Yes, there has been a bit of radio silence over the last few months. Not because I haven’t had lots to tell you about (trust me, I have a list!), but because I haven’t had a moment of brainspace or energy left to tell you about them. So rather than post a massive blog covering everything, I have started to write up lots of shorter ones that I will start to share with you over the next few weeks until I am back in step with myself.
This one is all about the rollercoaster ride that has been the publication of the Shawl Club Book. For those of you who are new to the blog, here is the background.
- Over the last couple of years I have written the crochet shawl patterns for a shawl club run by unbelievawool.
- Increasingly folk were asking when I was going to publish them.
- In January I launched a kickstarter campaign to raise funds to cover most of the costs of publishing the book. This received a really good response, meaning that we hit our target after just three days (also meaning that I had to go ahead and do it).
Now, on one level, getting the book off of the ground was easy, in that all the patterns were already written and well tested. The sticking point was the need for some good photography. I was lucky enough to find Offshoots Photography who were willing to do the shoots for me, and we had a great time pulling together the pictures and generally goofing around with friends. Picking the final selection of pictures was the hardest part. There were so many I loved that I couldn’t include in the book, including this one below of my friend playing with one of the models. But we got there.
The next job was to consider the typesetting and layout. On Facebook we had a bit of a discussion about the visual preferences and needs of people. Like me, many folk experience some form of problem with their vision, and in many cases this is linked to chronic health conditions. Everyone seemed to prefer a full page width layout to sentences, rather than the column format that is more common in pattern books. The next issue was to do with visual comfort – no harsh black on white text. The book looks like it is black on white, but in fact uses a greyscale for the main text so the contrast is softened somewhat. Finally, everyone agreed that big margins and plenty of scribble space was needed. This is the benefit of self-publishing a book – full editorial control.
Not all things go to plan. There were some incidents along the way with couriers and printers which were none’s fault but were a test of nerve at times, especially running up to the launch of the book at Wool@J13. But we got there. Just! I also had the pleasure of running some workshops at the show, teaching folk how to create the Friendship Meditation Shawl.
Self publishing does have technical and legal hoops to go through. You need to purchase an ISBN number, register that ISBN, deposit a copy of your book with the British Library and generally act as a professional publisher would. You feel the responsibility of creating something, and launching it on the world.
I am pleased to say that all the kickstarter supporters have received their copy of the book (as far as I know anyway!), and I have been able to get the book into some local yarn shops already. Yes, I do have a lot of cardboard boxes at home containing the books, but I am slowly finding places to stash them until they all go. If you want to buy a copy, drop me an email or message me on my Facebook page and I can arrange to get one out to you. Alternatively, have a chat with your local yarn shop and ask them to get in touch with me to stock it.
I do have an idea for the next book already but its a wee while off. What the process has made me do is realise that publishing crochet / knitting books is something that I really could do. I just need to lie down in a darkened room for a year first…