Wow! On Saturday I posted the work of two designers as they grappled with the idea of what my book should look like.
Thank you for your feedback!
As they started before the book was written I was actually impressed with what they had both achieved. And while I liked all four, I find myself in the same position as the majority: that No 3, the watercolour illustrations, is the best, followed by the Mosaic No 4.
I got further feedback via IG and Facebook too, so I have lots of material now, and it has been very helpful indeed. Thank you to those who commented, especially people who are designers themselves, or book sellers, or published authors. But, in a way, the most interesting responses were from the ordinary, regular blog readers. The people who through the blog have come to know me, and just felt that the designs didn’t quite “get” me.
I found this very interesting.
I am not sure how much I know myself.
Some of the most valuable feedback has been where you have told me why you like the blog, and my style, and the topics that I cover. At one level putting a book out into the world requires one to have perhaps an overdeveloped sense of one’s own importance or relevance. While I have been writing the book I have thought – ‘what is the hook?” – and probably thought, it’s only me. I am not really seeing this book in Waterstones or other classy bookshops. I am thinking it would be great to sell it to the people who read the blog, who like my “voice” and the topics that I cover. If it went a bit beyond that I would be delighted, but this is (as many noted) a personal book. Quite a few of you told me to include an image of myself, now, in clothes that I have made. I wasn’t going to do this before, but now I think I will. Lots of you said pictures of me in pink! I hadn’t realised how much pink is part of who I am (at work I wear lots of grey!).
What is the book about?
The book (which is going for an editorial review this week) covers three main topics
a) BEAUTY: colour, style, wardrobe, capsules, etc. These topics have been a main theme of this blog. The underlying philosophy is about celebrating and enhancing our natural beauty rather than trying to change it too much.
b) MAKING: 13 Makers Projects – creative projects to make skirts and tops, painted fabric and a few other things. If we want to enhance our natural beauty, making things to express ourselves better is a good option and the book works hard to make these projects accessible. The philosophy here is again that making beautiful things is good antidote to the toxic aspects of modern life. You (my sewing/knitting/blogging community) are in this section.
c) LIFE: about me, my family and how to get more out of life. Personal stories with the crafting element woven in.
If I was doing a commercial, traditionally published book it would cover a) or b). There is room for a book about style that is more modern and less superficial than the existing offering. And in terms of projects, I think there is a market for a much more truthful book about making beautiful things. And of course there is no market at all for stories about my family, but they are part of my life and my blog and people seems to find them interesting!
Who are the designers?
One is a Canadian man, a professional designer, who has done some previous (very impressive) work for me. But of course he couldn’t really grasp the blog-book because it is not really something he could identify with. And the most interesting thing is that he initially designed something with warm (mustard, brown and orange) colours which I reacted against. Then I noticed that he has warm colouring and dresses in lots of greens and yellows and browns. Isn’t that fascinating? We are often drawn to colour palettes that enhance our own colouring. When I pointed this out he reverted to my logo (cool bright colours) but couldn’t resist the yellow! Esme’s remark was that these colours looked like the CMYK print out you get on the photocopier. Hmm. I told him and he laughed. I think he was remembering this book:
Anyway I still like the Mosaic and I think with some changes it has legs.
The second designer is family – my step daughter Charlotte.
Charlotte actually works in book design, with a focus on picture books, and has lots of experience with craft books. So when I showed her what the other designer had done she sent her alternative through. I hadn’t asked her to do it as she has been unwell recently, but she has agreed to take on the project. The pictures were ones she had already so not done specially for me.
But I have now been over there with a suit case full of clothes and objects and she is going to paint them. Although her design did not win universal approval I think we can work with it. What I like about it is the white back ground with colour on it. In a sense it reminds me of this, and this. I really love of lots of colour against a white background.
The items I have selected for Charlotte, that represent projects in the book and items I have made, and other things that have a sentimental meaning are as follows:
- Christening robe for Kit (and hat) and printing materials
- Pink EZ nordic jumper
- Girl Guide top (mine)
- Notting Hill Housing hard hat
- Knitted slippers
- Simple pencil skirt
- The white dress (as above, with the colourful drawings)
- The lake with a sunset
- Home made jeans
- Crochet skirt
- Sleeveless jumper
- Schiaparelli mad cap
- Silver jewelery
It sounds like what the kids put in time capsules… Anything you would add?
And again, to all those who offered your opinions and experiences – thank you once again.
Hmm it had occurred to me that I might have embarassed myself with frankness. I love the clients from hell cover, the designers equivalent of the dressmaker’s client who brings a garment three sizes too small to fix, then puts on another half a stone. The project is a fascinating departure, and it can’t help but reflect who you are.
NO YELLOW! Lol you just don’t do yellow, it’s all pink and blue and green and purple, and as you say, lots of white. The mosaic still leaves me cold I’m afraid, it’s like epilepsy, way too fussy and makes my eyes hurt. I love negative space in designs, calmer AND more dynamic in one go.
Thanks for your most gracious reply Kate—I too worried that I’d blasted my opinions a little too freely. It’s an enormous project you are tackling; my hat is off to you! I think Vancouver Barbara is on to something though; don’t let any deadlines get in the way of being happy with the final product. I especially like that you have a family connection with the cover design. Now that IS you! Best JW
I have hurt myself laughing at the Clients From Hell cover. Partly for the “I have felt that way” to “You were the designer from hell, get over yourself mister!”
Of my college peers, I am the little girl in the corner who didn’t publish a book. I have very good friends that did. Some of these books I am not so fond of (did it need to be a book?)(aren’t you a little young for a memoir?) and some I am. None of this is my business or my responsiblity, and anyone that tells you different (and that includes that little voice in your head, Kate) is talking out of the wrong end of their digestive tract.
If someone wants to publish your book, that’s good enough. It’s good enough for you. Do you have a good editor who won’t make you look like a fool? Good. Does the cover represent what the book is TO YOU? Good. You are on the publisher’s schedule (paper don’t print itself, gal! printers have schedules) so don’t put yourself in the remainder pile before you have to, but don’t put out something you will regret. The cover is important, but the content is king.
I look forward to reading this.
Hi S. While I have considered taking it to a publisher as I mentioned above they would want the Beauty bit or the Making bit. I want to keep these sections together and include the Life bit. So I am self publishing. I will be writing about how this can be done on a low budget over the next two or three months.
I’m a little late to this discussion so I’ll just ask if there would there be room in the suitcase for Charlotte for that wonderful draped circle maxi dress you designed?
Funnily enough Char has already drawn that dress! She used it on the invitation she made for my 60th birthday. I had planned to have a photograph of it in the book.
Kate I am finding it fascinating following the progress of your book’s development. I too worried my comment was more honest than perhaps was comfortable. But I understand your aims better after today’s post.
The book is about the philosophy you have honed on how to celebrate and enhance one’s natural beauty without trying to change too much, how to make beautiful things to combat the toxic aspects of modern life and how to squeeze the most out of every day.
Because the book is so personal I agree that it needs pictures of you and the colour pink. As well as being one of your colours, pink is associated with nurture, which is one of your qualities. I am looking forward to the next instalment!
Oh very nice Bridget! You have already helped me there. I have been struggling with the one word summary and you have done it for me. I am thinking of a nice photo of me on the back, probably in pink….
My question about writing this book or any other book is, “who is your target buyer?” Are you aiming at people who are already crafty, beautiful, innovative but want more inspiration. Or are you aiming at people who feel scattered and need to see how well you manage to do everything so well? I like the mosaic the best as it intrigues without spelling out exactly what is inside. The reader has to open it to see what delights unfold. You would think that having a blog like mine devoted to totally bridal alterations would turn people off but folks still need to be voyeuristic and see the other side of life and imperfections. Your book has to take us down a path that we have never thought to trod.
I think you are so right Mrs Mole. Always interesting points. In terms of audience I guess the same audience as the blog which would be middle aged women with brains and curiosity. Women who are individualistic and can make things already but maybe rely on commercial patterns rather than doing their own thing. For the experienced it encourages them to push the boundary. At the same time it is available to younger women who are more mature minded – thoughtful, committed, interested in fashion, style and beauty but who feel it is all a bit superficial, and who want to learn. So the patterns are certainly possible for adventurous beginners too.
I can see a white cover coming to life with colorful drawings! As long as they pertain to you, which I’m certain is Charlotte’s goal, too. I love your response to mrsmole regarding your target audience….that’s a good group, and I’ll happily take a place among them (even if I have to elbow my in). It’s great fun watching this all come together!
I would love you to use photographs of the things you made. What you made is beautiful, interesting, inspiring, fun and in gorgeous living colour. Why not show that? Plus you need to add shoes to the list – even though you don’t wear them you made them. That’s an incredible achievement.
You are too kind Barbara. I meant I hadn’t planned to have me on the cover, at least not a contemporary picture. But following remarks like yours I think I will have a pic of me on the back cover, presumably in pink.
A really elegant solution to all that feedback! I didn’t comment on your last post because so many others had said it already, and better than I could. The illustrated cover that your step-daughter had done was definitely my favourite, and I love the way that you’ll be able to take your making (from your list) and evolve it into new art. I can’t wait to get a copy of the book – which is surly a good sign.