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.


Rose Smith said...

Fiona, I am so looking forward to seeing your book and also to hearing about the process leading up to publication. I would also love to write a book but have never known where to start - and life does have such a habit of getting in the way, doesn't it. Good luck with the whole project.

Aliza Patell Ratnayaka said...

Thank you for sharing this post. Looking forward to reading more about this particular journey from you. Good luck.

Sewing Directory said...

Thank you both, I'm really enjoying writing about the process. I think it'll be interesting to look back at the end of it all and remember how much work went into it!

Vivienne at Rainbow Disks said...

Well done for writing this post Fiona. It's illuminating. Wishing you all the best with this project. I'm sure it will be first class, like everything you do! Vivienne, Vivebooks x

QuiltCandy said...

I am so excited for you Fiona! And thank you so much for sharing your journey so far, I am looking forward to the updates, and also for the publisher's point of view too. Wishing you all the best! Sarah

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