Many aspiring pattern designers ask themselves: Should I publish my designs as patterns, the kind commonly packaged in plastic bags? Or should I publish books, staple-bound or with a spine? In the Summer issue of The Professional Quilter, pattern designer Kay Mackenzie took a look at this topic. Here’s an excerpt from her article:
Patterns and books both have their places in our wonderful world of quilting. For starters, an idea may lend itself better to one or the other. If the design’s instructions will fit on just a few pieces of paper, then a pattern seems a natural choice. If your idea is concept-driven, then perhaps a book is a better fit. Maybe you’re simply drawn to the aesthetics of one and less than attracted to the practical aspects of producing the other. Maybe one is a more natural expression of your creative juices.
Though patterns and books share some common aspects, in a lot of ways they’re different animals when it comes to getting them done. And, any time you’re thinking about getting into publishing, you’ll need to do a good bit of research. Here are just a few of the things to consider when you make your decision.
- With books, unlike pattern printing, you’ll have to decide in advance how many copies of your book to print. It’s a guessing game! Larger runs equal less cost per copy. But if you print too many, you may be stuck with cartons of books that you can’t sell. If you print too few, you can always reprint, but the cost per copy is more, making your profit margin smaller.
- Once the books are back from the printer, they’re good to go – no assembly required. You will, however, want to check them over. (Ask mehow I know that.) The trade-off is that you will need to have enough storage space on-site for all of the cartons or pay for off-site storage. The cartons must be protected from dampness, so don’t use the garage!
- Patterns will need to be assembled so you’ll need labor – either your own or some kids’ – to fold and stuff them. Patterns need lessstorage space than books because you can print them you go.
- Distributors are a major chunk of how things work in our quilting industry, and for this discussion this refers to the quilt-shop trade.(The bookstore trade is a whole other issue and worth researching if you decide you want to do a book.) You do want to sell to industry distributors, and here’s a thought about how that relates to books vs. patterns. While exceptions exist, distributors might prefer that you have a line of patterns before they will consider picking you up. Books are considered on their individual merits, so one well-made book can be submitted to distributors.
- Brush up on typography and page design principles. Don’t include too many typefaces on a page and avoid overused fonts. A couple offantastic books that will set you straight are The Non-Designer’s Design Book and The Non-Designer’s Type Book, both by design guru Robin Williams. And, think to the future. Develop a distinctive, branded look for your pattern line.
You can read more of Kay Mackenzie’s article in the Summer issue of The Professional Quilter. If your subscription is not current and you need to renew, or you want to start a new subscription, here’s a link to our order page.