Archive of ‘We are Adventurers’ category

Adventures in Business with Gabrielle Krake

Gabrielle Krake

Gabrielle Krake

Today I’m talking with Gabrielle Krake, a Starship Captain and the owner & designer of Bee Wise Goods 

People have this fantasy of what it’s like to be a full-time maker, or to own their own shop. But what’s a normal day for you really like?
Well I often joke if I can shower, brush my hair and teeth and eat at least one salad then I’m doing great! As far as making things, I get to make inventory on Mon – Wed when I’m not in my shops. I have to get super motivated, usually by some unknowable spark of creativity and then I make my things in assembly line mode, cranking out 10-20 of one item and then I move to another. I personally make over 25 handmade items and 16 sewing patterns (I only have to print these and package them, but I have several I would like to develop but do not have the 30-40 hours it takes to draft one, right now). On Thursdays I’m back in my shops and have to catch up on spreadsheets, accounting and merchandising. On Fridays and Saturdays I work for my daughter in her bakery and we start at 6am making her goodies, displaying them and selling all day. Sunday is an “off” day for me but I usually make something fun or watch movies all day. Oh and jammed in all the cracks between business tasks I have four kids that we homeschool (three have graduated but still live at home) make meals, and clean my house (it’s really only clean and tidy when we’re sleeping). We have chickens and dogs, a cat, and chinchillas.
There are moments when I want to throw in the towel and just read books and go to coffee like my friends, but I know deep down I would be bored in about a week of that and start another business, haha!
Bee Wise Goods

Bee Wise Goods

There are so many ways to make a living as a maker – how are you doing it? What have you combined and how has that changed through the years?
In all honesty I started my business because when the economy collapsed in 2008, my husband’s income was cut in half (at least). I had started a blog and was posting crafty ideas and tutorials so when we realized we were going to need extra money I decided to start making reusable grocery bags and do repairs to bring in money. Over the course of the next few years we had made and sold thousands of products in a very unconventional way, at the time – through a blog and my website that I did myself. There were very little resources to promote tiny enterprises like ours but Etsy and PayPal played the biggest online role and getting my things into stores was the second component to not starving.
The business was a huge miracle in many ways, we were able to barely keep our house and each other but all other peripheral luxuries and necessities were culled. It made life simpler in ways that we adopted permanently.
Three years ago I realized I was giving away much of my income in rents, commissions, wholesale orders and co-op hours so we opened our own shop in 2011, added another one in 2012 and now a bakery in 2013. (The shops are all connected, we’re slowly taking over a 1951 strip mall.) There are days when I daydream about not working so hard but then I see that the legacy we’re leaving for our 4 kids is priceless. Even if they do not emulate us by being business owners, they have a very realistic view of finances, they understand options and they know they have choices about how to make money.
Gabrielle's family bakery

Gabrielle’s family bakery

What new thing are you exploring now?
I am in the process of inventing the creative magazine called Makers Unwound. It will start with a local focus and depending on how it goes we can expand regionally and beyond.
What’s your definition of success in your business?
The joy I feel, the relationships we have developed and the legacy of income choices we have given our kids is true SUCCESS for me.
Dolls from Gabrielle's product line

Dolls from Gabrielle’s product line

What’s the next destination you’re working towards?
I want to start taking a backseat in operations. Two of my kids are slowly becoming equipped with the skills to allow me to make inventory, create art and work on the magazine. Accounting, spreadsheets and invoices takes up about 15-20 hours per week that I can begin to have back for creative purposes. We are planning on expanding the bakery and offering more products.
Gabrielle's studio

Gabrielle’s studio

 

 

Adventures in publishing and editing, with Alicia + Kelly

Today I’m happy to be talking to author Alicia de los Reyes and her editor and publisher, Kelly Rizzetta.

We talked about

  • the self-publishing options,
  • the importance of an editor for improving your framework
  • how they collaborated together
  • their best marketing tactic (not what you’d think).


(If you’re reading this via email, click through to see the video! If you’d like to get posts via email, click here.)

 

Alicia de los Reyes is a writer and teacher  in Seattle, WA. She recently published an ebook called The Chick Lit Cookbook: A Guide to Writing Your Novel in 30 Minutes a Day, and she’s now blogging about her experience using that guide to write a brand-new novel here. Kelly Rizzetta is the editor-in-chief of New Jersey-based KMR Publishing, which produced The Chick Lit Cookbook.

 

If you’re an author, whether self-published or traditionally published, I’ve put together a list of resources for you! If you’d like to work together to create a marketing plan for your book, I can help you with that!

 

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Adventures in Fiction Writing with SJ Pajonas

sj pajonasI made the mistake of reading SJ Pajonas’ new novel, Released, during my flight last Saturday. Sitting in between two strangers, 2 hours into a 4 hour flight, I started bawling my eyes out. And snuffling. And generally being the kind of person you avoid sitting next to. But despite the personal embarrassment (or perhaps because of it), I heartily recommend SJ’s Nogiku series. It’s funny, action-packed and so full of real dialogue that I cried on a crowded plane. So yeah, I LOVE it.

I’m delighted that SJ agreed to answer some of my questions about the writing + marketing of her novels.

People have this fantasy of what it’s like to be a novelist. But what’s a normal day for you really like?

I’m a stay-at-home mom, so typically, my day is: get up at 5am so I have 1.5 to 2 hours of time to write or get other writing-related work done before my kids get up, get kids to school, either run errands or write while they’re at school (they’re not at school all day yet), then the rest of my day is completely normal. I can sometimes get in a few hundred words here and there when they’re home but it’s difficult. When I need a long stretch of time for working, I save it for the weekend when my husband can cover for me.

I’ve found that getting things done (like writing so proficiently and getting it all published) is about having daily (or weekly) habits and practices to keep working on your project. So tell us about your writing rituals – what do you do to get in the flow for writing?

You know all that time in the previous question when I’m taking care of the kids and the house? I’m brainstorming that whole time. I brainstorm while loading and unloading the dishwasher, while I’m making dinner, while I’m sitting and waiting for school to be dismissed, etc. Because when I actually have the time to sit down and write, I want to get words on the page immediately. I honestly don’t have the time to stare at a blank page in front of me! I also do a lot of writing on my phone in Evernote. If I’m working in the kitchen and I have a great idea for some dialogue that I just know I’ll forget before I get up at 5am the next morning, I open Evernote and write it all down quickly. I have a folder for each book and I just keep adding notes when I have the chance. This way I always have material when I sit down to write.

What’s your favorite apps or tools? What do you use to write, edit, etc?

My favorite app for writing is definitely Scrivener. It’s a $45 application from Literature & Latte and I would say the best money I’ve ever spent. You can use it to organize your work or novel like a file system, and it allows you to write in snippets and then move them around.* If you do this in Word, you have to highlight, copy, cut, and paste, and it’s annoyingly clunky. Once you’re done with a novel, you can export to a range of formats for ebooks. Since I self-publish, it’s all I use. Calibre is another piece of helpful software. Sometimes I export a book from Scrivener to HTML format, I tweak the HTML and then use Calibre to convert it to ebook formats. And Evernote is the other software I can’t live without. I can access it on all my devices so I keep a lot in it from notes about each book to information and links I gather on self-publishing to recipes for those dinners that fuel me!

*Tara’s note: I agree! I used Scrivener to write my book!

As you’ve self-published books, I have loved watching your marketing unfold (which is so rare!). What is the most effective thing you’ve done to share the book with more people?

Thank you! There are several things I’ve done that I think work for books in general. I give away a lot of copies in the hopes that they garner reviews. I make a lot of multimedia items to promote the book like teaser images that I post on my blog, twitter, and Goodreads, and I had a book trailer made. I have a presence on most of the social media networks where I am, most importantly, MYSELF. I don’t try to project that I’m an expert in anything or give advice that I know nothing about. If you find me online, I’m usually talking about random things from my life or sharing tidbits of information that have been coming my way. I keep the ranting to a minimum and I usually reply if you want to chat. I do let people know when I’m excited about my work because I hope that, if you know me, you’ll be excited too.

released

 What’s your most-favorite (enjoyable) thing you’ve done to share your work?

I really enjoy making the teaser images that I reveal in the weeks before a book is published. I love choosing an iconic image and pairing it with a quote from the books. I find them really exciting probably because I come from a film background. I love that pairing of images and words. It works for me everytime.

What resources did you find helpful in learning how to share your work?

I’ve been self-publishing for about six months now (from the time I decided to self-publish which was last June 2013) but I spent a few ramp-up months before my first book was published watching other authors publish as well. I’m the quiet scientist in the corner. I sit and observe what other people are doing first, determine what is or is not working for them, and then write it down for use later. To get started, I went to Hugh Howey’s blog and searched for “self-publishing” because I had read his books and knew he was a self-publishing advocate. I read all of his posts and they led me to the Kindle Boards and from there I just gathered information when I could. I haven’t read any books specifically on self-publishing though a lot of my author friends recommend Write, Publish, Repeat which was written by authors who also have a very helpful podcast. I plan on reading it soon as well to see if there’s anything I’m missing!

 What are you exploring now?

I’m trying my best right now to have a more balanced life. Sometimes marketing my books can take over my life! And really the best marketing for current books is to put more books on the shelves. Very few writers can make a career on just one book. So I’m working on a schedule to publish four books plus short stories over the next two years. It’s big for me, to plan so far ahead. I know that something can happen in the next week or month to send that schedule into a tailspin but I’m going to try it anyway. In writing, I’m exploring writing outside of my genre. I like writing science fiction and I’m going to continue writing in the Nogiku world that I’ve built and love, but I also want to write contemporary romance. I’ve been working on a book for a year that I’ll be publishing in the late Spring. It’s an adult contemporary romance called FACE TIME and it’s different from what I’ve already published. I want to continue writing ideas and taking risks with my work and exploring stories outside of my norm is how I’ll do that.

What’s your definition of success in your writing business?

Success has been hard for me to define! And it has changed over the course of the last six months. At first, my definition relied on sales. Was I selling books? How many? And how much money was I making to offset my initial costs? But sometime in the past month, my definition has changed and now my idea of success is just publishing more books. Each book I work on and move it towards publication is another success. The ultimate goal is to have a dedicated audience for my work and with each book published, I gain more readers. Success and its definition will probably change over time for me as new doors are opened and I’m able to do more with my work. For now, writing and gaining my audience is my primary goal.

What’s the next destination you’re working towards?

So I have this set of long-term goals for the next two years concerning what I’d like to publish but the next stop on the self-publishing road trip is to publish my contemporary romance, FACE TIME. There are several steps to get there including: a reveal of the cover online, teaser images, designing a paperback layout of the book, possibly make a book trailer, a companion website, and several other things. But I also have a writing journey that runs parallel to self-publishing, and after I’m done with revisions on FACE TIME, I will be starting revisions of the Nogiku Series Book 3. There’s lots to be done! And I’m looking forward to it all.

Thanks for having me, Tara!

Thanks for sharing so much! I’ve learned tons! 

Disclaimer-y Disclaimer: SJ is a Twitter friend and she sent me an advanced copy of both of her books, but PEOPLE, after reading the first one, I would have gladly paid for all subsequent books. Buy your copy of Released here. Now. For more from SJ, check her site here, her blog tour schedule here, and befriend her on Twitter!

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Business with Jill Wolcott

Jill WolcottToday I’m exploring with Starship Captain Jill Wolcott. Jill is an award-winning teacher who combines a wealth of knitting knowledge with a great sense of humor to make her classes both useful and fun. Jill is always thinking about knitted garments, how they fit, and how to guide knitters toward a successful knitting experience.  She recently published an ebook of knitting designs: The Goddess Collection.

 

 

 

People have this fantasy of what it’s like to be a full-time maker. But what’s a normal day for you really like? 

I don’t really have a “go with the flow” life.  Weekdays I get up at 6:30, make coffee, tidy up, look at email and Evernote (my assistant works from her home), shower, then hit my office.  My office day is spent working on patterns, marketing, administrative things, book projects, creating classes and class materials, and whatever is on my list.  It almost never includes knitting.  The closest I get to knitting is picking up needles to figure out how I can better explain how to do a technique or maneuver.  I do a lot of editing, drafting, redrafting, initial charting, and a lot of grading sizes.

On Wednesdays I leave my office about 10:30 and go downtown to teach at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.  I’m usually pretty tired at the end of six hours there, but I am a favorite instructor and have been given an outstanding faculty award 11 times in the 14 years I’ve taught there.

I do volunteer work for TNNA and am part of the Starship and Cat Bordhi’s Visionary Authors group.  I also have an elderly mother and we do things on Thursdays and Fridays when I can get away.  She is a long-time knitter so is always interested in what I am working on.

Wendy works with me from Pittsburgh, PA.  She is like the third lobe of my brain and is beginning to take on more pieces of my day-to-day work so that I can explore more, create more, do more.  I would be lost without her.  I have another assistant who comes into my office twice a week and does hands on things–from winding yarn to finishing work on projects.  She does shipping, tracking, and entering things into my bookkeeping software.  Again, without her help I would surely be buried in my own mess.

Most of my samples are knit by paid knitters.  They are a brave lot who embark on projects that are often still in process.  They must be my eyes as I am not seeing what is happening except through weekly photos.  I have someone who works as a project manager to keep the knitters on track–and make sure I answer questions and address problems.

I have a tech editor who works per hour.  She has a wonderfully detailed brain and asks me lots of questions to make sure my work is clear.  I also have a copy editor who works on my longer work.  She is primarily looking for consistency and continuity.  Both are knitters who understand why I like to take a different approach in presenting my patterns.

I knit after I quit work in my office. I cook dinner most nights, and I knit afterwards until I go to bed. I am not usually knitting samples; I am either working on new design ideas or making a second sample or one of my designs for me to wear. I make the final sample myself only if there is a quick deadline or if it is a small item. We’ve found that I am not reliable at finding problems in the patterns, so it isn’t usually a good place for me to put my knitting energy. All my knitting is related to my business and I have no time to knit any one else’s patterns, but I do love to knit.

Weekends are often where I find time to follow new ideas or do things I want to do but don’t need to do.  I have a wonderful husband who likes to spend time with me–some of it without knitting needles in my hands. We go to a fair number of jazz and world music performances, plays, and author/artist lectures. We both read a lot, although knitting cuts into my reading time!

There are so many ways to make a living as a maker – how are you doing it? What have you combined and how has that changed through the years?

As mentioned above, I teach to make money.  It is the only reliable money source I have.  I am working on making it possible to offer classes via video with live check-ins so that I can continue to teach those classes online  without it being a live performance.  This will make it easier for people to fit it into their schedules too.  Right now those classes are for knitwear designers of any stripe.  I hope to have classes for knitters in 2014 as well.  I do not teach at retail knitting shows right now because I simply do not have time.  I do some limited work for magazines, and sometimes do consulting work.

I don’t think the work of a designer has changed much over the years. With Tara’s help I am finding the courage to do what I believe I want to put out into the world, even though it is a little different.

Jill Wolcott designs

What new thing are you exploring now?

I have just launched what I call Studio Space.  This is a subscription program to invite knitters to share their knitting time with me and other committed knitters.  I have framed my first offering around my Goddess Collection, but I think this will end up being the beginning of the program, and not our sole focus.  My other new thing is eBook pattern collections, and online classes.  I want to write books too, but need to get some of these other wheels turning more effectively to allow that to happen.

What’s your definition of success in your business?

For my business to be successful I need to balance expenses and income, but that isn’t the whole picture for me.  I would like some recognition for my skills and talents, but primarily I would like to know that I am helping knitters find pleasure and satisfaction in the actual making of knitted things.  I would like to be able to make a living too!

 What’s the next destination you’re working towards?

Jill Wolcott Knits Studio and mastery of marketing!

 

Thanks so much for sharing your workday and adventure with us, Jill!

 

Jill’s a Captain in the Starship. You can meet more Captains + learn if it’s right for your adventure when you sign up for the free mini-course here. 

 

cross_stitches

 

“I find great resources among the other Starship members, and I really love having the weekly accountability (if you want it) of telling someone what I’m doing.  This is making a ton of difference in how I get my work done, how I value it, and how I prioritize my time.
In the 2.5 months I’ve been on the Starship I have seen real differences in myself as a business owner, and my ability to see how to move my business ahead in the direction I want it to move.”
-Jill Wolcott, Jill Wolcott Knits
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Adventures with Paul Jarvis, Live!

Today I interviewed Paul Jarvis about publishing (he’s kickstarting his third self-published book), experimentation and the importance of creating your own ideal business.

(If you’re reading via email or RSS, you probably need to click through to see the video)

 

Watching + Loving? 

Click here to tweet!

Support Paul’s new book!

For more on why Paul’s using Kickstarter, read this. 

For more about how to experiment, read this.

 

Got a question?
Ask it in the comments!

 

 

 

This is the first in a series of interviews about exploring publishing. Subscribe to be sure you don’t miss a one!

 

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