Sunday, 14 September 2014

Promoting the book

You might think that once you have submitted your book to the publishers that the work is over.  If only!  Once the book is written and sent off to be printed you then have to focus on promoting the book.  You want to make sure that once the book is on sale people are talking about it, and will want to buy it.  The publishers do of course promote the book, but if both the author and publishers work together to promote it then you can reach many more people than just leaving it all to the publishers.

I started by building up a list of reviewers, please who would blog about the book or feature it in their magazine and tell their readers about it.  I'm lucky that in the years I've been running The Sewing Directory I've made a lot of friends who volunteered to review the book for me so I quickly built up a big list of reviewers.

SEO series for Craft Business

With the magazines it was a little harder, I wanted to offer them some content to use to promote the book because they are always looking for features.  So by writing for them and giving them free content they are more likely to feature the book. Plus I wanted to have more than just a few lines in a book review section.

The time consuming aspect is that every publication wants something different, and often something that is not just a book excerpt but written especially for them.  So I did spend several days at the start of the summer writing up features which you will see in magazines over the next few months.  They include a 6 part series of SEO for Craft Business which is both in their magazine and on their site (part 1 and part 2), a feature on content marketing and one on free apps to use for your business in Craft Focus, a 2 part feature for Sewing World on selling at craft fairs and some Ask the Expert features for Craftseller.   Plus the CHA-UK will be running some excerpts on their site and have a special discount for their members here.

My first review - in the September issue of Workbox

Review copies of my book have just started being sent out, hopefully I should receive a copy next week, the first time I will have actually seen it as a book and not just a pdf.  My first ever review has just been published in the September issue of Workbox, a needlecraft magazine.

I also got some lovely feedback from freelance journalist Sarah Moolla who writes for several of Immediate Media's craft publications including Craftseller.

She said

'Your book is fantastically useful - informative, clear and well-laid out and right up our readers' street. Very well done to you!'

Which was lovely to hear.  After spending so long writing a book I feel quite nervous about what people will think about it.  After pouring my heart and soul into it I really really want people to not only like it but find it useful.  So I am looking forward to seeing what other people say about it. 

Last but not least on the book PR was planning my launch party! Jenna who runs Exeter Sewing Machine Company kindly offered to host my launch party at her large sewing shop in Exeter.  Through running my sewing group in Exeter I know there is a really vibrant craft community there so I jumped at the chance.

We decided to hold it in mid November.  The book is due to go on sale end of October but just on the very remove off chance that the books arrive in the UK later than expected we wanted to leave a little leaway.  I suggested a Friday evening so we can offer people a drink and they won't have to get up early for work the next day!  I wanted people to be able to come by after work and then have a nice relaxing evening filled with cake, wine and networking with other creatives.   They will have copies of the book available at a discount, plus I can sign them for you.  We will also be having a raffle, and 10% off fabric purchases during the event too so you can stock up whilst you are there.  It would be too tempting to be surrounded by all their lovely fabrics and not be able to buy!

I do hope some of you can make it to the book launch.  If you can it would be great if you could comment below so we can make sure we have enough refreshments for everyone.  Or you can join the Facebook event here.

In the next post I will tell you about the lovely people who have contributed their expert tips to the book, and why I asked them to contribute.

If you'd like to pre-order the book you can find it on Amazon here (with pre-order price guarantee) or on the Search Press website here. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Festival of Quilts 2014

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days at the Festival of Quilts.  I have been a couple times in the past, just for a day and found it was never enough time.  So this year I decided to stay in Birmingham Thursday and Friday night so I could have all day Friday and most of Saturday at the show.

Surveying his domain by Lata Narayan

This meant I had enough time to have a proper look at the quilts, as well as fitting in lots of shopping and meeting up with lots of people.  I do have to admit the downside was I spent way more than I ever expected - think maybe I left a bit too much shop time on the schedule!

Paris by Anna-Karin Andermo

The quilts were breathtakingly beautiful, it was worth the extra day to be able to take my time and have a proper look at those. It does make me wish I could find some time to quilt, I felt so inspired by the quilts I saw.  The detail on the quilts was amazing, take a look at this close up of a quilt below called Norfolk by Harriet Wilson.  All those tiny little embroidery stitches.

What was even more amazing was the quilts by primary school children, they totally put my quilting to shame!

The magic of summer nature in my garden made by Mary Elton Primary School in Clevedon

I particularly like quilts (or fabric) with trees or leaves on.  They are my personal favourite.  There was a display of quilts made by countries around Europe. They each picked a season and made mini quilts with their interpretation of that season, below is one of the winter displays, from France.  It did make me realise that you don't have to make a huge quilt, but that in fact a mini quilt would take less materials and a little less time but look just as good, and can be used as a piece of art of hang on the wall.  I've decided I want to have a go at making a mini quilt.  It's on my list of things I want to try for 2015.

I got to meet up with lots of lovely people including Katy from I'm a Ginger Monkey who was there promoting her new magazine Quilt Now,  Sara from Sew Little to Say, Lynne from Lily's Quilts, Jenni from Love Patchwork and Quilting, fabric designer Nel Whatmore, Justine from Simply Solids, Linda from Search Press and many many more. If only I'd had more time to chat. I also got to meet several of my customers and sponsors who were exhibiting there.

Justine, Laura and Lisa on the Simply Solids stand

As for the shopping... it was amazing!  There was stand after stand of beautiful fabrics and lovely accessories, plus textile art and even quilts for sale. I went with good intention, I took £100 cash with me thinking I'd split that over the 2 days.  Of course by the end of day 1 that was gone!  So I took more cash out the next morning, and by the afternoon was buying on the card too.  I'm too scared to add up how much I actually spent in total, it might make me cry!  I was planning to go to the Westpoint show next month but after spending so much at this one I've decided it would be safer for me to stay at home.

My haul!

Above is a picture of my haul, in the back are 3 notebooks, 2 silk painted and one textile art one (I have a notebook addiction as well as a fabric addiction).  Next to them, on the back right, are 2 embroidery kits and some embroidery silks.  Far right is crushed walnut shells (for pincushions) and dried rose petals.  Then pretty much all the rest is fabric, some lovely Japanese fabrics, lots of nature themed ones, trees, leaves, animals etc.

Closer view of the fabrics I bought

Plus some Star Wars and Angry Birds fabrics to make things for my son and husband.  Under all of that lot is an A2 cutting board for my new sewing space, it perfectly fits that desk which is next to my sewing machine. Near the front on the left is some iron on bias for making stained glass style quilts which I fancy having a go at, perhaps one of the mini quilts I plan to make.

So as you can see I got a little carried away...  This is why I should stick to trade shows where I can't buy anything instead of retail shows!  I have no will power when it comes to fabric.

Amy Butler
I forgot to say I saw Amy Butler on the Cotton Patch stand when I was rushing past.  Unfortunately I didn't get chance to meet her but it looked like she was having a great time.

I'll leave you with a few more shots of the stunning quilts that were on display.

Fantasy to reality by Kathleen Matthews

The Frog King by Daniela Pippig

Snowing by Abeer Al-Khammash

The Magic Dream by Vera Skockova

Friday, 25 July 2014


I have to admit until I wrote my book I never realised what a time consuming job editing is.  It feels like the editing has taken much longer than the writing of the book itself!  My book is just short of 250 pages, and I have now read it from cover to cover at least 6 times in the last few months, some sections it feels like I know them word by word!  We started around the start of April and only finished editing a couple of weeks ago.

The red pen got a lot of use!

Because my book is so large we've been working through a section at a time.  My editor, Edd, goes over the section on his computer, adding in notes where he would like me to add/take away/change the text and asking questions.   I then get sent the whole section printed up on A3 sheets with lots of white space around the outside so I can write my edits and responses to his questions in.

It takes a lot of concentration reading over again and again to make sure the text makes sense, that it sounds right when reading and that there's no typos.  Then in the later stages of editing I was also looking at the layout and the design of each page to.

For me this has been the hardest stage of the book, I can quite happily write for days but found the editing draining and tiring.  However now it's all done, and the illustrations have been added in and the page layout sorted it looks amazing!  I am so incredibly proud of the book, and amazed at how good Search Press have made it look.

New cover

The last couple of weeks have been spent deciding on the cover, as much as I loved the illustrations on the first cover I think this new cover is really colourful and eye catching which should help it stand out in the shops.   What do you think?  Do you like it?

It's now only a few short months before I will have a copy of the book in my hands, and it will be in the shops.  I am really starting to get excited now!  The book was originally due to be published at the end of November but Search Press are trying to bring it forward to the end of September, so hopefully in a couple of months time the book will be here!  If you'd like to pre-order the book is now on Amazon here, so you can take advantage of their pre-order guarantee.

In my next post I'm going to tell you a bit more about the content of the book and who has contributed to it.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

New sewing room at last!

6 weeks after moving in I have finally gotten my sewing room sorted!  Only phone pics below I'm afraid so not the best quality but you'll get the gist of how it looks.  My sewing room is basically half of my bedroom.  I used an Ikea room divider shelving unit to separate off the bedroom side of the room from the sewing room side.  This does mean that both halves of the room are pretty small but I wanted to keep all my sewing things separate, don't want to be finding needles in the bed at night!

The room divider
I've made the sewing room the side by the window, with my desk right under the window so I have lots of natural light.  Plus there's a lovely view out of the window.

View from my sewing desk
Sewing desk
My sewing table is actually two £10 desks from Ikea, they are only hardboard but look and feel pretty sturdy.  For £10 each you can't go far wrong!  I wanted to have one for sewing on and one for cutting on.  In my old house I had to push the machine back to cut on the front of the desk which was a pain.  The only downside of how I've set the room up is the sockets are behind the shelves to the left of the desk, not too sure how I'm going to get an extension lead in but I will be trying at the weekend.

I've got all my sewing books right to hand, although I do have to crawl under the able to get to some of them!  Most my haberdashery is on those shelves beside the desk too, and some on the shelves behind (the two bookcases join in an L shape).  I do miss having desk drawers to keep my habby in but I'm sure I'll get used to it.

To the right of the desk I have my brilliant rainbow drawers, they are full of fabric.  They are labelled to say which colour of fabric, or type of fabric is in each.  I've also got the ironing board there but I think I need to find somewhere to leave it open ideally, and there's no socket by there so it might have to go in the bedroom side of the room.  The boxes on top of the drawers have all my stationery in.What you can't see is to the far right, beside the filing cabinet I have a stack of the boxes like the one on top of the filing cabinet, full of fabric!

It is amazing how much stuff you can fit into these shelves, plus I have things stacked up on top too.  They are good for getting lots of things into a small space.  It total the area I have for the sewing room is around 5ft x 7-8ft.  There is an awful lot of fabric and sewing books squeezed into that space!

I've just managed to find an extension lead so once I figure out how to plug it in without having to move those giant shelves full of stuff I'll be good to go.  This weekend I plan to spend several hours sewing.  I haven't decided what yet, think I need to have a browse through some of the books to choose a project.

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