Stitching Books and Stitching a Life
It began with the idea for a book for children about embroidery. Melanie Falick and I had collaborated on Knitting for Baby and Kids Knitting (I did the illustrations and some projects for KK). She was taking a new job as Editor of the new Crafts Division at STC. She knew I was interested in doing a children's book on embroidery and asked me if I would do it for her. It was a great opportunity and a fun project to develop. I learned a lot about working with children and realized I wanted to keep going with the stitching thing.
I met with the people at Storey Publishing who are just across the Berkshires from me in North Adams and told them I was interested in doing a stitchery book based on home decoration. They visited my home and saw what I had done with it creatively - especially with my use of color. They decided they were interested and signed me on. That idea became my new book Colorful Stitchery. C.S. gave me a chance to show the world how easy it is to stitch and to teach some of my design methods which I have developed over the years. I am really proud of the book (both books that is) and now I just hope they start selling.
Selling the stitchery books has been another learning experience. First of all, it seems that all the press and book stores want to talk about and buy is knitting, knitting, knitting. Have you noticed how many knitting books there are out there right now? It is overwhelming. Every publisher in the USA is printing them. And they're not all good. It used to be if you wanted to do a knitting book, it was very difficult to get a publisher interested. When my first two books came out, they were the ONLY knitting books published in that season. No wonder they sold - there were knitters out there - just not as many as there are now. But the world has changed and now everyone is pushing knitting. It's good for knitting in general and for that I am very happy since I haven't abandoned my knitting roots. I've had a chance to develop the Julia line and if knitting wasn't big, that never would have happened.
Selling books is a complicated effort for the publisher's sales people. Most books get sold through a distributor - whether it is a book, sewing, quilting, or crafts book distributor. What never dawned on me when I was thinking about doing my stitching books is that if a publisher only has one stitching book, a quilting distributor doesn't want to pick it up (they must order 250 copies of a book to get distributor pricing). So now I have two stitching books with two different publishers and sewing and quilting stores throughout the USA can't get them because no distributor has them. Not a smart move on my part but who knew. Luckily, both STC and Storey are developing sewing titles which should help bring my stitching books along.
If a book isn't in a store, it isn't going to sell - that's the honest truth. You can only sell so many books to the on-line world - to perhaps someone like you who is reading my blog. There are still bookstores and people still buy books in stores. And then there is the chain thing. Chains (Borders, B &N, Michael's, JoAnne's, ACMoore, etc.) rule. If they don't buy my book, I don't sell books and I don't earn back my advance and make future money. Some of the chains have picked up my books, but not all. The buyers (who leave these companies at the drop of the hat) don't have a clue who I am, nor do they know what stitchery is. You can see my destiny is not in my own hands. It's all too scary to think about. Best I don't.
I have tried hard to get publicity for both Colorful Stitchery and Kids Embroidery with a small degree of success. One really big magazine who will remain nameless was going to feature CS but then things all fell apart (no reason that I was let in on) and a different book (that the company themselves published) was featured. It's difficult and frustrating to say the least. Some days I just want to throw in the towel and find a job I don't have to think too much about - just show up and get paid. But then I will have some small degree of success and a ray of hope will light up and I'll keep plugging along.
Yesterday the ray of hope came in my P.O. Box and my e-mail in-box. There was two copies of a magazine called Creative Home and two orders for a book and a kit. In C.H. there is an eight page excerpt on Colorful Stitchery with a nice interview by a writer named Sarah Egge. Sarah interviewed me back in March and put a lot of thought into the interview. I like that because lots of writers just cobble together an article from my website. Sarah worked hard and wrote a very nice article. Thank you Sarah.
I'm hoping this will generate some excitement and maybe some of the sewing and quilting distributors will decide to buy my books so the sewing and quilting stores will have them. And then, stitchers and quilters can actually buy my books. If not, there's always my website people can order a book off of -- if they can find it.
So sorry about all the sordid publishing facts in this post. But just so all you out there in blogland don't think it's all wine and roses around this farm of ours. Kind of brings it all into reality, doesn't it? Back to work. Gotta go feed the pigs, the goats, the chickens, the sheep. And keep on plugging along on my next project. Spread the word for me.