Tag Archive for how to write a craft book

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!

Author Q&A: Sewing for Boys + Giveaway

Shelly Figueroa and Karen LePage design children’s clothing for their company Patterns by Figgy’s and just released their first book, Sewing for Boys (Wiley). Today we’re excited to learn a little bit more about how these ladies decided to collaborate on a creative business and later a book. Shelly and Karen are living proof that dedication to your craft can lead to a very successful career in design.

I read on your website that you two met on Flickr and live across the country from each other. How did you decide to go into business together?

{S} We found one another in a group that shares a mutual love for fabric and design. Karen posted a photograph of a beautiful handmade pinafore, so I made a comment about how terrific I found her work and designs. That sparked a conversation, which then blossomed into friendship. As our friendship grew, we found that we had the same goals and aspirations, most importantly, the desire to write a beautiful book focused solely on BOYS. It was the desire to write this book together that sparked all the other collaboration we’ve done.

The Henry Shirt test

"The Henry Shirt" (Flickr / Shelly Figueroa)

I love the clean lines of your children’s clothing designs and the cute details. How you find inspiration for new patterns?

{K} We look to the past, because we both gravitate toward utility that is beautiful. We love the simple styles of the past, but we try to modernize them in a way that becomes a new classic. Of course, comfort is paramount, and because we focus on how a kid will feel in our clothes, we try to include details that are important to kids, like pockets and comfortable seams. Our aim is to always make a kid’s favorite garment.

{S} I am a lover of simple-to-sew projects and garments and I don’t like to make things more than once or twice, so it’s very important to me as a mother (because our time is precious) to make sure the designs have cute details and modern touches but won’t take all day to create.

Sewing For Boys book Do you have a favorite project in the new book?

{K} It’s so hard to choose! I love “Let’s Go Fishing Hat” for its simplicity and utility, but my very favorite is “The Henry Shirt.” I love to mix and match fabrics, and I love how this shirt can work through all the seasons. Its relaxed fit is a big bonus for fidgety little guys.

{S} Since Karen picked two, I will too. I love the “Kickin’ Back Sweats” because they are super quick to make and the fit is all about comfort but there are also a lot of options offered. They are designed so you don’t have to just choose knit fabric but also woven, you can use the pattern to make surf pants or shorts, optional faux fly and pockets are also offered. I also love the “Easy Linen Shirt” because once again it’s a quick sew but is still super stylish and laid back. The West Coast girl is coming out of me with these two.

How did your relationship with Wiley begin?

We engaged Stefanie Von Borstel from Full Circle Literary to represent us and our idea. Her enthusiasm and direction helped us clarify our vision which she then took to publishers to find a good fit. She brought us several offers to publish our book, including one from Wiley. We love the work they do, and some of our favorite designers have written books with Wiley, so we chose to accept their offer.

How would you compare the process of publishing your individual patterns with writing a sewing book? Any challenges or surprises you weren’t expecting?

The main difference was the ultra-tight schedule, really. When I think about it, it blows me away that we were able to put together 24 projects, patterns, illustrations and instructions in 12 weeks, whereas usually we give ourselves 3 months to put together a line of 3 patterns. There were A LOT of long nights. We were pleasantly surprised and can honestly say that the entire book was exactly how we pictured, and unfortunately not all authors get to say that. The entire team was a pleasure to work with at Wiley and they really listened to what our vision for this book was.

Sewing for Boys project

What’s next for you ladies?

During the Spring Quilt Market in Utah, we were able to meet a lot of the fabric shop owners that currently carry Patterns by Figgy’s patterns, and we also met a lot of fabric reps who asked if we would like to preview upcoming fabrics. This gave us the idea that it was time to offer “trunk shows” so that the shops will have a way to showcase not only the patterns but new fabrics. We love having that personal relationship with the fabric shops.

During the next few months we’ll be taking some time promoting and enjoying the fun part of publishing a book. We’re also teaching classes in our local areas (Portland and Detroit), and crafting as much as possible!

Giveaway!

Wiley Publishing is giving away a copy of Sewing for Boys to one lucky Craft Buds reader! If you’d like to win, leave one comment on this post telling us something you’ve learned about the authors or the book publishing process. This giveaway is now closed.

We’ll be back on Wednesday with a sneak peek of the book  Read the book review here and we’ll announce the winner of this book on Friday morning. For more chances to win, follow the rest of the blog tour:

September 5 Made by Rae
September 6 Sew, Mama, Sew
September 7 The Southern Institute & Film in the Fridge
September 8 Elsie Marley
September 9 Noodlehead & Oh, Fransson!
September 10 I Heart Linen
September 11 Anna Maria Horner
September 12 Craft Buds, Pink Chalk Fabric, Prudent Baby, Sew Much Ado
September 13 Very Purple Person, Quilt Story & Sew Sara
September 14 The Long Thread
September 15 Susan Beal
September 16 True Up
September 17 All Buttoned Up & Bolt Fabric Boutique
September 18 MADE & Wiley Craft

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

Allison Korleski Please say hello to Allison Korleski, Acquisitions Editor for Interweave Books! Allison is here with some very helpful information for aspiring craft book authors about how the process works. We are so excited to have her insight today as part of Craft Book Month at Craft Buds.

Welcome Allison! Can you tell us a little bit about your job as an acquisitions editor?

I started a little over a year ago. Before that I had been a buyer for a book store for many years, including craft and DIY books. I knew Interweave, and found what they were doing in terms of direct marketing and on-line and eMedia development to be really forward-thinking. (Speaking of which…we just started a new site called FlockShop.com, which offers limited-time deals on a variety of craft products—one item at a time.)

I work out of my apartment in NJ. On top of learning a new job, just getting used to working alone at home was a BIG adjustment. Setting up my home office definitely gave me a new-found appreciation of the IT department. I go visit Interweave’s main offices several times a year—usually for a week or 2 at a time. While there are things I love about working at home, I miss the camaraderie and osmosis of ideas one gets in an office environment, so this lets me have a good balance. The book department has around 14 people in it—that’s editorial, sales, production, and art. I wish I could effectively summarize what an amazing bunch of people they are. Finally, one of our book editors lives in NYC, so we try to get together at least once a month. Our goal is to establish an informal “Interweave East”!

Interweave Books What does your day-to-day work look like?

Day-to-day can vary. I’m generally juggling many proposals at any one time, all in various stages of development. I work with the authors, help focus and develop their ideas, create an outline for the book to give it shape, discuss the types of projects to be included, materials used, and skill levels to be covered. I also spend a lot of time researching designers, trying to get a feel for their style and approach, and an understanding of what sets them apart and makes them special. I troll blogs and websites, look at what is coming out from other publishers, look at trade and craft shows to see what people are teaching, and what trends are evolving. I travel to several shows a year—Quilt Market, TNNA, Beadfest, Tucson bead show, assorted fiber and knitting shows. I also attend the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany; Interweave works with several publishers in the UK, Europe, and Japan. I also spend a lot of time looking at magazines and craft books, and talk to people at my local yarn and bead stores to see what they are interested in. The research never stops. The one downside is that I wish I had more time for my own knitting!

Weekend Hats book

I’m more or less the gateway to publishing with Interweave, and I take that very seriously. I have a dual responsibility: to be the “face” of interweave, represent my company, find wonderful talent, and make sure that we continue to produce great books for our audience. At the same time, I also have to be an advocate for the authors I work with—to clearly represent their ideas and vision for their book, and make sure that gets translated into the final product. I really believe in every author and project I bring to our editorial group—there’s usually some sort of mind-meld that goes on—so I advocate for them as strongly as possible. All books need to get approved by our editorial group, which is made up of editors, sales and marketing, the editorial directors of our magazines, and others. I have to make a case for each and every book I present; I’m in the hot-seat every meeting, so I need to work with each author to make their presentation rock-solid from the beginning.

I spend much of my time talking with authors, going over what they’ve sent me, discussing projects, evaluating strengths and weaknesses, and discussing the next step. Sometimes we have a breakthrough and decide to change direction completely! At the same time I’m working with our art and production departments, assessing costs for each book, and keeping the author’s vision in mind while I assess what her book will need. I also handle all contract negotiations once we approve any book idea.

Crafters Guide to Taking Great Photos

When considering a new craft book proposal or query, what catches your eye?

Originality, technical skill, and doing their homework. New, innovative ideas or beautiful work will always catch my eye, but a well-crafted proposal will keep my attention. Most publishers post proposal guidelines on their websites, and potential authors should really check those first. Look at what other books a publisher has done, and make sure that your general topic fits with their publishing program. If you are a quilter, you don’t want to approach a publisher who specializes in jewelry. Interweave doesn’t publish books on paper craft, so a card-making proposal isn’t right for us, though it could be perfect for someone else. And even if your children’s picture book has knitting in it, understand that craft publishers may be reluctant to take on such a project.

Understand what you need to do: If you have an book idea but are not sure where to start, a query letter is fine. This is simply a brief email asking if we have any interest in x, along with a sentence or 2 about your background. If you want to do a book on lace knitting, but it happens that we are already working on two or three, it can save you much time and effort to know our interest up front.

Fresh Quilting book

When it comes to sending a formal proposal, we don’t want a complete manuscript, but we do need an outline and summary of your ideas, accompanying images of projects, and a brief writing sample to get a sense of your voice. This doesn’t have to be intimidating—a few paragraphs explaining your book and why you want to write is generally fine. Take the time to research competing books, and be able to articulate how yours is different. Be as specific as possible: a vague proposal of “15 cute knitting projects” with no further details won’t get very far. SEND IMAGES, but please do not send actual projects unless the publisher asks for them. Not everyone works in a company office, and it’s far too easy for projects to get lost or misdirected. Let us know about yourself: your experience, any classes you teach, designs you publish, blogs or websites. And email is by far the best way to send in your proposal!

Be courteous and professional. If you think current books on a topic are lacking information or don’t cover something yours does, that’s a perfectly fair argument you can make. Simply saying other books are boring or ugly is not. Your presentation speaks as much about you as your proposal does. Proof-read for spelling errors, and make sure you are clearly stating your ideas. And I have to be honest, a proposal that begins with “Hiya!” or “Hey, craft lady’” doesn’t strike the best opening note.

Show us your best: when I look at images of your work, I’m looking at both aesthetics and technique. Your projects may be adorable or beautiful, but sloppy or poorly finished work rings an alarm bell. Make sure seams are straight, edges finished, wirework smooth, loose ends woven in, and everything is as polished as you can make it. This is your baby—you want to show it to its best advantage.

A proposal is like an audition, and the author should put as much effort into it as they would into their work.

Spin Art book

After a book proposal has been accepted, what is the typical timeline for publishing a craft book (including writing deadlines, photo shoots, publicity, printing, etc.)?

It can vary. I typically assume the author will need 6 months to a year to complete the manuscript and projects, depending on what she has going on in her life, and make sure to discuss that with her. Once we have the manuscript and projects, it takes another year for us to create the book. We photograph everything ourselves, create illustrations and charts, tech-edit, film any accompanying DVDs, etc. Our marketing and publicity departments get into high gear a bit closer to the book’s publication date, and run full-throttle. A typical list of promotional efforts (blogs, interviews, print ads, Facebook, YouTube, and twitter, email campaigns) can run for more than 2 pages!

What books are you most excited to see in stores this fall? Can you tell me a little about how they came to be?

Oh—we have several! (Unfortunately, I was not at Interweave when these were acquired. Next season.) Mathew Gnagy’s Knitting off the Axis comes to mind, as does Connie Chang Chinchio’s Textured Stitches. Personally, I’m a sucker for interesting construction, which Mathew’s book has in spades. Everything is knit sideways or on the diagonal, and he really gets one thinking about the architecture of knitting. As for Connie, I’ve been a fan of hers for years, regularly picking out her projects in books and magazines. She has such a knack for creating knits one wants not only to knit but to wear (and wear and wear) afterward.

Textured Stitches

Jacey Bogg’s Spin Art blows my mind—the yarns she creates are works of art in themselves, and there seems to be a growing appreciates of yarn for yarn’s sake. Along simpler lines, Weekend Hats is a great collection of hats for every knitter—simple to complex, for both men and women, and perfect quick projects for giving and keeping.

Finally, we have The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos. It’s a non-tech-y guide specifically for the crafter/DIY audience: all those bloggers and people on Etsy who do great work, but need a little help showcasing it to their best ability. It shows how to get slick, professional-looking photos without a studio or professional equipment, and troubleshoots things like making your own lightbox, avoiding camera shake without needing a tripod, and how to highlight project details. It’s divided into sections on specific craft areas (jewelry, fabric, furniture, etc.) to offer advice particular to each.

Are you a crafter yourself? How do you spend your free time when you’re not hard at work publishing craft titles?

I’m quite an enthusiastic knitter, I do basic bead and wirework and have experimented at metalwork. (the resultant pieces were never worn, nor should they have been.) I’m a lousy enough sewist to really appreciate the talent of others, and I learned how to spin last year. Crochet is still on list—I can do some basic stitches, but do not consider myself a true crocheter yet.

I Am Cute Dresses

Giveaway!

Interweave is giving one lucky winner a copy of the new book, I Am Cute Dresses: 25 Simple Designs to Sew by Sato Watanabe. To enter, leave a comment telling us something you’ve learned about book publishing, or a question you have for Allison. We’ll choose a winner on Friday, September 9.

Update: The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to R Carter!

Craft Book Month at Craft Buds

September is Craft Book Month!

It’s back-to-school season, and September is time to hit the books. Craft books, that is! Big, beautiful craft books. Stunning photography. Crisp, glossy pages. Hard covers or soft. We just love craft books, and we know you do, too. All month long, we will celebrate modern craft books by reviewing new releases, interviewing authors and editors who make the magic happen, and crafting projects from the books we spotlight.

What’s in Store?

Weekly craft book giveaways, a month-long linky party for craft book projects (see below), and a chance for you to learn from our experts. If you’ve ever dreamed of writing a craft book, we also have some fantastic tips on how to get your book published!

The Experts

Find out what catches an editor’s eye from Allison Korleski, Acquisitions Editor for Interweave Books. It may be simpler than you think!

Stay true to your vision while working agents and publishers. See how Shelly and Karen from Patterns by Figgy’s did just that with their first book, Sewing for Boys (Wiley Publishing).

Sewing for Boys book

Learn how to pitch a book with Tonia Davenport, Acquisitions Editor for North Light Craft / F+W Media. She’s got some great tips for aspiring craft book authors.

From blog to book deal. How did she do it? Ask Jessica Levitt, author of new release Modern Mix (Stash Books / C&T).

Modern Mix book

Thinking about opening your own patterns shop, and maybe writing a book, too? Meet Kay Whitt, author of the new book Sew Serendipity Bags (North Light).

Linky Party with Giveaways!

In honor of Craft Book Month, we are hosting a linky party all month long to celebrate. From September 1st through 30th, you may link up one of your favorite craft book projects below for a chance to win some fabric, books, patterns and more. The prizes include:

One winner: Doodle Stitching book + Japanese fabric from Craft Buds
One winner:
Autographed CosmoGIRL Cool Room book + Kona Charm Pack from Craft Buds

Doodle Stitching + Japanese fabric Autographed book + Kona charm pack

One winner: Cloth Paper Scissors book (from Interweave), Paper + Craft book and Fiskars decorative-edged scissors from Craft Buds

Paper Crafting Books + Scissors

One winner: Girl’s World book by Jennifer Paganelli, courtesy of Sis Boom.

One winner: The Practical Guide to Patchwork book courtesy of Dewberry Lane.  (Dewberry Lane is also offering free U.S. shipping on all orders placed during September with the code FREESHIP. Check out her books and patterns.)

One winner: $25 shop credit to My Little Sunshine Handmade

My Little Sunshine Handmade BWS tips button

One winner: 2 sewing patterns of your choice from Pattern Patti
One winner:
Three vintage sewing patterns; selections from Goofing Off

Pattern Patti on Etsy

 

Ready to share your craft book project? Here’s what you need to do to participate:  (Please read carefully)

  1. Create a NEW blog post. Share one project you’ve made from a sewing or general craft book and let us know which book it came from. The project doesn’t have to be brand new, never seen before on your blog – just something you’ve whipped up in the past that you love.
  2. One entry per person. Everyone who links up to the party with the Craft Book Month button will be eligible for our sponsored giveaways!
  3. Link back to Craft Book Month in your post.  You can do this with a button, just copy and paste the HTML code into your post. 
  4. Share the direct link to your post in the linky below. Right click on your post URL to copy link address, then paste it in the linky.
  5. Visit some of the other craft book projects and be inspired! If you are on Flickr, you may also add your photos to the Craft Buds group pool; however, you must also link up the URL of your Flickr post to this linky to be eligible for prizes.
  6. Random winners from the linky party will be announced on October 1, 2011. Giveaways open worldwide. Stay tuned for additional craft book giveaways to be held each week in September (winners announced on Fridays) which will be open to both bloggers and non-bloggers.
  7.  

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