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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Have You Considered a Retrospective of Your Work?

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Have you thought about a retrospective of your, your student’s or your customer’s work? It’s a great way to showcase the work. In the Fall issue of The Professional Quilter, Gloria Hansen shared what it took to create the retrospective of her work. Here are some highlights in an excerpt from her article:

Over the years that I’ve been creating quilts, I’ve kept photos, notes, sketches and various records of nearly everything I’ve made and been involved with. This summer I took the time to compile a good deal of it into a retrospective book of my work that I titled Gloria Hansen: An Evolution in Stitches, Paint & Pixels. It’s the type of project I wholeheartedly recommend that you consider doing for yourself as a way to not only document your work (your business, etc.), but to get perspective and appreciation for your personal journey.

  1. First, determine what you want to include. I first created a loose outline and used a calendar to chart out what I hoped to finish by when.
  2. Next, gather your images and write your story.
  3. To create a professionally printed, high-quality book, I recommend using a print-on-demand (POD) service. I selected Blurb, which offers various tools for book creation. You’ll find links to a step-by-step video tutorial along with tips, tutorials and updates within a getting-started guide (all of which require you to be online), which I recommend looking at.
  4. Of paramount importance to the success any type of portfolio book is the quality of the images. Besides starting with good photographs, you can take extra steps to ensure it will print the way you intend. If you have any trouble getting a printed image to closely match what you see on your monitor, you will need to calibrate your monitor.
  5. Once your book is finished, and especially if you do the layout yourself, it’s extremely important to proof it. Don’t just rely on yourself. Have a couple of people read it for typos and look at the layout for anything that looks off.

To quote from the closing of my book, “…documenting my artwork gave me a deep appreciation for what I have experienced and accomplished, gratitude to those who helped me and motivation to carry on.” I invite you to my website ( to learn more about it, and I also again encourage you to consider writing and publishing your own story.

If you have experience creating a written retrospective, please leave your comments below.

Are You Using Testimonials to Build Your Business?

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Testimonials are a terrific way to help market your quilt or creative arts business. It’s word-of-mouth advertising, only you get to decide who hears it and what is heard. While you may get unsolicited testimonials, it’s a good idea for you to actually ask for a response. In some cases you might want to offer a thank you gift for the comment. Here are some ideas to try:

1. For the fiber artist or longarm quilter who has finished a commission, include a self-addressed stamped reply postcard with the work. Ask for comments that will help you in the future. You might try: Was the communication between quilter and customer adequate? Was the project completed in an appropriate time frame? Encourage the buyer to send you a photo of the quilt in use and ask for any other comments. If you want to thank the person giving you the testimonial, perhaps a small discount on a future order is possible.

2. For the teacher, include an additional comments line on your evaluation form. You’ll not only get ideas to improve your classes, but you’ll also get wonderful and heartfelt comments to use as testimonials.

3. Any book author can tell you how valuable the testimonial blurbs are on the back cover of their book. You will need to ask someone if he or she would be willing to write a blurb and then provide a galley copy of your book for reading. A published book might be a nice thank you for the testimonial.

4. If you sell a product to the general public, you can include a comment card in your packaging. You can request that someone leave a comment on your website or return the comment card via regular mail. Another idea would be to encourage feedback from the user. All products include some written material. You can add a couple sentences about how excited you’ll be to hear back from the user about their experiences with the product. You’ll be surprised at the response you’ll get. I think this would be quite effective for pattern designers.

5. For shop owners it’s easy to get testimonials either with a return card with a purchase or a comment card box somewhere in the store.

After you start receiving these comments, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back. You are delivering a great product and building an ongoing relationship with your customers.

What do you do with the testimonials as you get them? Be sure to include them in all your advertising. Here are some specific ideas:

1. Create a page for testimonials on your website. We have one we call Success Stories. You could also intersperse them throughout your site.

2. Include testimonials in your catalog. For example, a pattern designer might include a testimonial about how easy to follow her instructions are.

3. Include testimonials in your tri-fold brochure if you are are teacher or do commission work. It lets potential customers know the value of your work.

4. Include testimonials in any of your print ads. Study ads in magazines to see how testimonials are used.

5. Include testimonials on your product packaging, if space permits. It might be limited to just a few lines, but it could make a difference in someone buying the product.

Lastly, remember you don’t have to use the whole testimonial. You can use an excerpt, just be sure to keep it in context.

How do you gather and use testimonials in your business? Please leave a reply and share your experiences.

Have You Considered Print On Demand?

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Many quilters have a book in them and don’t know where to start. Some quilters will take the traditional route with an established publisher. Others will find their needs better met with a self-published product. In the current issue of The Professional Quilter, Gloria Hansen takes a look at an option know as Print on Demand. Here’s an excerpt from that article.

A few months ago while cleaning out an area of my basement, I came across some boxes filled with copies of a pattern I self-published into a booklet nearly two decades ago. To get high-quality color images printed on letter-sized glossy paper, I needed to have a minimum of 5,000 printed. All of these years later, more than half of them remain in the boxes. This illustrates some downsides of self-publishing – paying for an initial print run that may not sell and storing the printed material. Today a new technology greatly reduces the often high upfront fees, eliminates storage needs, and allows you to print as few or as many books as needed. It’s called Print on Demand (POD).

A range of POD companies offer “assisted self-publishing” services, including editorial guidance and design work, as part of their pricing plan. XLibris, CreateSpace, iUniverse and LuLu are examples. While these companies may offer features important to your needs, such as a wide distribution, they also require upfront fees that range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on your goals.

Another option that results in a professional end product yet doesn’t require a high upfront fee is Blurb. Blurb, was initially set up to serve the self-publishing needs of both photographers and authors. And while companies that offer digital image printing services also offer photo POD books (such as Shutterfly, Apple through iPhoto, and SnapFish), Blurb compares very favorably in the price department and also offers you the option of adding your book to Blurb’s public bookstore. Taking a look at the bookstore, the high quality is obvious. If you choose this option, you can then set a price and keep any income over the printing cost.

When questioning professional quiltmakers about their experiences with POD, Blurb was the consistent winner. You can read more of Gloria’s article about the pluses and minuses of POD and Blurb in particular, along with the experiences of several quilters who’ve used Blurb in the Spring issue of The Professional Quilter. If your membership is not current or you need to convert your subscription, click here.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Ifs, Ands & Buts

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Recently I reread A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. It’s a good read about why right-brainers will rule the future. The future, really today, is the “conceptual age.” Pink discusses the “six senses” that one uses to build a whole new mind to thrive in this conceptual age: design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. While I don’t necessarily subscribe to his premise in total – I believe we need to engage both parts of our brain – he offers lots of great exercises to get your right brain working. And even though many fiber artists are right-brained, you’ll find the exercises fun and expanding.

Onto ifs, ands & buts. In his discussion on meaning, one of Pink’s suggestions for creating more meaning in your life is to replace the word “but” with “and.” He says that “buts” can create roadblocks for creating more meaning in your life and suggests creating a list of what you are trying to accomplish and what’s in your way. Here are a few examples:

“I’d like to get these new patterns finalized, but I’ve got to pick the kids up after school.”

“I really need to create new classes, but I don’t have time to work on them.”

“I am happy with the design of my new quilt, but the color is off.”

Now replace each “but” in the sentence with “and:”

“I’d like to get these new patterns finalized, and I’ve got to pick the kids up after school.”

“I really need to create new classes, and I don’t have time to work on them.”

“I am happy with the design of my new quilt, and the color is off.”

Two things happen. First you haven’t negated the phrase before the “and.” When you use “but,” you devalued all that came before it. Second, you have, as Pink says, moved from “excuse-making mode and into “problem-solving mode.” This opens your mind to look for possibilities. It’s easy to see that when you read the sentence with the “and” your mind starts to think of how you could solve your dilemma.

In the first example, you might say, “I’d like to get these new patterns finalized and I’ve got to pick the kids up after school. So I need to make arrangements for someone else to pick them us so I can work.”

In the second example, “I really need to create new classes, and I don’t have time to work on them. So I need to look at what I can eliminate or delegate.”

In the third example, “I am happy with the design of my new quilt, and the color is off. So I need to pull some colors from the stash and see what I can change.”

I also think the same thing can happen when you use in the words “if only,” as in this example:

“I really need to create new classes, if only I had time to work on them.”

“If only” negates creating classes and leaves you in excuse-making mode. And, while you can’t make a direct swap with “and,” changing the last part will move you into problem-solving mode. Try it with “I really need to create new classes, and I need to find time to work on them.”

Next time you find yourself saying “but” or “if only,” give “and” a try. It’s made a difference for me. Let me know how it works for you.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership here.

Copyright Basics

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Earlier this year, I attended a lecture and the quilt artist, in the course of showing her work, displayed the greeting card that inspired one particular piece. She had photocopied the card, enlarged it and then made a pattern for her work. I could see no discernible difference between the card and her work. Someone from the audience inquired as to whether or not that was a copyright violation. Rightly, the artist said that yes it was. She went on to explain that she had done this when she didn’t understand copyright. Today her work is inspired by her surroundings and she does her own original work, either from her own drawings or photographs. I’m glad someone asked her about copyright, but she missed a great opportunity to teach her audience the basics by bringing it up in the first place.

I want to share another situation. Years ago at a guild meeting, one member made a presentation on copyright and how it applied to quilters. It was thoughtful, and she covered the basics and more. She summed the presentation up by passing out copies of an article she had photocopied about copyright. Do you think she missed the point?

I always say that the basics of copyright are simple: if you don’t own the copyright, you don’t have the right to copy. Many people think copyright is about the loss of income to the artist. It’s really about who decides what happens to your work. You, as the copyright owner, are the only one who can decide if and how it can be copied, adapted and distributed. Of course, copyright is more involved than that, and I think when faced with any question about copyright, your first step is to ask who owns the copyright.

What if you don’t know who owns the copyright? If the copyright was registered before 1978, the Copyright Office staff can search its records for you for a minimum fee of $330. If you are in Washington, DC, you can do this search at the Copyright Office without a charge. If the copyright was registered from 1978 to present, you can search online at the Copyright Office Web site for the records.

How do you tell if a work is still subject to copyright? For the most part, if the work was created after Jan. 1, 1978, the copyright is in effect for the life of the creator plus 70 years. If the work was created prior to Jan. 1, 1978, copyright protection varies and the specifics are rather complex. You can read the details in various circulars from the Copyright Office Web site.  Here are just a few points. If the copyright was in effect before Jan. 1, 1964, it needed to be renewed during its 28th year of the first term of its copyright and then it maintained protection for a full 95-year term. If a work was not published or registered before Jan. 1, 1978, it entered the public domain on Jan. 1, 2003 (unless publication took place by Dec. 31, 2002). And, virtually all of the work published before 1923 is in the public domain. Here’s a link to a chart on the Cornell University Web site showing copyright terms and public domain.

To learn more about copyright, here’s a link to the US Copyright Office web site . If you have specific questions about copyright, be sure to consult an attorney for clarification. Also, IAPQ members have access to an intellectual property attorney for copyright concerns.
The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership here.


PQ Café Business Series: Your “Quilt-fluence”

Friday, March 6th, 2009

cup_of_tea_with_spoonJoin us in the PQ Café on Thursday, March 12, when I talk to Jake Finch about writing to expand what she calls your “Quilt-fluence.” Jake birthed a new addiction when she began quilting 20 years ago. Five years later she plunged into teaching. Since then she’s written two books, Fast, Fun & Easy® Book Cover Art and Comfort Quilts From the Heart. She’s also a development editor for C&T Publishing and the managing editor for Mark Lipinski’s Quilter’s Home. Daily she finds herself answering questions on how the individual quilter can get her name known. Jake’s first response: Write something.

Join us when we’ll cover how to get started writing magazine articles or books, how to write a query, where to pitch your idea and more. And don’t be surprised if your quilting career really takes off as a result.

The teleclass is scheduled for Thursday, March 12 at 8 pm, Eastern Standard Time. Registration includes both the teleclass and the MP3 downloadable recording, so if you can’t come to the class, you’ll get the recording to listen to at a time that works for you. Here are details.

Hope to see you then. And, if you have questions you want me to be sure to ask Jake, just drop me an e-mail or post a comment, and I’ll try to fit them in.

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