Adventures in Self Publishing: part 1

November 19, 2019

A few years ago I sat down and started sketching blocks for an autumn-themed quilt. My eldest son was about to head off to university and, in the few weeks between his brother starting the new school year and him leaving, we sat side by side in the study, him preparing for his exciting new adventure and me sketching away, treasuring his company as the month of September rolled by.

 

 
As you can imagine, with so much time lavished on it, it was a complex quilt: each block was different and I built a little story around each one. It became the Spellbound Sampler.

 
I started writing the pattern and was looking forward to making it. And then I had a thought: could it be the seed of a book? I sketched out projects that would use individual blocks from the quilt, pored over publishers’ websites to find out how to put a book proposal together and worked on sample chapters. It was an exciting time.

 

 A test project for my book submission...


It got less exciting. Four rejections and nine months later I realised that I probably wasn’t going to write a book. I was disappointed, but I still wanted to do something positive with all those ideas and I REALLY wanted to make that quilt, which is how the Petit Four patterns were born.

And, oh my word, you loved them. The Spellbound Sampler PDF patterns were soon my bestsellers. You bought them on their own and you bought them all together as a bundle. And as I prepared for the Festival of Quilts I desperately wanted to take some kind of printed version of them with me.

 

My Spellbound Sampler quilt...


My usual printed pattern format - A5 in a ziplock bag - was perfect for individual blocks, but just wasn’t going to work for the whole set. And the printing quotes weren’t pretty... which lead me full circle to some kind of book. My ‘eureka’ moment came when a new season’s crop of mail-order catalogues came tumbling through my letter box and I started looking into printed brochures. Which, to cut an increasingly long story short, lead me to explore self publishing.

 

 The finished pattern book...


Three pattern books in I think it’s safe to say I have found out all the things you shouldn’t do and lots that you definitely should. In my next post I’ll share a quick run through of how I prepare a manuscript, mainly using the programmes that you probably have on your computer, plus the pros and cons of the self-publishing format I chose.

 

Until then, I'll leave you with one final thought: 'no' is sometimes the answer you need to hear, because there's no single right way to make anything. Just like a quilt.

Nicola xx 

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British designs by Nicola Dodd

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