It's one thing to have a deal with a publisher for writing a (knitting) book, but it's another whole different story to be self publishing. I, for one, am happy to be doing the latter for a number of reasons, mainly around how much control I have over the project. I choose the patterns. I choose the layout. I choose the design, ethos, theme and much much more. Publishers can be restrictive, and from the research I've gathered, don't necessarily know the knitting market that well.

On the other hand, the author/designer has less risks. Publishers take the brunt of the costs. If the book is a failure, they loose the money and that's that (well, apart from the fact that that author/designer may have a struggle trying to get another publisher) The risks are removed for someone in my position.

During my research and web travels, I've found a number of articles about how the market is flooded with knitting books, this one included. We know this, it's not new news. We also know that books with a particular skill or technique as the main theme are more interesting, and more likely to succeed. To have any success, whatever you are publishing needs to have that something extra.

I'm sure I don't need to explain that I'm not doing this for the money. Band wagon jumping isn't my style. Can't deny I'd like to get an income from it but that's not the driving force. This project is as much about me as it is about the things I'm designing. I want to do this. Do I have a point to prove to myself that I'm capable? More than likely. Am I driven by the need to do something different, be something different and have that reflected in my designs? Hell, yeah. As much as I hate it, there's an element in me that needs to stand out from the crowd. Needs to be recognised for what I can do. But it has to be for my niche, not someone else's. I have often said that the minute Wormhead goes mainstream, Wormhead is no more.

Those few people that I've spoken to at length about this special project have all agreed that there is a gap in the market for what I'm doing. It's just not been explored to any great extent. The idea is something different, so couple that with my design sense and my personal mission we may (just) have a winning formula.

So far, so good (apart from the damn wrists, obviously) The designs are evolving at such a rate that I'm constantly surprised and enthralled by what develops on the needles. The special few that have seen the designs seem to be liking them. I am maturing, my brain is working and I'm enjoying it. No, I'm absolutely bloody loving it! No matter how successful the book is regards sales, it feels like I'm already achieving my goal - to do something different. For me.

Of course all of this good feeling doesn't distract from publishing dilemmas. If I'm ever gonna see this project to fruition, I need to make decisions. There are financial risks with self publishing, least of all my time. I've been a good girl, doing my research into this self publishing malarkey, and basically there are two ways of approaching it.

  • POD - print on demand, of which Lulu is the most popular. They just digitally print individual books to order. Some publishers ask for an initial financial outlay (Lulu doesn't, hence it's popularity; they just charge higher commission) but it does make it damn easy for small time authors.
  • The large print runs, the traditional method. This does require a financial outlay for the printing plates to be set up, and then for each print run. The more books you have printed, the cheaper each item becomes.
Now, this is where the problems start. Digital printing, the POD service, doesn't allow for mass manufacture. They can do it for you, but the price of each unit remains the same, whether they are printing 1 or 1000 books. When you consider that the production cost for an 80 page full colour books is £9.70, to make any profit (royalties) and pay commission (publishers fees), RRP is gonna be on the higher side. Especially if I use their global distribution service.....take into account production costs and wholesale discount, even if the book has a RRP of £25, I'd only be receiving about £2 per book. On the plus side, I wouldn't have to worry about distribution, storage of books or anything. They take care of it all. No financial risk to me, except the fact that the book will be undercut by the cheaper books out there. How many people would be prepared to pay £25+ for what is essentially a paperback pattern book?

Large print runs, the traditional method, does have a financial outlay. It might possibly require me to distribute myself, store all the books and so on. But it will allow the wholesale price to be sensible and competitive, making it more likely to be appear in a LYS near you. Now, as said trillions of times, I know my stuff isn't mainstream and nor do I want it to be. So deciding how many books to have printed would be difficult. I want to reach the right market, I know it's out there, but judging quantities, all the marketing malarkey, it's hard work. And being as we're gonna be bus dwelling pretty soon, storage and distribution are out of the question.


This, I think, is what I'm going to do. I'll sell the book individually through Lulu. With the production cost and avoiding wholesale, I can set the RRP at something much more reasonable, like £17 (depending of course on how many pages the finished book has) and still receive a half decent return for my time and efforts (not forgetting there are costs to be covered for yarn etc etc). Then I'll pimp like mad on the internet, and rely on blogs, forums, my website and kind minded souls to spread the word. I can go all out and try and get example patterns into the online magazines, try and get the book reviewed and so on.

If, then, it's proving to be successful, I can consider the bulk print runs for wholesale only. The book printed this way would have to have a different ISBN and I'd have to have the RRP at the same price as the one on Lulu, so hopefully I'd get some return per book. But only if it looks like it's gonna be worth it.

Today is saturday, right? Hopefully Mr Postie will bring my new chart software and my funky new gloves (ordered in black, obviously) so that I can do something productive and reduce the temptation to knit with dodgy wrists.

AuthorWoolly Wormhead
CategoriesBooks, Patterns