Self Publishing + I Spy by Kerry Pitt-Hart

Have you ever dreamed of owning a book authored by y-o-u? Sharing your voice is important, I believe that each of us has a special gift, something truly unique and beautiful to share with others. A book (or a blog in my case) can be the channel in which to showcase that gift. Perhaps you are a motivator, an anthropologist, or a secretary with some humorous stories to share. Maybe you have an interesting story to tell about your family, a character trapped in your head that you'd love to give life to, a children's book that's 'this' close to being the next Harry Potter but you just don't know it yet. How will you know if you don't take the first step? Do you take amazing photos, have excellent ideas around floral arranging or wedding planning? Perhaps you're a great cook, you sew really well, or live an eco-friendly lifestyle and have terrific tips to share. Have you opened your own store, lost a loved one, or pushed through fears to accomplish a dream? The reason why this intro is so long and question-filled is to stimulate you. Maybe one of these questions made you pause. Pay attention to the pause, it could mean something great is brewing inside and that you just may need to listen to it. We all have something important to share.

Once you have your ideas together on paper, you can go the traditional route and submit your story through various publishing companies. One of my favorites is Chronicle Books because I've heard nothing but positive things about them from the many writers I know who they've published. Since you spend at least 18 months working on a book with your publisher, you'll need to like them and most importantly, trust them and their vision for your book. Product packaging and marketing along with earning actual money from your hard work is also of importance and I've heard that Chronicle excels in these areas too. (Learn more about submissions here.) Chronicle Books and major publishing houses aside, perhaps you've heard of self-publishing. Have you considered the less traditional route as an option?

When it comes to self-publishing, where do you turn? How does it work? What's in it for you? I can't answer these questions, but I can point you to a decor8 reader that I admire because she just went this route and is already finding success with it over at Blurb. Her name is Kerry Pitt-Hart, you may know her from the etsy store Lush Bella or from these posts on decor8.

Kerry is an accomplished Photographer, Jewelry Designer, and Museum Educator and since January 11th, a new author. She has an Etsy store too. So much for wearing one hat in life, Kerry is involved in many things that she loves because each one brings her joy and satisfies her desire to explore and learn. I've included some images of her first book called I Spy, a mostly visual gem that also inspires imagination because alongside her photos of arrangements she includes a short somewhat poetic story or questions that ask the reader to get involved.

I recently asked Kerry a few questions about I Spy so I thought I'd share her comments with you today.

decor8: What made you want to author a book?

KPH: Honestly...I get bored easily, though strangely at the same time, I can spend hours stringing and sewing extremely tiny beads onto pieces of lace. I'm kind of an anomaly, I guess. But I also like to write, and the thought of being able to write and design a book on my own was the perfect cure for the boredom I had at the time.

decor8: How did you develop the concept?

KPH: It came to me when I received a message from Caitlin, who I met on Flickr. Before this, the book I was working on was a compilation of all the object photographs I've made up to the present, but she said something about my work that really struck a chord, and inspired some of the activities in the book. She said that my work reminded her of the grown up version of the i-spy books. So I set to work thinking of activities like the writing activity for "Follow Me II", which is the arrangement of the scattered paper lithographs of Victorian-era butterflies arranged in a graceful curve fluttering after circles and dots. I also arranged some photographs side-by-side on the same page asking the reader to pick out the differences between them.

decor8: All of your little objects must have a history, do you reference that somewhere in the book?

KPH: Yes, in the back of the book are lists of the objects I used in each arrangement, so the reader can look up an object they may be unfamiliar with. I also tried to include where I found the object, like the spool of red and white thread that I unraveled from a length of polka-dot silk I picked up at a sidewalk sale next door to Momi Toby's in Hayes Valley (San Francisco) several years ago.

decor8: Overall, how easy was it to use Blurb?

KPH: The software that you download is rather intuitive to use, though on my older Mac it kept crashing. However, realizing that it's still in beta version I just worked through it and saved often. I was going to self-publish through Apple's iPhoto, but it proved to be too cost-prohibitive for the number of pages I had. I also went with Blurb because of the fact that they're out of San Francisco, have an online bookstore where you can sell what you publish, and because you decide what your "royalty" is. Plus, you can announce your book once you've published it by sending a message directly from their site where people can download a preview of the first several pages. I feel like a spokesperson for Blurb, but I think everyone should try it if they haven't already.

You can purchase her book here online and if you'd like to learn about self publishing straight from Kerry you can ask her by commenting below or you may visit Blurb online and refer to their FAQ page or visit Blurb forums. But if you're anything like me, I prefer asking those who have experienced something for themselves so feel free to comment below with your questions.

After viewing her arrangements, I have a question for Kerry. What do you do with your arrangements after you've photographed them? Do you place them inside of a shadowbox and sell them as works of art? You certainly could. I envision Kerry's work in a gallery or a storefront, her originals alongside her prints along with I Spy. If I had a space for this, I would ask Kerry to do a book signing along with a show - this would be such an interesting and unique exhibit don't you think? Someone invite Kerry! :)

(images from kerry pitt-hart)