The email came into my inbox just like every other email, quietly, innocuously, buried amongst the free viagra and bodily enlargement offers.
I had to read it three times - it was from a publisher at Quarto introducing herself. She was looking for an author to write a new papermaking book and wondered if I was interested. Interested? YES! Of course I was interested! I'd never written a book before and this was an opportunity of a lifetime.
I called Mary, my Mom, business partner and friend, to share the exciting news. Did we want to do it? "Of course", we said to each other! We didn't know what was involved or how to write a book, but we would learn. Yes we would! We responded to the email and pretty quickly, things got rolling.
The book's working title was originally Paper Palette and the plan was to create 300 different papermaking recipes. Each recipe would be accompanied by a photographed sample of the paper along with the instructions on how to make it. As papermakers, we loved the idea of the book being a guide for other papermakers and students of papermaking. Quarto helped us learn the publishing industry; here are my notes on "Steps to Writing Book":
We refined the list somewhat as we went along, but here are the essential steps to writing a craft book:
Step 1 - We wrote the table of contents and three double-page spreads for the book. We made samples for the spreads and sent everything to Quarto in London, England. Here's a look at one of the spreads:
The most challenging part of this first step was writing the table of contents. We had to think through the entire book including all of the chapter themes and titles, the sub-chapters, special sections like the art gallery, source guide and index. At this point, we didn't know if we'd be given the full writing contract, but we had to act like we would because the work that we were doing now would pay off later.
Step 2 - Quarto photographed and prepared the spreads; they took them to the Book Fair and presold the book to publishers around the world. This particular book was sold to Martingale in the US and Canada and several other publishers in Europe and Australia. The book was renamed 300 Papermaking Recipes. We were given a full contract. And we started writing.
Step 3 - Now the heavy work began. Using our table of contents, we wrote the book page-by-page. My Mom and I divided up the work this way:
MOM - in charge of writing the recipes and the bulk of the descriptive text
HEIDI - in charge of the logistics of book-writing and sample-making including sending materials back and forth to the editors, receiving their edits, making the edits and making sure that we met our deadlines.
BOTH OF US - responsible for dreaming up each and everyone of the 300 recipes, making and testing the recipes. Checking the drafts for accuracy and the million other little details that come from writing a craft book!
We had to be creative in creating the 300 different recipes for papermaking. We also had to be very meticulous in our records to make sure that every edit was captured in the final manuscript. Here's an example of one of the drafts with just my Mom's edits:
We backed up our writing often, kept extra paper copies tucked in safe places and after many LONG hours of writing, we finished the manuscript. Yay!
(I found that writer's block was remedied by a walk in nature, a cup of coffee or standing on my head. I often used the head-standing technique, actually)
Step 4 - With the book written and the samples made, it was time to ship the manuscript, 300 samples and our artwork for the gallery section from Winnipeg, Canada to London, England. As we packed up the last three months of our lives into one cardboard box, we PRAYED that the shipment would arrive intact. And thankfully it did.
The next step to this project was getting the photos taken. I'll talk about that next Wednesday as we continue with the story of my entrepreneurial journey, which you will see includes both the thrill of a photo shoot in London and the horror of a night in a bedbug-infested hotel. Ah, memories.
Just joining us? Read Part 1: "Maybe we could make a business out of this" or How I Became An Entrepreneur
Want to see where my company is today? Go to Botanical PaperWorks to see.