Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Quilter’s Guide to Publishing

We talk of the men and women who helped revitalize quilting in the 1970s and moved it into a respected art form. Here is Caron Mosey, who saw a need and filled it, sharing her love and knowledge of quilting, bringing it to women across the United States. She met them in classrooms and exhibits and through her books. Her books were giant steps toward the art and landscape and pictorial quilts we enjoy creating today.

Thanks Caron for agreeing to guest blog on Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles and thank you, thank you, thank you, for stepping up and moving fabric art forward for us to enjoy today. -- Dawn

Caron Mosey in her own words:

When I was asked to be a guest blogger on Subversive Stitchers, I was so excited. I wasn’t sure what to write about, so I polled some friends and guests on my own blog for their input. Everyone I spoke with wanted to know the same thing: how do quilters get published? It’s slightly different for each individual, but here are some basic steps that worked for me.

First, in order to be a quilter/writer, it is necessary to have completed enough quilts to be knowledgeable about the quilting process.

Your work should stand out as being unique, skillful, and worthy of publishing. In other words, know the quilting process inside out! If you have never submitted your quilting in a juried show, I highly suggest you do so. It is a good idea to have your own “quilting resume”. Each time your quilt is shown or published, or each time your name is mentioned in a magazine or newspaper article, include that in your resume.

Second, you should be able to write clearly in your native language, following all those rules of grammar and punctuation your teachers pounded into you when you were young. Editors will help you with little slip ups, but they would rather not have to do that. Always put your best foot (or pen) forward.

You will want to send a sample of your manuscript to several different publishers. It is important that you find out in advance exactly what they want to see and how they want to view it. Some publishers only accept electronic documents, others still want to see a hard copy they can touch. Some will want it in a 3 ring binder, others will want it stapled. Start by locating 3-6 publishers who handle quilting books. Visit their websites and do a search for any of the following terms within their website: manuscript submissions writer’s guidelines, new books, submission guidelines. Click here for Guidelines for the American Quilter’s Society.

Whether you are writing a short article for a magazine or an entire book, it is necessary to have a unique topic. Develop your own method, pattern or quilting style – something that sets you apart from others. You will need enough samples of finished quilts and projects to show your readers. These can be created entirely by you, or you can round up your friends and tell them what you need. Provide instruction and guidance so that their quilts work for your topic. You are in the driver’s seat! A fun way to do this is to host a pre-book party, then meet regularly to stitch and compare ideas. Take photos all along the way. The more photos, the better!

When you have collected lots of great shots and ideas, take time to think through your article or book. Organize your thoughts on paper until they flow the way you want them. Write 1 or 2 chapters of the book (or 15-20 pages, depending on the type of book you are creating), and place markers within the text showing where photos should be placed. Prepare a photo sheet that contains numbered photos to go with your text, including title and caption for each photo.

Your writing sample will be sent to several publishing companies. Prepare a written explanation of the purpose of your book. Is your book for beginners or advanced quilters? Will you provide explicit patterns or is your book primarily for visual enjoyment, such as a coffee table book? Include the outline for the book and copies of the photos that go with your writing sample. Write a letter to a specific person at the company that tells who you are and what you are sending. Include all your contact information – name, address, phone numbers, email address, your website and/or blog (if you have one).

Label every single sheet with your name, working book title and copyright date (Example: The Quilter’s Guide to Publishing, copyright 2009 Caron Mosey). Number all pages consecutively, put them together the way the publisher wants to see them, and mail (email or snail mail).

Now, here is the hard part: BE PATIENT. You may hear back in four weeks, but it could be as long as months. If you don’t hear anything in three months, a friendly letter of inquiry is not out of line. You will probably receive the famous “letter of rejection.” Do not take it personally, and try not to let it sway you from your goal of being published. Read the letter carefully several times, look at any suggestions that were made, tweak your writing sample if necessary, look in the mirror, smile and say NEXT! Mail your manuscript to the next publisher on your list.

Photos: French Star Quilt and close up of same quilt's stitching. Made in 2007.

Caron Mosey is the author of America’s Pictorial Quilts and Contemporary Quilts From Traditional Designs. America’s Pictorial Quilts was written out of frustration at not finding books on pictorial quilts. It was the early 1980’s, and while you could find pictorial quilts in magazines, there wasn’t a pictorial quilt book to be found. I was blessed to be one of the first quilter/writers to be published by the brand NEW American Quilter’s Society. I participated as a teacher and exhibitor at the first AQS quilt show and contest in April of 1985, and for several years toured the country teaching what I loved: quilting.

Cyril Nelson of E.P. Dutton Publishers (now PenguinBooks,USA) became the editor for my second book, Contemporary Quilts From Traditional Designs. Cy joined me in my excitement with the changing face of quilting, and I was thrilled that he supported my second venture. I learned a lot about quilts, folk art and writing from Cyril, who sadly passed away in June of 2005.

Her complete quilting resume can be found on her website.

A couple other publishers of craft and quilting books:

C&T Publishing

Lark Books

1 comment:

Barbara Strobel Lardon said...

Excellent tutorial! Thank you!