I'm excited to be returning to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC to teach "Designing for Publication." The class is Sunday, December 3, from 2-5 p.m. and is suitable for all crafters, not just crocheters. More information is here.
I really feel like this class is a return to my roots! I've been a freelance writer since 1987, mostly travel and features (my first crochet book came out in 2006), and I have taught freelance writing and travel writing in adult evening school. Many of my students have gotten their work published.
There is a balance between the creative side and the business side. You can be the most brilliant crocheter, or novelist, or food critic, but that's not enough to get your work published. There is protocol to follow, analysis to be done, self-promotion to convey, and more details than you can probably imagine...and that's all before you get the assignment! When you work in the craft field, there are very specific requirements for how your package should be submitted to a publisher. Ignore those rules at your own peril. Same with deadlines. You'll need to keep track of your expenses, fees, and taxes, too, so there's a bit of bookkeeping involved.
I am not the world's most creative designer. Sure, I've come up with some nice things, maybe better than average, but nothing like the awesome garments I see on Ravelry and elsewhere. However, I am exceptionally good at project management, organization, and communication, and editors value working with me as much for that as for the creativity I bring to the table. I attribute some of those skills to my essential nature, some to my experience as a technical writer, some to learning the value of checklists during aviation training, and some to fear--I don't want my reputation to be tarnished by missing a deadline or forgetting something important! That's a powerful motivator. And I've learned from my mistakes.
I've also had the benefit of wonderful advice from other writers and editors. (I owe a lifelong debt to my former DuPont colleague Paula Diaco, now with Write Stories Now, who introduced me to the concept of a query letter and recommended Writer's Market all those years ago.)
One thing that I will be emphasizing in class is the importance of following through on commitments. Your job is to make the editor's job easier. It's as simple as that...and, apparently, as difficult, as several recent exasperating experiences would suggest. Why does someone promise to send a press kit to me and then need me to remind him three times? Why does someone say he has put aside tickets for me to an event, but not actually do it? Why does a national trade association say decisions about teaching proposals will be made by the end of August, then, when asked on August 31st, change that to mid-September, and then let that date slip as well? (The latter is the type of situation I find the most frustrating--they set their own deadline, so why would they pick one they can't meet? It wasn't like the deadline was being imposed externally. I just don't get it.) Ugh, now I understand why my dentist feels compelled to send countless emails and texts to tell me about an upcoming appointment even though I have never missed one.
Deadlines and commitments are not aspirational. They are not something you "hope" you can make. They are promises. Occasionally things do happen that prevent someone from making good on a promise. If you break your arm, it might be impossible for you to knit a sample. Family situations arise. I get that, and so do editors--they're human, too. But you cannot sign a contract or enter into a commitment with the thought that, "Oh, I'll hand that in on this date if I have time and if it works out for me," or contact an editor on a due date and say you are going to be late. If you are not prepared to be rigorous with deadlines, conventional publishing is not for you (although self-publishing might be--we'll discuss that option in class, too).
If you are considering moving from amateur designer to published professional, this class is the place to learn what it takes. I'm eager to share my experience with crafters. It's a wonderful feeling to see your work in a book or magazine, or on a yarn company website, and this class will give you the tools you need to move toward that exciting day!