“Crochet books don’t sell as well as knitting books.”
“Crocheters don’t spend as much money as knitters.”
“Crocheters don’t spend as much money on yarn.”
“Crocheters don’t want to spend money, period.”
Do you find any of these statements to be true, as a crocheter?
When I first started to get more into crocheting in 2005, I would hear things like, “Knitters are snobby toward crocheters,” or that local yarn shops cater to knitters more than crocheters (i.e. not carrying as many crochet hooks or crochet books). What at first seems like elitism or snobbery becomes more interesting when you talk to a store-owner about it. “In general, crocheting a scarf takes up more yarn than knitting a scarf, and the yarn-expense turns off crocheters from spending money on more high-end yarn.”
I have to remove myself from this equation because I LOVE YARN. I love to look at yarn and touch yarn and buy yarn and hoard yarn (obviously, if you have seen my yarn wall). There is some yarn that I consider a prize, or art, and I just like to possess it and look at it and be happy that I own it (creepy?). But I know not everyone is like that. A lot of people are more practical, and if they want to make a blanket for a newborn baby that a baby will probably barf all over, chew up, and get poop on, they don’t want it to cost $100+ in yarn only. I get that completely. As a crocheter who sells her crochet goods, I do have to try to keep the cost of my supplies down since the cost/time of labor is so high, and usually that means you can’t crochet with the fancy stuff.
In my journey to publish my second crochet book, my agent and I encountered a lot of the statements that I started this blog entry with: crocheters don’t spend money, i.e. nobody wants to buy your crochet book. Or, if a publisher is looking for crochet books, they want stuff that is less weird than my stuff, like “25 striped hats for your kids,” or “25 kinda okay scarves for the average 25 – 45 year old lady,” etc. Because, this is what people buy, and this is what makes money for publishers. I totally get it. Even though my audience had grown substantially since selling my first book, my numbers were not enough to sway many of the publishers we approached. It was an extreme uphill battle that I never blogged about.
Now, I’m really only talking about big/traditional publishing, and they are businesses, and they have a bottom line, and they want to make money, and they can’t really be bothered with much else, like, championing the unique or the underdog. That ain’t their problem.
So we have places like Etsy, or Ravelry, or Craftsy, to sell our patterns or e-books or self-pubbed books, and the books can be as weird and wacky as we want them to be. Having come from a career in traditional book publishing, I have to admit, I do think there is more cache’ to getting your book published by, say, Random House, than, say, yourself. There’s a certain filter for quality that is assumed with agents and traditional publishing that you don’t really get with self-publishing. However, the technology and accessibility is there for self-publishing, and the internet is at our disposal as far as marketing and outreach. It’s just, different. And it’s a decision I’m thinking about making in the future. But I’m not sure yet. The other assumed upshot of traditional publishing is that they already have some marketing machines in motion that could benefit you, and it can be easier to get into bookstores (cuz some still exist, right?), but if you are a marketing maven, you might not need them at all.
Another part of this conversation is when people tell me, “I’m in this crochet group on Facebook, and everyone in it says that they refuse to pay for any pattern, because they can always find an equivalent for free somewhere.” Okay, I like free stuff, too, but there is something about this philosophy that really bothers me as an artist/designer. Does that mean that there is no perceived value to my experience, creativity, and time, even amongst my own peers? How can we complain that people don’t want to pay for the cost of handmade, when we ourselves don’t want to pay $5 or less for a pattern?
Also, please be aware, that re-posting patterns in these groups or in forums, without permission, whether paid-for or free, is a violation of copyright, and is totally not cool, unless expressly indicated by the writer of that pattern.
My small biz rants don’t usually have a neat conclusion or a true thesis. They are just rants, after all. I guess my point is: if you have some spare cash and you love crocheting, buy crochet books. Buy patterns. If you want more cool crochet books, you should support the people who create them for you. I know there are TOOOOONS of cool free patterns that can keep a person busy until the end of time, but if you like the feel of a book in your hand, or you like the idea of your favorite crafters writing books and patterns for you, try to support them as much as you can. I realize that not everyone can afford to do so, and I’m not trying to be classist about it, but I also feel that our artists have worth at the end of the day, and we should support them if we can and if we love them. I don’t like to rant about money, and at the heart of it, this is not really a rant about money. It’s really about support for a craft that sometimes doesn’t seem as glamorous as the rest. Sometimes it has a bad rap for being out-dated, or ugly, or not having enough style. But you and I know that this doesn’t have to be true.