From what I understand, there are two main ways to get a craft book published. Method one is to create a book proposal and shop it around to publishers, perhaps with the help of an agent.
Method two is to be very lucky and have a publisher contact you. I fell into the “very lucky” category.
Actually, in early 2010 I’d already been thinking about writing a book. I’d even read a wonderful book about writing book proposals. But then I got an email from the lovely Vanessa at Krause Publications. She’d bought some of my patterns and loved the instructions, and wondered if I’d thought about writing a book. It seemed perfect.
It was actually even more perfect than I’d thought. Not only is Krause the publisher of such long time favorite authors as Claire Shaeffer and Colette Wolff, they’ve also published beautiful books by modern designers like Kay Whitt and Joel Dewberry.
To top it off, Vanessa ended up being the perfect editor for me. She took all of my ideas seriously, made great improvements and refinements, and gave me much more creative control than I’d anticipated. She loved the Colette Patterns aesthetic, had me art direct the photo shoots, and hired my friends and collaborators to help with the photography and styling (more on that later!). I couldn’t have asked for more.
We worked together on the concept of the book. At first, we talked about whether it would be a technique book or a project-based book. I wanted something that would be a mix of both. The projects would be beautiful in themselves, but would also help to illustrate the techniques in action. I’m a hands-on learner, and I think a lot of other sewists are too.
I thought long and hard about the book’s overall concept. I thought about the questions you ask on this blog, and on other sewing sites. I thought about the things that stumped me as a beginner and intermediate sewist, and why that was. I thought about what separates a successful sewing project from a failure.
Here is what I realized: most of us don’t learn what the fundamentals of sewing actually are until we’ve been doing it for many years. Sure, we learn the basic techniques like how to sew a hem or press a seam in the beiginning. But what gets left out for many of us (especially the self-taught) are the true fundamentals: How do I make things I actually will want to wear? Why is it important to understand pattern markings? How do I choose the right fabric? How can I make things that fit me well?
I settled on five basic fundamentals that I find often overlooked: planning your projects, working with patterns, getting a good fit, choosing fabric, and finishing.
I wrote a detailed outline of my idea, which Vanessa worked with me to refine. In many ways, this was the most crucial part of the whole book writing process. This was setting down the whole concept of the book, really trying to think about it from a reader’s perspective. It was a challenge! But hopefully you’ll agree that the idea makes a lot of sense.
So that’s how the book idea was hatched. I’ll dive more into the details of actually writing, creating, and styling the book soon!