I’ve have career envy of Jennifer Worick for quite some time! A friend recommended that I get in touch with her five or six years ago because we had similar writing interests. When I clicked over to her site, I was super impressed. She’d written all of these books about interesting topics, and I was a bit in awe. Fast forward to last year, when we got the chance to meet at the CHA Supershow in Chicago. I learned that we had the same publisher (Voyageur) and the same agent. I also realized how smart she was about this whole book business. When I saw that she had started to offer book proposal writing classes, I knew that she would be the perfect Q&A for my blog. She’s written 25 books, including her latest, Simple Gifts: 50 little Luxuries to Craft, Sew, Cook, & Knit (which one lucky reader will win!). Jen is full of great ideas and great advice. Here, she shares some tips for writing your book proposal and marketing yourself.

To enter the giveaway to win a copy of Simple Gifts: 50 Little Luxuries to Craft, Sew, Cook, & Knit leave a comment here by Tuesday, May 31 at noon EST.

Q: First, tell me about the workshops you've been teaching!

Worick: My pal, Kerry Colburn, and I have been asked many, many times for publishing advice. She’s an author who was an executive editor at Chronicle Books and I’m an author who was editorial director at Running Press. So we’ve been on both sides of reviewing and writing book proposals and it seemed like a natural next step to share our insight to groups of aspiring authors. So we give talks and workshops to help folks write salable proposals and learn about the publishing industry. We currently offer events in Seattle but are looking at creating e-courses and electronic multi-media kits, as well as hosting events in different cities, in the next few months.
Worick and Colburn
Q: How do craft book proposals differ from other book proposals?

Worick: Craft books, in some respects, are like cookbooks. Any sort of how-to book proposal needs to take into account that the projects will need tech editing and review for clarity and viability of projects. I think it’s helpful to include a complete list of the projects you’d plan to include, as well as step-out snapshots of a couple of projects (photos that match each step in the project).

There are a lot of craft books on the market so it’s also important to think about how your group of projects thematically hang together and are different from what’s already on the market. Are they all projects made for pets? Do they all have a floral motif? Are they all variations on a technique?

Q: How does an author make their proposal stand out from the field (either craft book proposal, or other non-fiction), and then how do you make your marketing efforts (to sell the published book) stand out from the field--especially in the craft world, which is starting to feel sort of saturated?

Worick: What Kerry and I advise in our Business of Books talks is that you first start in researching, not just your idea, but the market as well. It’s important to refine your idea based on what you see in the marketplace (both in the bookstore and online). If someone can get hundreds of free shawl patterns online to knit, what is going to make her shell out money for yours? What makes them so special? Do they all have intarsia designs that you’ve spent a long time figuring out? If there is something out there similar to yours, don’t despair. Just spend some time thinking about how to make yours more original and distinctive.

When it comes to marketing, there is a active online community for crafters so I’d recommend contributing to websites, commenting on other blogs, and writing your own blog. You’ll build up a community that can help evangelize your book when it comes out.

Q: What is the most challenging thing about doing a craft book proposal today (versus a few years ago)?

Worick: As you said, there is a lot of saturation in the market and it’s a tricky thing to find a great, specific idea that’s not TOO niche. Crafters are eager for the next thing to expand their skill set and blow their mind creatively, so if you can keep that in mind when developing your idea, you’ll strengthen its chances of being published. I wrote Backcountry Betty: Crafting in Style because I saw a desire to repurpose materials, incorporate natural elements you may have collected in a new way, and create inexpensive but clever projects.

Q: What is the most exciting thing about doing a craft book proposal today?

Worick: Well, for me, it’s two things: refining the overall concept and then brainstorming the individual projects. I don’t usually have all the projects figured out when I first develop a proposal. The creativity starts flowing and my ideas get more and more brilliant as I push myself to come up with fresh projects.

Q: Do you have like a top 3 list of the absolute best tips for pulling together your proposal (any proposal--craft or otherwise)?

Worick: Well, we have eight elements of a proposal that we talk about in our talks. But as far as tips:

1.     Do your homework. Research and refine your idea.

2.     You don’t have to write the book to sell the book.

3.     Have a trusted friend review your proposal, maybe even a non-crafter. It’s important that you don’t assume anything and that your directions make sense. And sometimes as the author, you can’t see what’s missing or unclear.

Q: How important is negotiating with the publisher? This is foreign territory for many craft book authors, who are used to dealing with customers or running a business, but not necessarily negotiating rights and things for a manuscript.

Worick: It’s often hard to advocate for ourselves when we are negotiating a book deal. But that said, there are all sorts of points that have some wiggle room. If they won’t budge on royalty, then ask for a bigger advance or a “production grant” (a fee that you can use for materials or project development that won’t be part of your royalty). You can also ask for an escalator, where your royalty will increase when you hit a certain number of sales (say 15,000 units). And know all your options, what your bottom line is, and explore self-publishing options so you can see what might make sense for you. If you want all the control, have a large online community, and want to get your book to market quickly, self-publishing an e-book might be the way to go.

Q: Finally, can you talk about why it's important to build relationships with people--agents, publishers, press people, other authors/bloggers, etc--in order to really be successful in the bookselling business?

Worick: I think anything you can do to increase your knowledge of the publishing industry will help you in your quest to get published. Reading Shelf Awareness  or subscribing to Publishers Marketplace can also help give you an idea of what deals are being made, what issues are of greatest concern to the industry, that sort of thing. You will become savvier and have a better idea of how to position yourself as the author and market your book effectively. Talk to your local bookstore staff, develop relationships with your crafting community and shops (again, both online and brick-and-mortar stores). As you build relationships and credibility, you increase your ability to market your book. You are probably already doing this naturally, because it’s where your interest lies. Just bring some mindfulness and purpose to your efforts and you’ll quickly become a desirable and marketable author.
5/24/2011 02:21:27 pm

That looks like a really interesting book. I try to handcraft gifts whenever possible, more personal.

5/24/2011 10:19:08 pm

What a creative mind! This looks like a handy book and makes me want to look at more of her stuff.

5/25/2011 03:03:53 am

I just ordered your Sew Retro book and just found the blog. I can't wait for it to arrive. I'd love to win this book, I haven't come across it before. I love to do handwork and am always looking for more ideas.


5/25/2011 01:25:59 pm

This book sounds lovely. I would love to have a copy!

5/25/2011 11:47:34 pm

I'd love to win this! Gifts are always a great excuse to craft and I'd love some ideas!

5/25/2011 11:55:31 pm

very interesting article & some great information to tuck away for future use. Thank you for sharing.

5/26/2011 12:01:53 am

This book looks awesome! I love making my own gifts for friends.

5/26/2011 12:12:52 am

I found this post by absentmindedly clicking a link on Craft Gossip. When I read the title, I almost couldn't believe my eyes—I actually copy edited both of these books! (Sew Retro and Simple Gifts)

I won't throw my name in the ring for a free copy, but I would like to say that both books were a ton of fun to work on, and well worth a read if you're a crafter. :)

Becky Green
5/26/2011 12:19:29 am

What a GORGEOUS cover to your book!!!!!!! AND I'm SURE what is in it is just as WONDERFUL!!!!!! I'm ALWAYS looking for :)

5/26/2011 12:40:50 am

Great Q & A, never occurred to me how technical it would be to write a how-to book but it does make sense. I love crafting and I am always looking for new ideas, this book could be very helpful to me.

5/26/2011 12:48:06 am

This book looks great, I'm putting it on my wishlist! I always try to make my presents so this would be handy. Thanks for the interview too, I doubt I have anything original to contribute to the craft book world but it was interesting reading.

5/26/2011 01:00:43 am

Very interesting interview.......and, I'd like to win that book.

amy in ne
5/26/2011 01:17:16 am

Thanks for the chance to win.

5/26/2011 01:30:32 am

With so many diverse interests this book seems to cover a number of them. This sounds wonderful.

Shirley Qiu
5/26/2011 01:33:43 am

I would love a chance to win the book :)

5/26/2011 01:34:15 am

I hope to win this fabulous book.

5/26/2011 02:05:04 am

Looks like a really interesting book! Would love a chance to win. Thanks!

5/26/2011 02:45:37 am

I am always looking for new gift ideas and this books sounds charming.

Cathy Green
5/26/2011 03:33:22 am

What a great book! With the economy the way it is, the ability to make nice gifts would be a great help!!

5/26/2011 04:40:28 am

This is a book I can really use b/c my family likes me to make gifts for them (:

5/26/2011 06:23:10 am

I'd love to get this and get a head start on gift making!

5/26/2011 09:56:16 am

Great interview! I have often wondered about many of those things!! I have always tried to craft gifts, more for the sentiment vs cost as it is not always cost effective, lol. I most enjoy to receive something handmade.

5/26/2011 12:03:10 pm

Great interview - although I'm not planning on writing a book, it was interesting to read some of what goes into getting one published. Thank you for an opportunity to win what looks to be a great book!

5/26/2011 03:04:08 pm

I'd love this book!

5/26/2011 07:54:16 pm

Fantastic interview and giveaway! The book looks great.

Tina S
5/26/2011 10:30:45 pm

Tina S
5/26/2011 10:32:56 pm

Love this interview! I'd love to have her book. Thanks for the opportunity!

Denise Malbrough
5/26/2011 11:39:52 pm

Would love this book! Thanks for the chance to win!

Kim R.
5/26/2011 11:50:48 pm

I'd love a chance to enter for this lovely book!
Thanks :)

5/27/2011 12:03:18 am

looks like a great book!

Julie W
5/27/2011 12:24:19 am

What a cool book! I would love to win this :) Thanks for a great giveaway!

5/27/2011 12:42:08 am

i'd love to win!

5/27/2011 12:59:35 am

I love crafts - have loved making things since I was very young! Thanks for the chance to win a book of ideas and inspiration!

5/27/2011 01:00:35 am

Wow! This book looks great - thank you for the opportunity!!!

Emily C
5/27/2011 02:37:41 am

This looks like a great book. i love crafts and give handmade things as gifts on holidays. Would love to have this book.

5/27/2011 02:38:47 am

love crafting, love small projects.this book would be a wonderful resource.
Thank you

5/27/2011 03:18:46 am

Although I especially love to make jewelry, there are many other crafts I am drawn to as well. This looks like a very interesting and informative book and I would love to win it. As presents, I try to always make them handmade. I feel that the recipient of the gift will be far more appreciative just knowing that I took the time to make the gift.

Dennis R.
5/27/2011 05:01:08 am

I do a lot of different crafts so I could use this book a lot. I do greeting cards the most but I quilt,sew and so on. I want to thank you for offering this book as a giveaway. Hope you have a great day.

Julie H.
5/27/2011 06:30:08 am

This looks to be a delightful resource for meaningful, lovely gifts to make. The title is profound, because very often in life it is a simple gift that holds lots of meaning or remembrance.
Would be thrilled to own this.

Blessings & thanks in advance,
Julie H. :-)

5/27/2011 10:51:43 am

Being a bibliophile and a crafter, this book would be an amazing item, to win or buy.

Jane T
5/27/2011 11:16:33 am

This looks like a wonderful book. I would love to win it. Thanks.

Ruth Hill
5/27/2011 12:19:06 pm

Craft Gossip shared the link to your giveaway. Please enter me.

Pat K
5/27/2011 12:33:55 pm

Your book looks so interesting. Would
love to win it and give some of these
gifts a try. Thanks for the chance.

5/27/2011 01:42:16 pm

Sounds like an awesome book to own! Those Q&a's were so interesting! Thanks for the chance to win this book.

5/27/2011 07:18:51 pm

The book sounds great!!! This would be very useful!! I LOVE IT!! PICK ME!!

5/27/2011 07:19:38 pm

I'd love to win this book!

5/27/2011 08:32:32 pm

Thanks for the interview and lovely giveaway.

5/27/2011 08:32:59 pm

Looks like a great book! thanks!

5/28/2011 05:07:37 am

This book would be an asset, I give handcrafted gifts often, they are more appreciated, and the gifts are usually in my low budget range. I can give a nicer gift this way.

5/28/2011 01:20:49 pm

What a wonderful giveaway! Thanks for the chance to enter.

5/28/2011 04:13:57 pm

I love to hear from someone who is both creatively crafty and business savvy! I would love a copy of this book.

Karen Gonyea
5/29/2011 02:22:59 am

Sounds like a great book :)

5/30/2011 02:12:21 am


5/30/2011 08:55:34 am

I came here via the Craftside blog. The book sounds great; please enter me in the contest.
Peace, Judi

5/30/2011 12:33:50 pm

Very interesting book!

5/30/2011 12:46:10 pm

Sounds like a great book. I'm in as well!

5/30/2011 10:52:16 pm

Would love to have a copy of this book. Arrived here via Craftside blog. Very interesting info. Thank you.

5/30/2011 11:16:41 pm

I am always looking for sewing and craft ideas for myself and my 3 little granddaughters. This looks to be a perfect guide for ideas and projects.

Darlene Ryan
5/31/2011 01:27:41 am

The book looks beautiful and thank you for the interview. I'm intrigued by the course as well.

5/31/2011 10:59:29 am

Thanks for the interview - very interesting for all of us potential aspiring authors! And thanks for the chance to win the book - looks great! :)

5/31/2011 11:11:07 am

I would love to win as I just adore all crafts.

3/4/2013 11:55:42 pm

Great write up you have here and very informative too. Thanks for posting it


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