Dateline: The Creative Connection Event (TCCE) Editorial Breakfast – This posh nosh was the perfect setting for the talented line up of editors/authors/entrepreneurs in publishing on stage, all generously sharing their advice to a room filled with bloggers/artists/ published authors and yet-to-be discovered talents. I nearly opted out of attending this panel discussion in order to pack my suitcases. It turns out that I am bringing more home from this discussion than I can cram into any Samsonite.
The stellar panel included (l to r in my less-than-stellar photo above): panel host and TCCE co-founder, Nancy Soriano. Next- Nicole McConville of Lark Crafts; Christen Olivarez, Stampington & Company, Tonia Davenport, North Light Books; Jo Packham, The Creative Connection Event (TCCE) co-founder; an Maryjane Butters founder of MaryJane’s Farm. .
Each of these multi-talented women has extensive experience in the craft world. They all spoke in warm, yet no-nonsense tones when it came to the desire to be published. I have been fortunate to meet and get to know some wonderful women in publishing. Much of what the panel talked about rang true to my own experience (limited & naive as it may be). I was inspired and hope that sharing some of the lessons from their chat might be helpful to you on your own journey. This list is my own interpretation. The panel spoke freely, responding to audience questions.
Ten Lessons on Craft Publishing:
- Take time to know WHY you want to be published. Be able to answer the question easily and succinctly. Know what you want to give to the reader.
- Do what you do because you love it, not as a means to a book deal. Authenticity shines and less than authentic work falls flat. (not to mention, publishing will not make you wealthy.)
- Prepare yourself to be “found.” If you blog, blog regularly. Use well produced, original photos. Be active in conversing in the craft community.
- When pursuing a particular publisher, know their other work. Look for a style that you can see working with your own. Ask yourself if the publisher that you are pursuing is a good fit for you.
- Is your work original? You may believe that you have ‘invented’ a particular style. Make an honest assessment of what is out there. Has your type of work already been published? This does not rule you out, but identify your own unique contributions.
- One great project does not a book make. Can you fill 128 pages with good stuff?
- Be Persistent, Concise and KIND. It is one thing to be inspired by “don’t take no for an answer,” but quite another to send a scathing email to a publisher when you do not hear back from her in two days. Good manners go a long way. Wait 2-3 weeks before following up.
- Prepare to WOW! When it comes to pitching & presenting, share only your best work and show it off with good photography and a carefully prepared portfolio.
- Spell well. Spell checkers are not enough. Have someone else look over your communications or come back to them after a time before sending as small errors can be spotted in a later read-through. (I am now dreading spelling errors in this post)
- “Dear Editor” lacks a certain warmth or obvious dedication. Take the time to get to know your editor’s name (and again, spelling counts here).
The women on this panel, our “paper roses” of the moment, are real people. They have to deal with crushing schedules, tough choices and answering to all of their own bosses. They spoke as if sharing a table at Starbucks, and made their amazing work sound no more difficult than what we all do. In the end, their messages were common sense. There was no unattainable, magical “how-to conquer the publishing world” answer. Look at your proposal from their perspective; look for the magic in your work and let it shine in your presentation.
TCCE put so much thought into each event. Thank you to Jo & Nancy , the TCCE team and the Where Women Create folks. We were made to feel immersed in the moment. Table settings reflected each event’s theme (the recycled paper creations were so clever), while small gifts (like our white fabric rosettes designed by Italian Girl in Georgia) let us take home a memory in something hand-crafted, bringing things full circle to why we were all here - the devotion to & promotion of a handmade life.