the better route to a successful business. I have amazing and very talented women that work with me and pursue their own visions and dreams and they need to be supported in that.

Sis Boom sneak peek
What’s your best advice for an aspiring designer or handmade author?

Never give up! Don’t quit before the miracle and always count your blessings! There is room for everyone and you are right where you are supposed to be.

What’s next for you, Jennifer?

I am super excited about my next book Happy Home, to be published by Chronicle next year. I love my fabrics for fall, Crazy love and Super Fly! And I am so grateful to everyone for their love of Girl’s World, because it’s just the beginning.

honey child border

Thanks for the inspiration, Jennifer! You can check out the book here.

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