Publishing news

In recent years, the book-publishing side of what we do here at KDD has grown pretty dramatically. We’ve made some exciting changes that reflect that growth – both in the way we distribute our titles as well as in the kinds of books we publish. You’ll find more about the latter topic towards the end of this post (scroll down to send us your proposals if you can’t wait) but first – distribution! We now have a dedicated member of staff – Sam – who handles our wholesale operation.

This image really sums Sam up – he’s a hugely energetic and creative person with many projects on the go. The whole KDD team loves working with him – especially on photoshoot days! You’ll hear more from Sam in future posts here on the KDD blog and, in the meantime, if you are a yarn or bookstore interested in stocking our titles please get in touch with him: . Sam will be able to sign you up as an approved retailer, make ordering our books really simple wherever in the world you are, and keep you in the loop about all our exciting new releases. And there’s lots to come on that score with two new titles about to go to press . . .

We are all looking forward to having both books in hand. For me personally, it will be wonderful to see the Knitting Season collection in print, and I’m particularly excited about Wheesht, a project I’ve really enjoyed developing and working on this year (you’ll hear more about Wheesht soon). Both books are now lined up for early December launches.

Over the past few years the KDD team have enjoyed working on large documentary projects like Shetland Oo and our forthcoming People Make Glasgow: books that celebrate the creative communities among whom we work in photography and words. We’ve also established a new non-fiction imprint, Makadu, for books like Wheesht and Handywoman.

As a tightly-knit group of skilled creative people, we are now at a point where we have the expertise and the capacity to work very efficiently and professionally, handling every single aspect of a book’s production from commissioning right through to distribution, creating publications of whose consistently high quality we’re very proud, and managing an increasing number of popular titles. This year we’ve found ourselves thinking a lot about how we might share those skills, how we could make what we do a way of opening doors for other authors and designers, and how, as a small press, we could start to bring underrepresented voices to the fore. You’ll see some of the results of that thinking in a top-secret project we’ll be publishing early in the New Year. And, after careful thinking about a brand new publishing model — which we’ve called MAKE / MARK — we’ve been able to commission two further new innovative projects for publication in 2020, helping talented people to create their first book.

I was a one-woman operation when I published Colours of Shetland in 2012. The production of this book relied on me personally having enough capital to invest; being able to shoulder all the risk of a large publishing project; and managing all aspects of the process myself. I had lots of experience in producing and editing books through my work in academic publishing, but I didn’t have much money. Still in the early stages of stroke recovery, I supported myself solely through sales of my digital patterns while Tom kindly paid the mortgage on our flat. In order to finance Colours of Shetland I took a stand at Woolfest, invested in some stock of yarns and printed patterns, and then ploughed the income from the stand back into paying my brilliant subcontractors, Jen and Nic, who were working with me on the book. All of this was a lot to take on as a newly-disabled individual with a tiny, fledgling business, but I benefitted hugely from having a supportive partner and friends, a small reliable income (thank you, o w l s), and a certain amount of existing professional expertise.

Many talented, creative people with great ideas for books have none of those things.

Our idea with MAKE / MARK is to commission a couple of projects every year in which we provide the financial investment, as well as the in-house skills and expertise necessary to getting a new book published, mentoring a new author / designer through the whole process of independent book production. The author/designer has to have an exciting project that we are interested in publishing; to have a firm commitment to working with us professionally; to be serious about developing a business to which promoting and selling their own books is integral; and (crucially) to be able to produce copy (text) or designs (hand knitting and other crafts) to a high standard, to be handled by our editorial team. In return, we involve the author / designer in all stages of the production process, and I will personally be on hand to play a mentoring role, helping out with any creative, or industry advice the author / designer needs to take their business where they’d like it to go. When the book is published, the author/ designer receives 1000 books, which they can then sell retail or wholesale, and order further print runs from us when necessary at cost. The author / designer retains all rights in their book; and we, as publisher, print 1000 books to sell ourselves, which will enable us to recoup our investment in the project. MAKE / MARK is emphatically not a profit-making enterprise for us: the whole point of the imprint is to open some doors, bring other people forward, and to share what we’ve learned about independent publishing (and how to make it viable in business terms).

So send us your book proposals!
We have now commissioned two wonderful new projects for 2020, and have space in our schedule for books with a publication date of 2021. If you have a project which you’d like to be considered for the MAKE / MARK 2021 commissioning round, then feel free to submit a proposal, following these guidelines:

*Projects in the following fields will be considered: intelligent non-fiction in any field; documentary photography; craft and design (including recipe and how-to).
*Projects can be individually authored / managed or be submitted by a small editorial team (who have commissioned work from other designers / authors)
*Collections of essays are welcomed.
*Craft and design books should involve 10-12 small projects (for example, a collection of accessories or embroidery designs, not multi-sized garment patterns).
*Intelligent non-fiction, essay collections and documentary projects should be short books (120 pages max)
*In all cases, projects should be the author / designer / editor’s first book (the explicit aim of the project is to support and mentor new talent).
*Fiction, poetry or short stories will not be considered.
*As a company with a firm commitment to promoting diversity in our industry, we particularly welcome proposals from underrepresented designers and authors.

Please produce a 1-page proposal summarising the project, write a 1-paragraph profile of any authors / editors involved in the project and attach a sample illustrating what the project involves. For craft / design titles, the sample should be a full written pattern, together with any charts or relevant illustrations. For non-fiction titles or essay collections send a single writing sample (of up to 2500 words). Format all this material together as one PDF document and send it in an email with MAKE / MARK as the subject heading to by January 15th.

The KDD team will meet after this date to consider new MAKE / MARK submissions. We look forward to hearing your ideas and to publishing some great new books!