London Jewellery School founder Jessica Rose‘s first jewellery making book, Bead and Wire Fashion Jewelry , is about to hit the shops, so we decided to ask her about how it came about and what it is like to produce a book.
Tell us a little about the book and where the idea came from
Absolutely. The book is called Bead and Wire Fashion Jewelry and is all about making big, bold and beautiful statement pieces of jewellery using a range of techniques and easy to source materials that you can easily do from home.
The idea came to me when I was learning to make my own bead and wire based jewellery. I loved going on to Amazon and finding books to teach me techniques for using wire, pliers, beads and mixed materials. I stated to apply those techniques to making my own style of statement fashion jewellery – pieces that combined different materials like fabrics, buttons, charms, etc, with traditional beads and wire wrapping.
When I was teaching classes at London Jewellery School, students often asked for a book that taught my style of jewellery making and designing in. I would usually give them a list of bead, wire, fashion jewellery and mixed media books along with suggested magazines to look at. This made me think that it would be great to have one book that combined all of these with guidance on the design process too. The seed was sown and I added “write a fashion jewellery making book” to my bucket list.
Why did you decide to do it?
It is something that I have wanted to do for a while, I think there is something very special about being able to hold a book that you have written in your hand.
I also knew the process would force me to take some time out from behind the desk and spreadsheets running LJS and give me time to get making and be creative again – I loved designing all the pieces.
Mostly I decided to do it as I could see a clear need and gap in the market for this kind of book. It is the book I would have loved to have brought when I started making jewellery and with all the 1000s of students we have coming to LJS each year, I wanted to be able to offer something that I thought would help them on their jewellery making journey.
Was writing the book what you expected – how long did it take you to come up with the ideas?
The process was a little different to what I had expected, but then again, having never written a book before I didn’t really know what to expect.
Once all the contracts were signed there were quite tight timescales that publishers needed me to work to. They have lots to think about in terms of layout, imagery and promoting it once the writing is finished so you have a close working relationship with them over when and how it all needs to be provided.
Coming up with ideas was the really fun part. I already had quite a clear picture in my mind of what I wanted for the book. I think is really important to get your concept clear in your mind from the offset so that the projects have a common theme and there is continuity. I choose to do chapters covering; rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
When I was designing the main questions I would ask myself are; is it a statement piece? Do the colours look gorgeous together? And, most importantly, would I love to wear it? If the answer was yes to all three I knew I was on the right track.
What is involved in writing/publishing a book – what surprised you about the process?
Firstly I wrote a proposal for the book idea and submitted it to the publishers. I didn’t hear back for a few months so assumed that they weren’t interested or that it wasn’t the right time. I realised later that it can take months (and even years) for a proposal to be looked at, considered and researched at the publishers end. I heard back nearly a year later and they provisionally wanted me to write the book. Yippee!
After getting over my excitement I wrote a few sample projects for them to see before they offered me a contract to write the full book.
After contracts were signed, which I carefully read and made sure I was happy with upfront, I met with some of the publishing team and agreed the initial structure, chapters and timescale for when they needed all the content.
The writing process took around eight months and we liaised backwards and forwards from time to time on projects, text and images for the book. On the whole I got on with it and just started making the pieces, taking the pictures and working my through the book.
It got a little more stressful toward the end of the process as I am awful at sticking to deadlines, and in book publishing it is crucial that you do fit in with the timings because a whole team of people work on getting the book layouts done and ready once all of your content is in. With a little help from the LJS team and the team at the Guild of Master Craftsmen we got it all done and dusted and that was that.
It was a lot of work but a relatively simple and straightforward process. Like most things it is just about getting on and doing it.
What would you advise other people to think about if they were thinking of publishing a book or a collection of projects?
I think the main question to ask yourself before starting any book or project is; who are your target readers? Who are you putting it together for and do they want to make what you are offering? These are effectively your customers (or readers) and every book needs an audience.
I spotted a gap in the market for a fashion-focused bead and wire book because this type of book hasn’t been done before and I saw a demand at the London Jewellery School from students (and myself), who would like a book like this.
If you are considering writing a jewellery making or craft-based book (which is a great thing to do), then you need to consider what you can offer and what will be different about your book compared to all the rest on the market. Are there enough people who would be interested in buying it and how will you reach them? The publishers will do a lot of the promotion work, however, they will only take on a book as a project if they believe they will sell enough copies.
Also think about the amount of time you need to commit. It can take up to two years to produce a book from idea to bookshelf and for about six to nine months of that time you may need to work on it nearly full-time. It is a big commitment, so make sure you can accommodate it before agreeing terms with publishers.
Other than that the main focus is on coming up with lovely, unique projects that can inspire budding jewellers or crafters. If you can put something together that can help others to learn, be creative and start or develop a rewarding hobby or career then I think that’s a great thing to be able to do. I know that was my focus when putting the pages of the book together and I hope it can do just that.
If you would like a copy, the book is out in early September 2014 and available to pre-order from Amazon now here.
Jessica would be very happy to sign any copies and would love to know what you think of it and see pictures of your versions of the projects inside – feel free to get in touch anytime at Jessica@londonjewelleryschool.co.uk