Grace Dobush knows the business of DIY and crafting like the back of her hand.
In 2009, she published her first book, Crafty Superstar: Make Crafts on the Side, Earn Extra Cash, and Basically Have It All, which features interviews with Sublime Stitching’s Jenny Hart and Design*Sponge’s Grace Bonney among other creative entrepreneurs.
And just recently she published the follow-up, The Crafty Superstar Ultimate Craft Business Guide, which includes nearly 100 additional pages of resources, worksheets and interviews.
“A lot has changed in the three years since the first Crafty Superstar came out,” Dobush says. “For example, Square didn’t exist back in 2009, and now I can’t imagine running a crafty business without it.”
When she’s not writing, Dobush helps to organize Crafty Supermarket in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Here, Dobush shares her advice for crafting a DIY business.
What do you envision the craft fair/Etsy/handmade scene to be like in five years?
It’ll be really interesting to see what Etsy does—with its tech prowess, I’m sure they’ll come up with things craft sellers didn’t even know they wanted. I’m also curious to see how they deal with the massiveness of their marketplace in a time when curated sites like Fab.com are doing so well.
I think the handmade economy will survive and thrive after its trendiness ebbs. Crafters are helping educate the general public about why buying handmade is so important in a mass-produced age, and you see that kind of interest in other areas, like the localvore movement. It’s an anti-industrial revolution.
What are your top 5 pieces of advice for getting a book deal in the DIY/craft market?
1. Do your research.
Agents and publishers will want to know where your book fits in the market and how your idea is different from everyone else’s. Take a few afternoons to explore the library and Barnes & Noble and see what’s already out there. You should also get familiar with how the publishing industry works and how new authors should approach book proposals. Writer’s Digest is a great guide for this.
2. Be a trendsetter.
Books take about two years to get from the conceptual stage to the bookshelf, so you want your book to be a trend leader, not a trend lemming. Editors and publishers rely on authors to bring them fresh ideas that they wouldn’t have come up with otherwise.
3. Perfect your proposal.
For a craft book proposal—especially a how-to book—you don’t necessarily have to have the entire thing written before you send it to agents or publishers.
But you should have perhaps a dozen projects completed with good photographs so the potential buyers can see how you write explanatory copy and what your final pieces look like. (A final book might have 20 to 30 projects.) For more text-based books, like mine, a detailed chapter outline and a few sample chapters is what you want to aim for. Get a friend to proofread it before you shop it around.
4. Consider getting an agent.
Craft book publishers often don’t require a book submission to be represented by an agent (unlike a lot of other genres). But if you have a reputable agent (find an agent here) that can get your book in front of the right people faster, and they act as your representative in negotiating contracts and royalties, which can be daunting for a newbie. For their services, agents take 15% of all income related to the book. But they don’t get paid until you get paid, and their expertise often ends up getting you more money anyway.
5. Get ready to work.
Writing a book is like having a baby—except you’re gestating for up to 24 months. It’s a long, hard slog, but when you finally see that first copy, it’s a moment you’ll remember forever.
Want more of Grace Dobush’s advice? Read “3 Expert Tips for Making Money with Your Handmade or Etsy Biz”