News on the Publishing Front

Before I get to today’s post, I wanted to let you know that I filmed another Quilty Tube of Sew with Jo.  You can watch it by pushing the play button…or you can watch it by following THIS LINK
if you want to save it and later watch it on your television.

It really helps me if you can leave a comment of hit the like button.

I have some news for you today.  This is behind-the-scenes news that I thought I wanted to share with you.  You might remember that I told you that this quilt was going to be published in a magazine.


I told you that this quilt was going to be published…


…and this one too.


Well, things have changed.  I don’t know what the fate of these will be long term but for now, I know they won’t be published in the magazine that had previously made a commitment to them.

Things in the publishing world aren’t as glamorous as they appear to be from the outside.  One might think it’s a huge honor to have a quilt in a magazine…and it is…but it’s a publicity thing, not a monetary thing.  I’ve known that for a long time.  Designs really get paid a pittance for their designs when they are published in a magazine.

Each magazine has its own guidelines and contracts.  They range from $600 to $400…at least that is the range for the magazines that I have worked with.  Some magazines require complete instructions along with the quilt…some require a rough draft.

I had submitted these quilts to the publisher who typically offers $400.  It wasn’t a lot but I thought it would be a great way to get the quilts out into the world.

The history of this contract when working with this company was that I’d give the rights to the quilt and I would write a pattern.  Then last year after I said I no longer wanted to write the pattern, I was given a pass but still got the $400.  Nothing was ever said about changing the pay because I was no longer writing the pattern.  I was still paid $400.

I was so hopeful for that and excited to be working with the publisher.

The company made a verbal commitment to the three quilts I showed you asking me to hold them until they were ready to publish them in 2023.  I was fine with that.

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted and asked to send a quilt.  Along with that email came a contract.  I was no longer being offered $400.  I was being offered $250.  The other $150 was going to the person that would be writing the pattern.

I thought about that for a few days and then decided no.  I wouldn’t do it.

Just think about it…$250 is a joke.  $400 was a joke.

Sure, I get to keep the quilt in the end…but no-I wouldn’t sell myself.

In that price, I also have to pay the $20 in postage to send it to the publisher.  So that means $230.  I did the math.  If I could make the quilt in 40 hours- (that’s ambitious as I would have to design it, curate the fabric, cut it out, sew it, iron it, make a backing, longarm it, and bind it)  I would make less than $6 an hour.  No thanks.

I’ll sit on the quilts instead.

What I find comical is that the pattern writer would get $150.  I think a pattern writer could write the pattern in 3 hours…$50 an hour.  WOW.

I’ve been submitting quilts for years…likely about 10 years.  In all of that time, I have never had a raise in the amount of money I was offered for a quilt.  Think about everything else that has gone up in price.  SERIOUSLY- Every single thing has gone up in price but not payments to a designer.  It’s sad.  You can bet every person working at the publisher has gotten a raise.  You can bet that you are paying more for your subscription.  Yet, designers, the real heart of the magazine, get no raise.

I wrote an email saying I was out and wouldn’t be sending my quilts. I explained why.  I was told the price of paper has gone up so they can’t pay designers more.  I smiled and put the email in my trash.

Oh well.  I might have burned a bridge but seriously, at that rate of pay, it’s not a bridge I want to cross.

So, I apologize to you all.  I said these quilts would be published in a magazine.  They won’t be published in this magazine.

I don’t have a specific plan for the quilts at this point.  That’s okay.  They can sit where they are until I figure out what if anything I want to do with them…but I did think it’s only fair that I share the news with you that they will not be in the publication.  I know several of you had subscribed because I said these quilts would be featured.  I feel terrible for misleading you but I am sure you understand why I can’t accept $250 for the designs.

Again, my apologies.

63 thoughts on “News on the Publishing Front

  1. Diana in Des moines

    What about writing your own pattern, take a photo and sell the pattern yourself? There might be enough of us that want the pattern? Just a thought.

    Reply
    1. Kay

      Think about that – time to write directions she doesn’t want to write. $ to invest in printing, marketing, etc. And then the hundreds of “quilters” who would figure it out and never pay for the pattern. Too mant copycats who ignore copyright.

      Reply
      1. Ana Marie Sweet

        Bonnie Hunter does fine with her own patterns. There are many designers out there who also sell their patterns. Jo already has a presence, a well read blog, loyal followers and knowledge.

        Reply
      2. MarianneK

        Whoa, “too many copycats”! Where is it written a quilter can’t figure out a quilt pattern and write up your own instructions for personal use? They are not photocopying the pattern and passing it on to a friend. That is a violation of copyright, while looking at a picture and writing your own instructions is not!

        I think you did the right thing for you, Jo. I’ve always said being creative is a curse sometimes. It’s hard to make a living at it. Society doesn’t value art, music, etc.

        Reply
  2. Sheila Fernkopf

    I totally agree with your decision to not publish the quilts! They may change their mind if other designers do the same. I’m sorry you won’t be getting the income though.

    Reply
  3. Lisa

    I think you should write the pattern yourself put it on your website as a pdf download. Once it’s written the work is done and you will hopefully sell enough to cover all of your cost and make a penny or two:)

    Reply
  4. Jazz

    Jo, I totally sympathize with you. Years ago I supported myself and my family as a writer. I loved being the Features Editor of a Texas weekly magazine, but got burned out quickly doing freelance work. Publishers would assign me a piece, and before deadline (but after I had invested significantly in the article) they would change their mind. Once the whole staff of a publication changed and the new workers were unaware of (and refused to honor) the obligations of their predecessors.
    Keep the quilts and patterns. They are your valuable intellectual property. Don’t allow anyone to discount your work.

    Reply
  5. Linda

    Jo, I read your blog every day. I have admired your commitment and The integrity that you show in your daily life and in your crafting life. You have not had an easy life for many years. I truly admire that you stood up to the editors of the magazine. You are my hero. If it is the magazine I’m thinking it is, after a 30 year subscription, I canceled my subscription earlier this year. The magazine was being delayed more and more being delivered to my home. It was available on the new stand before I received it. When I wrote to them about it, they told me there was nothing they could do about it and it was just a result of Covid and the Postal Service. I would occasionally buy this magazine on the news stand, mostly because I saw your quilts and I like your quilting style which mirrors mine. I can’t imagine parting with any of my quilts, not for $250 nor $400. Shame on the magazine. Continue to do what you are doing, there are people out there whom you inspire every day that you don’t even know about.

    Reply
  6. Polly

    Your talent and experience is valuable and I’m glad you made the choice you did! As a consumer, your post has taught me a great deal. I will certainly be spending less of my fun money on magazines and more on patterns directly from the designer. You didn’t let me down, you stood up for yourself. Woo hoo!

    Reply
  7. Susan the Farm Quilter

    If you don’t stand up for yourself, no one else will either. Well done! You know your value as a designer!

    Reply
  8. Beverly

    Good for you! And I would love to see the first quilt from the front now that it isn’t going to the magazine. I love your border…. as far as can bee seen.

    Reply
  9. shirley

    Sorry that happened to you. Write the pattern in your time in a PDF and collaborate with your daughter to sell it on Esty. Many of us would love to buy your patterns. I have gone more and more toward buying patterns direct from a designer via a blog or Market place or their personal store on line. You are worth that.

    Reply
    1. Deb Praus

      I am with Shirley on this one. Write it as PDF and offer it as part of the store. I think this will be the way of the future anyway. There is a certain designer who is releasing a PDF pattern each month and appears to be having great success with it or she would not do it. No more talk of books from her either. It would not take long at $10 per download to make more than you have been…..think about it

      Reply
      1. Jan McCann

        The patterns I see are usually $12: and some designers put theirs on sale. I agree with everyone that you would be well compensated for your time and trouble of doing PDFs!! Your blog has a good following and is all the advertising you would need.

        Reply
  10. Ellie

    I don’t blame you for saying o to a bad deal! They are trying to take advantage of you and I’m glad you aren’t going to go along! You could write and sell your own direction if you are interested. I’m sure you could make as much as selling them to the magazines.

    Reply
  11. Susanne Scheurwater

    Self publishing would be great for you. Write the patterns as you wish and then offer them for sale. Perhaps a slight discount for buying 2+.

    Reply
  12. Cynthia from Nebraska

    Wow. I rarely buy magazines, but have bought a few featuring over of your quilts. Now understanding that most of them, of not all, severely underpay their contributors, I think I’ll just stop. Would you be willing to self-publish of you had enough pre-orders? Or perhaps you could partner with a quilt shop for publishing. Anyway, good for you for your stance on this!

    Reply
  13. Pamela Dempsey

    So sorry, Jo. I totally understand! I hope you will consider selling your patterns yourself- I want all 3 of them I love your videos too!

    Reply
  14. Dianne winter

    I myself would buy your pattern of the red square one. I did have the. Name on my email from your blog but lost it. Boo hoo.

    Reply
  15. Jill Klop

    I completely understand. I had no idea how much one would get paid to publish their quilts. I don’t subscribe to any magazines, mainly because I’m never sure if the magazine will live through the year. I’ve heard stories from people who have paid for subscriptions and the magazine went out of business. I wonder if magazines will go the way of the newspaper. I’m glad that you told them no and stood up for your self.

    Reply
  16. The Joyful Quilter

    I was hoping the quilts would be included in your shop so that I could add them to my collection of Jo’s Country Junction quilt patterns. I’m particularly interested in discovering how you accomplished the making of that second quilt. LOVE the three of them, Jo!!

    Reply
  17. Susan Smit

    What about writing your own pattern, I know you hate that part, but then sell them as a pdf which people can download once paid. No printing for you. As you know Bonnie Hunter does this and so much easier than marketing patterns. Just a thought. This way all the money comes to you and am sure you can get more than $450 just by selling at $10 a download you only need 45 people to buy.

    Reply
  18. Meredith in Cincinnati

    I think a lot of bloggers/quilters/designers are writing patterns and selling them as PDFs on their blog. I would love that option! Try it with a few patterns; I’ll bet it would be a big success!

    Reply
  19. Judy

    Jo, I know writing instructions for your quilts would take you in a different direction in your life, but would love to make some of the patterns you have designed. Perhaps you could sell pdf designs via Etsy or directly. I have purchased a couple of magazines strictly because your quilts were featured and even downloaded the tips you gave us on your blog post for cutting and sewing. Sorry to be so wordy, but do agree that $6.00 per hour is an insult.

    Reply
  20. Jane Saunders

    Hi Jo,
    I do appreciate your feelings and I definitely agree with you. What publications are these? Are you sticking with one of the publications or are they all doing the same thing? I will not be renewing my subscriptions with them. The only reason I got them is because of your quilts’ Thanks for the info.
    Love to you and yours,
    Jane
    P.S.
    I’m looking forward to the post with the cousins week-end.

    Reply
  21. Cheryl

    Jo,
    Congratulations for valuing yourself and your work! That’s a great gift both to yourself and to all the people in your sphere of influence. It’s so great to see when people, especially women, decide that we are worth being compensated for the actual time and energy that we invest in our work. Job well done.

    Reply
  22. Peg

    When covid hit I treated myself to a subscription because I could not check them out of my local library. Magazines are back – I can cancel my subscriptions and save some money to buy fabric and an occasional pattern!

    Reply
  23. Liz

    There might be some quilters here who would be glad to help you write the instructions and format the pattern for far less than $50/hour. And there will be people who are willing to proof read the pattern as well as make the quilt to verify the instructions.

    Once you have a format for the pattern layout, it should be easier to do your own writing.

    Give it a try – I think it will be worth the effort.

    Reply
  24. Kim from TN

    Offering so little for your designs is shameful. I totally understand why you said no. Thank you for letting us know.

    Reply
  25. Sheila in WI

    Totally understand, Jo. I appreciate you and all the time, energy and thought you put into your patterns/ quilts. Thank you for standing up for youself.

    Reply
  26. Terry Johnson

    Please write your own patterns and sell them as PDFs. You’ll only need to sell 25 patterns to match the $250. You can do it!!

    Reply
  27. Sally

    Jo,
    Your creativity, wonderful designs, and you are certainly worth a lot more than the publisher is willing to pay. Glad to see that you value yourself as well as your talent.
    As others have said most of quilt magazines that I have purchased recently are the ones that your quilts were featured in. Much of the general quilting information I can locate on the internet. I would rather buy my patterns from someone I know puts her heart and soul into her quilting from designing, making, and quilting than into a magazine that’s more about profit.
    You go girl :)

    Reply
  28. Linnea

    Jo, You didn’t mislead anyone. You shared the most current information you had at the time. Information changes. This is simply one of those changes and I don’t blame you for valuing your work.

    Reply
  29. Sandra Bogoniewski

    I can completely understand why you made that decision, and I know you’ve said before you don’t like writing the instructions – so I wouldn’t expect you to do that either. I did subscribe to the magazine, but that’s my responsibility – not yours, and I expected to enjoy them for more than just your patterns. You do you! Thanks for being a good example to the rest of us on that!

    Reply
  30. Joy

    Wow! $250 is a slap in the face, but honestly is it fair to expect the same amount as people who do adhere to guidelines and write their own patterns? I’ve written one pattern for personal use and it took days, so I envy someone who could do it in three hours. You have a large enough following and a daughter who is tech-savy enough to set up pattern sales on your blog and another daughter with Etsy experience, so why not take a chance? At $10 a pattern you would be making the same by selling 40 patterns as you would selling the publication rights. Plus you wouldn’t have to ship the quilt to the publisher. If you really don’t like writing patterns, find someone who does for a set fee.

    Reply
  31. Denise

    Good for you!! Stand up for yourself. I to agree with several of the other Ladies about doing your own pattern writing and selling to your followers and any new quilters that find your via U-Tube videos. I would order your patterns as they easy to follow. Either on your Blog or with Etsy. Take all the time you need with this process, if you decide to go in this direction.

    Reply
  32. Patricia Bresett

    What an eye opener. A poor business decision on their part. That individual probably hasn’t the faintest idea what goes into constructing a quilt much less designing one. Sort of like the person who wants you to make them a quilt just because you can. Keep the beautiful creations for yourself. When you look at them you can think of them as your “No thank you quilts.” Shame on them!

    Reply
  33. shoshana

    good for you Jo, you have such talent and it’s worth alot more that their first offer, never mind the joke of the second one. any chance you would consider writing the pattern and selling it yourself here on the blog? expecially the first one you made with leftovers from the Bonnie Hunter quilt, the one that looks like stained glass. thank you for all you share with us.

    Reply
  34. Christina

    Hi Jo,
    Well done standing up to the publishers, I thought it was a damn insult their offerings! and their justification which you trashed is in the right place. I agree with so many , Pdf on Esty is the way to go, I will be first in the queue to buy all 3. I am disgusted that such clever artistic designers are treated so badly, I also will be canceling my subscription TODAY.

    Reply
  35. Bridget

    I have your book and if you wrote your directions for these patterns like you have them in the book then you are a fabulous pattern writer. Your directions are intuitive to me…some patterns are not and I have to do my own math and write my directions as I work. So essentially I have paid for a picture because the directions are not usable. aurgh. I miss Quilter’s Newsletter. I no longer subscribe to any quilting magazines because they are so thin in content. Have to admit I do buy the issues when you indicate you have a pattern released in it…but no, I would not take the pittance offered, it is insulting!

    Reply
  36. Donna

    Oh my goodness…no need to apologize and shame on them!
    You have been so generous with your quilt patterns to us…I know I’m one of many who would gladly pay YOU for your patterns.
    Thank you for everything you have done for us.
    Love and prayers

    Reply
  37. Elle

    Your time is valuable and YEA YOU!!!! For your decision. Why spend time writing patterns instead of doing what you love?

    Happy Thursday Jo :-)

    Reply
  38. Kathy C

    I love reading your quilting ‘stuff’, always fun and informative.
    But, the Fox News conspiracy crap on here really hit a nerve. I quilt to get away from all that garbage. This seems like an odd and inappropriate place for it.
    Sorry to say goodbye

    Reply
  39. Karen

    Jo, I agree with so many of these comments. You should think about publishing your own patterns. Your daughters can help, I’m sure. Make it a family business. We’d all buy the pdf patterns. You are a brilliant quilter & we love to be able to make your quilts. Don’t let a magazine dictate too you how they undervalue your work. We love your work. God will show you what to do.

    Reply
  40. Becky Gilliam

    Hi Jo, thank you for letting us know. I had picked up copies of one magazine and subscribed to another magazines last year and time to renew is this month. Good to know – I will not be renewing. I have to admit that I only picked magazines with names of quilters I recognized or if I knew you had a quilt being published.

    Reply
  41. Melissa

    I agree with so many others: that payment for producing a quilt is ridiculous! If you ever find a way to write the patterns, be it yourself, your daughter(s), or someone else, I’d be interested in purchasing some. Your quilts are works of art and worth waaaaay more than $250 for the design! Heck, many of us pay that or more just to get the quilting done!
    I love your blog, it’s like you are a friend whom I check in on each day. Keep on keeping on!!

    Reply
  42. Pat

    Oh Jo!
    I am sorry you won’t be receiving that income, but I think you made the right choice. Your time and creativity is certainly worth more than that. Something will come up where you can use those quilts, and hopefully another income will present itself.

    Pat

    Reply
  43. Kathy Henderson

    I’m saddened that they can’t see the value of the designers to their business. Their entire magazine centers on quilts and quilting, but they can’t spare the money to pay designers? Doesn’t make any kind of business sense. I taught quilting through my local park/rec for over 10 years, and I didn’t want the students to have to buy a special pattern or book on top of the cost of the class, so I designed, made, and wrote patterns for 9 quilts a year. My pay was a percentage of the class fees, so the more students that took the class, the more money I was paid. Even at the highest turnout (which I think was around 15 people), the pay didn’t come close to compensating me for the time and money that I put into the class. It was more of a labor of love than financial gain. Knowing how much time and effort it takes, I think it’s offensive that they would only offer you that much. I’m fully behind you on this!

    Reply
  44. Sue

    I support your decision not to publish your quilts at such a low rate. I have subscribed to various magazines, including the ones you have mentioned in your blog, for 15+ years. A couple years ago, I renewed a subscription to McCalls Quick Quilts. It was purchased by a bigger magazine and subscribers were told it would be replaced by a totally different magazine. I am currently letting all my subscriptions lapse. I’m down to two right now. They will expire soon. I have so many patterns I want to make that I will never be able to make them all in my lifetime, Lol. I’ve noticed so many magazines are now even republishing patterns that have been in their previous issues. That doesn’t sit well with long time subscribers. Sadly, I think magazines will go the way of local newspapers in the near future. There are just so many free patterns on Pinterest and the internet now.

    Reply
  45. Lisa B

    Well, a lot of comments. I’m traveling and not able to read them all so this may be a repeat. When covid hit Bonnie Hunter started putting out her own quilt patterns, one a month, with PDF files. Recently I saw a class advertised online to teach quilt designers to write their own patterns. I’ve often thought that you could make more money selling your patterns through your blog than to magazines. Readers would buy and print the patterns we want. Similar to what Jasper’s mom set up for Country Threads.

    Reply
  46. Deb E

    Totally agree with everyone else who has said “sell the patterns YOU wrote, for the quilt YOU made, for the price YOU want.” I’d buy those patterns in a heartbeat. To hell with the magazine – they are exploiting you. Good for you for turning their insulting ‘offer’ down. You’d make extra money, which will help you and your family, and we all would have a well written pattern and your usual well thought out directions to make some terrific quilts. Win win in my book!

    Reply
    1. La

      Hurray for standing up for yourself, Jo!!!

      (And for contrast, leaders in CA have ordered that minimum wage will be $15.50/hr starting 1/1/23, for no skill labor.)

      Reply
  47. Janet Rice

    Good for you for sticking up for yourself and shame on the magazines for offering so little. To me, writing instructions can be difficult but it’s certainly not worth nearly as much as designing and making the quilt.

    I just got a renewal notice for one of the magazines that you’ve been published in and the price has almost doubled. I won’t be renewing that subscription, especially if you aren’t going to be in the magazine. I think they need to rethink their policy.

    Thanks for all you do, Jo.

    Reply
  48. Pingback: Ask Jo: Conspiracy…No. | Jo's Country Junction

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