Over the last decade we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the acceptance of self-publishing. Once looked down upon as something you did when you couldn’t find a “real” publisher to buy your book, today self-publishing is an artisanal act of creative control. Creative people are no longer reliant on the traditional gatekeepers to determine whether their ideas warrant an investment. Especially with print-on-demand services, they can now create their own patterns and books to sell to their audience directly with very little upfront investment, while retaining complete creative control.
The trend towards self-publishing is being felt in all sectors. In 2017 more than a million books were self-published and the number of self-published print books grew 38 percent, experiencing the fifth consecutive year of print growth.
Creating a high-quality, self-published book is not without complexity, of course. In essence publishing is a series of processes, and each one requires a high level of skill that not every potential author possesses. Writing, editing, design, production, marketing, and distribution are each areas that need focused attention, often requiring a team of professionals to assemble for each project.
That’s where Maker Books comes in. Founded last month by Kerry Bogert, a veteran in the craft publishing industry, Maker Books strives to fill that void, guiding designers and artists through the self-publishing process from start to finish. The company offers a full suite of services to help create a self-publishing experience that is as smooth and empowering as possible.
“I feel like I just speak the language of craft,” says Bogert, who spent six years at F+W, first as acquisitions editor for Interweave Craft, then as editorial director of Interweave and Fons & Porter, later rebranded as The Quilting Company. She resigned in March, before the F+W bankruptcy filing, with plans to strike out on her own. “It’s the way my brain works.”
Bogert remembers loving the geometry questions on the SAT that involved envisioning three dimensional shapes. “When I read projects and patterns, I’m making them in my mind. It just goes together and comes to life. And when I run into places where things don’t make sense, I can help someone communicate that better.” She couldn’t be more excited to be bringing all of her skills and experience to the world of self-publishing, where makers can truly bring their visions to life.
Maker Books Founder, Kerry Bogert.
Photo courtesy of Kerry Bogert
When we spoke last week she had just finished helping a jewelry designer turn her class handout into a professionally produced ebook she could sell on Etsy. “She teaches different jewelry techniques like soldering and she wanted a styled PDF that went with her branding. I created a template for her that she can use with all of her projects going forward,” Bogert says. “And she knows she wants to do a book someday. This is like a stepping stone towards that.” In this case the template Bogert made is in InDesign and she provided the client with training so that she could input the content herself now and in the future. In other situations, though, Bogert can be a full-service shop inputting the content and laying out the entire project for Maker Books clients.
“For me it’s really meeting people where they are on their path in their creative business and their self-publishing process,” Bogert says. She’s ready to work with first time publishers who need hand holding and experienced authors who found the mainstream publishing process to be frustrating and are ready to go it alone. Other clients include brands in need of print assets such as lookbooks. “I have experience working with yarn companies to manage designers and put together a really beautiful collection that features their product in a gorgeous way,” Bogert says. “So pretty much if it’s media that tells somebody how to do something I can help in some way.”
Speckle Bangle Bracelet and Sway Necklace by Kerry Bogert.
Photo courtesy of Kerry Bogert
In college Bogert was pursuing a major in visual communications and graphic design before she left to have a baby. “But I was always one of those people who could dig into something and figure it out,” she says. When she started at F+W she’d never worked in InDesign. “I just turned on that maker side of my brain and said this is another tool. It can produce really cool things. Let’s figure out how to use it.” Working through a book, chapter by chapter, over the course of a summer she developed her skills until she had thorough expertise.
Bogert is solidly multi-craftual. She’s studied glass art, jewelry, and metalsmithing, but she also knits, crochets, and spins. She quilts and sews her own clothing. And she enjoys mixed media art. “I’ve just been knee deep in making for as long as I can remember and I kind of get obsessed when I see something and I have to figure out how it’s done.” Recently, that obsession led her to buy a loom and learn to weave tapestries.
Her years of experience working in the industry have helped her to connect with a team of other freelancers that support the needs of self-publishers, including photographers and photo stylists, technical illustrators, and tech editors. She even knows printers and distributors. Put together, she’s able to help designers form their own publishing house, one in which they have complete control.
Kerry Bogert in the glass studio.
Photo courtesy of Kerry Bogert
Maker Books will also help authors design a marketing strategy for their self-published media. Bogert says she “really loves marketing funnels” and has lots of ideas for how to keep patterns and books at the front of people’s minds.
In the years to come Bogert hopes to grow Maker Books so that she employs a team and can serve a larger client base. She’s working on developing an online course on self-publishing and she’s also creating off-the-shelf InDesign templates customers can buy as an even more affordable alternative for pattern layouts.
“We’re helping people produce the kind of finished content that they want, that represents them and their business,” she says. “I think as a community we’ve really moved past the idea that you need to work with a traditional publisher to say ‘I’ve published a book.’ Let’s just give people the skills they need to do it themselves.”