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Friday, 21 October 2011

The Art of Self-Publishing Your Patterns & How-to's

Make a seed bead braceletOnce upon a time, a lady lived in a small community in northern Canada wondering how she could ever sell her patterns to the world. She knew people would enjoy them and try as she might, she had a heck of a time getting people to buy them. That is until she discovered self-publishing!

Knit a pair knit a pair of slippersThis may come as a shock, but I am referring to me (a stunned silence falls over the crowd.  One can hear a single, small gasp of awe).  I have a total of 3 patterns that I have for sale and since this option has come to light for me, I have to say I am very impressed!

I sold my PDF patterns in my
Etsy shop and through PayLoadz for over a year now, but recently decided that I should give the other retailers a try.  Hands down the best success I have had to date is selling my ePatterns through Amazon on Kindle!  I have sold 6 copies over the last two weeks.  Some may think that's not much but Rome wasn't built in a day either.  And needless to mention, it's pretty cool to be able to say, "Yeah.  I'm an author on Amazon."  It's a nice ego boost!

It's also great because they offer a free ebook reader regardless of what device you are on, even your computer.  This is great because even if a potential customer doesn't have a Kindle they can still download my patterns and read them!


I continued to do a little more research and discovered that I can also sell my digital versions on Nook - the Barnes & Noble version.  Unfortunately, as a Canadian I don't have a US address, bank account, etc.  Oh but wait!  There are always other ways around these pesky little rules.  That is where Lulu.com and Smashwords.com came into play.  Lulu.com will submit your pattern to Barnes & Noble and iBookstore (it's like iTunes) for you.  Smashwords.com submits to all of the major ePub distributors including Kindle, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Kobo and more.  I'm doing both myself.  Which ever of the two gets my work into these venues first is the one I am going with.
Knit adult sized sheep slippers

So now down to the nitty gritty of preparing your document.  Formatting is easy though it may seem intimidating at first.  Make sure that your document has no extra breaks between paragraphs.  Let your control freak lapse because you are never going to be able to control how your pattern looks on every device. As long as it looks good to the guy or gal that approves it, you're golden. 

Make sure that you also remove any headers, page numbers or anything else that isn't necessary.  You can add links to your websites or blogs: they become clickable links that can help drive traffic to you.  Just make sure that they aren't on your title page.  That's a big no-no for some.

Save your pattern as a *.rtf. This is the standard document format so they can convert it into an ePub for you. When you are in your writing program as as Microsoft Office or Word or whatever you use, click the Save As option. The *rtf option will pop-up in the bar beneath the one where you enter the name of your document.  Or, you can simply save it as Your_Title.rtf.

Make sure that you follow the rules!   The different publishers require different things like a link back to them, specific copyright wording, titles that specifically match the content, etc.  Smashwords.com has a detailed Book Marketing Guide which is very helpful with this. Keep in mind that you may have to tweak your pattern a bit for each one of the publishers.   It will most likely be only the first page, but the content will remain the same.

Be patient! It takes a while to get on to some of these. Your work needs to be manually approved by the publishers and that can take some time.



A few notes to take into consideration: all the publishers take a percentage and this varies from publisher to publisher.  You won't get your full asking price so you may want to adjust it if you feel your pattern is worth specific amount of money.  I kept the prices for my patterns the same across all the publishers regardless of the percentage.  I like to keep things consistent but that's just me. 

The payments can be slow in coming.  Some pay out every quarter, some make you wait for their specified billing cycle.  Some may want a PayPal account they can send the money to or an address where they can send the cheque.  Most have a specific sales total you have to meet before they will even consider sending you your money.  $10 seems to be about standard for PayPal accounts, $100 for a cheque.  But once again, things can vary from publisher to publisher.

I know there is probably a lot more to this than what I'm sharing here, but this is what I know for sure.  I'm pretty new to this, after all.  If you know a little more about this than I do, by all means share it!  I would love to know how I can help myself further my publishing career, and yours too!

For an update on my self-publishing adventures, please check out Self-Publishing Your Patterns and How-to's (Pt. 2)

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