Friday, June 24, 2011

How To Write a Craft eBook for Craft e-Revolution

A photo from my upcoming book, Handmade Holiday, Volume 1.

At Craft e-Revolution, I have created an outlet for crafty folks to be published, in a modern, yet old-fashioned way. Authors do not pay to be published--I decide what to produce. That's the old school part. The new school part is the fact that I don't offer an advance, but I do offer a hefty cut of the proceeds. Authors are paid off the selling price of the book, straight-up. Since we are both investing a lot of time and effort into the book, both the author and I are motivated to try and sell it. I see this as a win-win situation.

However, I'm not sure how many crafters know how to write a tutorial ebook. If that's you, but you have a good idea for a book, then maybe you just don't know how you will proceed. I can help with that! That's what this post is about.

Many tutorials have only step-by-step directions, and that's it. The ebooks that I want to read (and therefore the ones I write and publish) will have photographs of every step of the process. Most people are visual learners, therefore I believe craft tutorials should be full of photos.

But where to begin? Writing a craft tutorial ebook is not as daunting as you might think. I will outline my process below. It works for me, and I hope it will work for you. Your comments and questions are always welcome. Let me know what you are thinking!

Which to choose?

Step 1: Choose Your Craft
If you are anything like me, you will need to slow down and choose only one. If you are good at only one craft, then choose that one. Don't worry about the other books written on that
subject. That's not the point. Choose a craft that you know well, and think you could describe to others with photos and words.

I use a pocket camera, and you can, too.

Step 2: Make the Craft, Photographing Each Step and Recording Notes

This is the part that seems backwards, but it is essential to do it first, and not last. Photographing the craft should be the first thing you do to prepare your book. Take photos of every step of the process, including materials, the layout of the process, and every single step from several angles and distances. Use more light than you think is necessary. Turn on all the lights, bring in a few lamps, open the drapes.

While you are making the craft, you will have thoughts that your readers should know about.

I love my iPhone! It's amazing!

I use my iPhone's "Voice Memo" feature (shown) to record important thoughts. Your phone will probably have something similar. Turn it on, speak the note, and then pause it. Take more photos, have a thought, click the recorder, record your note, and pause it. Continue in this way throughout the crafting process. Sometimes I find myself dictating the entire book to the recorder. If you are that way, you might consider the free Dragon Dictation app for your phone. It will write what you say, and you can save the text and work with it later. Yes, this particular craft project will take you a lot longer than usual. The end result will be worth it.

I'm Drafty Drafterson!

Step 3: Begin Drafting

You think this is the hard part, and I am happy to report that you are wrong. Start drafting with photos.
  • Load the photos onto your computer, saving them in a file marked with the working title of your book.
  • Edit the photos: crop them, enhance the lighting or color, etc.
  • Save! Save! Save! Save after each photo edit!
Open up your word processing program. I write all of my ebooks in Pages (Apple software). Word will work, too. Insert the photos into the document, one by one, in order. Then, when all the photos are in the document, start drafting with the first one.

Use simple, straightforward language to tell the reader what to do. Write "Step 1, Step 2," as needed. Take notes as you go, directly in the document, about photos you still need, direction that needs elaboration, or places that you want to add information but must check on specifics first. When you've written most of it, turn on your voice notes and listen to them. Fill in any gaps with your voice notes.

Step 4: Add Value

After you have described the process, stop and take a break.


Break's over!


Now, you must add value to your book by adding information for your readers. What would make the book better? Recipes? Photos of variations of the craft? Descriptions of the variations, with more photos? A list of Internet resource links should be included, always. What about a "troubleshooting" section? An FAQ? Write these sections up, too. If you can't think of any questions that are frequently asked of you, because you are a first-time author and wtf? Please, don't worry about it. The FAQ section can be created later.

Snooty, Mustachioed Professor Judges All

Step 5: Edit It

Yes, this is the tedious part. Just do your best. Here, I'll help you:

  • Read through your draft, out loud. Trust me on this. Read every single word out loud. You will find places where you forgot to write a word, or wrote two in a row, or other silly mistakes like that. You might find spelling errors, too. Correct them! Correct your punctuation, too.
  • Open up another document (or a sticky note or simple text file), and read through your draft. Write down the first word of each sentence, making a vertical list. After your list is finished, note places where you repeat a word. Go back and re-write those sentences.
  • As above, make a list of every verb in each sentence. Active verbs (stitch, sew, pour, measure, cut) are best. Also check for repetition in this list, and go back to re-write sentences that need it.
Step 6: Put Your Author Information on the First Page

At the top of your document, insert a blank page. On this page, list your name, mailing address, phone number, email address, and a working title of your book.

Yay! You did it!

Step 7: Send it in!

Send it to me! I can't wait to read it. I love crafting and especially tutorials, which is why I am this kind of publisher. I want to read your book!

Yes, the process might take a while--I understand that. But even if you haven't written the book yet, I want to hear from you. Let me know your ideas for your book ahead of time, and we'll talk. Writing a book is a satisfying process which is fulfilling in many ways. I hope you consider it--the world wants to learn what you have to teach.

So, was this helpful to you? Please leave a comment, and let's get a conversation started.

Promises, Promises

I note that a couple of weeks back, I said that Featured Crafter was back. And then I did one featured crafter post.

And then nothing after that.

I might have one to do today--I will have to check my archives. But I'm working on my Big. Fat. Post. So please stay tuned a while longer, mmkay? Click the "Subscribe" button and you will be alerted when the BFP is up.

Carry on with your magnificent lives! Go make something extraordinary!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Featured Crafter: Rebecca George of purpleandlime

Please welcome Rebecca George of purpleandlime on Etsy, this week's featured crafter. Huzzah for bacon!

How do you find out about craft fairs in your area? Do you belong to a crafter's alliance?

I find out about craft shows in the area through word-of-mouth, Facebook, and Twitter (and sometimes I hear about a show at another show!). I'm a member of the Chicago Style Crafters Etsy group and we have regular meetings in the city. I do all of my own research for my fashion inspiration. I do not sell exclusively online; my jewelry and accessories are sold at two shops here in Chicago (Wolfbait and B-Girls, and Paper Boy) along with various craft shows.

What was the impulse to start your business?

The impulse to start my own business has been there since I was a child and wanted to be a fashion designer- I knew I would have to start my own line to express myself through fashion. After many office jobs that didn't make me happy, I figured it was now or never to use my fashion degree I had worked so hard to get in London, England.

What is your niche? Why did you choose that niche?

My niche is catering to women who love fun and color. I have heard from many of my customers that my work has a sense of humor, and that makes sense as I value humor in regular life (I love comedy, esp. British shows like Ab Fab, etc).

Which colors interest you the most right now? What is inspiring you, creatively?

Right now I am very fascinated by flowers and bold spring colors like yellow, orange, kelly green, and shades of blue. I always love to work with jersey and wool, as well as recycled eco-felt because it is so versatile and can be used on clothing and in accessories. My current collection is entitled "Houses"- inspired by dollhouses, attics, and garden flowers.

What piece of advice do you wish you had, when starting your business?

The advice I wish I had when I started was to not be afraid to ask other artists and business owners for advice! The amount I have learned from others has been so valuable and taught me so much. Pass that advice along!

What question would you like to ask our readers?

I would like to ask your readers what their favorite color is because I am fascinated with color. My boyfriend is color-blind and I always wish I could see how he sees for a day.

Are you obsessed with bacon?

LOL! I am obsessed with images and art with bacon themes, despite being a vegetarian since age 16, a big animal lover, and part Jewish. I make bacon and other breakfast items because I love iconographic, bold pop-art (like Warhol), and find it very humorous. My paternal grandfather worked for a national hot-dog and sausage company, so packaged meat was always around as a kid.

Where can we find you online?

Thanks for the interview, Rebecca! Readers, what say you? I say, "More bacon!"

Thursday, June 09, 2011

I'm back!

The Featured Crafter segment will air again tomorrow! Hooray for me healing from my illness!

Being sick sucks.

But I'm back in action, and I want to know--who are your favorite crafters online? Artfire, Etsy, individual websites--it matters not. Tell me in the comments, please. I need to build up a queue!