Magazine, Book or Indy publishing? The process

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I have three* projects on the go at the moment, and thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast them.

*OK, OK, I never only have three projects on the go. As always I have so many active projects I couldn’t even guess at a number. Crochet, sewing, quilting, doll repair, projects, projects everywhere. They have already fully occupied my house, and are now plotting world domination. What I mean is I have three projects for this comparison

All three projects are crochet designs for pullovers, and all are at about the same early stage of development. The one big difference between them is the goal for end publication.

Project one, working title ‘Winter Forrest’ is a submission for a magazine. Project two, working title ‘Granny Squares One’ is part of a larger idea for a book. And Project three, working title ‘Leaving Nottingham’ is a pullover I am designing with the intention of publishing the pattern on my Ravelry and Etsy shops. In other words, Independently publishing.

The two big questions I have that I can’t yet answer are these:

Which process is more time efficient?

Which process is most cost effective?

So, the plan is to document both my costs and my time over the three projects, which I can ballance against any income they may generate if I can ever turn my crochet design into more than the time consuming and expensive hobby it currently is.

Winter Forrest

The photo used as inspiration

Back when I had a day job, I saw calls for submissions everywhere. Posted on Ravelry. Popping into my in box from lists I had signed up for. It seemed as if they were not in short supply. Then I retired, moved country, and started settling in and turning my attention to my designs in a serious say. OK, submissions, where are you, lets be at this!

Que tumbleweed…

So it was with great excitement that I opened a ‘call for submissions’ email on the 20th May. I had seen two others in the preceeding four months, neither of which suited my style at all, but this one looked like a good match. Because I’m me, I responded to this state of affairs by getting profoundly anxious, flapping and pacing, and thinking how tragic it is that I’m not up to the task and couldn’t submit.

‘Yeeze, Ciara, chill out, then find out’ I told myself, and spent the next two to three hours reading through all the fine print of the call, examining their mood board, and looking at every page of their web site, especially their existing patterns. Over and over… This particular company also sells yarn, and only take submissions in their yarn, which being from across the pond I had never seen nor worked with, so I went looking for reviews and information on the sustainability and general eco-friendliness of their offerings.

By the end of day one, I had a firm idea of which yarn I wanted to create my design in, and a rappidly developing idea of a design itslef. They had a lovely pure wool in shades of silver, grey and brown that brought the image of silver birches in winter to mind. So, off to bed to think of bare trees in frosty weather.

Day one of Winter Forrest: 3 hours work, 0 financial cost to me, one panic attack

The next morning I woke with quite a clear idea, and started swatching. On my 3rd swatch I was happy with the stitch, but wanted to be sure that it would cooperate with the shaping I was planning for a top down raglan sleeve, and also that the main pattern would flow apparently seamlessly from the rib for the collar, so I made a complex swatch with a section of rib, then a section of the main body stitch with shaping. It took a few goes, but I was very happy with the end result. All this took from about 7am to about 10am, and I didn’t return to the project until evening.

A close up of part of the swatch

I had my plan (in my head) my swatch, and a very rough sketch that I wouldn’t be willing to show anyone else. The next step for a submission is usually to produce some kind of sketch to attach, and I was dreading it. But on close reading of the form they simply asked for a sketch or a picture of your inspiration.
Wow, really? You mean I can just send them a picture of some trees and we are done? Wow! Next up, I needed a scan of my swatch. Uh-oh, printer says computer doesn’t exist. I have been fighting with my printer every single day with week, and this cues panic attack number 2. My swatch is beautiful. I worked so hard on it. I need to attach it. About one hour working on the settings on my computer and scaner, reconecting to wifi over and over, nothing. the computer can send to the printer, but the printer will not send back to the computer or ipad, and insists both don’t exist.


If I posted the swatch to my father, could he scan it, and send the file back to me? ummm… seems excessively complicated, but maybe. What else can I do?

Parents not answering phone. Sucks to me me. I read the form again. Scan of swatch … optional. Hold on a minute! Optional? I’m not leaving it out when I worked so hard on it, and besides I need it to sell my idea. Unlike other designers, I don’t have a rich and elaborate portfolio up on Ravelry for them to see my skills. Not yet. That swatch has to go, but if the scan is optional, perhaps they would take a photo? See, every problem has a solution.

The closing deadline is the 1st of June, but if I leave this I will likely forget, and I don’t see anything else I can reasonably improve. I can’t afford a new printer/scanner within the next two weeks. The submission was sent as it was, with a photo of the swatch and a photo of trees I took while walking Odin a couple of years ago in place of a sketch.

So, please, Crochet Foundry, please, I could do with this boost. If I hear back from them it wont be until July, so this project is now on ice.

Running totals so far: Time – About 9 hours work over 2 days.

Started 20th May 2022

Direct costs – none. I used wool from a different project to create the swatches, but can frog back if I discover I need that small amount of yarn to finish the childs cardigan it is eventually to be for.

Indirect costs – if I’m going to set up any kind of crochet design business, I will need to invest in a new printer. Soon. That will likely set me back a few hundred, and I’ve no idea where that money will come from. It can sit in the que behind the camera, photography course, gazebo and stall furniture, and all the many other items.

Emotional costs – 3 panic attacks

Granny Square One

Ideas. Ideas ideas ideas. That’s what I’m good at, that’s what I generate at a speed I can’t keep up with. Its the finishing, finalisation and follow through I suck at.

And books. I love books. On a desert island with dogs, crochet and books I’d be quite happy. And I’m forevere coming up with plots and plans for books. Fiction, text books, its all good. So its no surprise I have a couple of ideas for a crochet book at different stages. Its unlikely any of them will get off the ground. But I have made a list of publishers I might eventually put a submission in to, a chapter by chapter outline of 2 concepts, and some draft content for one of them.

‘Granny Square One’ is from the most developed of these book ideas. because any future publisher may insist on all content being unpublished, new and unseen, I’d better not take the risk of saying or showing too much.

Granny squares just classic granny squares. you can do so much with them, including making a jumper

However, its a pullover. Made out of granny squares. I happen to have yarn I can use, and a great need for light cotton jumpers for the summer. So I figured instead of saying I’ll do it some day I may as well fully write up one sample pattern. if crochet books are anything like academic books, a publisher probably doesn’t want all patterns already written at submission, they probably want detailed plans of what you propose.
Do they then work with you to get yarn support? help with tech editors and so on and so forth? I’ve no clue. And I’m not at the point of contacting any yet. I need a bit more of a portfolio of indy designs so they would take me seriously, I am guessing. But for now, I may as well write up with sample pattern, and have the garment to wear.

So far, I’ve swiped yarn from my stash I had bought to make a blanket, because I can replace it when I’ve a bit more cash, it’s the perfect colour, and it lets me get started.

Direct costs – 0 – yarn was in my stash

Indirect costs – Rainbow hobbi 8/8 20 balls to be replaced so I can make blanket I need as a sofa throw – E35.79 would be the cost of the yarn plus shipping to buy it today.

Started: 18th May 2022


Swatching – 1 hour

making the first set of blocks and writing out instructions as I work- about 3 hours

Emotional costs: Panic attacks – 0

Time spent pacing about telling myself to get real, I cant write a book of crochet – endless

Joy and delight when I stumble on a system for neatly starting squares that is way less fiddly than a magic circle – boundless

Leaving Nottingham

So my son, who currently lives in Nottingham, is shortly moving to New Zealand for a year. He will be popping over to see me before he goes, to leave the cat with me.

I want to give him a huge Mammy hug, and something to bring with him, so he has a mammy made jumper for the time he is the other side of the world.

I’m also selfish, and am always in need of people to model my designs. Since he will be here, captive for a few days, its time to brush off the gender neutral/men’s ideas and have a few modelling jobs lined up for him. I’d already started a jacket with him in mind, but miscalculated the yardage, and didn’t have enough wool. And no spare cash this month to top up my supply. Besides, hes heading to a climate where he probably doesn’t want a super thick pure Irish wool cardigan.

There has also been an idea in my head for a while to make a pullover starting with a horizontal yoke, and work down from there, with set in sleeves worked from the top down.

Stash raided, swatching happens. The swatch for the yoke worked out perfectly, the swatch for the main body took a few goes. I rejected the stitch I liked the look of most, and settled on another one, as the feel of it was so much softer. Conor shows his neurodiversity most in his obvious sensory issues. Any jumper for him has to feel right even more than it has to look right, and I’m really happy these stitches do both.

Yoke made and joined at armholes

Time: aprox 6 hours crochet and pattern writing time so far

Started: 22nd May 2022

Direct Costs – I took this yarn from my shop stash rather than my personal stash, so I’m calling it a direct cost even though I didn’t actually put cash on the counter. Retail price – 3.60 per ball. 20 balls needed at a guess. = E72. Cost to me was wholesale, and was actually E36 for all 20 balls.

Emotional costs – emotionally processing a change such as a child travelling the world by creating and producing something – priceless.

So, that’s all three projects at the point of concept – swatch – early start with the writing out and possibly the sample making. In a few weeks I should have updates, and will place a link here to any further blog posts on these three projects. At some point in the (probably far distant future) it may be possible to see which process was most efficient and effective.

Side note

One final note – I wrote out this blog post while working through the book ‘1 Hour WordPress 2022’ by Dr Andy Williams. This web site has been breaking me, smashing me to bits and stomping on my entrails, and for the first time I have been feeling like I might just be able to pull it together in the end. I’d recomend the book in question strongly. I know this is only a blog post, not the dreaded overall look of the web site, and I’m a lot way from a functional shop selling my patterns, but at last I’ve found instructions that work for me

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