My Journey Through Craft Book Publishing & Sneak Peek

I am very excited to finally share some photos of my soon-to-be-released book, Rosette Art: Instructions and Papers for Beautiful Rosettes to Share, Wear, and Display. I’m also sharing a bit about my journey down publishing lane, from the initial spark of the book idea to the final printed piece, which I now hold in my hand in the form of an advance copy.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-11

Many of us who have found our place in the craft and blogging world often dream of writing a book. There’s something about the idea of a physical, three-dimensional, bonafide presentation of our designs and writing that gives validation to what we do, because, after all, anyone can write a blog, right? And so, like many other hopefuls, I set out to make that happen.

Many years ago, I wrote, illustrated and designed a children’s book, (as did every other mother who ever read to their young child night after night.) I remember the challenges 8-10 years ago of finding a literary agent or publisher that would even look at my work. And back then, most all correspondence was done through snail mail. I even went as far as crafting two faux hard-bound book prototypes to send out. That little book concept remains a box along side its rejection letters. And though that attempt was quite disheartening, I’ll try again to get that little book published one day, as much has changed since then.

In 2010, I was contacted by a reputable literary agent out of New York (who’s mother read my blog,) about working together to get a book published. She was just entering the craft book arena. That was an exciting moment, so I hopped on my horse and began brainstorming ideas and designs for a book idea. Sky was the limit. Naturally, I figured, I would base it on my blog style and compile an assortment of various, unrelated craft projects. I spent hours and hours doing this until eventually I hit a wall. None of it was jiving. I just wasn’t feeling it. So I put the idea on hold and resumed work as a blogger, and still at the time- logo designer- trying my best to keep up with all the deadlines.

Then, another creative blog friend, Suzonne Stirling of Urban Comfort who lives in New Orleans, and I were enjoying a beach house weekend together with some other creative blogger buds. She asked if I would be interested in working with her on some product prototypes for a scrapbook company that involved designing prize ribbon rosettes. After 25 years of commissioned work, I had just decided to stop taking on work for others, closed up my logo biz and started designing my own projects. But after a bit of persuasion I was back in. I have always adored prize ribbon rosettes, had been collecting vintage fair prize ribbons for years, often repurposing them into decor and wearable pieces. So, not only was I in, but ultimately hooked on crafting with a plethora of ribbons, papers, and other elements to design the beautiful layers of each rosette project. This commissioned work went on for a few months but ultimately the project and product line died out. So there I sat with hoards of fabulous materials waiting to design more rosettes and I wasn’t ready to stop. And. Then. It. Hit. Me… rosettes would be a very fun idea for a book!

About this time I’d also been approached by an author/editor who talked about working with me as a “book packager”, a representative who takes on all of the work of an editor by working with the author on behalf of a publisher, putting all the pieces together and delivering it ready to print. A middle man of sorts. I’d never heard of this before, but was open to pretty much anything. After all, I had an idea!

Because I am a seasoned graphic designer, I took my rosette book idea and designed a digital, faux e-book of sorts, complete with cover design, introduction, pages of component ideas and a few finished project pages, each with lots of dummy copy, and beautiful photographs of original designs crafted just for the book prototype. I sent this out to one or two publishers that I’d already been in contact with for one reason or another. No bites. So I loaded my “book” onto my iPad and printed out a copy to be ready should any opportunity arise to present it. And, right away, that opportunity came.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-01

In the fall of 2011, I was speaking at a really wonderful event, The Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs, in San Francisco. Soon after my session I squeezed in to listen to a panel discussion on publishing. To my delight, among the authors and publishers on the panel, was Executive Editor, Jodi Warshaw, from Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books! The pinnacle of creative publishing! When the Q&A part of the session came around, I raised my hand and asked the editors: “How would you prefer to work with a craft author- through a literary agent, a book packager, or directly?” The answer, by Ms. Warshaw, was “Directly.” Needless to say, I approached (ok, mobbed) her immediately after the session to ask if I could show her my book proposal. But better yet, if she were coming back to the event the next day, I would show it to her with actual craft projects in hand. And so we met in the lobby of the venue the next morning and I presented my idea and crafts. She responded well to it all and asked that I send her the proposal via email and that she would run it by her board back at Chronicle. A few weeks passed, and she contacted me to ask how I would feel if they molded my book idea into a book-plus, a craft kit of sorts that had been done before as Silhouette Art, Mobile Art and most recently, Pretty Paper Parties.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-23 My book would contain ready-to-craft decorative papers that I would design. Though it wasn’t the hardcover-dust-jacket-showpiece of a book I’d had in mind originally, I really liked the idea and was soon on my way to signing a contract, learning project submissions guidelines, designing and crafting rosettes and paper patterns, writing the tedious manuscript, and edits, edits, and edits.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-02Daunting doesn’t begin to describe the entire process. And, to my surprise, not all of it was fun stuff.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-03 At times I felt that the book was going in a direction I didn’t think it should. My original editor moved away and onto another job, and I was teamed up with a new editor, Lisa Tauber. As our working relationship progressed, it occurred to me that I was not writing a book for seasoned crafters, per se, rather for the general market, people who may or may not be savvy with paper, scissors and glue. And as much as I wanted that “coffee table book” (a term I was told early on never to use in a pitch to a publisher) I would simply need to be ok with a small booklet of 14 projects tucked into a portfolio jacket with decorative papers, (which I was very excited to design.) Lisa and I brainstormed projects together. A lovely, lovely woman, she was a cheerleader and a coach, constantly motivating me and reassuring me of the direction we were going, kept me on task and in an exciting direction that would ultimately suit us all.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-06 The design director, Jennifer Tolo Pierce, created the overall color palette to be used throughout the papers and projects and designed the book itself. As a graphic designer, I’d always imagined designing my own book, but having someone else do it, and do it so well, was actually a real treat for me. I was given input on many of the very important things, such as the cover, which in the first go around did not suit me well, but the final design makes me absolutely giddy.

Chronicle Books has a market unlike what I had originally imagined for my book. If I had my way, my book might only reach the shelves of a craft store and Amazon.com. With Chronicle, it could be in most every major bookstore, as well as many gift shops, specialty stores, and in lots more places online. So who was I to rock that boat?! The more I corresponded with my editor, the more I came to accept that Chronicle editors, sales staff and marketing crew knew a lot more about the publishing industry than I did and I should really learn to trust that. After all…it’s CHRONICLE BOOKS!

And so I pushed on. Writing, making technical edits, more edits and lots more edits.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-07 I meticulously crafted each project to send off for studio photography.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-09 I set up, styled, shot and edited all of the step-out photos.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-05I even loaded up the car and drove to San Francisco to deliver the hero shot pieces rather than ship them, which always turned into a lovely lunch date in the city with Mr. Wonderful.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-10 Though most of the work was daunting, and deadlines difficult to meet as I still had so many other things going on, it was all a really good personal challenge. I learned a lot about consistent technical writing, something I thought I had a good handle on when blogging craft projects, but a book is a whole other bird. All instruction measurements needed to be translated into metrics for the European readership. All of the things I learned while writing and working with the editors will forever help me in future with all technical writing that I do for my blog, other blogs and magazines.

When the last bit of edits were done and approved, all files submitted, all things signed off, it was a tremendous relief. I was more than ready to take a very long break from the project.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-08 And though I’ve been excited from the get-go to see the finished book, it’s been good to have a bit of distance from it so I could really enjoy seeing it with fresh eyes when it finally did arrive, many MANY months later, printed and bound. That day came about two weeks ago in the form of my advance copies.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-22

Rosette Art is a nice big portfolio, that once open reveals the project booklet,JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-12

and a stack of twenty colorful patterned papers for crafting,JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-13 half of which are pre-scored for folding to get you going towards crafting rosettes right away!JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-14I share information on craft materials and tools,JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-15and lots of techniques and instructions for crafting various types of rosettes and rosette layers.JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-16There are fourteen main projects featured in the book, utilizing paper, fabric, ribbon,JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-19 new and old items,JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-18 and a few surprise materials!JSIM-Holden-Rosette-Art-Journey-17Rosette Art is scheduled to release in early May 2013. However, Chronicle Books is working on an early release just in time for next month’s Craftcation event that I will be speaking and teaching at, and now possibly enjoying my very first book-signing!

Here are a few important points I learned on my journey through craft book publishing:

1. Be prepared. If you’re looking to get published, make your concept in a manner that is ready and presentable should you ever get that unexpected opportunity to pitch it. And place yourself into those opportunistic settings such as creative conferences, trade shows, industry meet-ups, and cocktail parties.

2. Build an audience. Publishers like books with legs. If you have an established audience or consumer of your brand, blog or products, that makes an enormous difference in helping your book sell. And selling books is key to a publisher, obviously! Be prepared to give stats to potential publishers.

3. Be Patient. In this time of instant gratification, long-term goals are often done away with rather than exhausted. Know what you want, really know it, then set out to find the best way to accomplish it through research, trial and error, legwork, and small investments. Be open to the occasional change of course, whether you take it or not. And know that most books of a creative nature take upwards of 18 months to get to market from the date of contract. It’s like a two-term pregnancy.

4. Change perspective. Authoring a craft book may never bring the kind of money I’d like, but being a published author will allow me many more creative, money-making opportunities than I would have otherwise received, such as speaking, teaching, licensing and, of course, more writing.

5. Offer gratitude. “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
― William Arthur Ward

I LOVE my book! Thank you to all who helped make it happen!

Rosette Art is available for pre-order on Amazon now!

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