Saturday, March 22, 2008

Author of dog portrait knitting books speaks

Peggy Gaffney speaks on Self-Publishing

By Carol Keeney

Peggy Gaffney, who will be giving a workshop at CAPA-U on self-publishing in May, gave us a preview in her talk to CAPA members at the February meeting. She published her first book in 2005 but the seeds of her efforts were sown throughout her life. She has enjoyed a career of teaching and hobbies like knitting and raising Samoyed dogs. A few years before retiring Peggy decided to start a business which would serve as a source of future income. She began knitting sweaters which portrayed the Samoyed dogs she loved. When she presented her samples at popular dog shows, she was pleased to accept many orders for sweaters depicting breeds of all types. Peggy’s knitting business began to soar.

Peggy noticed that some of her customers were interested in purchasing patterns to knit these sweaters themselves. At first she resisted sharing her patterns with them and then a light went on in her head. Why not publish these patterns and offer them for sale to the general public. Peggy drew her own pictures from photos she had collected through the years. Each one of them offered a visual example of the personality of the breed. She then calculated how to set up a graph for each design.

The charm of Peggy Gaffney’s story is that she could understand the world of dogs and how people within it relate to the love of their particular pet. She enjoyed hearing anecdotes about them many of which she includes in her books. She told the CAPA audience one story of a the dog that at the last minute in her run around the agility course, momentarily ran off her path to a first place win to grab a bite of a sandwich from a bystander. She collects stories from her network of friends who showed dogs and include them in knitting books. The stories of the breed’s activities and the fact that her designs based on those activities of a single breed within each book makes them unique.

Peggy has since written and published so far in this series a total of three books. The first deals with her own breed which she has bred and shown for 40 years, the Samoyed. The second deals with the Labrador Retriever and the third with the Golden Retriever. Peggy follows a similar construction when writing each book. A third of the book contains 25 basic knitting patterns for various projects. Another third deals with anecdotes about the particular breed, and the other third is made up of charts showing all of the dog’s activities converted to graphic patterns to be knit for that particular breed. Keeping this same basic theme for layout in every book saves time and effort.

Peggy self-publishes all her books so that she can get the most profit from her efforts. ISBN numbers are gotten from a site for “Bowker.” Her photos are taken by herself or friends such as a field photographer who agreed to do the photos as illustrator for the retriever books in order to get illustrator credit for her portfolio and so that more people would see and appreciate her work.

Peggy lays out her own manuscripts, covers, and converts them to pdf’s. She then gets in touch with her contact, Bobbi Rodriguez, at the book printer Fiddler Doubleday. Bobbi quotes a price and sets a printing schedule for the work and emails it back to Peggy for approval. Once Peggy gives her final approval, Fidlar Doubleday goes ahead and prints the book. Within eighteen days Peggy receives a shipment of books which she stores in her own home. Peggy does her own fulfillment.

Peggy’s books can be purchased on Amazon or from her Kanine Knits website. Peggy has gotten her books on Amazon through the Amazon Advantage Program. She also had a distributor specializing in craft books that handles making her books available to knitting shops.

Peggy networks on the computer through Yahoo. She has constructed a her own Kanine Knits website, a Kanine Knits Blog, a My Space Page as well as setting up a page on the new social networking site for knitters, Ravelry. If you Google Peggy Gaffney, you will appreciate some of the results of her efforts. Congratulations, Peggy!

Peggy Gaffney is the author of the Crafty Dog Knits series: The Crafty Samoyed Knits, The Crafty Labrador Retriever Knits, The Crafty Golden Retriever Knits, and the soon to be published Crafty Bernese Mt. Dog Knits. She also will soon be bringing out a book on self-publishing and one on dog obedience and square dancing with dogs..

Carol Keeney is the author of "Brand New Teacher" a guide book for educators.