Every year about this time, I look back at the last 12 months and ask myself, “What the hell am I doing wrong?”
The complete list is too long for a blog entry. The short list relates to Lost Art Press and my work as a furniture maker and teacher. So here it is, with as little navel-gazing as possible.
The good news is that 2019 has been Lost Art Press’s biggest ever by all metrics: sales, profits, units shipped, etc. It is shocking that the enterprise we started 13 years ago now ships more than 30,000 books a year. That’s still small potatoes in the publishing world, but it’s good to be small potatoes that are not in the toilet – which is where most of the publishing world is today. (Boy, the SEO on this entry is gonna be weird. Maybe I should throw the word “boobs” in for good measure.)
Thanks to your support, Lost Art Press is now big enough that I don’t need to teach classes or take furniture commissions to eat. And at 2:49 a.m. on Monday while I was laying out Chris Williams’s new book on John Brown, I thought seriously about putting a full stop to teaching and commissions. Maybe get some more sleep and become a moss enthusiast to relax.
The morning sunshine and coffee brought me to my senses. Teaching and commissions keep me honest. And they are a safety net if books become suddenly obsolete. But I should reduce my burden.
So I’ve doubled my prices for commission work. If I’ve quoted you a price, then it’s still valid. All new work will be quoted at the higher price. I really do enjoy building for other people, but I also feel bad about how long my customers (sorry Bill) have to wait.
Second, I’m significantly raising my day rate (again) for teaching, which will kick in in 2021. I’ll continue to teach here at the storefront. I make more money teaching here, I have all my tools at hand and I sleep in my own bed. But I’m sure I’ll be dropped by many schools.
One of the revelations I had this year is that every one-week class consumes three weeks of time. A week for preparation, packing and travel. A week of teaching. And one week of travel, unpacking and catching up on everything I neglected during the previous two weeks.
The bottom line is that I have too many books I want to write, dozens more books to edit by people I admire and several dark corners of the craft that I want to research. The only way to do this is to cut back in other areas of my professional life.
So if you are here for the books and the tools (as I am) then the news is good.
— Christopher Schwarz