Twelve years ago, I needed a change of lifestyle, as my blood pressure was sky high and I felt I was headed for a breakdown. I had worked for twenty five years in law firms and in international banking. Little did I know that I would never return to a regular workplace.
I started making cottage crafts at home and selling them at local markets. This was so successful, I wrote an article on selling crafts at markets for a major women’s magazine, which was accepted immediately, followed by further articles on making crafts which were also eagerly accepted.
So many ideas were running through my head, that it occurred to me that I should write a series of books on easy, inexpensive crafts for fetes and markets. At a large bookstore, I compiled a two-page list of craft book publishers who published the kind of books I envisaged.
My enthusiastic and confident letter to publishers was carefully composed. I strongly feel you are not only selling your ideas, but yourself. I got an excited call from the second publisher I approached who was very keen to sign me on the spot. My daughter was born that day, so I always maintain I gave birth to a baby and a book on the same day!!!
Of course it was all very well to have signed a contract for two books with a brand new baby, but now I had to go about putting the ideas on paper. At this time we lived in a tiny cottage in Sydney. My computer was set up in the baby’s room – not an ideal situation, but I completed my first book while she slept!
Over 50 crafts items were photographed, editing was checked, final proof reading done, and an index compiled. It was a bit like a pregnancy – took nine months altogether! I was so excited to receive my first book, Annie’s Country Crafts.
I wrote to all the major craft magazines in Australia, and sent them a copy of my book. They published some great articles and book reviews, which of course generated more sales. I took my book to all the craft shows I attended, and they sold well.
The following year, we moved to our weekender country property. With no electricity and only a generator and two fuel stoves, it was an abrupt change of pace from our life in the city. I wrote my second craft book, Annie’s Cottage Crafts when the generator was on, usually at night. This book was also successfully published and the Book Clubs snapped them up. I also started to sell both books on a mail order basis through advertisements placed in country magazines and newspapers. They sold like hot cakes!
I quickly produced Annie’s Creative Crafts, followed by Annie’s Easy Crafts. Remarkably the Annie books sold over $1 million in retail sales, and were bestsellers in the Australian market. The Book Clubs were doing a roaring trade, and the books were reprinted countless times. With each new book, I negotiated a better contract for myself.
My publishers then approached me to write an easy, inexpensive type of cookbook. Annie’s Easy Treats was also highly successful in the competitive market of cookbooks. The emphasis had always been on simple treats or crafts for gift giving or fund raising, and I believe this is why the Annie series of books has enjoyed so much success. Promotion is also a key factor, and you have to be prepared to sell yourself. I never did go back to work in an office!!!
The five best selling “Annie” series of craft and cook books enjoyed remarkable success, due to promotion through craft magazines and craft shows, and by filling a gap in the crafts book market. Annie and her husband, Phillip moved from their weekender ten years ago to a larger country property, where they operate “Fragrant Farm”, a busy tourist business in Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia. There is a Friendship Farm with all kinds of animals, tourist cottage accommodation, doll display, herb gardens, and a 60-seat restaurant where Annie has cooked over 17,000 meals exclusively for bus groups. Annie sells many of her crafts, poems, a variety of self published books, and of course, the “Annie” books in the charming Craft Shop. She has several more “Annie” books up her sleeve, and also enjoys writing short stories, craft and general interest articles for major magazines such as Australian Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day, Craft and Home, Better Homes and Gardens, English Women’s Weekly and more.