PlanetJune Craft Blog

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writing my first craft book

Last week, I got a big box in the mail. It contained all the sample projects I made for my book, Paper Chains & Garlands, and shipped off to New York over a year ago to be photographed. It’s so strange to see them again after all this time!

paperchain projects

It brought me right back to early 2009, when I was writing the book – it was my first experience of print publishing, after years of self-publishing patterns and writing web-based tutorials. I thought some of you may be interested in hearing a bit more about my experience of writing my first craft book…

paper chains and garlands

The timeline was very tight. I spent my days writing, designing, shopping for paper and tools, and learning more about how to use Adobe Illustrator for the book’s illustrations. Evenings were spent cutting, scoring, folding, gluing. I re-started every time my scissors slipped, because I was not going to have an imperfect sample in my book. I cried in frustration when my hands were too painful to hold the scissors any more, and I had to stop for the evening. I gritted my teeth and went paper shopping yet again when my editor told me that one of my colour schemes wasn’t going to work (when I’d already cut and folded over 100 pieces for the original sample!).

And then, after killing myself making 16 perfect sample garlands (of at least 5 ft long, and some much longer), the photographs in the book are all close-ups (at least my perfectionism paid off there!) and show no more than 1 ft of the garland in most cases, so most of my work was wasted… Although, now I finally have them back, I have ready-made paper decorations for every possible occasion :)

paperchain projects

All this had faded in my memory, but seeing all the paper projects brought it all back. Please don’t think I’m complaining: it was great experience and an eye-opening introduction to print publishing. The book is a Barnes & Noble exclusive (the big US bookstore chain), so it’s hard for me to gauge how successful it is, when it’s not even available to purchase here in Canada! But I see that its status at bn.com is ‘sold out’, so I assume that’s a good sign! I’ll let you know if/when it’s reprinted and available again.

paper chains and garlands

Don’t get me wrong; I’m very proud of my first craft book and happy to have been given the chance to write it. But let me just say this: if anyone tells you that writing craft books is easy and fun, they may not be telling you the whole truth…

14 Comments »

  1. Rachel said

    Thanks for sharing your experience June! How did you get set up with your publisher in the first place?

    • June said

      They saw my paper craft work on Folding Trees and approached me to write the book :)

  2. Wow! Congratulations!
    Greetings from Scotland
    Shippymolkfred

  3. photojenic said

    What an interesting story! So has your focused changed from paper to crochet now? Or do you still dabble in both? Do you think you’d ever publish a crochet book, or do you like self publishing? (Except for the stinky pattern pirates, of course!)

    • June said

      My focus was always crochet, although I really think of myself as a multi-crafter – I’m interested in a lot of things :) Folding Trees was a sideline that I set up with my friend Eve; papercrafting was just one of many crafts I’m interested in, but the opportunity to write that book was there and I seized it!

      I still love self-publishing for patterns. I love the immediacy – I finish writing a pattern today, and you can buy it tomorrow, instead of having to wait for the best part of a year for it to finally get to print. I also love the flexibility of self-publishing – you can choose which patterns you want to buy, instead of being forced to buy a collection from which you may only use one or two designs. And you can print a copy and scribble all over it to mark your place if you want – I hope people wouldn’t do that to a print book :)

      I’ve resisted writing a crochet book in the past, as all the amigurumi books I’ve seen have been pattern books. As I say, I’m not really convinced of the value of pattern books – they look pretty, but how many of the patterns from each book you buy do you actually make? For me, the real value of print books is as a reference – a tool to keep on your bookshelf so that you can look up techniques when you need them.

      So, bearing all this in mind, I have finally been tempted into writing a different kind of amigurumi book – The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi – coming to a bookstore near you this October ;)

      And, in the meantime, expect lots more self-published patterns!

  4. iHanna said

    Thank you June for sharing your story. I think you are both brave and kind to share the downs of book publishing too on your blog. There really are enough of people just remembering the great sides of making a book once it’s finished! Congrats on it, and being sold out!

  5. Love the behind the scenes… congrats on the sold out status!!!

  6. candy pulliam said

    I’ve been looking for a copy of your Paper Chains book. Havent been able to fine it any where. Any ideas on where I could purchase one?
    Thanks.
    Candy

    • June said

      If you’re in the US, you can enter your zip code on the website and see if any Barnes & Noble stores near you still have it in stock, and then pick it up – although it’s sold out on the website, there are still stocks in many stores.

      If you’re not in the US, you’re out of luck unless B&N decide to reprint it – the book is only available through B&N so you’d only be able to buy it through their website. I’m waiting to hear if they are going to order a second printing (fingers crossed!)

  7. photojenic said

    A new book?!?!? AWESOME! I hope it has all your fabulous tutes like hidden increases, etc. And if you’re looking for a chapter idea, I *desperately* need one on sewing on arms/extensions without making your project look like trash. *lolol!*

    • June said

      Hehe, well I’ve already finished writing it (it’s being edited now), but don’t worry – I’ve included tutorials on just about every amigurumi subject you could possibly imagine :)

  8. […] Finish reading the rest of the article¬†at Planet June. […]

  9. I loved reading this and would love to write a craft book one day. Its been interesting to here that it may not be all roses but most good things are not easy.
    I love your work with paper, I am going to take a look at your other work.
    I am a multi crafter to do you think your first book should be about one craft or not ?

    Melanie London England Eltham

  10. elyse said

    dear june, thank you for sharing your tale. i am in the process of writing my first craft book and it can be a little daunting despite being a dream come true. looking for some reassurance i googled “experiences writing a craft book” which lead me to this post. thank you again for putting this out there to be found.

    warmest wishes

    xo
    elyse

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    June Gilbank
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