Friday, April 29, 2011

Self vs. Traditional Publishng

I get a lot of questions about why I`m not pursuing being published in a mainstream magazine. My main reason at this point is that I`m very deadline resistant. Two corporate jobs in my past had extremely tight time lines. I hope to get over this eventually but since I`m in charge here, I`m in no hurry. As for the online magazines, a designer told me that she has done better long term with self-publishing vs. online magazines. She`s not sure why but perhaps people don`t go back as much to older issues? She also feels that traditional  magazines are likely to be a different customer base than online, I'm not so sure about that one. Part of the problem with all of this is that it's just opinion. Profits are so narrow in the Knitting industry that there is not a lot of market research going on.

I recently worked on a magazine submission because I was given a very long time line for it but I discovered a few things during the process. Having an external time line changes the rhythm of the work. I'm not free to shift gears and explore new ideas as they come up in the way I normally do. I know this slows down my production but it also increases my creativity. I often work on several projects at a time as a way of "cleansing my palette". I find the off time from a project often allows my brain to work on solutions in the background and I come up with better ideas, both design related and technical solutions.

Holding my own copyright is an issue for me. The pattern I did has copyright reverting back to me in 6 months so in this case it is not a barrier.

I like collaborating with others but on the other hand some aesthetic decisions are changed to accommodate another persons vision, which may or may not improve the work. Ultimately it's just that the work is not totally true to me (maybe I'm a design diva?).

The design has to be held to a preset level of difficulty, therefore details of construction may be changed to meet that standard. Most designs can be technically executed in more than one way. Normally, I just pick the one I think is best for that particular project and then assign level of difficulty based on what I did not the other way around. Having worked with more than one tech editor I can guarantee that they don't all agree on what makes a pattern beginner, intermediate or advanced. It's a difficult target to hit at the best of times.

There is also the extra detail of conforming to their template, which may or may not be clear, as every tech editor also has different standards that don't always agree with the publication's standards.

Traditional publishing also has space as a limiting factor. That means a lot more abbreviations and the possibility that the stitch patterns may be written or charted but maybe not both. When I self publish I often use both formats. It also means less detail is given to the Knitter. Advanced Knitter's may prefer this but others may appreciate more detail.

Any thoughts?


  1. When limits are imposed, either by a publisher or yourself, they can lead to interesting and creative problem solving. But too many limits usually does not. There is a fine line there and depending on temperament I suppose, the limits one person is quite happy with can really confine another. Could that define who is publishing with others and who is self-publishing?

  2. I started self-publishing then switched to mainly magazine publishing. I've been published in all the British knitting/crochet mags in the last 3 years. Mag publishing has helped get my name out there more and has improved my self-publishing sales. But it's hard work. Constant deadlines, having to compromise sometimes to fit the editors demands can be hard. And there are times when I'm under pressure to keep output high when I want a break. I do like it though and in the future I'd like to get the balance right between mag and self-publishing. Do a bit of each. With self-publishing it's easier to ge distracted and not get stuff finished. I work much better if I have a deadline, a self-imposed one doesn't work as well for me. But I do think it's all about getting the balance right and that's not easy.