OMG! I have received my review copy of the handmade living book, which I knew would be fabulous but it has seriously exceeded my high expectations. It is the most beautiful craft book that I have ever seen. Photos, projects and content are of the highest quality.
I feel honoured to be writing this post as part of handmade living's Book Launch Blog Tour and wish to congratulate author/editor/publisher Tania McCartney and her team on their excellent accomplishment. I love that this gorgeous book highlights Australian talent and you have made us all proud!
So many of us dream of being published but where does one begin? Tania was kind enough to satisfy my curiousity (because I'm ever so nosey) and to allow me to show you some sneak pics before the official book release next week. Do read on!
How did the idea come about for the book?
The idea for handmade living came from a desire to do more for handmade designers – Handmade Canberra already supports talent via the quarterly Market and Shop in Canberra City, but we wanted to expand in other areas… and after a casual dinner meeting when I mentioned to Handmade Founder Julie Nichols “let’s write a book” – well, things just spiraled instantly.
This was February 2010 and by April we were already accepting designer applications – the response was truly overwhelming and we had to turn a lot of people down, alas. At this stage, there was just three of us – Julie as producer, me as author, editor and photographer, Tina Snerling as illustrator and graphic designer – but more Handmade girls helped as things heated up – Louise Hall, Rachel Evagelou, Jennie McClellland and Rosalind Grace, just to name a few.
Once you had the idea, how did you find a publisher? Did you use a agent?
I’m already a published and self-published author, so I knew we could do this on our own – not only due to my publishing experience – but also because Handmade Canberra is already a well-known, established and respected brand. Plus, we had a pretty stunning line-up of talent to share! and some really fabulous and dedicated people right here at Handmade to help make this vision a reality.
We published the book under Handmade Press – another ‘department’ in the Handmade Empire! (lol) and we have big plans to put out at least one book a year… 2011 will be A Handmade Christmas. Can you believe how beautiful it will be? We’re very excited.
Did you do it all yourselves or were professionals used, eg. photographers, editors? How was the book collated with so many designers involved?
We did it all ourselves. We set up a designer info pack which outlined everything involved and what designers would need to do/provide. Designers sent in applications and we processed those - taking on talent we thought was perfect for the book.
We collated the accepted designers (thank you Google docs!) and then set about accepting and collating their editorial requirements, products and/or photos. My office was piled high with product at one stage! It was overwhelming and amazing.
As the book is a combination of projects and also a showcase, some designers who had smaller 'roles' to play organized their own photos, some took their own and some had professional shots done. All photos had to be approved by our team, which ensured a high level of gorgeousness and professionalism in the book. For the designers who were featured with projects, most of the photos were styled and taken by myself (I am an experienced 'amateur' photographer) or Hilary Wardaugh, our contributing photographer. Tina Snerling also took some photos as did some of the multi-talented designers.
I have decades of editorial experience - in magazines and with books, so I edited the book and we had Handmade team members proofread it over and over - I'm proud to say I haven't found a single fault in the advance copies of the book! But it is a nerve-wracking experience making sure everything is perfect. It was a thrill to have a team so organized, professional and talented work on this book. It was a perfect set up and next year's set up will be even bigger.
With invited submissions, were there any that you had to refuse and how to do you handle that?
We did invite submissions and yes, there were many we had to turn down - some because they were not of a high enough standard, many because we just couldn't fit them and mostly because their application was too late for the deadline.
We also had to turn people down because publishing a book is a fine balancing act... between printing costs, page count, book size, page layout, shipping costs - it's a real feat in coordination. For this first book, we had to start relatively low in page count... at 176 pages. handmade living has cost us many tens of thousands of dollars to create, and that's not even taking into account a 'wage' for Julie and I - we are yet to earn a cent!
Depending on how well handmade living sells, A Handmade Christmas (2011) should allow us to go even bigger and accept more designers, which will be fantastic. The call out starts in January, so watch the website!
We started in February and sent the files to print in August – so six months of solid work – and I mean solid – there was around three months of 18-hour-days, seven days a week so it was an enormous relief to send files to print. But our work is not over yet. Putting the book together was one thing, but marketing and promoting is ongoing, never-ending and all-encompassing.
This blog tour is just part of it – we have huge book launches, signings, stalls and other events… and we won’t stop on the campaign trail to make our lesser known designers more well known. This dedicated promoting will not have an end point. In fact, there’s no end point for Handmade Canberra!
Thanks Tania, it seems that anything worthwhile takes a lot of work! I will certainly be watching out for the next book call-out. Do yourselves a favour and order handmade living. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Images are courtesy of Handmade Living.