Sunday, 30 June 2013

The book proposal and contract

I wanted to prepare a book proposal to take to my meetings at the trade show but had no idea where to start.  I presumed they would want a brief synopsis of the book, some information about me and about the intended audience of the book as well as details of the USPs.  I looked on a few publisher's websites to read what they said about submitting proposals and I found Harriman House had a detailed proposal form available to download.

Most publishers have details on their websites of how to submit a book to them and what information they require from you, and some have proposal forms to complete too. 

The form from the Harriman House site is quite detailed but I picked out parts of it to use as a basis for my initial proposal.  I ended up creating a 3 page document with the following information:

*About the author - A paragraph about my background, what relevant experience I have and why I am the right person to write the book.

*The book - I took most a page for this.  A couple of paragraphs summary about the book followed by a bullet point breakdown of the key things I wanted to highlight about the book.

*The book plan - On the second page I told them roughly how long it would be and gave a chapter breakdown with a couple lines about each chapter.

*Extras - I plan to build a site to support the book so I gave details of this too.

They then gave feedback on the concept of the book and broke the chapters down futher and between us we drafted a more detailed proposal.   The next stage was for that proposal to be pitched at the next editors meeting which they hold every month to consider all new proposals.

This process from meeting at the trade show to the editor's meeting took around 6 weeks.  For someone as impatient as me it felt like forever but in reality I guess it's not that long.  The show was towards the end of February and by the start of April I had an offer.

© Obak | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

The contract

This is the stage at which we started discussing contract terms.  The advance, the royalties, the copyright, olbigations of both parties etc.  As you may be aware most publishers offer an advance on royalties - an upfront payment which is then deducted from the royalties you earn from the sale of the book.   This is normally split into smaller payments, on signature of the contract, when you give them the finished book and when the book is published.

Royalties wise I have no idea what the standard is given as this is something people rarely discuss, the different offers I had ranged from 6% to 12%.  As well as looking at the royalties rate you need to consider things like how many copies they are expecting to print/sell, what their distribution is like (ie. will it be widely and easily available) and do they often sell at a large discount (as that will affect how much you get per book).  It doesn't always follow that the highest royalty rate will earn you the most money. 12% of 500 sales at £12 for example (£720 in royalties) would be a lot less than 8% of 3,000 sales at £12 (£2880 in royalties).  So make sure you do the maths before accepting any offers.

Some authors have agents who go over the contract for them and negotiate the terms, in exchange for a percentage.  Others are members of the Society of Authors where you can get legal advice and get someone to go over the contract in exchange for an annual fee.  I have to admit I didn't want to part with any money for either of those options.  Luckily I have a law degree and a friend in the craft publishing industry so I went over the contract myself and asked my friend for advice.  There were are few points I went back to Search Press for clarification or changes on but within a few days we had a contract ready. 

The Search Press Offices
The contract came to me to sign and then went back to them to counter sign and we each keep a copy.  Then we scheduled in a planning meeting.  I have now been allocated an editor, Ed, up to this point I'd been dealing with the commissioning editor Roz. He will now be with me right through to the end of the process.  The planning meeting was at their offices in Kent and was a chance to meet my editor, and plan the book out page by page so we both know what I will be writing.

Then onto the exciting bit... the writing!  Up until now I've been trying to not write too much and just stick to research and notes.  I don't want to spend days writing something only to find it won't be in the book, so it was best to wait until after the planning meeting.  As I mentioned in an earlier post I wrote 20,000 words over Christmas which may have been a waste of time so I now know not the do that again.  It's funny because in fiction you normally write the book first them submit it to publishers so I thought it would be similar for this book, but at least I know for next time.

In the next post I'll let you know how the planning meeting went.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Life after Google Reader

As I'm sure all of your know by now on the 1st of July Google reader will be disappearing, not long left to go!  Now we are all having to find alternative options to stream blogs and follow them.  I spent a while reading up on all the different options, I was torn between Blog Lovin' which a lot of crafters seem to use, and Feedly.

In the end I opted for Feedly, thinking if  I didn't like it I'd switch to Blog Lovin'.  However I am really liking Feedly.  It automatically linked to my Google reader and moved all the blogs over within seconds.  It has a nice magazine style lay out which highlights the most popular blog posts at the top (the featured ones in the image).  Also it has android apps so I can synch it with my phone and tablet too.

It's very easy to add a new blog in and split blogs into categories (see the list on the left).  Now I just need the time to actually read all the posts, over 999 unread!

I've added a few new follow options to the side of this blog, to the rifht, so you can follow through Blog Lovin', subscribe by e-mail or import the RSS feed into whatever reader you are using.

What readers are you all using now and how are you finding them?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Magazine features

I just realised I'm in 3 magazines this month!  I wrote the articles ages ago and at different times so I didn't realise all 3 would be out at the same time.

First up is my guide to craft insurance which is in Craft Focus.  The issue is already out and can be downloaded for free here.  There's several useful guides in there this month, you can find my article on page 49 if you'd like to read it.

Secondly I have a guide to the laws you need to consider when selling online in new magazine Crafty. This magazine just came out today.  I love that they do pencil sketches of all the contributors, above is my one.  This issue also features the lovely Rachel from House of Pinheiro and Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons.

Last but not least I have an interview with 3 lovely stitchy men in the new issue of Sewing World.  The Men Who Sew feature meantioned on the front cover is mine.  This issue goes on sale tomorrow.  How funky is the rainbow quilt on the cover?   

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Preparing for the summer

As soon as my son went back to school after half term it suddenly dawned on me that the summer holidays are now rapidly approaching.  The last few years I've always found myself dreading summer, because as much as I love spending time with my son (James) trying to do that and continue to work 50-60 hours a week is impossible.

I end up feeling guilty when I work because I'm not doing things with him, and then distracted when I'm out with him because I know there's loads of work to do.  I blow too much money taking him on big days out to make up for the days I'm too busy to do much with him. Then by the end of the summer I'm run down and ill from all the stress and broke from all the money spent!

My little monkey at the beach last summer (wet & windy weather of course)

So I've decided that this year will be different.  I started planning a month or so ago in the hope that I can have a stress free enjoyable summer this year.  So how am I hoping to do it?

 - I've spent the last few weeks writing content for the site for the summer and getting it on in draft so all I need to do is click a button when I need it.

- I plan to write a few posts for the blog and save them in draft, or schedule them for the summer.

- I've started scheduling social media updates for the summer, and will do the more time sensitive ones (ie. new offers, news, competition etc) each weekend when my husband is off work or evenings when my son is asleep.

- I'm going to plan and write up all the competitions for the summer so they are ready to go on the site when needed.

- All magazine work which is due in July/August or start of September will be written in the next month and submitted so I have no deadlines to worry about.

- I will not be doing any social media/SEO training except for one local job, and not visiting any shows over the holidays. 

- I've arranged for my brother to have James for 1 week of the holidays so I can write the first section of my book.  He has kids the same age and lives right by the beach so James loves going there.  I have no family nearby for help on a day to day basis so this works out best.

Exeter Quay where we go for a day trip each summer

As for activity wise and keeping control of the budget when taking James out I'm working on a list of activities split by budget:

 - Under £5 eg. local parks, museums, visiting friends/having friends over, library, bike rides
- £5 - £10 eg. swimming, soft play, bus or short train trips, cinema
-  Over £10 eg. Zoo, aquarium, longer train trips, expensive kids play places

The plan is to try and pick one from each list per week and if we end up having a big expensive trip one week then stick to the lower budget options to following week.  Fingers crossed this means I'll end the summer with my bank account and sanity intact!

The main thing I can't control or pre-schedule is the e-mails, I get around 50 most days and it will be hard keeping on top of those.  I will have to accept that I can't reply to all same day and prioritise them to work through them in the evenings and at weekends.

Do you have any tips you can share with me?  Do you think my plan will work? Please do let me know in the comments below.

UPDATED - I just realised there's no plan in there for the housework...ah well! ;-)

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Why I decided to write a book

In this post I will be talking about why I decided to write my book, and how I chose a publisher. 

Where do you start when you want to write a book?  I've always wanted to write a book but I wanted to write fiction.  I have several fiction books half written but have never had the time to finish one.  My friend Vivienne runs a craft e-publishing company - Vive Books - and has been telling me for years I should write a craft business guide.  I've always said I couldn't because I'm so busy I never have time to write more than a thousand words or so at a time.

One of Vive Books bestselling e-books
Last summer I got a book offer that I turned down, it wasn't quite the book I wanted to write and the timing was bad (school hols).  However, in the September my son started school full time and I decided it was time I started pursuing my dream.  I was hoping that if a publisher had been interested in my writing once that others would be in the future.  I write a lot for magazines and for the site, so I just had to view the book as a series of smaller articles, break it down into manageable chunks.

First of all I had to decide exactly what I was going to write about, and why my book would be different from the others (my USP).   I spent a couple of months just working on ideas and researching what was already out there, and how I would do it differently.   Obviously I can't give too much away at the moment but I will share more information closer to the release date.

Initially I thought it would be easier to share the writing with someone and approached Hilary Pullen (not related just happen to have the same fairly rare surname!) from Craft Blog UK.  She is a writer I respect and we both have complimentary knowledge.  She's also really busy with work too so I thought writing half a book each would be more manageable.  I had the idea for the book ready, chapter list drafted and luckily she agreed with the concept and was happy to get involved.  
We were both going to the trade show in February so that seemed like the ideal opportunity to speak to publishers about the book so we e-mailed a few publishers before Christmas to schedule meetings with them at the show.  I decided to write some draft chapters over Christmas/New Year to have something ready so I wrote 4 chapters, around 20,000 words.

How did we decide who to approach?   I already work with a few publishers through my site, I review books for them.  I thought it would be easier to work with a company that I already know and have contacts with and was hoping it might speed up the process a little as I wouldn't be an unknown quantity to them.  So in the end we narrowed it down to 3 and met with them at the show.   Whilst there we also got interest from a company who don't traditionally publish books but the book would have worked very well with their aims. So when we left the show we had plenty to think about!

Roz Dace - Search Press commissioning editor
Not long after the show Hilary picked up a couple of new clients for her freelance social media work and realised that she would not be able to commit to writing a book as well as dealing with the new clients.  We had already realised by that point that 2 people writing is not easier than one, it takes a lot more time to agree everything and send drafts to and fro all the time and if you don't work at the same speed it can get difficult.  I decided to go ahead alone, and I'm sure in a couple of years Hilary will have a brilliant book out too.

I knew that as much as I love Vive Books and get on well with the owner Vivienne deep down I really wanted a paper book in my hand not just an e-book so I wanted to work with a print publisher.  I visited Search Press about a year ago to write this article on my site.   Whilst I was there I was really impressed with how friendly they were, how much they respect their authors and their whole company ethos.  When it came to choosing a print publisher that is what was important to me.  I won't lie their financial offer wasn't the highest, but writing a book is a long project.  I wanted to be working with a team of people I liked as I will be working closely with them for the next couple of years.  Also I've reviewed many of their books in the past and they are quality books.

The commissiong editor Roz (pictured above) was as passionate about the book as me which was another deciding factor.  I want the publisher to love the book and to not just invest financially but also emotionally into it.  Roz will be doing a guest post shortly to say why she liked the book and what the deciding factors are for them when it comes to books and authors.

I think we all have different priorities when writing a book so I would suggest before approaching anyone working out what you want.  For me I want to fulfil my dream of seeing a book I've written on the shelf, I want to work with people I like and I hope it will be good publicity for the site too.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

I've got a book deal!

I have some exciting news to share, as you may have guessed from this post title I have a book deal!  You may have spotted the craft business guides I’ve been writing for the site and various magazines over the last few years.   I'm also an affiliate member of the CHA (Craft & Hobby Association) UK and write regular business guides for their site too. 

The book will be a guide to successfully making and marketing a creative business.  From selling online to craft fairs, social media to working with magazines, accounts to legal regulations it will all be in there. The book will be published by well known craft publishers Search Press, it’ll be on sale end of next year. 
A recent business guide in the current issue of Craft Focus
I’ve decided to blog about my experience of the whole book writing process on here, with guest posts from the publishers so you can see it from both sides of the process.  There's a tab on the top right of this blog where I will link all the book writing posts together so you can easily find them.

I know there are several other budding authors out there so I thought you may like to know what goes on behind the scenes and what the process is.  I’ll be writing the first post shortly about the book proposal and signing a deal.   Next week I’m having a planning meeting with Search Press so I’ll take some photos and blog about it once I’m back. 

Hope you all like the book when it finally hits the shelves.
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