Making a Book #1

posted in: Book writing | 28

My book started with a different topic entirely. I wanted to write about the process of making a merger happen without the people involved getting beaten up. That is what I am doing in my day job and I am trying to live this idea. I am making notes and trying to specifically capture the emotional impact of major change on the individual and collective psyche. A huge project, and definitely one for another day.

In the meantime, and as I already mentioned I wanted a project to focus on in my down time – specifically to protect myself from burn out at this specific moment. I use creative activities like sewing and knitting, but also blogging and writing, as a way of doing something that is challenging but rewarding. I used SWAP for this two or three years in a row. That challenge – of creating a small collection of 11 items – consumed and sustained me brilliantly. But I don’t feel I can do it again. I don’t really want that many more clothes and I feel I have nailed SWAP as well as I ever will. I shall be following along though, on Artisans Square, as it is a fascinating process. For me creative, somewhat solitary work is a very good antidote from trying to look after 3000 people while we create what I hope will be the best housing association in the UK.

So once I had decided I wanted to write a book that covers some of the same material as I have been presenting in the blog for the past few years I had one of those “epiphany” moments. If I write this book alongside the most difficult project I have ever done in my work life the two tasks will be mutually supportive. That’s the idea anyway. I could fail on both counts!!

However here I go. I am writing a book in public! I will share the process – the content is broadly already known to you – and see what happens.

The first thing I did, and this is what led me to drop the merger book project and start on the Fabrickated book project, was sign up to a ten-day business book challenge. This is completely free and takes you through the process of creating a proposal for a publisher based on your “business” (a bit of an issue for me as I don’t have or want a business. I have no time and no inclination to run a business; my work is my business). But as I was writing a business book I joined in.

It was brilliant. Let me give you the details if it might be of interest to you. Alison Jones will help you think through the whole process of writing a book to support and boost your business, but there is much in there that is generally about book writing. The focus helped me work out that I didn’t want to write or publish a business book – at least not now. But I did want to create a book, make a book, and this is now what I am dedicating my weekends (and Christmas break) to.

The lovely Alison Jones

My book doesn’t yet have a name, or a one word summary, or a cover. It is not going to be a commercial proposition, and it is not going to be traipsed around publishers. I actually want to do all the processes myself (with help from friends and family) as a creative process. Apart from writing and rewriting the book, I want to learn all the processes involved. I will write the patterns. I will style the models. I will take the photographs and design the inside of the book (pagination, layout etc). I will do the diagrams.  I will also have to do the marketing and distribution myself! I will have to pay for some of the editing, design, the printing and I will attempt to recoup this outlay by charging for the book. My gamble is that if I do a really nice job, making a colourful, interesting and useful book, then some of you might buy it.

Now there are a few blog-to-book publishing successes, but most blogs don’t necessarily translate well to the book form. It is a very different proposition. A few dozen people have told me they have read this blog from start to finish (a mammoth task – 850 posts), which I found astonishing. Even I haven’t done that – I treat the blog more like journalism – once written it’s over. I even find it a bit hard to make the time to respond to all the marvellous comments once I have moved on to the next article (sorry!). So my gamble, my hunch, is that if I can take the best bits, and polish them, and find an overarching theme and thread, and provide better patterns, and glorious photographs, then I might have something useful and nice and more professional that my friends and their friends might wish to acquire for themselves or buy for someone else.

I am asking myself what have I got to lose? Some money if I don’t cover my printing costs. The time isn’t wasted – I need a juicy project and I am finding this one amazing, so far. I believe the process will help me think more deeply about what I am doing with my life, and I will learn more about the world of books and writing and stories and communication. Doing it with you (if you are willing to join in) will be an enriching and interesting process and it will make the book more of a collaboration or act of co-creation. At the end if you are willing to part with £10 or £15 quid to get one that would be a bonus.

So – here I go – off on another adventure.




28 Responses

  1. Ellen

    Awesome plan! I have typography and page layout knowledge. Happy to advise if / when needed. I am not super up to speed on the latest on demand publishing options but there are many and mostly very good.

    Design will differentiate your work. If you have not yet read the brilliant Robert Bringhurst’s book, The Elements of Typographic Style, get a copy immediately. He is an excellent poet and graceful typographer, and the book is a joy. Plus you will learn to see type as the visual expression of language, and any book that changes the way you see the world is a gift.

    Also, you likely already know Tufte’s Envisioning Information. Another gem, and relevant to your project. If you don’t have a copy, get one!

    • fabrickated

      I agree that design is everything and I really have no idea at the moment! My secret weapon is my step daughter Charlotte who has worked for Dorling Kindersley/Penguin for many years. I am hoping she will advise me. But I am also very grateful for your offer of help Ellen. I will look up the books you suggest – I have so much to learn.

  2. Lyn

    I can already see it! It will be beautiful, Just like your inspiration boards by your sewing area!

    If we can help with either the book project or the merger (the people anyway) we will x

    • fabrickated

      I agree Annie. Thank you for your support. I would like to “capture” the people who read and comment so generously on this blog and am thinking about how I might express it with humility and appreciation. I was wondering about asking for photographs of people sewing or knitting in unusual places, or just (with their permission) reproducing some of the little stories left in the comments to amuse, educate and illustrate.

    • fabrickated

      Hi Jena – actually Alison Jones suggested that to me – in effect . you ask people to pay in advance for the book, also possibly at a slight premium. I am thinking about it, but I don’t know – it feels like asking for charity when I earn enough to cash flow the book. Also there is “print on demand” which means that you only need to produce in response to purchases. I may do this although on a reasonable run printing a larger number is slightly cheaper. I will investigate everything that has been suggested. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

  3. Kerry

    Good for you! You have the right attitude and you’re gutsy and are up for challenges, so go for it. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of support from your virtual-friend’s community. That’s us! Xx

  4. Chris

    There is so much work in putting together a book , as always we’ll be following along with interest. The thing that draws me to your blog is your curiosity and drive to learn new creative processes and how you break down your learning into manageable steps. Thats something that would be wonderful to capture in a book – it would provide the same inspiration as your blog does. I know I always come away feeing like your methodical approach can be applied to my projects ?

  5. Dagmar

    I wonder if you have read any of the Yarn Harlot’s books or her blog? Stephanie McPhee, apart from being a very funny and deeply human individual, uses her blog topics as starting off points for marvellous and usually tear inducingly funny essays on creativity in the knitting world, being a maker and the meaning of life for her. Ostensibly about knitting, her books are really about navigating through the obstacles of daily existence to live a life of potential and meaning. She might be an interesting inspiration for you (not that you are lacking any). Your project certainly seems like a labour of love and so very personal to you. If that spirit is allowed to shine through, I am sure it will be a marvellous book.

    • fabrickated

      Thanks so much Dagmara. Funnily enough I was given one of her books by a delegation of Canadian housing professionals when I wasn’t yet a knitter. It’s in my office and I have never read it! But I will now.

      • Dagmar

        Her blog post today is quite typical…it is a meditation on the foolishness of trying to project perfection as a crafter/maker…a really great topic for the more competitive amongst us. 🙂

  6. ceci

    I have to admit that I am one of those who went back and read your whole archives after discovering your blog, and it was a good read (I felt a bit stalker-ish but soldiered on). So I can imagine a book format working quite well.


  7. Anita Steiner

    Good luck with your new venture. I also backread your blog after discovering it. I’m not skilled in proofreading, but discover most mistakes other people make, unfortunately not always my own. I would certainly also be interested in buying it. Anita from Basel

  8. Alli

    I’m excited to hear about your book-writing process and to see the final product! I didn’t know you were thinking about including patterns… oooooh!

  9. Mary

    This is so inspiring Kate! I have a book in me as well. Your approach of a learning process and being intrigued by the how it gets made aspect is a great theme that crossovers with your professional and handmaking lives. I’m taking inspiration from your curiosity approach and just might get my book written if only to see how I would do it. I just received Johanna’s (The Last Stitch) book in the mail and it is an impressive accomplishment. She uploaded the entire book from her computer to the publisher last week and I received my copy in the mail from Amazon yesterday. It was a very reasonable $28 and I know I will enjoy reading it and gain lots of tips for sewing with knits. Plus, I like supporting artisans.

    • fabrickated

      Thanks so much Mary. I am very excited about the freedom and flexibility implied by self publishing. But Pretty daunted by concept of sales and marketing! Let me know if you get started on your book.

  10. Aida

    I’m alwayw intrigued of what you will do next as it is always something interesting and exciting. If there is anything that I can do to help you in this new adventure please let me know as I would love to do that!

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