Earlier this month a copy of Craft a Creative Business arrived at our offices. It’s a new book by business expert and founder of The Sewing Directory, Fiona Pullen, and is jam packed full of useful information and advice on everything from improving your search engine ranking, to taking amazing photos.
I caught up with Fiona this week to find out how the book came about and to get her top tips on becoming an author.
This seems like the perfect handbook for a craft startup, what inspired you to write it?
Craft a Creative Business is the book I wish I'd had when I started my business 5 years ago. It’s a handbook to guide you through the setting up, and building of your creative business.
I have a law degree which taught me to research well and always keep learning and studying. So when I set up my business I learnt as much as I could about how to build and promote my business and I still keep studying now.
Soon the businesses on my directory started asking me for business advice, and then magazines asked if I’d write business guides for them. I realised that people wanted to know what I had learnt. I thought that bringing it all together in one easy to use handbook would prove very useful for many other creative businesses. I wanted it to be a resource that people could dip in and out of when they have a query and quickly find an answer to help them. I thought there were many books covering individual aspects of running a business but not one detailed book covering all the things you need to know about so I wanted my book to fill that gap.
The book is predominantly aimed at start-ups but I’ve also included lots of useful information for those already trading, to help them streamline and improve their business. It takes you through the research and planning of your business, the legal and financial side, the visual side: branding and photography, where to sell and how to market/promote your business both offline and online. There are tips from industry experts and practical activities to get you applying what you learn to your business.
What are your tips for other budding authors?
Do your homework when looking at publishers – do you like the style of their books, do they promote them well, do they hold their price or get discounted very quickly?
It took about 5 months to complete the actual writing and surprisingly for me, this was the easy bit of it. I wrote 90,000 words so I thought that would be the hard part, but actually the editing and the promotion, was the really hard work. Both of them took an awful lot more time than I had ever imagined, and were very draining. It probably didn’t help that I moved house right in the middle of the editing stage!
The whole process from initial concept, to book deal, to writing & editing all the way through to publication was just under 2 years. So accept that it will take over a couple years of your life, and that the work doesn’t stop when you finish the writing. You need to be ready to put a lot of time and energy into the whole process.
I’ve published a series of posts on my blog about the experience of writing a book which aspiring authors may find useful.
Writing a book is often cited as a great way to promote yourself or your business. What are your thoughts on this?
I think viewing a book as a PR exercise is probably the best way to approach it. There is not a lot of money to be had in craft publishing so doing it to make money is hard, but to promote your business it can work very well. However, you need to be prepared to follow it up with a lot of promotion to really make the most of it. Your publishers will usually help publicise the book but if you want to get a lot of PR from it you need to be ready to put a lot of hours in on the marketing front yourself too.
You need to weigh up the hundreds of hours that will go into the book and its promotion against investing those hours elsewhere in your business and decided if it is right for you at this point in time.
You’ve built a website to accompany the book, why did you decide to do this?
I knew that a book with a subject matter like mine could go out of date fairly quickly. Social media, search engine optimisation, legislation etc all change very regularly and although I updated it all just before it went to print, over time it will gradually become outdated in some areas. So I thought the best solution to this was to have a website accompanying the book which will allow me to keep readers up to date with any new changes which could affect them.
It also allows me to build on some of the topics covered in the book in more detail, and offer downloads so that people don’t have to write notes in their book if they don’t want to.
I chose Create because I had seen many brilliant craft sites made on your platform, and I thought the price was very reasonable too. I did a free trial to test it and found the software simple to use which was important to me as I am no good with HTML and CSS. Plus, I wanted a site that I could fully update or change at any time without having to go through web designers and pay for the changes.
What’s up next for you? Will you write another book?
If you’d asked me a couple of months ago I would have said no way! I was so exhausted from the whole process at that point. However, now I can see that I might do another, if it was the right book and the right timing. Since I was a child I wanted to write fiction and have several unfinished novels so perhaps I should go back to one of them and finish it.
For now I want to focus on building up the content on both The Sewing Directory and Craft a Creative Business websites whilst I continue the book PR and look into the possibility of e-courses or e-books to supplement my book in the future.
Where can people get a copy of your book?
We've also got a couple of copies of the book to give away, head over to our Facebook page if you'd like to enter the prize draw.