Being the 3rd in a series of posts about a book proposal, from concept to print.

On December 31, 2006, I retired from my pesky day job. Yay! I battled my way through to the other side, and now my time, not to mention my mental energy, was my own!

flowerbasket.gifBy June 2007, the blocks were ready, and it was time to decide which publisher I wanted to submit to first. (Just in case you don’t know this, you cannot send simultaneous proposals. You have go one at a time, and wait until you hear back before submitting to the next one.)

I took a look at my bookshelf and what I saw was that I had more
That Patchwork Place titles than any other. Plus, I had heard very good things from other authors about working with the editorial staff there. I made That Patchwork Place my first choice.

Awhile back I had emailed them to ask for a proposal packet, which came promptly. I also asked what I considered to be a crucial question… did they use Adobe Illustrator? The response was, “Yes, we do,” with a little smiley face. Hot dog, I thought. I can hand them my files and it’ll be such an easy workflow!

I set to work on the manuscript and the proposal. A book of appliqué designs needs some appliqué notes as well, so I thought I would include my “Kay’s Hand Appliqué Tips.” I had a set of notes for both the freezer-paper-on-top method and the back-basting method already. Plus, I figured if the book was actually accepted, I could write up some notes about raw-edge machine appliqué too without too much trouble. I had used all three methods in stitching up the blocks.

I followed the instructions in the proposal guidelines as carefully as I could. The hardest part was filling out the “Author Background Questionnaire.” I had to include a bio, my qualifications for writing the book, my previous writing experience, and gack! personal references. I prevailed upon Tracey Brookshier of Bento Box fame and well known quilter and author Bettina Havig, whom I know through a mutual friend. Both these ladies consented to let me list them as references. Thank you!!

I also had to write a 300-400 word description of my book, then a 20-50 word version for punchier copy, as well as describe the three most important concepts, why I thought quilters would be interested in the book, and what inspired me to write it.

It’s a fact that in 1981 I kissed the Blarney Stone, so I put my best foot forward and wrote up all of the answers to the best of my ability. I pulled the designs, photos of the stitched-up blocks, and the appliqué tips into a draft manuscript. I sent the entire package, including the blocks themselves and a sample quilt, to Martingale & Company (parent company of that Patchwork Place) in July 2007.

Within a week I received an email confirming that the package had arrived. They advised me that the review process could take up to 90 days. Stay tuned!

Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Being the 2nd in a series of posts about a book proposal, from concept to print.

After I published Baskets to Appliqué in February 2006, I needed a break in my routine. I had pushed out a book every six months or so for a couple years and felt like to was time to go in another direction for my next major project. I thought to myself, “Self, it’s time to pursue that traditionally published book!”

As I said last time, I had that as a goal from the beginning, in addition to publishing my own little books. I knew going into it that it would be a different type of experience. As a self-publisher I had control over everything, but submitting a book to one of the big publishing houses is a different animal. I knew going in that I would not have control, and I was ready for that. It was something I wanted to try.

I’d also been waiting for the right concept to come to me… something that deserved a longer book with glorious color throughout. What popped up was what I called “The Little Book of Big Appliqué.” The idea was that it would be a whole collection of blocks printed in thumbnail format, with a CD included that you could stick into your computer and print out your block in the size you wanted. No more enlarging to certain percentages on your all-in-one or down at the copy shop! Also, the designs would be available to print in reversed orientation. No more tracing and flipping when you need a reversed pattern! I was hoping that a publisher would think that this modern technology would be a good added value to the book.

Posy Bunch block by Kay MackenzieSo, I set out to design a whole bunch of appliqué blocks, just an eclectic collection this time, not around any central theme. I had just done a pattern, A Spin in the Garden, with a very simple chubby bunny and flower block. The bunny was a breath of fresh air after all of the detail in Baskets, so I decided to make this my direction as well… the blocks I designed would be simple, with fewer rather than more pieces.

It took a looong time to both design and stitch up the blocks. In addition to supporting Quilt Puppy, I still had a pesky day job, and was in the process of trying to get retired from it, which was no easy feat. Anybody who’s been through this knows that they expect you to write up all of your procedures and train your replacements on top of keeping up with your actual work. My job was being eliminated and the work was going three different ways, so I had three different people to train. Plus, in a moment of insanity I agreed to take over a different desk with more responsibility for the last two months, so I was actually a wreck for awhile there and let’s just say I didn’t have a lot of mental energy left over to work on my book proposal!

Okay, thanks for listening. :)

So, March 2006 through about May 2007 were spent just working up the designs, off and on. That’s more than a year! Stay tuned for the next phase in the life of a book.

Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Kay Mackenzie

This is me. I’ m quite happy with this photo and plan to use it for the next 40 years at least. My eyes are open, and I don’t have that slightly crazed look that I do in most pictures. The reason for the success in taming my wayward face is that this photo was taken by Most Fantastic Photographer Gregory Case with his partner Elena Morera.

Gregory is renowned in the quilt world for his fabulous quilt photos. He did the photography for my last two books. He also does people, so when I needed a professional shot, I begged him to squeeze me in.

Getting a picture of myself is usually an agonizing, tortuous process, replete with much cursing, but this time it was almost pleasant. I felt like a rock star! Elena advised me on hair, wardrobe, and makeup. They sat me on a stool and adjusted the big lights, told me to turn my knees this way, my head that way, tilt it a little bit, a little more, and Elena kept darting in to tug my blouse into position. We tried different positions and camera angles, and kept going until we got one we were all happy with. (The joys of digital photography.)

And why did I need a really good professional picture of my mug? Okay, here goes. Deep breath… I’m doing a book for Martingale & Company / That Patchwork Place! I needed an author photo to go in the back of the book.

I can hardly believe that I’m writing this as fact, and you’re hearing it here first. My book is called Easy Appliqué Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes, and it’s due out in March 2009.

As you may know, I’ve published little books for quilters myself. Ever since I began my career as a designer and writer, I also had the goal of being traditionally published. I’m so excited that this flip-side goal is coming true!

This is the first of a series of articles on my experience, from concept to print. If you’ve been thinking of writing a book yourself, you may find the series of interest to you. Stay tuned!

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

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