Crafting a Book: A Year of Zero Waste Sewing

Things are coming together as A Year of Zero Waste Sewing moves towards becoming a book.

I thought I’d use this post to share the process of independently publishing a book. 10 years ago, I was determined I would never self-publish, but now I’m a convert! If you have something to write about, it’s never been easier to publish.

A Year of Zero Waste Sewing has had an experimental publishing route, because it was written in instalments as zines (ie booklets) and published in that format first. It’s been a very positive experience; in fact, a joy. Very low stress and manageable, and I highly recommend it. I didn’t have enough material for a whole book at the start, but wanted to get started anyway, and this made it possible. Six months into the project I got Long Covid, so I was even more grateful of the slow pace.

Self-publishing doesn’t mean you do everything yourself, just like building your own home. Book designers, cover designers and editors are available to help you. If there’s any advice I could give: don’t skimp on editing or cover design – get experts to help you.

So here’s the actual process that’s been unfolding:

1. Each zine instalment of A Year of Zero Waste Sewing comes with a read-on-screen version as well as a print-at-home booklet file. As I created these, I put them into the format the book would eventually be in, so it would be waiting for me. I went through and changed the title fonts for a cleaner look, and removed the copyright info at the beginning of each month. Btw, the software I use is Scribus, which is free and has been around for so long there’s plenty of online help for it (forums, YouTube tutorials etc). It had a steep learning curve at the start but I like using it now.

2. The front and back matter already existed (title page, index, etc) in case people wanted to hand bind the zines into a book, so I added those. I also agonized over a new introduction and back blurb.

3. I bought an ISBN and barcode package ($90) from Bowker-Thorpe, the company that issues them.

4. I looked up the BISAC code – this is part of the book’s metadata, to help booksellers and librarians know the book’s category. This book’s is Craft/Fashion.

5. To make the book as up-to-date as possible, I contacted all but the most recent designers featured to see if they needed to update their “zero waste story”. Some have since published books or furthered their work. One was no longer trading, so I asked a different designer for their story.

6. With a book, there are more pages available than a 12 page zine, so all the sewing projects got a bit more space to spread out. I drew a few extra diagrams to help, too.

7. The cover image got photographed, but the cover itself hasn’t been finalised yet. I’ll do a separate post about creating the cover because it was so interesting and fun. (Meanwhile, here’s how the cover for The Dressmaker’s Companion got made.)

Here’s a pic of the process of making the cover photo, along with the concept art.

8. For editing, although each zine got edited thrice (by me, a tech editor and proofreading editor), it now needs to be edited as a whole book, and to pick up any possible mistakes made in the changes. It’s being edited as hard copies rather than on-screen. I got 3 copies printed at the local copy shop, one for each of us to check, and this is happening at the moment.

Me and my editing copy.

9. The title set-up has been done at the printers. For printing, the book will be printed-on-demand (POD) by Ingram, who will also distribute it to online and bricks & mortar booksellers. The book will be printed at an almost totally automated facility in a country near the customer, in any quantity. This saves me outlaying $$$$ to get books printed, then storing them and sending them (in Australia, printing is expensive and so is postage). The title set-up involves specifying the book’s trim size, paper and cover type, RRP for different countries, and so on. Then I’ll upload a PDF file of the book’s interior and cover. They’ll send an e-proof to look at, and then I’ll order a single book to check it. I don’t anticipate big problems (hopefully that’s not famous last words!).

10. Normally when a book is published, there’s something like a six month gap between the book being finished and the actual publishing date. This is in order to plan the book launch, line up book reviews, do pre-sales etc so that when the book comes out all the publicity is ready. However, in my case, I’ve been going on about this book for the past 2 years! As soon as it’s ready, I’m publishing and the book will be available.

11. After the book is published, I’m required to send a free copy to the National Library of Australia, the State Library and the Parliamentary Library. I did this for my previous two books, and had fun writing an inscription on them.

The book is only weeks away!

The zines will still be available. January is free and can be downloaded here. There’s now a video to go with it that you’ll see at the same time. The zines with patterns in them are March (modular jacket), May (tiny satchel), July (Eura dress), September (bias halter neck top/dress) and December (pleated top).

Cheers! Liz


  1. Helen Sherriff on February 19, 2024 at 8:17 pm

    Congratulations on your progress. Very impressive! I hope the rest of the process goes well.

    • lizhaywood on February 20, 2024 at 5:06 pm

      Thank you Helen. This time next week I hope to be holding a proof in my hands!

      • Flissa Bolt on March 2, 2024 at 7:55 pm

        Hi Liz, Bravo!! You will feel amazing when the book is all done. Will there be a Kindle edition? Any idea in pricing? This whole project is something I would love to do for myself. Would you be happy to give a rough guide on total costs involved for this venture? For instance the barcode and registration detail were useful as it hadn’t even occurred to me that I’d need this!!! We are living in learning!!

      • lizhaywood on March 3, 2024 at 11:52 am

        Thanks Flissa. Independent publishing is a steep learning curve and takes a stack of time, but is ultimately very rewarding (I think).
        Here’s my publishing story from The Dressmaker’s Companion some years ago, which has some handy links in it: I feel like this book was my apprenticeship in publishing. You can throw as much money as you want at publishing a book, especially on promotion, or you can publish for a very modest price. I haven’t tallied up the costs for this book, as it’s spread over two years and I sold it in instalments which helped defray the costs, but maybe AU$2000-ish?? Biggest cost was editing.
        A Year of Zero Waste Sewing is only a print book at the moment, but later I’ll look into ebooks 🙂

  2. Tory on February 20, 2024 at 5:16 am

    Liz —

    This is a very interesting post about your publishing process. And of course the news itself is so exciting! I’ll be first in line!

    Tory 🙂

    • lizhaywood on February 20, 2024 at 5:06 pm

      Thank you – this is my third time around with publishing and it’s still a fascinating process 🙂

  3. Isabel Fox on February 25, 2024 at 8:18 am

    Congratulations Liz!! Hard work comes to fruition.

    • lizhaywood on February 25, 2024 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks Isabel – I didn’t expect it would take this long but nearly there.

  4. Trang on March 2, 2024 at 6:44 pm

    Congratulations. Will you consider the ebook format for those of us who live outside Australia?

    • lizhaywood on March 3, 2024 at 11:03 am

      Thanks Trang 🙂 The print book will be available soon outside of Australia – I only did the title set-up with the distributor last week so it has yet to populate to online booksellers sites. At the moment it’s only print, sorry. I’ll look into an ebook a bit further down the track when I’ve got some more energy.

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