Design Your Biz: Self-Publishing vs. Contracts

Self-publishing or contract work? Which is better?

Honestly, I have no idea.

There are lots of pros and cons that go along with each. Self-publishing you have all the control (which is great for a control freak like me). There's also a lot of time and money that go into producing a good pattern and you don't really know how much you'll make. With third-party contract work, you might only make a set amount of money, but at least it's guaranteed. And, many times (obviously it depends on the contract) you don't have to worry about things like paying for a tech editor or photography and a lot of the other costs that go into releasing a pattern.

So, I thought I'd talk a little bit about my venture into crochet design this year. I went the route of solely doing contract work for my crochet patterns in 2016. That was a decision that I consciously made.

My Flibbertigibbet Shawlette in Interweave Crochet Winter 2017
Photo Credit: Interweave/Harper Point Photography

But, why? 
  1. I am much newer to crochet than knitting. Many of my customers might not even know that I can crochet. I felt like getting published by a yarn company or in a magazine might help give me some legitimacy in the crochet world. 
  2. I'm not as comfortable writing a crochet pattern than a knitting one. Writing a knitted shawl pattern I can do in my sleep. Crochet? I still find it a little overwhelming and time-consuming. I really liked the idea of having to follow a company's pattern template and working with established crochet tech editors. 
  3. As I already mentioned, self-publishing costs money. There's tech editing and photography and ad space and maybe yarn. Plus the time it's going to take to make the item, write the pattern, edit, layout (or you have to pay someone else to layout the pattern) and do all the social media about it. There's Paypal and Ravelry fees too. It's not free. And, as an unestablished crochet designer, I was unsure I was going to make enough money from my sales to cover the costs associated with self-publishing.
Will I eventually start self-publishing crochet patterns? Absolutely! I just wanted to get a couple crochet patterns under my belt and get more comfortable with the process before taking the leap into self-publishing.

Photo Credit: Willow Yarns

To be clear, I don't think that you have to start with contract work. With my knitting patterns, I self-published patterns for awhile before I ever did work on contract. As I've talked about before, everyone navigates through this industry differently. There is no right way.

If you're a designer, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

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