Self Publishing: Thoughts and Process
When I started my business in October, it never occured to me that I would do anything but self-publish my patterns. Obviously every type of publishing has its benefits and drawbacks, but the control freak in me LOVES being totally in charge of every aspect of my pattern - from the design to the layout to the photography. I can pretty much do what I want. From a monetary standpoint as well, for every pattern I sell I get the profit, minus only the minimal paypal and Etsy or Ravelry fees.
However, one of the major drawbacks is that the entirety of the time and money outlay is mine. In particular, I find the marketing elements of design hard. I have been lucky with publicity, but I know I need to do more and lack the motivation and skills. And as much as I love developing patterns, it is not as easy as throwing down a few bits of instruction on a piece of paper. Everything from the yarn choice to the writing up to the sizing is quite a time consuming process that often involves swearing.
I start the whole process with a very clear image in my head of what I want - often this is the photo I want to capture of the finished item. Being VERY impatient, I usually have to start on the new idea RIGHT NOW, before I lose the motivation. I try to work with the yarns I have on hand and do tend to favour Cascade 220, patially because I love this yarn but also because with Americans being my biggest auidence, I want to work in something that will be readily available to them.
As a designer, I am particularly a fan of designing "on the hook/needles". I know that this is sneered at a bit, with many designers working from swatches and laying out the pattern first. For complicated stitch patterns and larger pieces (none of which you have seen yet...hint hint), I do some of this, but ultimately I am not good at crocheting in my head and need to see the physical piece develop to decide on design elemets. Often, this does result in more work. The Spartacus hat did go through a couple of incarnations before I got it right, which meant making aproximately 6 versions...not complete restarts, but certain elements happening a couple of times to get the package right.
Rather than sitting at the computer, I usually design by putting pen to paper for the sample size, then transfering the gauge into a sizing spreadsheet to get the range of sizes I want without having to make it over and over. I save all of the information for all of the yarns and stitch patterns I use so that I don't have to duplicate effort in the same spreadsheet. This was a hard learned lesson, after being a bit more casual and losing a lot of time by having to remake items.
One of the first things we did when publishing the Woolly Owl Hat was to develop a stylesheet for my patterns. At the time, we didn't know what it was called and I thought it was an (annoying) step Kevin was adding. However, its proved invaluable as it enables me to quickly move from a rough draft pattern scribbled on a sheet of paper and its accompanying spreadsheet to a more final draft, ensuring I remember all of the key elements patterns need, such as stitch abbreviations and sizing.
Up until recently, all of my patterns were tested by at least 2 people to ensure the pattern works and is readable. I am now working with Joanne from Not So Granny who is tech editing my patterns. Now, I only learned about tech editors (basically a super smart individual who checks the math and techniques in the pattern to ensure they are all technically correct) a few weeks ago and the moment I realised what they are, I knew I needed one. I still plan on using testers and if you are interested, I will ask in my Ravlery group for volunteers.
Throughout the whole process, I will often be trying to get photos of the finished object. I tend to do this 1:1 with the subject in question - naptime and the nursery run are often good opportunities to do this, without too much of this happening.
Even when the pattern itself is finished and ready to go, I still have a number of steps to go through before it is live. Friday's pattern is being published in partnership with Red Ted Art, with one size free and the rest for purchase on Etsy and Ravelry. To get from the point of finished pattern to publish, I still need to:
- Create a listing on Etsy which will need a special thumbnail with PDF on it to differentiate it from a listing for a finished object. It will also need the basic pattern information so people know what they are buying.
- Create an entry on Ravelry and upload the pattern to the pro section of its website for download.
- Email off the version of the pattern to Maggy, including photos with all of the links to the purchase information live. In this case, the Etsy and the Ravelry listings will be live much earlier than usual, but normally they go live just after I publish the blog post announcing the pattern, particularly if the PDF is being downloaded from here.
And the most important part of the process? The celebratory glass of wine after its all done!!