What I learnt about writing books—part 5

I am a published author! Screen shot of my first book sold! Insert squeal of delight here!


Finally, the end result!

So once all of the hard work of finding a topic, writing, illustrating, editing and pushing the publish button, what did I learn?

That I could do it!  I could write and edit well.  I can take what I thought was a weakness and turn it into a strength which allows me to challenge myself with other things I think are weaknesses in my life.  I am now more confident in my abilities and have had a major, much needed ego boost (in a good way).  I was able to write something I wish I had when I was a baby quilter.  These books have exceeded every goal I had for them, I love them and they were created from the heart.  I think the hard work shines through too.  I had no idea one book would become three.  I was able to learn how to use a few other computer programs—when I prefer to have someone show me what to do as I often don’t know what questions I need to ask.  I also did courses on Photoshop and InDesign towards the end of writing the books.

It would have been nice to have a well thought out plan, every subject title on the table before I started and a layout, style and format in place but I didn’t.  I had a small idea and did a little research on the internet and looked through the quilting books on my shelf for layout ideas.   No book on my shelf really stood out with a format that I liked so I discovered what I didn’t like.  My main concern was that I didn’t want the book to look like a fancy high school assignment.  I’m proud to say that the books have been edited and formatted to within an inch of their lives.  I think I pushed myself harder and further because I felt inadequate in those areas.  I’m glad I didn’t give myself a time frame to write the books or have to answer to a publisher.  Would I do it again?  For sure.  Now I have several more skills up my sleeve and the formatting in place, I think the writing would be streamlined and faster.  Developing the technique would probably take the same amount of time.

I wrote these blog posts to encourage you if you feel you have a book in you too.  Go for it.  It was a lot of hard work every day and some days you’ll have no direction or feel like you’re going around in circles but once that direction kicks in, keep your eyes on the prize and push that upload button when you’re ready to let it go.  It is a fantastic sense of accomplishment.  Analysing how and what you do is a real eye opener.  It gives you so much confidence in yourself and your writing abilities.

Leave your mark on the world with your knowledge, wit, passion and enthusiasm.  Inspire others on their journey. Who knows what they will be inspired to do.



First copies of the books. I changed the colour of the third book but these copies hold a special place in my heart.


Happy writing and quilting,


4 Responses to “What I learnt about writing books—part 5”

    • fionaschiffl

      Thank you too! You are going to feel so good once that book is published, even if it doesn’t feel like it now. Go for it! Fiona.


  1. Melanie McNeil

    Congratulations on the books! You must be very pleased and proud, as you should be. And thank you for the encouragement.

    I have a book in process, though it is stalled right now. I submitted proposals to publishers, only to be told that it was a very good proposal but no thank you. I still believe it’s a viable book, and a valuable book, too. The part of self-publishing that has stopped me is the layout aspect of the book itself. I’m not a graphic designer, and in truth I don’t really want to be. But people buy quilting books because of how they look, rather than the value of the information inside. They DO judge a book by its cover!

    Thanks again.


    • fionaschiffl

      Thank you so much! If you would like any layout advice, please send me an email. I think the layout of many quilting books is messy (as much as I love the information) so I did what I liked instead. I found that because we’re working with detailed images that need one half, or a full page that it does alter the layout, especially if you go with the two column format that most quilt books are. Go with your heart. The other thing to do is take it into a graphic designer and get their feedback and if it works for the book, go for it, if not, can the advice be tweaked in any way to suit you? Ask anyone and everyone for their opinion, you don’t have to take their advice but it’s good to have it. When you hear great leaders or people who have started big companies speak, often they say that if they didn’t know how to do something, they either fumbled their way through or surrounded themselves with people who do know what they are doing. I got two graphic designer’s opinions on the covers (one for the technical side of printing in regards to the colours) and got an editor to read it for a day. It cost a little but the end results were worth it. I also found that it is so much easier to figure out the layout in InDesign rather than Word. Everything is put into a text box so it can be moved easily without stuffing up other pages. Whole sections can be moved around too.

      Although going through a publisher will sell a lot of books, the books can be taken off the available list within a couple of years and because you’ve signed over the manuscript, you don’t own the rights to it any more. One quilter I’ve heard speak said she gets $1.20 per book from the publisher. With self publishing you can set your own royalty price though you do have to market them yourself but you own your copyright and you can sell the designs in other ways e.g. on Spoonflower or have them digitized. The books will be available for as long as you want them to be.

      I was reading online that so many books have been turned down over the years that were eventually published have turned into best sellers—from Agatha Christie to JK Rowling. If the publishers don’t want to publish it, publish it yourself. There is nothing stopping you so don’t give up. It sounds like this book needs to be finished and out there! The other great thing about having the book on amazon.com is that they have the ‘look inside’ feature so people can see a couple of pages of the book and see if it is what they are after or how well it is written. You can rope them in with your great writing too. Look at how many people are now getting their work published from starting a blog or people who have become popstars by singing a song on youtube.com. The big publishers and record producers are not the only way to go now. Follow your dream and don’t be put off by the naysayers. More quilters than ever before are releasing books whether through a publisher or by themselves and if they can do it, you can do it too! Good luck. Fiona

      Liked by 1 person


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