Establish your goals
Whenever I begin a project, no matter what it is, I like to think about the why behind what I want to do it. Why do I want start this project? What is the goal of this project? In this case the questions is this: why publish a book? It’s such an enormous project that will take up a lot of time and possibly money so it has to be worth it in some intentional way. A few suggested reasons (and there’s no right answer for everyone, just preference):
- Passion project
- Brand awareness
- Audience alignment
In my case, it was all those things. Overall I wanted to make the most beautiful craft book I could possibly imagine so yes, it was most DEFINITELY a passion project! I love what I wanted to do and I wanted to share it! It was also a great way to share what The House That Lars Built is all about, thus establishing our brand.
Thirdly, as a blogger since 2008, I was in the habit of self-publishing blog posts left and right, but there came a time when having an outside voice was helpful in validating my work and showing others those credentials. Additionally, of course, I wanted sales to happen–hoping for the best (you can read more about that here). Lastly, I wanted to see if there were more people out there in the world who wanted to align with what we have to offer.
Make your goals drive your process
Once you’ve established your goal, it’s important to make sure that your goals drive the process. That includes driving the following:
- Subject / topic
- Whom you select for you agent
- Whom you work with as a publisher
- Contract terms
- Production input and timeline
- Launch / promotion
How to select an agent
These days there are various methods to publishing your work, from self-publishing to online publishing etc. This series only addresses traditional publishing, in which I found having an agent to be very helpful. She helped me navigate the foreign world of publishing.
How to find an agent in your category
If you don’t have one that comes recommended, there are a few ways to find one.
- Look at the acknowledgements section of books that are similar to yours. Authors typically thank their agent in this section. It’s a great resource! You can also follow authors on Instagram–I’ve seen a number of them thank their agents there.
- Ask around to those who are in similar categories. Agents typically represent only 1 or 2 categories, for example, art and food.
- Online search. I didn’t find this to be the most helpful way, but, of course, it’s always there!
I’d recommend doing lots of interviewing and research to make sure that you find the one that’s a best fit for you. You will be working with your agent for a LONG time. I first met my agent in 2014, didn’t sign a contract until 2016 and the book wasn’t published until 2018 so it’s a long haul! And then there’s marketing afterward and additional books after that.
Here are some things to look for in an agent:
- This person has a good track record in your genre
- You get along with this person
- This person will tell you the hard things (not just what you want to hear!)
- This person has fair pricing
- Your work processes align
Agent takes your book proposal to auction
I’ll get into the book proposal in the next post, but for now, I want to talk about one really awesome reason why I’m glad I had a book agent for Craft the Rainbow. The auction! Once you have a book proposal that’s solid, the agent will put your book up for auction, which means that he/she will shop it around and it could go into a bidding war. The agent has solid relationships with editors at all the major publishing houses so this step is crucial for finding the one that’s the best fit for you and your goals.
The publisher will respond if they are interested or not and then they make a proposal to you with a price, royalties, and terms. Each one that I received had a lot of pros and cons to it, but the agent walked me through each one thoroughly. I ended up going with the one with whom I thought understood my concept the most and would allow me the most freedom to create the book that I wanted to create, which turned out to be the best fit!
Ok, there are many more pieces to add to this puzzle, but I’ll be talking more about them in the next post. That includes the following:
- how to write your proposal
- how to work with a team to write your book
- contract negotiation/financial considerations
- production scheduling and resources
As you might recall, I lived in Copenhagen, Denmark for 3 years with my Danish husband. It’s where we met and lived when we first got married. As you might guess, I was pretty interested to hear another take on a foreigner’s experience in Denmark. I’ll have A LOT to talk about! Stay tuned for our mid month check in!
According to the UN World Happiness Report (yes, that is a thing), and many other surveys, Denmark is the happiest country on earth! What makes Danes so happy? Surely not their location, with those long, dark winters… Is it their infrastructure? Their amazing pastries? All that amazing, minimal Danish designer furniture?? Find out this month as we read The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country. Author and journalist Helen Russell sets out to the find the secret to their famed happiness as she and her husband leave their hectic London life and move to Denmark. Russell chronicles their lives month by month for a year in rural Jutland, learning local customs, traditions, and getting help (or being chastised!) along the way. Russell’s down-to-earth writing style and sense of humor will make you laugh, and we’d love to hear your thoughts as you read, especially if you have lived in or visited Denmark yourself! Follow along on the @larsbookclub Instagram account, and tag your own book photos with #larsbookclub ! Enjoy!
Photo by Anna Killian for The House That Lars Built | Lars Book Club is led by Julie Richardson
WELCOME TO SPRING! I’m absolutely thrilled for the sunshine and blooms (though I hear it’s snowing on the East Coast?)
For each Lars Book Club book we’ll be recapping the previous book and announcing the new book in the same post. You can find both after the jump from Lars contributor, Julie Richardson.
Have you been enjoying the Lars Book Club so far? I’d love to hear what you have to say about it. Do you like the book choices? Have any requests? Last month we read Daily Rituals: How Artist’s Work and we will discuss it after the jump. Today we announce the book selection for July. The Lars Book Club is conducted by Julie Richardson. Add to the conversation and follow along for more inspirational quotes and discussion topics on our the @LarsBookClub Instagram account.
July 6th marks 109 years since the birth of Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s most celebrated and unique artists. Her personality and aura were described as mysterious and magnetic, with her piercing, direct gaze, and a fire or passion that came from within. I knew little about Frida before deciding to feature her in our Lars Book Club, and am now fascinated! What a unique, driven, intense woman, who suffered much pain and hardship, and recorded all of that on canvas. Frida also had a very tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera, another revered Mexican painter. Learn more about Frida, her life, and her very personal works of art this month as we read Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera (the cover of the one we got is different than the one on Amazon. Don’t fret 🙂
The holidays are here! And with that, an inspiring but easy book to curl up with! Are you enjoying Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk?? That really is such an accurate title – we put labels on ourselves, we make excuses, we get intimidated, and we let that jerk of an inner critic take over. Well, I hope Danielle Krysa’s book is picking your brain about why you may be stuck in a creative rut and how to get out of it. Or maybe you thought you weren’t the creative type at all, but were wanting to be…only to realize that that one skill or hobby you love really IS your creative outlet! Whatever stage you’re at, take notes from Your Inner Critic and push yourself to try something new. Below are some questions for you to think about, and some further reading suggestions as well.
Our guest illustrator for this month is Michelle Christensen of My Little Belleville who created a quote from the book and corresponding bookmark FREE to download! Michelle is a friend who has done lots of rad illustrations for Lars in the past. (You must be familiar with her famous faces by now…I have bought so many things from her!). We were lucky to get her for this month’s book club read! Enjoy!
Happy July! Readers, think about what brings you joy, and maybe more importantly, WHY those things bring you joy. We’ve often been taught that the key to joy lies within us, and while that is true to some extent, would you believe that a lot of it has to do with our physical surroundings? Author Ingrid Fetell Lee dives right into this in her book Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. Lee draws from neuroscience, psychology, design, color theory, and many more subjects to reveal that we can be in control of ourselves and feel joy through the objects and space around us.
Grab a copy as you’re road tripping or lounging in your hammock and follow along with us @larsbookclub . We’d love to hear your thoughts! Enjoy!
Try a virtual book club
For anyone wondering how well book clubs work from afar, try out your favorite video conferencing app! Invite some friends, find a fancy snack, and talk about your favorite new book. Or find a new one that you’re interested in reading! Catch up on personal stuff while you dig into the details of why Bernadette left or what singing crawdads have to do with the story or the medieval history of the color yellow. (Can you name these books?)
We recently designed some video conference cards that are colorful and a little bit cheeky… do you have a friend who can’t seem to mute themself when they’re not speaking? Hold up the mute card or the “Quiet, please!” You can even download different backgrounds to use on Zoom. I’m sure you’ve noticed our penchant for bright colors, so check out our zoom background color pallets! If you don’t have a video conference corner set up, a bright background is the next best thing – and requires zero house cleaning.
If you want to join a preexisting book club, I know just the one: OURS! Each month we pick a new book and discuss it. If you don’t love to read or don’t have time, try downloading the audiobook so you can join in the fun in a more convenient way.
This month’s book
I’ll give just a teaser of topics covered in the book to pique your interest…
Yellow pigment was derived anciently from clay deposits and was used by cave painters all across the globe! I did a little research and learned that some historians view the development of color as one of the first signs of civilization – it shows a bridge between art and science. Nifty!
In Eastern cultures, yellow is almost always associated with joy, light, goodness – all things we love at Lars.
Vincent van Gogh used yellow alllllllll over the place, and we can’t get enough of it. Check out one of these films made about him if you want to see his color pallets brought to life outside of the canvas! Loving Vincent & At Eternity’s Gate
Pantone’s most recent yellow color of the year was last in 2009, but it has made a huge splash this last year on the runways and in interior design. Don’t believe me? Ask Glamour, Vogue, Fashion Week, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. Have you heard of Gen Z Yellow? (You don’t have to be Gen Z to love it!)
If you’re already a fan of yellow, you’ll enjoy reading about it in Pastoureau’s fabulous book—and if not? Hey, maybe you’ll have a new favorite color by the end. 😉 It is sure to be a visual feast. Happy reading!
Other book recommendations
Here are some more books to check out all about color!
Maybe you don’t love to read, or you just don’t have the time to sit down with a book! My rec is to download the audiobook! You can join in on the book club fun in whatever way is convenient for you.
Click here to see all of our favorite book recommendations!
Team Lars just returned from a trip to Cuba! And I can’t wait to share our experiences with you. Going along with the cuban theme, here’s an update on the book we read for #LarsBookClub for February.
Have you enjoyed Dreaming in Cuban?? Reviews of this book are such polar opposites, so we’re curious to hear what you thought! Have you been to Cuba? Or after reading Dreaming in Cuban, is this intriguing island now in your travel plans? With questions in the back of the book, it was difficult to come up with some new ones, but here are a few. I recommend reading Garcia’s discussion questions and also the interview with her (which sheds LOTS of light on the main female characters) in the back of the book!
For this month’s printable poster and bookmarks, I used photos that I took in Cuba. The trip was endlessly inspiring and I can’t wait to share all the magical photos. One element that really caught my eye were the ornate tile work. There were so many beautiful combinations (including this one that our photographer, Chaunte just so happened to match!). These patterns inspired me to create so many other beautiful things.
November Book Club
Have you ever read a book at just the right time, when you needed it most in your life? Did it seem almost like that book serendipitously found you for a reason? Written words are powerful – they can change us, they can carry us through hard and good times, and they can bring people together. This month we’ll be reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Set during WWII on the small island of Guernsey located between southern England and France, this is a story of love, loss, and living amongst the enemy. A London writer finds a new subject to become passionate about as the Islanders try to move on after the Nazi occupation of their tranquil island. Told in reflective, heart-breaking, witty, and hilarious letters and telegrams, this book endears you to its amazing characters. If you haven’t read this yet, you’re in for a treat. If you have, read it with us again! It recently became a movie, but we promise the book is better. 😉 Stay tuned for artwork later this month, and follow along with @larsbookclub. We want to hear your thoughts! Enjoy!
How are you enjoying this month’s book club selection? We’re reading, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio and it’s been wonderful hearing so many of you who have already read it or seen the movie. What are your thoughts so far? We have some discussion questions below to get your clocks ticking.
And to go along with it, we have worked with one of my favorite illustrators, Louise Lockhart of The Printed Peanut, to create some original artwork. She created a poster with a quote from the book that reads, “It’s all a matter of what you set out to do” as well as a bookmark. It would make a great Mother’s Day card, doncha think?
Get the free printables and discussion questions below!