The Journey from Craft Book Proposal to Publishing Contract

As promised, a little insight into what I did to secure my first craft book publishing deal.

What led me to writing a craft book?

Well, I think it was always the long term ‘dream’ goal. I’m sure most crafting enthusiasts feel that they have a book inside them. I’ve definitely felt like that for a long time. I’ve always enjoyed making things from my own ideas and (after many, many years) I decided that it would be great to pass on these ideas to inspire others. Creating individual sewing projects was the first step I took. I didn’t have a clue how my projects would be received but very soon after the first few orders started trickling in, things began to pick up quite rapidly thereafter.

My next step up the ladder was when I discovered Sewing World magazine’s call for new contributors. I had no idea if I was up to the job but I just went for it, sent in a few images, they liked my work and so began the opportunity I’d wanted so much; my projects in print, in a magazine! As most of you already know, I now have a project in the magazine most months but I can’t sit back on my laurels though. I have to keep firing fresh ideas at the editor to ensure I keep up the memento. Which reminds me, I must get more ideas together for next year! You have to plan so far ahead.

Once I’d contributed a few projects to the magazine, my confidence improved to the point where I felt ready to get a book idea together. Pie in the sky, my conscience kept whispering to me but thankfully I never listen to it! I’m a great believer in, ”You’ve got to give it a go. You might get a ‘no’ but you’ll never get a ‘yes’ unless you try.”

The craft book proposal:

I did some research into what works well in a craft book, what people like and don’t like – Amazon is a great resource for this with all it’s book reviews. I then did a bit of research into craft book publishers and picked a couple that I liked – their current range of books, background history, customer reviews, etc. Very helpfully, some of them have a section on their website with detailed instructions on what they’d like a proposal to include. The publishers I looked at asked for:

Brief details about yourself – interests, hobbies, any published works, current occupation, anything that you do that is relevant/qualifies you to write a book.

Brief outline of what the book is about – couple of sentences.

Detailed description of the book – a few paragraphs.

Table of contents.

Proposed projects – images of completed ones or sketches of projects not made yet.

Three most important concepts or ideas for the book. (unique selling points)

What inspired the book idea?

What skill level/s and intended audience is the book aimed at?

Why will this book sell?

What current books are the strongest competitors to this book?

What makes this book different?

What can you do to help market the book – social media, blog, magazine interviews, personal appearances, etc.

Even though I could have sent sketches, I decided to make actual project examples so that I could send images of finished items. I wanted the projects to really catch the editor’s eye and I felt that sketches just wouldn’t do it. As well as coming up with appealing designs, I used my trademark choice of bright, vibrant fabrics for added impact.

Submitting the proposal:

The publishers I looked at were quite happy for everything to be sent by email to the acquisition editor, so that’s what I did. I sent the files I’d prepared to 3 different publishers. Two in the USA (because my Etsy shop has a great following there) and one here in the UK. I informed each one that I’d be sending the proposal to other publishers as they need to know this.

I felt quite lucky to hear back from both USA ones within days of submitting everything. They initially liked what I’d sent (whoohoo!) and would take it to the proposal meetings in another month’s time. I didn’t hear anything from the UK one (turned out everything had went to spam) and I eventually heard back from them months later to say they had liked my ideas/projects but as they were a small publishers they couldn’t accept everything they liked and so had to decline. Maybe that was just their way of gently letting me down but I’m sure glad I didn’t get that email at the start as I’d probably have just given up right then!

The waiting game:

If you’re impatient like me, be warned there’s a lot of hanging about waiting for all the proposal stages to go through. If your ideas and projects meet the approval of the acquisitions editor (the first point of contact), he/she then presents everything at a proposal meeting. If your ideas get approval at that stage they have to then go through costings, sales forecasts etc. What a roller coaster of emotions that was and it took months!

Getting an offer:

I was so excited to get offers from both USA publishers for my book! Gosh, my family were so proud. I’d kept it a secret from them, until I knew the offers were coming, as I couldn’t bare having to tell them if I hadn’t got anywhere. Hubby knew though and was supportive and encouraging but, I think, was desperately worried during all the waiting in case things went pear-shaped. He knew how much I wanted this and how much work I’d put in to it! So, he was there to catch me if I fell!

So, there I was, now having to make a decision on which publisher to work with!! (I know, I know, poor me!) I hadn’t expected that though and it was so difficult. I went with my gut instinct in the end and chose the one that was going to stay closest to my original proposal ideas.

I’m now looking forward to working with Martingale & Co. based in Bothell, USA. It feels strange to be working with a company so far away but thank goodness for email.

Now begins all the hard work (but hopefully enjoyable), the typing up of all the project instructions, the making of the actual projects and lots of draft step-by-step illustrations.

My single biggest lesson in all this? Don’t be scared of presenting your ideas to publishers. I’ve found the editors I’ve dealt with so far have been extremely approachable, friendly, helpful and altogether lovely people.

p.s. I’m just a completely ordinary ‘work at home’ mum of four who loves to sew, loves to share designs and loves to write all about it. I really hope this little story might help to inspire others.

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13 thoughts on “The Journey from Craft Book Proposal to Publishing Contract

    • Hello, thank you very much. That’s really lovely to hear. I can’t wait to begin promoting the actual content of the book but need to keep it all under wraps for now until nearer the time.

  1. Hi Susan, thank you for sharing your pre-publishing story. I always admire the finished products of craft books – you can see and feel the hard work and commitment that goes in to the text/layout/photo styling etc as well as the author’s decision to focus on one aspect or another of their chosen craft as well as stamping their personality and humour on the final product.

    So, it is interesting to read the lead-up to the final product, starting with your urge to write a book and share your design ideas, through to signing a publishing deal. Hats off to your patience and commitment and I am certainly looking forward to having a copy of your book. I love your style, your pattern layouts and your taste in fabric.

    Congratulations.
    Theresa in Australia

  2. Congratulations! I tried to respond to the comment you left on my blog, but I couldnt’ find an e-mail address! I didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you. Good luck with writing your book, I assume it will be about bags? 🙂

    • Hi Sara, thanks so much, that’s really kind of you. Can’t say much about the book contents just now as have to keep it all under wraps until nearer the time. Not long now until your book launch, though! My best wishes to you, I’m sure it will be a huge hit. Thanks for stopping by my blog. 🙂

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