Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What your needlework Publisher isn’t telling you....

All the time, folks ask: how to get into the Crochet Designing business, or how do I get my designs published, or what did I- ARNie- go through to publish my book?

Most folks would think that Needlework Publishing is just like Prose Publishing with all the built in protection of various Intellectual Rights: copy rights, foreign copy rights, multiple printing revenue, revenue if the copyrights are sold to another company, media rights {tv, film, internet}, where do the copyrights go after the publisher takes the book out of print.

In mainstream publishing there is a generalized pay scale based on experience and talent. Each periodic publication states up front what they will pay for a piece, and what steps to follow in submitting a work for publication.

Magazines state up front that they will not pay the author for a piece until the piece is actually published, but the time limit on keeping that piece without paying for it is only a couple of years.

Book publishers negotiate with agents on what the author gets paid or what level of rights the author keeps in exchange for a smaller payment, including royalties or a per centage of future revenues.

Book publishers offer advances or ‘good faith’ payments to authors that they purchase a finished product, but can’t actually pay the full price until the book is actually printed.

Most folks believe that Needlework Publishing is just like Prose Publishing... right? They are both Publishing industries....

Most folks believe this, and I was one of them. The simple fact is that None of this is true for needlework publishers.

Designers get paid one time for their project: no foreign publishing revenues, no revenues when the copyrights are sold to another company, no revenues if the project is used in numerous publications. Only in the last few years have needlework publishers offered royalties for multiple printings of a leaflet/booklet... but it is solely the discretion of the publisher when and if they do a second printing.

Designers loose all Intellectual Rights to the piece: no ‘creative rights’ over changes in the design or instructions, no rights if the editor or publishers would rather market this Man’s sweater as a Plus Sized Woman’s sweater, no rights or revenues if the project is posted on a website or used for other marketing purposes.

There is no standard pay scale for experience and talent; designers must negotiate with each publisher for each design submitted. And no, you can't let a literary agent negotiate for you, because literary agents don’t represent needlework authors or designers. Needlework Designers and Authors don't get paid enough money for literary agents to work with them.

As in mainstream publishing, needlework publishers can ‘accept a design and put it under contract,' but won’t pay for the design until it is actually published in a book or magazine. However, needlework publishers can and do keep those designs under contract for years... 5 years is a general time limit when the publisher will return the copyrights to the designer along with a small compensatory fee, but the publisher is under no obligation to do so, unless stated in the contract.

If a publisher offers revenues or royalties for multiple printings, and then just doesn’t print anymore until the contract runs out with the designer... there are no agents or lawyers involved to hold the publisher accountable.

There are no agents involved to make sure publishers actually use and pay for designs in a timely manner.

There are no business managers to keep track of numerous contracts and the individual details of each contract of all the projects under contract, that haven’t been paid for.

© Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit
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Joan McGowan-Michael said...

I hate to be contrary, but I wrote Knitting Lingerie Style and do own the copyrights to all the patterns and text in my book.

The photographer still owns the rights to the photos.

I did not use an agent but a copyright lawyer to interpret the contract for me and suggest any changes.

Writing needlework books isn't going to make anybody rich, but if it's used as a tool for publicity and you are able to sell some of the yarns or notions featured in the book as a retailer (and even copies of the book itself), then you're able to piggyback more income out of it than just the sales advance and royalties should there be any.

ARNie said...

Thanks, WhiteLies for the post and the response at my blog.

Through a little digging, I see that your book is published through a branch of Abrams... a mainstream publisher.

So, yes, they negotiated with you for a much better deal than what you would have gotten from those publishers who specialize in needlework books/patterns/ leaflets. That is some lawyer if they let you keep your copyrights.