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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How To Go About Getting a Crochet Book Published

The past 11 years, I have been asked this question many times. In fact I have spoken at crochet events on "Getting Published". One of my talks is how to get published for the first time in a magazine, but this post will focus mainly on getting your own book published.

You Need to Have a Burning Desire

I will give you information I learned from other designers back in 2006 when I wanted to do my own book, but I'll also give tips I've learned from my own experiences. When I first started talking about wanting to do a book I had been designing professionally for a little over a year. That's not a long time in the designing world, but I thought " why not try?" After all, I had 57 designs accepted for publication my first year of designing, and didn't see any reason to wait. And besides, I was so anxious to do this! That's my first tip. You really need to have a tremendous desire to write a crochet book! I say that is very important because your passion and enthusiasm is what will get you through the sometimes strenuous long hours, days and months before you will be ready to turn the manuscript in.

How Much Time Do They Give You To Write the Book and Get the Manuscript In?

The publisher normally gives you around 9 months to finish up, but by the time everything else is done (the tech editing, photo shoot, book design, corrections, proof reading), it will be about a year before the book is actually on the shelves. This can vary with each publisber. And they may even ask you how much time you need. With my latest book, Colorful Crochet Lace, I signed the contract in the fall of 2013 with my due date June, 2014, but they didnt have it scheduled for release till the summer of 2015. When I asked why they said it was because they had another lace book scheduled for 2014. I later found out it was a knit book, not crochet. But you have to expect there will be things you may not be happy about and you just have to go along with it. They even wanted me to cut some of my favorite designs, and that really bothered me! Everything worked out in the end though, and I'm using those other designs (mostly Boho for my blog and Ravelry store).You may have some input, but the publisher makes the final decision on things. They did allow me to have a say on which garment I wanted on the front cover and several other things, but I just want to prepare you.

 Like I said, the normal process takes 9 months to a year, but in the case of my first 2 Kooler Design/Leisure Arts booklets, (Crochet in Style and Crochet Young and Trendy), my 14 designs in both books were accepted and actually published within 5-6 months! The reason for this was that I had the projects all finished and when I contacted them, they had a  "slot" to fill and I was at the right place at the right time! That was so exciting! When I submitted those designs, I had never even submitted to a magazine before, so never even tried to get published. Later some known, designer friends said, "Mary Jane, do you realize that sometimes it takes a designer 20 years to get a deal like that!?" I had no idea, which made it even more exciting! After those booklets had been published, I found out that was very unusual though and would rarely ever happen that quick. I got busy designing again and went on to get more and more garments and accessories accepted for publications later that year (2005).

I really wanted to do a book, like many of you, but had no way of knowing how to go about it. You may have the same desire and questions I did and I'm here to help you! I felt lost and had no idea of how to get started. So I just began emailing various designers I knew of who had published books on crochet. I had met some personally at the Chain Link Conference or TNNA but others I found on the internet, after seeing they had a book.

My First Step in Finding Out What To Do

I had the idea to email crochet authors to ask how I could get started and even if they thought I should be pursing this, after such a short time designing professionally. I was pretty nervous thinking I'd be bothering them, because we all are very busy with many deadlines. I probably wrote 10 authors for advice, hoping I'd hear back from at least one. To my surprise, I got a reply from each person I had written. All but one, wrote back being very supportive and encouraging in my quest to write a book. The one negative email I received said, "You have not paid your dues and should not be trying to write a book". I was shocked she said that to me! I was thinking, "Not paid my dues? I have been crocheting for over 36 years!" It really upset me and if I had listened to her, I probably would not have been a successful crochet book author to this day. I'm so glad I did not listen to her. The others were so sweet to give me long, detailed tips or advice on how to go about accomplishing this dream of mine. I'm telling you about this person because you need to know there will be people who are negative and you can't let anyone discourage you from achieving your dream.

Which Publisher Should I Send my Book Proposal To?

I know from experience, this question can haunt you, but it's one of the most important of all. You can drive yourself crazy trying to decide on this. I suggest going to some place like Barnes and Noble or any place that carries crochet books. Plan to take your time, because you don't want to be rushed with this step. Be sure and take a notebook and ink pen with you for taking notes. Look through all the books that catch your eye. You want to notice their format, how many photos they have, if they have stitch pattern charts, how small or large the print is, how many pages, their style and whether or not they have a cover that pops and catches your attention. These things are all important. You want to look at every detail, even whether or not they have a photo and info on the author. I'm surprised that some publishers don't think it's important to have a section for the author. With my first 2 books, the publisher (Krause - branch of F +W)  gave me a whole page spread toward the back. This impressed me.  Even though you have written down info on several publishers, you can only submit your proposal to one at a time. It's considered unethical to submit your book idea to more than one publisher at the same time. It's easy to find their email addresses on the web, along with whether you should send your query letter by email or regular mail. For 11 years, I have always communicated by email.
After saying all this, I got this advice from a designer/publisher back in 2006 who taught classes on getting published, so I don't know how up to date it is. She said,
"Get a copy of Writer's Market and read the list of publishers there. Sometimes, they have requests from publishers looking for writers."

Write a "Query" Letter

Even though you are allowed to send the proposal to only one publisher at a time, you can write each of them a "query" letter at the same time. The purpose of this letter is to ask them "permission" to send a proposal. You never send a proposal to a publisher without asking their permission. One reason is because they have many people contacting them and let's face it. They are very busy people and the only proposals they want to take their time to look at, are ones they are interested in. When you tell them what your book is about and the details, they'll know immediately if they've done a book recently that's similar or whether or not they think it will sell. They're only interested in book ideas they know they can make money on. Anything else is a waste of their time. But if you have a really good, and unique idea, they will want to latch on to you and will ask you to send your proposal right away. You may get multiple publishers wanting you to send them your propossl, but as I said, you only send it to one. If they are all interested, after reading your letter, that's more stress on you, wondering which one it should be. All 20 publishers were interested in my proposal and I can't tell you how hard it was for me to finally decide who to send it to. That's another story in itself. If you're interested, let me know, and I'll be happy to tell you why I chose the one I did.

How Much Info Do I Give Them about My Book?

At first I worried about giving them too much information on my book, because I didn't know if they would steal my idea! But I can assure you, if you are writing to a known publisher, you have nothing to worry about. They are honest and professional and are not going to steal your idea. So rest easy! Not only that, but once you have written down your idea, it is automatically copyrighted, as long as you can prove its yours. Back in 2007, when I came up with my Graduated Stitch Method of making fitted and shaped crochet garments without increases or decreases, I wrote a letter with all my info on this and mailed it to myself so it would have a postmark with a date.

Some Things to Include in Your Query Letter 

1. You don't want to make your letter too long or they may not read it. Most people in the know would say it should be only 1 page. But make sure you tell them what your book is about and the better your letter is, the more it may persuade them. Once you write the letter ask a friend to read it and let them give you feedback on whether or not it sounds interesting.
2. The Book Acquisitions Editor will be the one reading your letter and the most important thing to them is that they want to know how your book idea is different from all the other crochet books already published. They are interested in "new ideas" - not just your designs.
3. Give them ideas for a title. You want them to imagine this title in print! Giving an idea for a sub-title may help too.
4. You need to tell them where you have been published along with a couple of pictures of your designs.
5. Not only your experiences in the crochet world, but you can list your background like jobs, etc. I mentioned being a supervisor for House of Lloyd/Christmas Around the World, Real Estate and my singing career.
6. Sending pictures of your already published designs is important but if you have any designs you want in the book that are finished and photographed on a mannequin or person is a good idea. They will see your work visually and not just read about your descriptions. Some publishers request you to send one of your finished designs along with your proposal (if accepted), so they can see your work up close. They will also want a sample of one of your written patterns.
7. Publishers are also interested in what social media you are a member of, mainly because they need to know if you are willing to help promote your book. This is important to them and you'll be far more attractive the more you can do to advertise yourself. This includes posting about it, setting up book signings, which better your chances. This is something to probably reserve for the proposal, when accepted. When a publisher sends you a proposal package, they will ask you lots of questions and this is one of them.

Advice from Susan Huxley (designer/author/publisher) who gave a talk at a conference I attended. This is advice for proposals that have been turned down:

                      "Publishers have expert advice, trend information, and 
                          reader interest polls at their fingertips. Perhaps what 
                          you're offering isn't marketable? Or the niche is too 
                          small to turn a profit?"

What Happens after the Proposal is sent?

After you've decided on a publisher who gave you permission to send your book proposal, they will probably send you a proposal package with lots of questions and this is when you can go into much more detail about the book. You need to have patience as you sit back and "wait", crossing your fingers that they'll like your book idea. I was told from the beginning that it could take up to 3 months to hear back from a publisher. This really concerned me because many of my designs were trendy and I was afraid by the time the book was published, they would no longer be in style. But to my surprise, I heard back from the publisher the first week on all my books!

What Happens After Your Proposal is Accepted?

After your book has been accepted they will send you a contract. My publisher sends you a cash advance. This is because they are a traditional publisher, who pays for all costs to make the book happen and they write you a royalty check 2 - 4 times a year. Of course, if you are self publishing you won't get the cash advance or royalties. That's another story. Some people have been very successful at this, but I would not recommend it on your first book. There is so much involved and you need to be more known in order to market your own book, to make your job easier. I've never self published, but have considered it and may do so in the future. You can read more about self publishing vs traditional publishing from Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence, one of the most popular crochet related blogs on the web.

What Happens After Your Contract is Signed?

Half of your advance will be sent after they receive your proposal and you will get the second half after the manuscript is turned in. They will also send you a packet either by regular mail or email with much more information on how to begin the book. You won't be alone. They assign you an editor and she will help you along the way and the two of you will become very close with all the communication! She'll send you guidelines to go by and a sample layout of a way you can make sure everything will fit onto the number of pages. You'll be so excited to get started! My advice to you is that no matter how busy you are with other things in your life, make sure you work on the book every day, even if it's for a short time some days, because it's easy to get behind and you will start to panic. While I was working on my last book, Colorful Crochet Lace, my sister was in the hospital for 15 days and I stayed with her every day. It was hard to focus and keep my mind on crochet since I was worried about her, but if I had it to do over I would have made sure I worked on my designs there too. I ended up having to hire 4 professional contract crocheters to stitch up some projects that were actually photographed for the book because I just ran out of time. Don't put off getting things done, no matter how busy you are. Let your desire to see the finished book in your hands and in stores be what drives you!

 Good luck to you in your quest to have your book published! If you have any questions or think I have left anything out, don't hesitate to ask!

4 comments:

  1. Mary Jane,
    Thank you for writing this information and for sharing so much of yourself in your blog. This has helped me so much. Your work is delightful! And I would love to have you as my mentor.
    I am from Blossom Tx:)and I am a wife and mother. I really enjoy applying my crochet addiction to my love of fashion design. Yarn has been running through my fingers for 15 years:)
    Currently, I am designing and creating Boho-chic apparel and accessories for my new shop on Etsy. Tapestry crochet, and crochet painting, combined with other forms of crochet, is what makes up a lot of my work.
    This is a lot of fun, however I really want to serve others in there application of crochet. I am currently in the process of writing my first few patterns.
    My goal is to become a professional designer of crochet fashion and pattern making. It is so exciting to be apart of other people's love of creating.

    My email is creatingrosecouture@gmail.com

    My Etsy shop is https://www.etsy.com/shop/CreatingRoseCouture?ref=hdr_shop_menu

    My pinterest is https://www.pinterest.com/creatingrose/

    Sincerely,
    Mary Anne Nelon

    P.S. My business name is Mary Anne Rose. That is the name I use on my Etsy shop and on pinterest. I just didn't want you to be confused by that:)


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sorry I gave an incorrect email.
      My email is creatingrose@gmail.com

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the compliments! I'm happy my blog posts can help you :) and I'd be honored to be your mentor. I'll reply to your email and write more!
    Mary Jane

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the compliments! I'm happy my blog posts can help you :) and I'd be honored to be your mentor. I'll reply to your email and write more!
    Mary Jane

    ReplyDelete