The Free Motion Quilting Project: Self Publishing Process

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Self Publishing Process

Yes, I'm a Self Publisher, which could easily be a synonym for Obsessive Compulsive Workaholic or simply Really Insane Person.

free motion quilting | Leah DayOn days like yesterday and today, I find myself questioning my reasons for self publishing. T minus three days to launching the ebook version of From Feathers to Flames, I realized I'd made an error in producing almost every single graph in the book. There are over 100 illustrating graphs, so this isn't a small issue.

So for the last two days I've been glued to my computer, obsessively clicking away to fix these graphs. While not everyone can see the difference or even the reason why I felt the need to change them, the ONLY thing that mattered to me was that they get fixed right NOW.

This is one of the major differences between self publishing and going the traditional route with a big publisher.

If my book were in the hands of someone else, the design and quality of the illustrations wouldn't even be my problem. I'm a quilter, not a graphic designer! Why do I do this to myself?!

Trust me, I'm asking myself this very question even as I type it out.

The only answer I can come up with is this: self publishing just fits me right now.

At this stage in the game, I can take a couple months to focus on writing a book and producing a new DVD. I like the control self publishing gives me over the design, layout, and creation of my products.

I also like being able to produce these small, mini books which might have been passed over by a publisher who only wants to create big book of all 365 designs.

Does it take me more time, more energy, that could be spent doing other things I enjoy more? Yes, but that would be true of ANY book, or ANY project other than a new quilt. Even with a big publisher behind me, I might have to devote months of time to organize all this content into a reasonable format.

What I'm realizing now as I put the finishing touches on my second book is this - why does it always have to be so black and white - self publish vs. traditional publish? Why can't we do a bit of both?

My first three books, From Daisy to Paisley (published last year), From Feathers to Flames (being published right now), and From Square to Spiral (set for 2012) will all be self published because they are smaller, mini collections of designs based on difficulty level.

These books are small enough that we can print small amounts of these books at a time, wholesale them in limited quantities, and not go crazy with the organization and management of it all.

But a big book? That is a different story all together.

The more pages, the more expensive and complicated the book will be to publish. For right now, 98 pages is about all I can handle!

Comparing this year to last year's launch of From Daisy to Paisley, I can see I've come a long way. Last year issues that would hang up the book and DVD launch for weeks don't even factor into the equation of this book.

Deciding to launch the book and DVD separately, rather than together, has been a huge relief. Launching the ebook version first coming up this Friday is also a smarter move. Physical books must be printed (obviously) and if there's a mistake it would be impossible to fix it until the next print run.

So overall I'm feeling great! After two hard days of work, the book is solid, the graphs are absolutely perfect, and I'm extremely satisfied with my efforts.

No book is written alone and I have to thank Beverly Roberts of Fine Line Artwork for her awesome work on many of the graphic illustrations in the book. Super thank you also to Josh and my father-in-law, Chet, who are both far better at English than I am and willingly edited it.

I think self publishing is a lot like sky diving. Most people have absolutely no desire to go near it. The first time you do it, you'll likely hate it and swear you will never, ever do it again. Then you find yourself in a plane again and, what the heck! the second time is actually not so bad.

Hopefully the third time is the charm because I've got one more to go!

Let's go quilt,



  1. As an editor, I must come in and say Leah's analogy doesn't really work, but we couldn't come up with anything better. Everyone I've ever known personally has loved sky diving on their first time.

  2. I always wondered why no one self publishes things and always uses a bigger named company. Glad to see someone out there, does their own thing. You go Girl!!!


Help us create more quilting tutorials! Check out our quilt shop at