Last night I noticed that Sweet Shawlettes was in the top 2000 books on Amazon - 1986 to be precise and I just can't tell you how thrilled I was. In fact I'm still buzzing this morning! So much work goes into a knitting book and if you're an indie designer like me, there's no spare cash to farm out the number crunching. So knowing that knitters like my work means a lot to me, it's valuable feedback that tells me whether I'm on the right track or not. The blog tour has been fantastic, such a great way to publicise the book - I'm overwhelmed by the fabulous reviews. Read latest review by the Underground Crafter.
There are many factors that contribute to a book's success and after the author, the next most important one is the publisher. In the past I've had my share of trials and tribulations with publishers and come to the conclusion that there has to be trust on both sides - trust from the publisher that the designer will deliver the goods on time in a professional manner and trust from the designer that the publisher will honour the contract, be true to the designer's vision in the making of the book, and lastly and very importantly, distribute and promote it well.
At this point I should say that I'm really pleased by the way things turned out with Taunton. They did a fabulous job and I can't thank them enough. I was given complete control over yarns, stitches, colours, styles, techniques - something I really value. I was kept in the loop about each process of the book's production, consulted on the book's design and to my utmost surprise and great relief the editors at Taunton actually listened.
However, in a previous hardcover book that shall for now be nameless, in the same situation I was treated like a jobbing author and ended up with a book I hated, where the images reflected completely different sweaters to the ones I'd designed. The book was supposed to have the title Audrey Style but no homework had been done and at the eleventh hour when I thought I'd sent the book on its way, the rug was pulled from under and all mention of Audrey had to be deleted. This was because the publisher refused to pay the five figure sum which the Audrey estate demanded for the right to use her name. I'm sure many other companies have gone ahead willy nilly and I'm not advocating or condoning this, I just think it's the publisher's job to be aware of these things before commissioning a book.
The publishers were obviously misguided in more than one way, as they didn't seem to trust the designer they had chosen, ie me, to come up with the goods. The designs were chosen by a committee of which I was not a member. I was asked to submit many sketches with suggested yarns and colours, then had to accept their choices and colours and execute the designs. I did my best and thought the book could still be a success but I hadn't counted on the way they photographed it. I'm sure technically it was spot on, but the languid ladies-that-lunch, dreary styling on models that were a million miles away from how Audrey would have looked wearing them, made me want to weep.
I remembered my original intro, full of references to Audrey, which of course had to be completely rewritten. Here's an excerpt: