Today’s business of quilting topic, getting published, is probably one of the more “glamorous” aspects of making quilting your business. It’s the goal of many quilting bloggers and can be exciting for both the amateur and professional quilter. I’ve been published several times in magazines, and I’m currently working on a book with Martingale, so I will be happy to share a few of my experiences.
At QuiltCon in 2013 with Charming Chevrons – the start of my modern quilting career. And yes – I do own more than one shirt, this one just happens to be my favorite!
I came back from QuiltCon in 2013 on fire and ready to take on the modern quilting world! Although it has always been one of my goals to write about and publish my work, it wasn’t until I was inspired by the success of other modern quilters, that I actually took the necessary steps to make my goals become a reality. This is what I constantly ask myself, “What actions would you take today if you weren’t afraid of rejection or failure?”
Trust me, for every success I’ve shared publicly, there are plenty of failures and mishaps along the way! I think the key to long-lasting success is to get up, dust yourself off, and keep going. It’s worked for me so far. :-)
So, how do you go about getting published?
Honestly, it’s as easy (or as hard) as contacting the publishing company and finding out what their submissions guidelines are, then following the steps. You need to come up with a good idea, be flexible, work well with deadlines, and be patient!
Colorful Chevrons, inspired by my original quilt, Charming Chevrons
When I submitted my first design idea to Quilty magazine, I included a picture of my Charming Chevrons quilt just to show an example of my work. Well, guess what – they weren’t interested in my design submission, but they loved the chevron quilt! So I reworked it into a larger size with a fresh color scheme, and it ended up making the cover. All because I was willing to adapt. :-)
Did I Say Be Patient?
It took me 6 months to narrow my focus and come up with a really good book proposal to submit to Martingale. Then it took another 5 months to get approval and receive the book contract. It won’t even be published until next summer, so no spoilers yet – you’ll just have to wait!
For the magazine, I first contacted them in March of 2013, received the contract in April, sent the quilt off in June, and it was published in the November 2013 issue. So yes, patience is a virtue when comes to writing a book or a magazine pattern. And my best advice? Don’t send anything without a contract. I’m speaking from experience here. :-)
What About the Money?
The amount of payment and ownership rights vary depending on each publishing company and the length of the article/book/pattern/topic. Magazines and most compilations usually pay each contributor a one-time fee whereas book royalties are usually tied to the volume of sales. Also, some fabric companies may provide free fabrics for the projects in exchange for a mention which I think is cool.
Another perk I have discovered, is that the more I get published, the more my name gets out there, leading to further opportunities to teach, write and design. I have to admit, it is quite the ego boost to see my name in print. That’s worth it’s weight in gold, right?
Getting my name out there led to making my Herringbone quilt on commission for Camelot Fabrics, plus a pattern designing gig, teaching invitations, and extra publicity!
I also love the fact that once my book is published, I’ll be able to teach from it and have plenty of show and tell, not to mention at least a year’s worth of quilt show entries. :-)
Some authors choose to go the self-publishing route, but for me that just seems like too much work. I’d rather let the professionals handle the layout, editing and distribution, so I can spend my time on the fun parts – pattern writing and quilt-making! (If you are interested in writing and publishing your own stand-alone patterns, I covered that in an earlier topic here.)
A Winning Submission
If you are wanting to get published, I would recommend starting with a magazine. There are so many of them out there, and one of them is bound to like your original design! One word of caution though – it’s bad form to submit the same idea to several different magazines at the same time, so don’t do it!
I design all of my quilts in EQ7, both personally and professionally.
Most designers use some sort of design software like EQ7, or Adobe Illustrator, but hand drawn sketches are also usually okay, too. Magazines prefer to start with drawings and sketches rather than actual physical quilts. If it’s your first submission, it’s great idea if you can include a picture of a finished sample of your work. Try to brainstorm a couple of different designs and match up each idea with the magazine that seems like it would be the best fit. For example, you wouldn’t submit a traditional quilt design to a modern magazine, etc. Then send off your idea(s) and forget about them for awhile.
I recently asked Karen Burns, the acquisitions editor for Martingale, her best advice on writing a winning book proposal. Here’s what she had to say:
“Put a lot of thought into the ‘hook’ of the book, and the designs. Having 14-16 pretty quilts alone doesn’t work anymore. What makes them special? What makes people want to buy your book? What are you teaching them that they just “need” to know? Is there a technique that is used that is new and exciting? What would make the consumer want/need this book? What is different about the book, than what is out there?
“Contact the acquisitions editor of the publisher, and work with them. The acquisitions editors are always happy to help, encourage, and coach. Also, it is important to realize that writing a book takes a lot of work, but the end result, (a great book!) is totally worth it.”
Thanks Karen! Wise words indeed. I hope this encourages you to jump in and give it a try if you want to get published. The worst they can do is say no, and they may just say yes. :-)
When I was doing research and talking to others about their publishing experiences, quilting instructor and author Deb Karasik said to me, “writing a book will change your life!” That statement both encourages me and scares me at the same time. But I’ve jumped on the bandwagon now, and I have a feeling it’s going to be a wild ride!