Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite craft book publishers? Jenny Wilding Cardon, Content Editor at Martingale & Co., is here today to spill the beans on her job, how she got into the industry and what you may not realize about working in the craft book industry!
1) Jenny, you have a background as both a craft-book author and editor. Has it helped you in your career to understand both sides?
Absolutely! It’s been particularly helpful to have an author’s perspective when I’m doing my day job—and right now that’s as the content editor for Martingale’s Stitch This! blog. I’ve published my own work twice, so I understand what designers go through to create a book. It’s an incredible amount of work in a very deadline-driven environment. Lots of people are counting on you to produce quality work, and they need you to get everything done on time so the rest of the team (designers, editors, marketers, etc.) can do their job. It’s truly a team effort to publish a book, but it all begins with the author. Knowing how it feels to have that kind of responsibility on your shoulders from the get-go has helped me understand that supporting our authors in any way we can is essential—especially first-time authors who might need a confidant, a sounding board, and a cheerleader all in one!
2) Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got into publishing?
Fresh out of college, I’d recently moved to the Seattle area. I knew I wanted to pursue a career that involved writing. I applied for a copywriting job that stated “sewing and quilting experience a plus.” What?! I hadn’t sewn since high school. Back then I would sew quirky clothes and, being shy, I would make my friends wear them to school. I missed that kind of creativity!
After two interviews at Martingale, I was given a catalog of their books, along with a book called Threadplay. I was asked to write exciting, engaging catalog copy for the book. Completely intrigued with the catalog—so many gorgeous, creative books!—I wrote the best copy I could muster (in 25 words, mind you, as that was the limit for catalog copy). Three days later I received a call that I’d gotten the job. I’ve been working for Martingale since then—first in the office, and then offsite in Utah (where I now live). They are a fantastic company to work for and I feel so lucky to continue to be a part of the team, even though it’s a very virtual experience!
This is how the office sees me in weekly meetings—on a laptop computer in the conference room. See my coworkers in the little screen on the bottom right? Hi guys!
Many avid quilters work at Martingale, so it’s no surprise that just two months into my new job, I was hooked on quilting. I made my first quilt entirely by hand…and then quickly bought my first sewing machine.
After 10 years with the company, I created my first collection of quilts for publication, The Little Box of Baby Quilts, which was inspired by the birth of my first son, Jack.
Left: Jack and his many quilts. Right: “Flying Frogs” from The Little Box of Baby Quilts
In 2011, I revisited those high-school sewing roots and wrote ReSew, which features projects for transforming thrift-store finds into tops, skirts, dresses, purses, scarves and more—and there’s a quilt in there, of course!
ReSew: Turn-Thrift Store Finds into Fabulous Designs
Here’s the “Sleeveless V” project from ReSew—a sweatshirt turned into a summery tank. That’s me on the left giving an “Oh, really?” look to my oldest son as my husband snapped a photo for people in the office to see. That’s a gorgeous model on the right, in the final photo of the project for the book. It was so fun to see my projects on professional models!
3) What does a typical day look like for you, in your job?
With posts to write, blogging calendars to schedule, authors to contact, and all kinds of quilt news to cover, it’s always a busy day! I start my day by touching base with our social media fans on Facebook and Pinterest. Then it’s off to the races! We blog five times a week, and we have posts coming in from staff, authors, magazines, and other sources. I do a lot of writing, and I also facilitate posts coming from other writers. Lots and lots of emails are involved!
4) What is your favorite part about working in craft book publishing?
The creativity that’s involved in every step. First there’s the author’s creation of the projects; then there’s the editorial department’s creation of the book itself. Finally, it falls to the marketing department to create fresh, new ways to get the book in front of people’s eyes. Every step of the process is jam-packed with opportunities to think outside the box. It’s a blessing to be part of a group that asks you to stretch your creativity, rather than stay put in the box.
5) What is something about the life of a craft book that would surprise the average person?
How many people are involved in making a book come to life! In addition to our talented and dedicated authors, there are 40 people who work at Martingale. We publish more than 50 books each year, and every person leaves their mark on every book in some way.
Martingale staffers show off quilt blocks from last year’s “Blocks, Borders, Quilts!” round-robin challenge.
You can browse Martingale’s free patterns, how-to-quilt downloads, and books at their site, ShopMartingale.com.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share a bit about what it’s like to work at Martingale, Lindsay. Craft Buds is such great resource for the business side of handmade—and for the fun side too! Happy Craft Book Month, everyone!
Leave a comment on this post telling us something you’ve learned about craft book publishing from our Q&A with Jenny. You could win an e-book version of the book Modern Basics II by Amy Ellis, or ANY Martingale e-book of your choice!
Read more about Modern Basics II on the Martingale blog.
Giveaway open worldwide and a winner will be chosen on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013.
Congrats to #29, Lisa Marie!
I learned that Martingale Books is a great company to work for and you can do it from home!
I’ve learned that Jenny has an awesome job. I think having her own publishing experience makes it easier for her to work with authors.
I learned that she has a great job! I would love to do something like that.
I really didnt know there are that many people involved in making each book!:)
I didn’t realize so many people could be involved in the process of creating a book!
I’ve learned that producing a book follows the same kind of project lifecycle as things in my job, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by that lol
I’ve learned that there are about 40 people working at Martingale and they publish over 50 books a year! I would love to be in this business!
I learned that it takes a lot more people AND teamwork to publish a book than I thought! (I already knew I love Martingale books, though!)
I learned that there is a book out there to make really cute things from thrift shop finds! My area is loaded with thrift stores and vintage shops! Thanks!
How lucky to get hired in a places that fosters your creativity. If you had moved in a different direction, you might never have started sewing, creating, etc. Sounds like a wonderful work environment.
learned that there are a LOT Of people involved in every book! (would love ReSew 🙂 )
I learned that she has a great job and is able to work from home. Wish I had a job like that! Thank you for the chance to win!
I had no idea so many people were involved with publishing each book! Martingale puts out great books, too….it’s no wonder!
I learned that there are lots and lots of people involved behind the scenes to make each book and keep it all running. And I’m glad! Jenny and you all are awesome!
It takes an army
I didn’t realize so many people were involved with each book. I was definitely surprised by 40!
I didn’t know that each person works on every book. I always thought it was just a team of a few! So great that there is such collaboration and input!
I have learned that it takes a lot of people to get a book ready for publishing. My gosh….my mind was completely blown away when I started thinking of the number of quilt books I’ve bought since I’ve started quilting and then suddenly realized how many people and how many hours went into just one book. That’s a lot of people never mind man hours. WOW!
I love the fact that a love of creative sewing and love of the written word has allowed Jenny to combine work and fun. For a quilter and writer, it is a dream job. I love the first quilt pics and book The little box of baby quilts.
I’m amazed that so many people are involved in each publication. Nice to know that everyone is part of the accuracy in each book.
I learned there are 40 people who work at Martingale and that every one works on every book. Thanks for the great giveaway!
I didn’t realize all the people it took to make a great product!
I had no idea how many people work at Martingale nor did I know how many books are published in a given year. Very interesting.
I didn’t realize so many people were involved in the making of one book. I love books 🙂
I always wondered how your incorporate social media into a job – now I know, on a daily basis, but for work 😉 Thanks so much!
Martingale publishes such great books, it is always fun to learn more about the people that work behind the scenes. Delighted to get to know more about Jenny. You do a great job Jenny!
PS – I hope it is ok, as I added a link to your giveaway on a page I have set up to share insights on giveaways and contests: https://www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com/p/giveaways-and-contests.html
I have learned that it takes time and lots of people to produce just one book. I also learned that there are many decisions, both small and large, as the book is created. I already knew that you produced fabulous books!
I was surprised to learn how many people are involved in producing a craft book!
Martingale publishes a lot of books and I’m actually surprised that they do it with only 40 people.
I learned that thrifting can be celebrated!!!
I really didnt know there are that many people involved in making each book!:)
wow amazing how many people are involved and how busy just to put a book together. Sounds like fun as well as work. What a wonderful job to have, using your creativity and getting paid for it to boot.
Great interview – I learned that 40 people at Martingale are involved in each book!
I didn’t realize how much went into making a craft book!
Thanks for sharing Jenny. I learned that you can work in a job you love 🙂
I learned that it takes a lot more people than I thought to bring these great books together, thanks.
smjohns63 at yahoo dot com
Writing a book takes a lot of CREATIVITY!!
I loved the story that Jenny told about making quirky clothes in high school and making her friends wear them. From there she moved up to a very responsible position and obviously isn’t suffering from being shy any more. I like to think, as a shy person, I could overcome that and do exciting and creative–like write a book!
I learned that if you have a chance to follow your dream- go for it (and have a great time :))- Many thanks and good luck!
I learned how she starts her day, and that she does a lot of writing…blogs 5 times a week, and is always receiving news from authors, quilty news,ect. She is constantly emailing 🙂 Thanks for the chance to win. I would LOVE this book!
I learnt that there are 40 people involved in the production of all the books that martingale publish. I was also interested to learn that Jenny is a sewist, quilter & crafter who has written two books herself. Great interview, so interesting to know all about the creation of craft books. Thanks for the chance to win!
This article was interesting, thank you. I now know that even if you step away from sewing for a while, you can get back into it and even turn it into a job! what a valuable hobby we have.
I knew it was deadline driven, but now I know for sure I could never be a writer, what hard work.
I think I never realized that so many crafters would work in the actual writing process, that is so cool! Great interview, I love these!
it’s incredible to learn just how many people work on one book! But how fun!! 😀
I learned that whether it’s a simple blog like mine or a job with a publisher, we all start our day with facebook and social media!
I learned that it’s a team effort – it starts with the author but there are so many other people involved.
I didn’t realise there would be so many people involved in one book, I thought it would be far less, maybe 5 or so people!
I was surprised to learn what a small company it was. I assumed all publishing houses were 100+ employee type places. And I certainly learned not all jobs stifle individual thought and creativity. What a fun place it must be to work (or work for)!
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