I’ve finished knitting three of the four blanks, and am close to finishing the final one. Knitting blanks is boring and repetitive, but redeemed (at least in part) by being one-handed – which means I can read while knitting. So I have been reading The Culture of Craft, which is a collection of essays on craft, edited by Peter Dormer. It provides some interesting views on craft, both in terms of the external world and the internal world of the craftsperson, and also addresses the eternal art vs. craft discussion, focusing on the sociology of the art world and of the craft world, and why the two rarely meet. It also works on defining precisely what constitutes craft. It’s a thought-provoking book, and I’m glad I’ve read it.
I have also ordered a bunch more books on craft. Since I am writing a book on craft, it seems to me that reading a number of other books on craft would be useful, so I get a broad look at what people are writing, what styles they choose, what concepts they consider important. Basically I want a look at the landscape of books on craft. So I asked WeaveTech (a mailing list for weavers) for good books on craft – either philosophy or about the author’s personal relationship with craft – and will start chewing my way through those.
Finally, I have decided that the unifying theme for my book will be the story of the wedding-dress. It’s an interesting story, and provides all sorts of illustrative examples for the essay themes. I also have loads of documentation on it, from my blog! So it won’t be hard to recall the details, the daily ups and downs. I think a book is more compelling with a unifying theme, and this will provide a narrative transition between ideas.
Next up is to map the story of the wedding-dress onto the subjects that I want to cover, and put together an outline. This will help me avoid the dreaded “blank page” syndrome by giving me topics to write about at each stage of the narrative. Once that is complete (probably another day or two) I’ll start writing in earnest.
I think I’ve also decided to self-publish. Reason one is that weaving is a niche craft, so a story about weaving, intertwined with observations on craft, is unlikely to interest publishers. It’s not going to be a best-seller, unless something unexpected happens, and they (understandably) have their eye on profit. If it were about knitting, which has about ten or fifteen times the audience, it might be more interesting to them.
Reason two is simple: the economics of self-publishing make it possible to make the book way less expensive to the reader, while still taking home more money. Going to a print publisher nets you only 7-15% of the book price. Selling an ebook on Amazon means you take home 70% of the book price. That means I can price the book at $4.25 and make roughly the same profit as if the publisher were selling the same book for $21 (!). While print-on-demand is more expensive than e-book publishing, the same principle applies – I could reduce cost to reader substantially while making more money. Which would also let me sell more copies. Win-win situation!
The question, of course, is whether I can self-promote the book enough to sell any copies at all. But I have some audience as it stands, and I think I can promote it enough to make some money at it. I’m not basically about profit here – I want to write this book because I think it will be interesting to write, I’ll learn a lot while writing it, and it will be interesting/thought-provoking/informative to read. Like weaving, writing isn’t likely to make me even a small fraction of the money I make in my “day job”, so it’s something I do for the love of it, not the money. On the other hand, selling even 500 copies at $4.25 apiece would net me $1500 (after Amazon’s cut), which is nothing to sneeze at, either. (Even after taxes, it would pay for quite a few classes at a conference!)
So, while I have no pretty pictures, I have made considerable progress.
Still on the slate for this week: finish knitting the last blank, weave up one light panel, and revise the muslin and sloper patterns. I’m not making goals for the book since it’s basically fitting into the gaps of the work on Autumn Splendor, and it isn’t on deadline.