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CraftCon Recap: How to Pitch Your Craft Book Idea

Another craft editor and I recently spoke at Craft Con about getting published. The goal was to share some perspective on preparing a book proposal, raising your profile, working through creative compromises with a publisher, and just generally shed some light on how to get a craft book deal. We shared the panel with two craft authors, an editor at ReadyMade, and an editor at CRAFT.

Here’s a Reader’s Digest version of what we covered:

PROPOSALS: Read these guidelines before you submit your proposal. Be sure to do your competition research – those craft shelves are crowded, so why is your book better than what’s already out there, and why would it be at home at Chronicle? Because craft books are super visual, include lots of photos of your finished projects, or send the projects themselves. (We promise to return them.) You can address your package to me. And don’t feel you need to spend a fortune on fancy packaging – I’ll see it whether it’s manila or neon. And, please, no glitter explosions.

PROCESS: We always respond to proposals, even if it’s not a match. Please be patient as we wade through the stack. If we like your idea, we will probably be in touch for more information. We then have to pitch it to our acquisitions board to decide how many copies, what price, what season, what format, and all that good stuff. We’ll make you an offer and then we’ll start working! It typically takes just over a year to go from proposal to finished books.

PLATFORMS: You don’t need to be a star on the DIY Network to get a book deal (though that helps). If you have an etsy shop, a website, a blog, or a booth at a craft fair, you have the makings of a craft platform. Be sure to send us relevant articles that you’ve written or that have been written about you. Share your blog traffic and or any sales stats. If you don’t have a blog or an etsy shop, think about starting one. Go to craft fairs, network with people in the community in person and online. Have friends who are better known than you are? Maybe they will write a foreword or a blurb for your book to add some name recognition. We get hundreds of proposals every year, so it might just help yours stand out. And remember, while one strategy is to publish the most well-known authors in the craft world, another is to debut people and concepts before anyone else knows about them. We like to be first.

CREATIVE COMPROMISES: Present the clearest vision of the project as you can up front, and we’ll present ours. Include visual examples to illustrate your ideas so that when you say “edgy” we know if you’re talking about a splash of animal print here and there or dropping the F bomb on the cover. If our visions match pretty closely, we’re in for a fun time. If your vision feels wildly different from ours, maybe you should think about going with another publisher. We’ve heard through the grapevine that we share our creative process with authors more than other publishers, but we still have a publishing strategy and aesthetic standards to live up to. We collaborate with you and ask that you collaborate with us.

Post a comment if you have other questions on how to pitch a craft book to Chronicle.

Check out more Handbound posts.

Kate Prouty
Craft Editor

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