Quilters can preserve work in self-published books
“Extra, extra ... read all about it!”
At the turn of the 20th century that was the best way a newsboy could hawk newspapers on a busy street corner.
How things have changed in getting the word out to the consuming public. Nowadays, it’s all about marketing oneself via the various electronic media.
One of the newest options, courtesy of quilter and quilt historian Kyra Hicks of Arlington, Va., allows quilters to produce their own high-quality record of their quilts, their techniques, their research or their exhibitions.
Hicks says she is on a mission to help quilters preserve their works for posterity and produce their own art catalog.
Her blog, Publish Your Quilts at http://publishyourquilts.blogspot, is meant for quilters, textile artists, guilds and galleries.
She takes you step by step through a process from conception of the idea to “layout of your full-color 24- to 36-page art catalog, as well as how to write it, publish it and promote it.”
“I even talk about how to get it listed on Amazon.com so you can share your quilting with the world,” Hicks says.
Her self-publishing process requires access to Microsoft Word and the Internet and a dozen or more photos of your work. She uses an online service called CreateSpace.
Cost for such a project depends on the quilter/author, Hicks says.
You can join CreateSpace for free and upload a book title and create a book cover from nearly a dozen templates at no charge. Listing the book on Amazon.com also is free.
CreateSpace charges for interior page layout and creating a cover, but the fees are not mandatory. You can hire a freelance copy editor, book designer or cover designer separately if you desire. Or you can do it yourself for free.
Hicks says more than 75 people are following her blog at this time, and she also offers a 24-page workbook titled “How to Self-Publish Your Own Quilt Catalog: A Workbook for Quilters, Guilds, Galleries and Textile Artists,” which can be ordered for $9.95.
A quilter who recently used the online process successfully now has her self-published catalog, “Gifted: Art Quilts by African American History Makers,” listed on Amazon.com at a price of $15.99.
“Here is the greatest part of the whole process,” says Aisha Lumumba of Atlanta. “The most I can say it cost me was my time. I didn’t have to spend any money out of my pocket.”
After working on a quilt series of African American “heroes/sheros” for about four years, Lumumba wanted to document them but wasn’t sure she could afford such a publication. Then she discovered Hicks’ blog and workbook.
“I realized that I could use her formula.”
Because it’s a print-on-demand service, Lumumba didn’t have to order printed books in advance. She markets through her website, http://www.obaquilts.com, her own blog and a newsletter.
“I have found social media to be an explosive marketing tool,” Lumumba says.
Having the book available when her quilts are on exhibit will be important, too.
“A book is always something you can take with you after seeing a lovely exhibit,” she says.
Her advice to others who might want to try the process: “Don’t be intimidated. Take it step by step and it works. Also, get the best quality pictures possible.”
Lumumba also directs people to YouTube University online, saying “I’ve been amazed that I can learn how to do just about anything on there. And if you are a visual learner like me, it is a great tool.”
Without a doubt, we’ve come a long way from penciling our achievements on spiral notebook paper and stapling the pages together with Polaroid photos or even hand-drawn images.
One of Hicks’ recommendations for today’s self-publishers is: Proofread your quilt catalog before approving it, either online or by purchasing a physical copy. The purchase price varies by the number of pages.
“It’s likely less than $20, with shipping,” she says.
Hicks’ quilts have appeared in more than 40 exhibits in the United States and abroad. Her “Black Barbie Quilt” is in the permanent collection of the Fenimore Art Museum in Coopers- town, N.Y., as is her “Patriotic Quilt” at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York City.
She says her goal is to help the 21 million quilters in the United States preserve their quilts for posterity. We spend $3.8 billion a year on quilting, a serious investment of time and money.
“I am excited about the possibility for quilters to produce printed catalogs of their works, to show their quilts in their splendor or just to pass their sewing techniques and inspirations on to other quilters,” Hicks says.
If this sounds like a project you’d be interested in pursuing, it won’t cost you anything to read through Hicks’ instructions on her Publish Your Quilts blog. It might be worth your while.