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Publish Your Knitting Patterns
One of My Pattern Book Covers
Self-Publishing E-Books is Simple
Do you design original patterns as you knit or crochet? How would you like to preserve those patterns in the form of an e-book? It is really not hard to do. If you have a digital camera, a computer, and internet access, you can self-publish for free on Smashwords or Kindle Direct Publishing.
I'll lead you through the basic steps in the process, which I completed with my book, Knitted Scarves for Everyone and with nearly a dozen books since. I'll share the tools that enabled me to create a cover, format my text, and include images of my hand-knit designs.
Of course, you can also produce a pattern book for crochet, embroidery, or any other craft. Share your patterns and designs with friends, family, and e-book buyers all over the world! The same basic principles also apply if you want to publish poetry, a novel, short stories, or general nonfiction.
For more examples of crafty e-books check out Books About Crafts & Hobbies on Kobo.
An Image-Based Book Cover
Dealing with Images: Tips for E-books
Illustrations and Covers
A good cover image is very important. Just think of the shopper browsing a list of search results on Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon; Are they more likely to be attracted to a generic cover with a plain background or something colorful, unique, and relevant to the book's topic? Smashwords will allow you to upload a book without a cover, but that book will not make it to their Premium Catalog (to be distributed to major book retailers) until it has a cover. Kindle Direct Publishing requires a cover for all books, but makes it easier with their Cover Creator.
I sometimes design a cover before I even finish writing a book. Seeing that cover, just pining away for some content, keeps me motivated to finish! I enjoy choosing an image and a color scheme. Although I am no professional photographer, I have been able to use some of my own photographs of knitting projects as well as stock photographs for my various e-books. The book by Carl Beashorn (see below) has step-by-step directions from finding images to creating killer covers. I created the poetry book cover here using Carl's easy instructions in PowerPoint.
For images within the text of your book, follow the specifications for size and resolution in the style guide for your publishing platform. I used the Smashwords Style Guide for my knitting book.
My Essential Self-Publishing Reference Books
These are the books that get me through the process of preparing a manuscript for upload:
This is a comprehensive book that covers writing, formatting, and publishing your e-book.
Helpful Tools for Image Creation, Manipulation, or Conversion
You don't have to be a professional graphic designer to add images to your e-books. If you can't afford to hire a professional, these tools can get you through the process of creating e-book-ready images.
- Zamzar - convert document, eBook, image, audio and video - free online file conversion
Free conversion between document, image, music, video, audio, eBook, compressed and CAD formats. No download or account required.
- GIMP - The GNU Image Manipulation Program
Can't afford Photoshop or other expensive software? GIMP is an open source program you can download for free.
Preparing Your Text for E-book Conversion
Once you have all your pattern specifications straight for each design, including gauge, needles, recommended yarns, and step-by-step instructions, type them up. Place the required materials at the beginning of each pattern, right after a photograph of the finished item. After writing the directions, proof them carefully. You should also get others to test your pattern. (I offer such a service on fiverr.)Pretend you are a beginner and make sure you have not assumed your audience knows everything you know about knitting. In my introduction, for example, I let the reader know that I assume they can cast on, cast off, knit, and purl. I also provide hyperlinks to a couple of good knitting tutorials. Remember, in an e-book you can take advantage of hyperlinks to add value to your book.
Most authors create their source file in Microsoft Word. Be sure to turn off Word's "auto-format-as-you-type" feature. Smashwords requires the file to be saved in an older version of Word (.doc instead of .docx) and has very specific guidelines, all detailed in the free style guide. You then upload your book and cover image to Smashwords, where it is converted to multiple e-book formats by a program affectionately called "Meatgrinder." Their Auto-Vetter will send you a list of any errors that need to be corrected. Fix them, then resubmit.
If you follow the Smashwords Style Guide, your book will likely be eligible for their Premium Catalog, which distributes your book to a variety of retailers large and small around the world, including Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. For my first books, I submitted to Amazon separately in order to participate in their Kindle Select program; Now I submit to Amazon without enrolling in Kindle Select, because I don't want to have to wait three months before selling on Smashwords, too. Smashwords distributes a limited number of titles through Amazon, but submitting a separate file directly to Amazon gets your book on the Amazon site quickly--usually in about 12 hours.
Projects from My First Four Pattern Books - Selected Designs from Each BookClick thumbnail to view full-size
Publicity: Share Your Pattern
Once you've created your e-book, you want people to find it and purchase it. If you are a member of Ravelry (and if you are a knitting or crochet designer, you should be) be sure to add your patterns to their extensive pattern database as well as your personal projects page. This is easy to do. From your Ravelry home page, mouse over "my notebook" and click "contributions" to begin adding your pattern to the database. Ravelry is a social network for knitters, so your pattern may be seen worldwide!
If you have a blog, share your book there as well, and link your blog to your Ravelry account. I like to create coupon codes for my Smashwords titles and share them with a small group, such as one of the knitting forums to which I belong. They get a free or discounted e-book and I get their valuable feedback. Everybody wins!