In my early forties, I needed a change of lifestyle, as my blood pressure was
sky high, and I felt I was headed for a breakdown. I had worked for twenty
five years in law firms and in international banking. Little did I know
that I would never return to a regular work place.
I started making cottage crafts at home and selling them at local markets.
This was so successful, I wrote an article on selling crafts at markets to a
major women’s magazine, which was accepted immediately, followed by further
articles on making crafts which were also eagerly accepted.
With so many ideas were running through my head, it occurred to me that I
should write a series of books on easy, inexpensive crafts for fetes and
markets. At a large bookstore, I compiled a two page list of craft book
publishers who published the kind of books I envisaged.
My enthusiastic and confident letter to publishers was carefully composed.
I strongly feel you are not only selling your ideas, but yourself. I got an
excited call from the second publisher I approached who was very keen to
sign me on the spot. My daughter was born that day, so I always maintain I
gave birth to a baby and a book on the same day!!!
Of course it was all very well to have signed a contract for two books with
a brand new baby, but now I had to go about putting the ideas on paper. At
this time we lived in a tiny cottage in Sydney. My computer was set up in
the baby’s room – not an ideal situation, but I completed my first book
while she slept!
Over 50 crafts items were photographed, editing was checked, final proof
reading done, and an index compiled. It was a bit like a pregnancy – took
nine months altogether! I was so excited to receive my first book “Annie’s
I wrote to all the major craft magazines in Australia, and sent them a copy
of my book. They published some great articles and book reviews, which of
course generated more sales. I took my book to all the craft shows I
attended, and they sold well.
The following year, we moved to our weekender country property. With no
electricity and only a generator and two fuel stoves, it was an abrupt
change of pace from our life in the city. I wrote my second craft book,
“Annie’s Cottage Crafts” when the generator was on, usually at night. This
book was also successfully published and the Book Clubs snapped them up. I
also started to sell both books on a mail order basis through advertisements
placed in country magazines and newspapers. They sold like hot cakes!
I quickly produced “Annie’s Creative Crafts”, followed by “Annie’s Easy
Crafts”. Remarkably the “Annie” books sold over $1 million in retail sales,
and were bestsellers in the Australian market. The Book Clubs were doing a
roaring trade, and the books were reprinted countless times. With each new
book, I negotiated a better contract for myself.
My publishers then approached me to write an easy, inexpensive type of
cookbook. “Annie’s East Treats” was also highly successful in the
competitive market of cookbooks. The emphasis had always been on simple
treats or crafts for gift giving or fund raising, and I believe this is why
the “Annie” series of books has enjoyed so much success. Promotion is also
a key factor, and you have to be prepared to sell yourself. I never did go
back to work in an office!!!
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