PCC Chats With
Ceramics Editor, Lark Books
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June 5, 2002:
SUZANNE: Welcome to the
Get Your Craft Book Idea published at Lark Books"
chat. Sunni, thanks
for asking me to participate.
SUNNI: Trust me, this is our pleasure!
SUZANNE: Somebody spray me with a question...
JENNYPAT puts on her learning hat
SUNNI: First, I would like to thank you for your time
and mention your
book is a resounding success in the clay circles!
SUZANNE: So happy to hear that!
BYRD: Ok, I have a question: What's the first step in
getting a book
SUZANNE: Well, not to be too cute...first you need a
SUNNI: A new twist on an old idea or something needed
SUZANNE: As far as ideas go, we're happy to do books on
topics, as long as you have an approach that is new.
BYRD: Well, are most craft books nowadays on projects
SUZANNE: Lark Books is undergoing an expansion of its
scope, so we're
open to a lot of topics.
BYRD: Who would we contact with our idea?
SUZANNE: Your best bet is to send it to Carol Taylor,
Director. See our website for the mailing
RIA: Are you also open for foreigners??
SUZANNE: All our books are technique-oriented. We show
people how to make
beautiful and useful things with photos and text. For instance, we've
done a basic book on
polymer clay, but we haven't done one on, say, figures and dolls in pc
BYRD: Thank you.
RIA: Suzanne, does Lark books also have books about
SUZANNE: Sometimes the thing to watch out for, Ria, is
RIA: You mean only to handle one item??
SUNNI: So a bunch of ideas or variations of a specific
SUZANNE: We have to balance between a new approach and
narrow that our market would be teeny.
SUNNI: So, if I'm doing a book on dragons and fantasy
figures, I would
need several varieties? Or several artists?
SUZANNE: Absolutely. Our authors usually have access to
a wide range of
artists and styles.
RIA: How many pages is a book normally from you?
SUZANNE: Most of our books are 128 pages, but the
Weekend Crafter series
RIA: Thanks. :)
JACQUELINEGIKOW: Are you saying someone should submit
for a book or are you saying you want to see different ideas about how
to write about a
SUZANNE: No, we're interested in YOUR approach to a
SUNNI: Ok - what do I need to do before I approach
Carol? Do I need to
have the book practically written with pictures?
SUZANNE: First, we like to get a "query
SUNNI: This would ask if you have the topic and propose
RIA: So first we send a letter explaining who we are,
what we do, with
some pictures of our work??
JACQUELINEGIKOW: Does that mean you want what
publishers usually call a
"proposal" with the chapters outlined and sample chapters?
SUZANNE: A query is a one-page letter describing the
book you want to do,
being as specific as you can. Tell us about your background (but don't
send a resume yet).
We give careful consideration to careful queries. Alas, we just don't
have enough staff to
respond to one-line emails such as "Wanna do a book on
SUNNI: Kind of a test of our writing skills?
SUZANNE: Yes, Sunni, You're right. If we're interested
in the query,
we'll ask you for a complete proposal.
SUNNI: Do you spell out what is required in a proposal
or are we supposed
to know that?
RIA: I am from Holland, Europe, and would that be a
problem to make a
book with you??
SUZANNE: No, as long as your English is good, we can
often work something
RIA: Oh boy, that is starting to sound GOOD. :)
BYRD: What is different about a complete proposal?
Pictures, et al?
SUZANNE: The proposal is a big undertaking. Let's take
it one piece at a
SUZANNE: First, a table of contents. The TOC tells us
what you have
inmind for the content of your book. All our TOCs look similar: an
introduction, a bsics
chapter, projects. Then comes the introduction. Here's where you, as the
author, tell the
reader what to expect once they get into the book. Again, study a few
Lark Books to get
some ideas of the scope on an introduction. How're we doing so far? Any
the query or the first two pieces of the proposal package?
BYRD: You are good at explaining.
RIA: No questions. It is very clear to me!
SUNNI: Makes sense to me so far!!!
SUZANNE Okay, next is the sample chapter. Usually, this
is going to be a
set of sample instructions.
SUNNI: Ok, just a snippet?
SUZANNE: We want to know if you know how to tell other
people to do what
you know how to do, so this is important.
JACQUELINEGIKOW: How deeply do you want an author to
get into a topic? In
a chapter, I mean.
SUZANNE: I guess I ought to clarify.
SUNNI: Thanks, I'm a complete ignorant at this!
SUZANNE: The basics chapter is where you introduce the
about its qualities. Then go on to discuss the appropriate tools.
Finally, you describe
basic techniques. For instance, I'm working on a book about Precious
Metal Clay right now.
The author was very careful to describe thoroughly the different
formulas, then went on to
talk about how to use them, (fire them, etc.). Finally, she shows lots
techniques, from the basics of rolling it out flat and modeling it to
how to apply slip
with a trowel, how to make repairs and how to fire and finish it. She
threw in a lot of
texturing techniques, too.
RIA: So you describe in there how to make a ball and
you refer to it when
you are creating the lessons?? So you don't have to do it over and over
again in the
SUZANNE: Yes, usually something like that.
RIA: Ok. :)
SUZANNE: Later on, after you've signed a contract, your
editor helps you
organize and arrange the material.
SUZANNE: You think the proposal is a lot of work, wait
'til you start
writing the book and making all the projects!
JACQUELINEGIKOW: How does one estimate how many words
the mss would be
for the proposal?
SUZANNE: We help you figure that stuff out, like word
counts and such.
JACQUELINEGIKOW: Oh, good. I am so not good at
SUNNI: Ok - so now back to the proposal. It's a several
then. An opening letter, table of contenst with a sample of what you
plan to print with
pictures and text.
SUZANNE: You don't really need pictures at this point.
Doing a book with
Lark is a team project. Unless you're a top-notch photographer, we'll be
your work for you.
BYRD: Thank heavens!
SUNNI: Ok, good. But - what if we're from out of
country? How do we get
to your photographers? Or do they come to us?
SUZANNE: Well, if you're in Australia, we might want to
work it out with
a local photographer. There are lots of factors we take into account
about the photography
thing? For instance, our PMC author is from Colorado. We flew her here
for the photography
shot, where she demonstrated various basic techniques.
JACQUELINEGIKOW: Do you provide a shipping budget?
No, no shipping budget; just the advance against royalties. This is the
money that will
help you write the book.
BYRD: You are in New York?
SUZANNE: No, we're in Ashevill, NC. Sterling Publishers
(NY) bought us 3
years ago, but we're still the same humble craft publishers we've always
JACQUELINEGIKOW: So, if you are doing the photography,
we are responsible
for shipping the items to you?
Depends. If your projects are huge, we may come to you. That is, our
photographer, our art
director, and our editor.
BYRD: Do you ever send folks on tour to promote their
books? Like to
Carol Duval or such?
SUZANNE: No, we don't do the show circuit, but
sometimes our authors end
up on Carol's show. Actually, Sterling is like our own private
distributor. The are the
sales and distribution end of things. They have sales people who get
books out there, and
who send promo copies, and who attend huge book conferences to pitch the
titles. They get
our titles into Book-of-the-Month Club and such.
JACQUELINEGIKOW: How? If you are not promoting,
how do authors end
up on Carol's show?
RIA: I think you have to contact the Show yourself,
SUNNI: In a prior chat with Donna Kato, that's what she
SUZANNE: Back to the proposal?
BYRD: Yes, please.
SUZANNE: Okay. Next we want to see photos of your work.
Slides are best.
We love to see actual work, too.
BYRD: Are slides mandatory?
SUNNI: Do you accept digital photography?
SUZANNE: We're still skittish ondigital imagery.
Traditional film is
BYRD: If we get this far in the process, can we bring
them to you in
person? (I live close to you.)
SUZANNE: Byrd, sure, you can hand-deliver. Next, we'd
like a resume.
SUNNI: Here's a sticky par. What if you're
SUZANNE: We also want to see tear sheets, if you've
SUNNI: What is a tear sheet?
SUZANNE: Some people who send proposals have been
writing for craft
magazines for some time. A tear sheet is an actual page torn from a book
They're usually provided by the publisher. A color copy is fine,
RIA: Why a resume? So you can boast about the
SUNNI: Or so you cna determine our experience level
SUZANNE: The resume lets us know how much experience
you have with your
topic. Many of our authors are teachers (schools and/or workshops).
Every part of the
proposal lets us know how thorough, experienced, and careful you can be.
important qualities for book-writing! Almost done with the proposal
BYRD: No wonder you like working with Irene Dean! She
is very careful and
SUZANNE: Irene is a super author.
SUNNI: So, attention to detail is a valuable asset.
SUZANNE: You're so right, Sunni!
RIA: Hmmm. Well, I have teached sculpting classes for 6
years but I am
never been published!
SUZANNE: We like to work with first-time authors.
BYRD: Really? Isn't that unusual in the publishing
SUZANNE: Yes, I believe so. Lark provides a unique
opportunity for top-level crafters.
RIA: Sounds good to me. :)
JACQUELINEGIKOW: I think if a company is willing to
work with a beginner,
it means they believe that the best people aren't necessarily only the
SUZANNE: That's a good point.
SUNNI: Being craft oriented gives you a whole different
approuching the idea of authors. First-timers are more likely to
SUZANNE: Well, now that you have parts 1-6 of the
proposal, it's time to
do a little research.
BYRD: Research on what?
SUNNI: Research! that being! ??
SUZANNE: We'd like you to let us know that you're aware
competition, in a sense. So, you can go to a bookseller's website and do
a keyword search
on your topic. That will give you a list of all the books already out
there. It will help
us know whether you're breaking new ground, topic-wise. So the list
becomes a part of the
SUZANNE: Finally, we want to know from you, in a cover
letter, how your
book would differ from all the others already done. It really, really
helps to look inside
other Lark Books. If you go to a bookstore and spread several of them
out, you're going to
see some similarities in how we approach the craft publishing biz.
BYRD: What if it is new ground? Is that good or
SUZANNE: New ground is new ground. Not to be flip,
we're open to new
SUZANNE: Yes, it's a year's work of work! There are
other ways to get
some experience with us.
JENNYPAT: Are most of your books geared toward the
beginner in crafting?
Or do you do books geared to more advanced crafters?
SUZANNE: You know, Jenny, we have both. I'll talk about
that, then go on
to the "other ways" thing. If the topic is the first time
we're going to want a beginner's book. Beginner-level books sell very
well, and let us
know the level of interest in the subject (though we have our market
research to rely on,
too). Even the advanced-level topics have elements of introductory
material in them,
for the most part. I'm the ceramics editor here, and we've done lots of
different kinds of
books on that topic, so we're open to more specialized-type titles
RIA: Is it not possible to make a beginners to advance
SUNNI: All levels in one book, Ria?
RIA: Yes, Sunni!! To start simple but getting more
difficult the more you
get into the book!
SUZANNE: Yes, but we mostly cover
beginner-to -intermediate. So a book
on, say, faux finishes in polymer clay would still introduce the reader
to basic handling
RIA: Okay. :)
SUZANNE: Other questions about this before moving on to
SUNNI: So far, so good for me. Anyone else?
BYRD: I'm good.
RIA: Me, too. :) Having way to much ideas already!!
JENNYPAT: I am good.
SUZANNE: Okay. First, if you're a general crafter,
we're always looking
SUNNISAN: Designers? As in folks with new twists on
SUZANNE: A designer is someone who does a few projects
for a book on a
topic. They design the projects and write instructions. There's not much
money in it, but
you can get your feet wet this way.
RIA: Hmm. Sounds interesting!!
SUZANNE: Check out our website often for these kinds of
Look for the link to "Designer
BYRD: No kidding?
CORGI: Now, that sounds like something I can do.
SUNNI: So, the folks who submitted for your book on
beads would be
SUZANNE: Well, that was a slightly different approach
for that book. I
asked each of those artist/authors to do a bit more than just do some
projects. Each one
was responsible for writing some basics for her chapter. Consequently,
we paid them more.
SUNNI: Ok. So, a designer is the one who writes a
hot-to like in the
SUZANNE: Yes, a designer tells how to make one project.
An author is
responsible for all the projects in the book. Carol Wilcox Wells (The
Art & Elegance
of Beadweaving) invited other beadweavers to submit projects to her
book. She didn't pay
them, though. They did it to get published, I believe.
KIM: Well...it's like "free advertising."
SUZANNE: This is a good time to explain something
SUZANNE: An author receives a royalty advance. That's
SUZANNE: Once there have been enough sales to "pay
advance, the author begins to receive royalties on each copy sold. If a
book never sells
enough to exceed the advance, then no more money goes to the author.
BYRD: What is ball park for the royalty advance for a
SUZANNE: Sorry, I only discuss those matters with
authors who've sent in
SUNNI: Ah. Ok!
BYRD: Fair enough.
SUZANNE: Anyway, no one ever has to pay back an
advance. if we lose, we
BEADNMOUSE: Do you have any idea how well these artists
do after the
"free advertising?" So it's best to "get your foot in the
door" with a
well published author?
SUZANNE: Yes, being published is a help to those
crafters who make a
living from it. It gets their names out there. And, that's another way
to get published:
co-author a book. The money is the same, but it gets split up between
the two. But you
sure have to work well with the other author! Lots of coordination of
KIM: Co-author you "share" the writing, etc.,
though... so half
the $$ is ok.
KIM: 1/2 the "stress" or "fun"
SUZANNE: LOL. They're the same thing, aren't they?
SUNNI: * grin *
KIM: Sadly, YES, they can be... LOL Especially when you
and the next second want to smoosh it!
SUZANNE: Smooshing is good! Publishing a book is one
way to get on Carol
Duvall's show.... :)
BYRD: I was thinking the other way -- that being
oncarol would sell the
Kim: Me, too.
SUNNI: Yippee!! Ok - so say we've sent in a proposal
and been accepted.
SUZANNE: Well, we'll send you half the advance right
away, so you can
feel good about the huge project you've just taken on. Any buy lots of
SUZANNE: Then you meet your editor.
SUNNI: Do we come to you or vice versa?
SUZANNE: We contact you. The relationship between an
editor and an author
can be rewarding. It can also be challenging, creative, frustrating,
SUNNI: Isn't the editor the glue between author and
KIM: Like a mentor?
SUZANNE: You bet! All those things!
BYRD: I'll bet that tact is a prerequisite for being an
SUZANNE: Over the course of editing a book, an editor
has the opportunity
to play a variety of roles, including teacher, cop, therapist, friend,
SUNNI: Sounds like you're never bored....
SUZANNE: No, I'm pretty darned busy! Some editors,
temporarily, fall in
love with their authors...
SUZANNE: Others grow in the other direction...
SUNNI: Like the leading pair of a movie!! * grin *
SUZANNE: The editor-author bond is a complicated
one--as is true of all
meaningfull relationships. After all, it's a year-long thing. Once the
text has been
edited, the photos taken, the art director puts it all together on the
page. Then we send
the author the first black-and-white "laser pages." It's the
first time you
really get to see how your book will look. And it's exciting!
BYRD: I'll bet that's scary, but fun!
SUNNI: Rough draft?
SUZANNE: No, by the time it goes to the Art Department,
should have made sure it's darn near perfect. Although there will
continue to be slight
revision and correction until the last minute, probably. Nothing's ever
afraid. (Only an editor would say something like that!)
SUNNI: * grin *
KIM: Or an artist!
SUZANNE: We love artists.
BYRD: * perk *
SUZANNE: We're a funky company.
BYRD: * perk perk *
SUZANNE: Not stuffy-- pretty hip, really. I love what I
SUNNI: Well gosh - you guys deal with some pretty
creative stuff. Stuffy
would put a damper on that!! I bet you go home jazzed half the time!
KIM: That's the whole thing of it...doing what you
love, makes it all
that much better.
SUZANNE: We're into it.
SUNNI: And makes you better at what you do.
BYRD: Contact highs.
SUZANNE: heehee. Please, questions...?
SUNNI: So, does the staff play with any of the concepte
SUZANNE: We develop concepts all the time. We like
authors who are open
to developing their concept alongside of us.
BEADNMOUSE: Do you have a website? I'm new to
SUZANNE: www.larkbooks.com I
invite everyone to roam around on our website.
JENNYPAT: What if I am not really interested in being
an author, but
would like to submit examples for a gallery? Is it up to the individual
authors to find
SUZANNE: Look for "Call
Entry" on the site. Sometimes we help authors get their
galleries together, and
sometimes, like with Carol Wilcox Wells, she has a huge network already.
She took care of
it herself. For "Making Beautiful Beads" some of you may have
seen the call for
entries on the pc bulletin board.
JENNYPAT: So, that would be under the heading
BYRD: Yup. I wish I could participate in that, but I
don't have a camera.
SUNNI: Find a friend who does, Byrd? Have a tea and
BEADNMOUSE Five hours drive and I'll take all the pics
you want, Byrd!
BYRD: Not really possible. Dottie wanted to have some
of my work in her
gallery, but I couldn't find anyone.
KIM: How'd you get pics of the mandalas???
BYRD: I scanned them.
SUZANNE: I can't tell you how importan goo-quality
slides are to being
accepted in a gallery. It's a shame when a beautiful piece is rejected
because of the
DONNABECK: Scanner pics are not art book quality!
SUZANNE: Right. We only rarely use digital submissions.
We can't use
prints at all. Ever. If you scan, they must be high-resolution (300 dpi
at 5x7"). And
you must still have the permission of the editor first. They must be
TIFF images. But
don't submit to a gallery with a disk! Ask firs...please. Who wants to
write a book for
SUNNI: We all raise our hands....
JENNYPAT: I am really not interested in
writing....sorry, but maybe
submitting to a gallery.
CORGI: I would rather submit projects or to a
SUNNI: Personally, I like the designer idea.
SUZANNE: We're always looking for good designers.
BYRD: Nope, I want to write a whole book.
JENNYPAT: I know myself to well! I am not a good
writer, and have a hard
time explaining how to do things, even in person.
BYRD: I write enought anyway...
RIA: I want the whole deal and nothing else :) LOL
KIM: I'm with Byrd, I wanna whole book to myself!
SUZANNE: Yay! You know, a basic book on artificial
lighting will help.
I'd love to write a book about how to photograph artwork.
JENNYPAT: I would love a book on how to photograph art
work! Small items
especially. They are so hard to get good photos of.
SUZANNE: Yes, a macro lens is essential for those good
Especially for jewelry.
BEADNMOUSE: Watch lighting!! Macro lenses are as great
as superglue and
SUZANNE: You polymer clay people come up with some
RIA: Ohh, I have 3 booklets full with good topics.
BYRD: Don't worry, I have!
KIM: I was asked once if my brain hurt with all of my
SUNNI: Thanx, Suzanne. We try. As a group, we're a
mighty curious bunch.
KIM: Yeah, nothing is "safe" from
SUNNI: Suzanne - you have no idea how much I appreciate
your taking time
out to help us with this today!!
SUZANNE: Sunni, thanks so much for inviting me. I
really loved it! Any
other questions, email me at email@example.com
----Salutations and thanks given at this point and chat
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