So You Want to Write an Arts and Crafts “How-To” Book. . .

By Steff Metal in Art Business Advice > General Art Advice

Publishing a book of how-to projects for artists and crafters definitely won’t make you rich, but it’s a great way to improve your career as an artist and build a solid brand for yourself. Plus, seeing your name on the spine of a book is pretty awesome.

So how do you go about publishing a book like this? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Flesh out your idea

What is the overall theme of your art book going to be? A how-to book needs to have something to tie it together—usually a particular medium, topic, or a certain style.

Brainstorm a variety of ideas and themes—who is the intended audience of your book? What is their skill level in a particular medium? Will your book be a range of projects in one medium, or demonstrate a variety of mediums exploring a theme?

With so many arts and crafts books on the market, your publisher is going to be looking for projects and ideas that are unusual and unique. Think about what makes your book different from other books like that on the market. Experiment with lots of different projects and figure out four or five that will really stand out to use in your book proposal.

Look at other craft books on the market in a similar niche to yours, and note the name of the publishers. These will be the publishers you pitch your craft book idea to.

2. Send a great proposal to publishers

You’ll need to create a proposal for your book. The proposal is an outline of your book and where it fits in the market. It is also an introduction to you and gives the publisher an idea of whether you will sell enough books to make publication worthwhile.

Here’s what you need to include in your book proposal:

• An overview of your book and its intended audience
• An analysis of similar art books on the market, explaining how yours is different
• A bio explaining who you are
• A marketing plan—not what you WILL do, but what you’ve done and who you know
• A table of contents including a summary of each project
• 2-3 sample chapters—I would write an introduction and at least two projects in full
• Photographs of the steps within those sample projects, as well as the finished works

Once you’ve got this proposal together, you’re ready to start pitching publishers.

3. Build your author platform

More than any other feature of your proposal, your author platform will be what convinces a publisher to take a shot at your book. You need to show that you already have an audience of followers and fans who would be interested in purchasing your book.

Creating a blog is a great way to build an author platform, so is contributing art tutorials to magazines, writing for arts-related publications, having a successful online store, lots of followers on Facebook or Pinterest, or having a presence as a well-known local artist. Anything that is quantifiable in the eyes of a publisher is part of your author platform.

It may be that before you pitch your book, you need to spend some time building your author platform through writing a blog, publishing in magazines and leveraging social media. The more impressive your author platform is, the better your chances of publication.

Publishing a book of how-to projects for artists probably won’t make you rich, but it is a great way to reach a wider audience and add “book author” to your resume. (And it’s a lot of fun, too!)

So if you think you’ve got a great idea for a book, begin at step 1 above, and start brainstorming today. . . it may not take long for something amazing to take shape!


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