Creating Really Awesome Free Things: 100 Seriously, Fun, Super, Easy Projects for Kids is a real book, y’all! I seriously thought this book thing was a crazy, mean joke for the past 10 months. It just didn’t feel real until I finally had the book in my hands. But, it’s officially a real book complete with all 100 kid crafts made from every day household items and 300+ pictures! So, today I want to share some behind the scenes book writing shenanigans with y’all. Dates, deadlines, photography and contracts, galore!
And, y’all, the book is the #1 new release in family activity on Amazon! Crazy town.
So, here’s the timeline/ fun facts/ behind the scenes of my book writing process:
1. I was sent the initial offer in late March 2015, signed the final contract at the end of April, and sent over a first draft of my table of contents defining how the book would be laid out by early May! The table of contents changed multiple times, but the basic layout of 6 chapters was the plan from the very beginning. The book is divided into rooms in your house, with Chapter 1 titled “Where to Start”, and chapters 2-6 are crafts that can be made from things in your: Kitchen, Office, Bathroom, Garage, and Nature. So, the idea is that the bulk of supplies for each craft comes from the corresponding room in your home!
2. The book was slated to be 40,000 words: And to be honest, I have no idea how many words the official book is, ha! Once I started writing chapter intros and tutorials, I just couldn’t stop! My publisher never said anything more to me about word count, so I have to assume we got 40,000-ish! I also think it’s interesting to note that the size (8.25 x8.25) of the book, number of pictures (300), and pages in the book (224) was determined very early on (it’s in the contract)!
3. The first draft of the entire manuscript was written in 3 weeks. True! This means all 115-ish kid crafts were made in 3 weeks. Our house was a scary looking craft tornado! Nobody was allowed to touch anything. Sarah took this picture, and it at least gives you a glimpse into the tornado we called our home for a few months. It is fair to note that I did have to “clean up” that day since the photographer was coming over!
4. Then, my editor went through and edited the entire manuscript and sent it back to me in two parts. I had about 1 week per section to answer a million questions about my initial manuscript. My editor, Katie, was amazing. She made me add things I don’t think about like measurements. Oh silly measurements! More awesome fact sidebars and clarifying instructions in tutorials. Ahh! This was the not the fun part of book writing.
5. Let’s talk about pictures! I took most of the step out pictures for the tutorials, but my friend, Sarah Schiffman, shot almost all of the final images of the crafts. If there is a human in the picture, she took it! She came over on 4 separate occasions and chased kiddos around my living room and backyard to get awesome pictures of kid crafts. Or when the models got tired, we gave up getting craft pictures, and Sarah took cute pics of us reading books. (To see whole behind the scenes album, click here!)
And eating cherries…
Here’s another adorable picture of Summer Joy, the toilet paper tube owl, and those big blues!
6. Maxwell is a model in the book, but he was not the most cooperative model ever. We ended up borrowing 4 other kiddos, including my sweet blogger friend, Kristen Duke’s two girls. This particular picture did not make the book (the crafts did), but how cute are they?! Check out lots more Creating Really Awesome Free Things book outtakes here.
And here’s one of my Max baby attempting to wear a mask from the book. You can see other crafts from the book laid out in the background! He clearly loved my duck tape mask. (This pic did not make the book!)
7. I first announced that I was writing a book on instagram in early May, but I did not get around to writing a blog post about the big news until the end of June. The book took over every ounce of free time I could find for almost 2 months! By early August, all of the copy edits and photographs were in and the design team at Adams Media was laying out the book.
8. By mid August, I was able to view the galleys for Creating Really Awesome Free Things! That just means, the book was designed and laid out and I could see what it was actually going to look like. It also meant I had to edit it all over again! My favorite part, said no Jamie ever.
9. After all of that, the book finally goes to the printer! I didn’t really hear much book talk from September- mid October. Then by the end of October, we started talking about promotion, and I was told the official launch date was Dec. 4th.
10. Lots of crafts didn’t make the book! 10+ got booted for one reason or another. That’s right, I crafted at least 110+ kid crafts for the making of this book. Ahh! I seriously didn’t even keep count, it was a sad story when a craft got ditched. The worst one was a so called snow globe made out of paper plates. The thng was so hideous I did not even take a pic. This washer necklace did not end up making the final cut even though the model did such a nice job modeling!
11. Contributors… of the 100 crafts, 12-ish of them are from contributors. The 12-ish accounts for Andy’s craft on page 42 of the book. While the craft is his idea (or really his 3rd grade teachers idea), he did not actually make the craft for the book! But my mom contributed 2 crafts, my best friend, Annie, contributed 2 crafts, and 7 blogger (turned real life) friends contributed the other 7 really awesome projects! The contributors are Amy from Maker Mama, Rachel from Lines Across, Kelly from Live, Laugh Rowe, Jennifer Perkins, Taylor from Taylor Made Creates, Vanessa from Tried and True, and the cute teen crafting duo, Tanner and Courtney of A Little Craft in your Day! It’s funny how you meet in this crazy blog world, and then end up being “real” friends. I’ve shared a hotel room with Rachel and Taylor, Taylor and Amy came to my baby shower, I’ve traveled with Kelly more than most of my “real life” friends, and I hung out with Jennifer last night!
12. Awesome Fact Sidebars: At some point pretty early on in the book writing process, I decided it would be fun to include little fun facts about the the subject of the craft. Things like “Did you know that a camel can drink up to 30 gallons of water in just 13 minutes?” I asked my editor and bam, fun facts were born!
13. The thrill of seeing kids making my crafts: I knew holding my own book in my hand would be exciting, but y’all, what I did not expect was how freakin’ happy it makes me to see kids make the crafts in my book! I LOVE IT! I love seeing all of the pictures on social media of kids being inspired to create! Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl wrote a really sweet review of the book and shared beautiful pictures of her boys creating! Her middle schooler made this cereal box puzzle from the book!
Or this adorable picture from a local, crafty Austin mama of her daughter and husband crafting together! They made the cactus dot painting, I mean how awesome is this?!
If your kids love the boo, pretty please send me pictures! You can tag me on instagram or twitter, upload them to C.R.A.F.T. facebook, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)… snail mail them to me, I don’t care! I would love, love to see what your kiddos are creating! Creativity is contagious, pass it on! And on that note, I want to send off three books to three families who promise to hand the book off to another family after they’ve made some crafts (and fingers crossed sent me pictures of their crafts) together. It’s a little thing I’m calling #CraftItForward. If you would like a free book sent to you, email me now at email@example.com.