I was recently out with a friend and she pulled out her phone to show me something. When I glanced at the screen I noticed that her email app had the number 2,560 glowing in a little red circle.
That would drive me crazy.
I’m devoted to getting to inbox zero at the end of each day. It’s not because I’m trying to achieve perfection, but because there’s important stuff in email and if you don’t open it and deal with it you’re going to miss out.
When someone wants to talk to you, and only you, they send you an email. Much of the time email is fairly mundane – a customer asking you for help placing an order or a reader with a comment to share- but other times email is exciting. Every now and then something really neat lands in your lap unexpectedly, but you’ll only see it if only you open the email and you’ll only get the opportunity if you respond promptly.
Two weeks ago I got one of those unexpected land-in-your-lap sort of emails. It was from Ashley. She’s an editor at becker&mayer! (that exclamation point is part of their name), a book packager in Seattle. She’d found me online and wanted to know if I might like to design a felt craft kit for one of their clients.
Whenever I get an email like this I wait a little while before responding. I put myself in the role of an agent. Keep in mind that I don’t actually have an agent, but that doesn’t mean I can’t act like one (more about how to do that here). I ask myself, “Is this opportunity right for my client? Will my client enjoy it? Will it further her goals? Will it be worth her time?” The client here is me.
I wrote Ashley an email with some questions. What would be involved? Who is the kit being packaged for?
While I was waiting to hear back I started to do research. I looked at becker&mayer!’s website to better understand what a book packager is. (They create books and kits and sell them, fully formed, to publishing companies.) I noticed that a friend of mine has done kits for them so I emailed her to ask about her experience. Then I emailed another friend who is a book agent to ask what she thought of the company.
Their feedback helped me formulate more questions that I emailed to Ashley. What is the compensation? Will my name be on the packaging and on the Amazon listing as “author”? Who will create the illustrations? Is there a possibility the kit could be published in the future in another language and if so will there be additional payments to me at that time? How will we choose materials and who has final say on those?
While I waited to hear back again I looked at my calendar. The kit would be due December 20. Can I physically do this? I talked to my husband and my kids. (Their universal response? “You need to sew more. If you do this you’ll sew more. You should do it.”)
Did I want to do this?
I’d need to write ten patterns over the next two and half months and create ten samples. Two of the patterns will be kitted with supplies, the other eight will be in the booklet that comes with the kit.
I’m a goals oriented person and I like big projects with defined tasks and definitive deadlines. I also like to explore new ways to work in this industry. I’ve done lots of different types of work (writing books, teaching online classes, licensing patterns), but I’ve never worked with a book packager and I haven’t yet designed a commercial kit like the kind you find in the gift and toy section of a large chain bookstore, which is where this kit will likely be.
When Ashley got back to me I reviewed her answers and then accepted the project. Last week I negotiated the contract with the becker&mayer!’s legal department and then signed it.
Although I can’t show you the kit patterns as I make them or talk specifically about the concept, I can give you updates along the way on how the work is going for me and, of course, share it with you when the kit comes out around this time next year. I’m excited to get started.