As you all probably know, not a large percentage of the world’s population shares our love for lace and lacemaking.
Thus, the idea of publishing a lacemaking book is not a get-rich-quick prospect.
This is my attempt to share with the lacemaking world my hard-got perspective on how I cost-effectively printed/published a book of my designs/techniques in a true NICHE market.
- Niche-market book
- Digital Printing
- Desk-top Publishing
In reading this, keep in mind that I am not a computer guru, graphic art expert, or printing/publishing employee. I am a lacemaker who had a desire to share her techniques and designs with the lacemaking world, but who at the same time had a financial constraint and thus could not afford to loose money in the attempt to become a published author.
From my years of teaching tatting, needlelace and other needlework classes and techniques locally, regionally, and nationally, I had amassed a large collection of handmade illustrations, publications, and original designs, all mostly in the form of classroom handouts. I probably started thinking about utilizing this database in the form of a book about 20 years ago.
When I first started my research into how to get a book into print (25-30 years ago) I went to seminars on ‘how to get published’. I learned about getting a literary agent and also how to submit manuscripts to commercial publishers. Even then I realized that this approach really wasn’t a viable one for the niche market of lacemaking books. There just wasn’t enough profit in lacemaking books for a publisher to bankroll such a book. I realized that self-publishing was the only way to go. At that time the only technology to print was offset lithography printing. I learned that submission of a document (book in my case) for printing was to be in digital format and that I needed a more powerful software program to layoutmy book and then be able to get it in the appropriate format for actual physical printing (a process know as prepress). Thus I set out on a new challenge to learn a complex layout program called QuarkXpress.
For several years I was challenged to learn how to utilize the layout program (QuarkXpress) in my preparation of teaching handouts as a national teacher for Spirit of Cross Stitch & Creative Arts and Teaching Shows. It was at these shows that I brought and taught lacemaking classes to a needlework/cross stitch audience. I also have taught various regional and national lacemaking classes through EGA and IOLI. It wasn’t until 2008 when I returned home from a teaching trip that I started to seriously think about publishing again. So once again I started researching options as to how to get a book printed/published. In the meantime, a new publishing/printing option had come into being called digital printing and also known in the form of Print on Demand (POD) or Book on Demand (BOD) publishing. After much research, I learned that if I was careful in choosing the right POD company, I could afford to have a book of my creation printed and that I would control all aspects of the process including not only the technical creation of the book, but also the copyrights, how much I financially invested, and the timing of when I printed and published my work.
Thus the following is my personal account of what I learned as a lacemaker traversing the computer/digital/graphic art/printing/publishing world.
It is presented as a guideline for you to learn how to turn your niche-market book into reality using cost-effective (cheap!) tools and procedures.
The process is almost completely digital meaning that almost every aspect of the book creation process from writing (layout) to submission for printing is done via the computer. This method is known as Desktop Publishing (DTP).
Keep in mind that if you choose to do this route you are known as theauthor and as the publisher. You are Self-Publishing.
It took me a while to understand that there was a difference between ‘publishing’ and ‘printing’. At the beginning of my endeavor to become a published author, I thought that I was looking for a way and/or someone to ‘publish’ my book. What I really wanted was a way to (cost-effectively) ‘print’ my book physically onto paper.
If you decide to go the traditional route of printing your book utilizing commercial offset printing companies, you must be aware that it is a very costly process. Every city has many commercial printers that are only too happy to print your book for you. Even growing up in a small town in Nebraska (population 1300 people) I was aware that the local newspaper printed books and materials as a sideline business. However, printers have minimums for an order. You will find that you will probably have to order several hundreds of copies of your book and will have to put out several thousands of dollars for that book. It you are publishing a niche-book then this amount of books will probably be over-kill and you will have tied up a lot of money in the process.
For the most part, getting a niche-market book published really comes down to getting it printed. Only the author knows which pattern goes with which photo of a lace piece, how to write the pattern, etc. Creating the pages of the book is the easy, creative part of the book producing process. The difficult part for me was finding a way to get the book into a physical form (ink on paper, paper collated into a book, cover/back, bound) — in other words, a real book.
One caveat that you need to accept if you choose the route of self-publishing is that you have to accept the responsibility of marketing your book. Self-Publishing =’s Marketing. But then that is really an offset of producing a niche-market book. I know that I could spend thousands of dollars on marketing my book and probably wouldn’t even get an additional sale. We as niche-market authors probably know our market better than anyone. Today, it is also a matter of learning how to use social media for marketing (I am still trying to figure that out now too!).