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Writing a book for Search Press

It was the beginning of December and an advance copy of our new book had just been delivered. Oh the joy of that euphoric moment. We were soon dancing through the pages, all beautifully brought together with the help of our Search Press team. The Sales and Marketing team had been promoting the book since August with their impressive international network, while we were busily chatting about it on our buzzing social media platforms. Since then the weeks have passed by in a festive whirl: Christmas, New Year and now the book has been published. The close of one chapter and the opening of another. Exciting times for us and a big ‘thank you’ to Search Press for their tireless support and belief in us. 

Roz and Judy – The Woolly Felters  Front cover Back cover
Judy and Roz – The Woolly Felters and their book Needle Felting for Beginners.

So, you might be wondering what it is like to write a book about the craft you love. Having written two books for Search Press now – How to Make Little Needle Felted Teddy Bears was our first, it is an inspiring journey. If you are curious about the process, relax with a cuppa and read on. Here we tell you all about it from the first sparky idea right through to the glorious moment of publication. First, meet our team: 

Left to right: Me (Roz), Lyndsey, Marrianne, Katie, Mary and Judy.

Caroline & Martin
Caroline and Martin

David & Juan  Mark
David and Juan, Mark

Our journey started with Editorial Director Katie French who had faith in us and commissioned our new book; our lovely editor Lyndsey Dodd; Design Manager Marrianne Miall who designed our book so beautifully, and Publicity Manager Mary Ellingham who loves what we do. Others have been involved as well: Head of Design Juan Hayward who skilfully created all the styled studio shots, Photographer Mark Davison whose professionalism and sensitivity kept us going through the long studio days, freelance Photographer Stacy Grant who produced such a fine collection of finished styled shots and big thanks are due to the publishing committee who approved our idea: Katie, Managing Director and Director Martin and Caroline de la Bedoyere, and Sales and Marketing Director David Grant. 

During our years of workshops and talks we realized that there could be a need for a new book for newbie needle felters, but we had to think more broadly about our rapidly growing international audience to make sure there was a real need for the idea. For the next few weeks we spent time researching what was happening ‘out there’. We checked all the social media platforms, then we did some trend spotting online, browsed through textile and fibre art magazines, spoke to other needle felters and our workshop students, looked at published books, visited forums and investigated suppliers (it is wise to find out about the availability of materials internationally). We finally agreed that we should go ahead, and that although the book should be aimed at those new to the craft, we should also include fresh ideas for more experienced needle felters. Now it was time to write a proposal outlining our thoughts.

 Proposal outline Proposal outline Sheep
For the proposal: scribbly sketches, our draft contents list, an outline and a few worked up projects.

Having already written one book for Search Press we knew that we did not have to think about the size or number of pages. It was far more important for us to relay our ideas clearly. We started scribbling sketches for project ideas then drafted a contents list. Next, we collated our research notes and wrote an outline. A few of the project ideas were also worked up and photographs taken. When we were happy with everything we sent the contents list, outline and images off to Katie with fingers crossed! There was a nail biting waiting period while the publishing committee made their decision. Then, what joy. Imagine our delight when the proposal was approved.

You are probably wondering about payment at this stage. A contract was drawn up after agreeing terms with Katie who then scheduled the book. After the happy signing Lyndsey arranged a planning meeting while taking over management of the book through the various editorial stages.

 In the planning meeting  Mice tips
In the planning meeting at Search Press. We love telling stories with our woolly characters and one of our ideas was to illustrate our ‘Top Tips’ with mini mice, so we took some along. We do like to include fun items in our books to make readers smile. 

Planning meetings are where editors and authors visually plan the book together on a flatplan (storyboard). So we took along our contents list, outline, some of the projects and our ideas. Lyndsey would later translate the completed flatplan into a computer layout template for us to use as a reference base. As the creative process is organic we knew that it would be better not to have any rigid ideas. Flexibility gives far better results as ideas are explored. The exchange between the editor and authors while planning is a coming together of what we know as skilled practitioners and what the publishers know about their markets. 

The computer layout arrived shortly after the meeting. Our deadline for all the writing, making, editing, photography, design and checking stages was sixteen months. So out came the diary and we started on the book immediately, knowing that time would surely fly by so we had to be focused with a forward plan.

Our flatplan and the leap into organized writing and making. It was essential to plan the process thoroughly and we had files for everything, with labelled boxes and bags for each new item.

It was great having the flatplan as a guide. We started writing and making, working meticulously through each section.  It was with joy and relief that we delivered it all to Lyndsey on time. During this period, we had to really think about photography. This would be happening in the Search Press studio and step-by-step photographic sequences had been planned throughout the book. Needle felting is not a speedy craft, so it meant that as well as making all the project pieces and variations, we had to pre-prepare many of the stages. There was no time for woolly moments! 

 Working out text Making templates
Following the contents list we worked logically through the flatplan writing text, drawing templates and making all the basic technique elements and projects.

The number one rule when the photography sessions start is not to forget anything, so we arrived at the studio with a car piled high with all our materials and makes. Our photographer, Mark, was already there waiting. Lyndsey had arrived with a shot list plus an up-to-date layout, with all our text neatly in place.

 In the studio 
While Judy, Lyndsey and Mark were setting up the first photograph of the day, I was busy behind the scenes arranging everything into organized sequences while anticipating the next shot. Remember two words when in the studio and you will be fine: ‘be organized!’ We had labelled and meticulously prepared everything which made the process a lot quicker and easier. 

We settled into a routine after a while. Lyndsey managed the shot list and added her notes to the layout, I fed everything through to Judy while anticipating each shot and Mark, with his impressive skill, was great to work with. When studio styled shots were needed, Juan joined us and created wonderful pictures with artful ease. The rest of the styled project shots were going to be freelanced out to photographer Stacy Grant, so at the end of the shoot we packed up our finished pieces and left them with Lyndsey, and crammed everything into the car with many thanks to the team for their input and help.

Mark photographing dogs Lyndsey in the studio Birds in the studio
It is all about the lighting, the angle of the shot and a steady hand. The birds are waiting in the wings!

There were a number of checking stages after the text and photographs come together and it was so exciting seeing how far we had come on our new book journey. Finally, after everything had been read, re-read and approved by Lyndsey and ourselves, we could relax. The final check was complete, the cover approved and it was time for us to fly off on holiday for a beach, surfing and sailing holiday with family in America.

Checking the proofs
Checking the proofs with a little help from our woolly friends.

The wait between sending the book off to the printer and publication seems like an eternity. In reality, you receive an advance copy after approximately 6 weeks then there is a period of waiting until that magic publication day when your authors copies are received and your book is out there.
Regarding publicity, Search Press announce their books six months before publication and this is when you can start talking about it. We chatted on our social media platforms and told our workshop students, delighted with the enthusiastic response. Then the exciting day dawned when our book became available for pre-order on Search Press, Amazon and other book sites. 

Tweeting the news! Boris and book
A tweet and post on our social media platforms. We cannot stress enough the importance of using the social media network. Rather than a solid sell, we add a dash of humour and fun narratives to entertain and engage our followers.

We requested a sales pack from Sales and Marketing and this formed part of our publicity plan: leaflets and posters that we could share with our crafty community.

Sales pack
Our sales pack contained a selection of selling material so that we could promote the book on our social media platforms and in workshops and shows.

Soon opportunities were appearing. We wrote an article about our book for Rainy Williamson, editor and founder of Needle Felt magazine which is featured in the Winter issue. We love this magazine because it promotes our craft brilliantly. Then Search Press asked if we would like to take part in any forthcoming shows to publicize the book. Of course, we said yes. So, look out for us at The Creative Craft Show: Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC in Birmingham from 19th – 22nd March 2020 where we will be part of the ‘Search Press Meet the Authors’ team. We will be there signing copies of our new book with our woolly makes and would love to meet you.

Since the book was sent off to the printer there have been spin offs from our social media presence and the publicity from the book; more shows and magazine articles; we will be taking part in the South East Open Studios later this year; and our workshops are now popular gathering places for needle felters of all skill levels. Also, we are involved in an exciting needle felting project with a company (we cannot say who yet) and this will take our craft to a whole new level. Most of all though it is about sharing our knowledge with those who love this wonderful creative world.

If you would like to see more of what we do and find out where we will be with our books, visit us at:

Mo and Flo
Hey Doll - have you seen this new book? It’s published by that lovely publisher, Search Press.

You can buy your copy of Needle Felting for Beginners here.

Needle Felting for Beginners

Becoming a Search Press Author

Search Press offer great advice about becoming one of their authors on their website, so if you are considering the idea this is where you should start.

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