Scrapbooking and Writers

by Marg McAlister


For the uninitiated, 'scrapbooking' is pretty much what it sounds like - but today's scrapbooks are a long way from the ones you created as a child (glueing postcards and mementos into a cheap scrapbook from K-Mart). Today you will find half a dozen glossy magazines devoted to scrapbooking techniques. As you'll see when you browse through the layouts sent in by readers, the results are impressive. Beautiful hand-made books; lovingly crafted family mementoes... these are creations your family and friends will treasure.


(a) Scrapbooking as "Publishing"

I've always felt that not nearly enough writers value their work for its own sake. Yes, it's nice to achieve publication via traditional methods (submit to a publisher, get a 'yes', end up with a published book in your hand, get some royalties). But what if you can't quite manage to get that 'yes'? Even after trying for years? Do you still keep knocking at the door? Only you can know how important it is to you to be published in the conventional sense. Undoubtedly, those who are persistent often manage to break in. What I'm going to suggest here, though, is that you think of other ways of publishing your work. In particular - through scrapbooking.

Suppose you have written the text of a picture book. You've worked hard on the narrative, and to you it sounds as though it reads well. You may even have received a letter that says something like "Not this time, thanks, but send us more of your work."

What do you do with it? You could send it out to every picture book publisher you can think of. In fact, sure - go ahead and do that. But while you're waiting to hear back, why not ALSO turn it into a work of art? You will have the pleasure of creating something lovely, and if you have young children or grandchildren, they'll think it's really, really special. Some ideas:

  • If your story features children, get your children/grandchildren to pose for the various scenes and take photos. Craft a hand-made book, using scrapbooking techniques, with your own family members in the starring roles.
  • Gather photos of a fun family outing - or visit to relatives - and write a story to go with them.
  • If your story features animals, search for photos or clip art on the Internet. Print them out and use them in your hand-made book.
  • Use a combination of sketches (or clip art) and photos. Use sketches for most of the illustrations, but paste in the faces of family members and pets.
  • If you love to write poetry, use scrapbooking techniques to create a beautiful handmade book to give to friends or family.

(b) Scrapbooking and Writing as a Business

Below are just a few suggestions you can consider. There are several useful books at with excellent advice about how you can run a scrapbooking business: if you're really interested I recommend you buy them. Meanwhile, think about these ideas:

  • Create a hand-made book of poetry related to a theme... a new baby; losing a loved one; being in love etc.
  • Find a specialized niche and create sample books to show others what you can do - weddings, 50th birthdays, christenings, starting school, Christmas... just think 'celebrations' and see what you can come up with. (You could, of course, advertise as a specialist in creating hand-made books on any theme.)
  • "Star in Your Own Story" books. You've all seen the personalized books advertised in magazines that invite you to send in the name of the child, his friends, a pet, etc and have a personalized book created. How much nicer would this be if it's hand-made? The parent can send in photos of the child and family for you to use. What a wonderful opportunity to use your writing skills hand-in-hand with craft work!

These days, writers don't have to be bound by traditional publishing. You can explore the gamut: from hand-made books and scrapbooks to e-books. Think outside the square - and choose something you'll have fun creating.

© Marg McAlister


The Busy Writer's One-Hour Plot

The Busy Writer's One-Hour Character

Book of Checklists

The Busy Writer's Self-Editing Toolbox

The Busy Writer's KickStart Program

Write a Book Fast