Saturday, September 18, 2010

Administrative stuff: A thought about organizing and a question!

I'm trying to get my life organized - yeah, that's going to happen any day now! - and part of that is organizing the blog. (I've been reading a book on hoarding and I don't want to end up living in a house filled with exotic supplies surrounded by hundreds of stray dogs! I need to make some changes now!)

To that end, I'm trying to find a way to organize the blog in a more manageable way. I see the blog as a repository of information, a place where information has been gathered to help us explore our interest in bath & body products further, to share information with each other, and to learn as much as we can about our chosen craft. To do that, I need to keep it organized with the lists you see to the right and label things well.

That's where you, my wonderful readers, come into the help Swift get organized plan!

Commenting on posts. I love seeing your comments, but I'm wondering if we could organize it a little bit better? 

If the point of commenting is to request or share information, clarify issues, suggest ways of modifying a recipe, or reporting results, then we need to organize it so that information can be accessed by anyone who might be remotely interested. As I've been going through the posts to both organize it and to put together a book or two, I've realized how many great comments are likely going unread because they aren't attached to a post that is relevant to the comment. 

Is it possible to find a post that might be more relevant to your comment, question, or suggestion or am I asking too much? (This is meant sincerely, not sarcastically, as I'm not a commenter on this blog and I can do all kinds of neat searches for information.)

For instance, if you want to know something about conditioners, there are tons of posts on the topic in the hair care link (look to the right under the "Links to Lists" section) that might be better suited than a post on melt & pour soap. Or perhaps posting it under one of the ingredients that might be relevant (again, look to the right to see the "Bath & Body Guides to Ingredients"). If you're interested in a conditioner, commenting in a post about Incroquat BTMS or cetrimonium chloride would be more helpful than a post with hand-outs for my craft groups that week. If we can post things in a place where others might see it, you'll get more than just me answering it - you'll have other wonderful readers who might be able to share their thoughts! 

I'm not going to be ultra-mega-picky about it and refuse to answer something not in the "right" section, and I'm not going to ask you to search the blog looking for an answer to your question or for the perfect place to put the comment - but if you could take a moment to look for something in a really obvious section that might be better suited to your question, I think we can share information a lot more efficiently! 

What do you think? Am I going too far in my attempts to organize this blog or is it reasonable? (Be honest! This organizing thing is new to me and often when we make changes in our lives, we tend to go overboard!) 

And here's the question - I'm wondering if there's any interest in an e-book? I have investigated publishing a hard copy of a book and it's out of the question. The publishing costs would be too high and the shipping too much. I'd have to do a run of some kind, and I don't want to publish 100 copies when there's only interest for one. I've even looked into photocopying it and binding it myself (wire bound, not the elaborate fabric covered type you see to the left!) but that would cost at least and take up a ton of my time, so that's right out. Since I'm writing the book to raise some money for my youth groups (we're out of funds and grants are getting harder to come by these days, so almost all the costs are out of pocket for me now), the most cost effective way to get a book out there is to create an e-book.

I'm thinking of doing something like this - if you donate to the youth groups, I'll send you a copy of the e-book as my thanks for your kindness. So you wouldn't actually be buying it - it's like PBS where I send you a book (or two or three) depending upon the level of donation - so think of it as an incentive to donate to my programs! (If you've already donated over $20 to my programs, you'll see an e-mail from me asking if you want a copy of the book. But don't let that stop you from donating more! Every penny counts around here!) I realize this might seem the same as buying a book, but there's one big difference: Imagine the guilt you'll suffer knowing your piracy takes supplies and food out of my youth groups! Just picture a teenager being a little sad because we spent the evening making bleach bottle dolls with donated yarn instead of making awesome shampoo and conditioner she can be proud of making herself!

I had a book published in 2002, and believe me when I say it's a long process to find an agent or publisher who will take a book idea, I'm not kidding. You have to wait to see if it's accepted, and then it's about a year from acceptance to publishing. And they don't like you to send things to other agents or publishers, so you have to wait for each one to respond! I put in a proposal to a publisher last November, and I'm still waiting to hear about it. Although I plan to send some more proposals out in the near future, I don't think there's a market for the kind of book I'd like to write, which is one that won't be just for beginners, will include some of the chemistry, and isn't really for a mass market audience. And then there's the whole the publisher never pays you what he owes you, and all you can do is hope karma bites him in the bum thing, which is another post entirely. I'm not bitter...

Having said this, if you're a publisher or agent who thinks the contents of this blog could make an interesting book - get in touch! 

So here's the second part of this question - What topic would interest you in a book format? I would like something that fills at least 100 pages or 35,000 words, so I'm looking for a general topic, like the one I've just finished up about anhydrous products that runs about 125 pages. I've heard loads of good ideas so far, but I'm always up for hearing more! I have some ideas, but I won't taint your thoughts by including let me know in the comments!

As a P.S. written September 19th: I am not planning to start charging for anything on the blog. The book is meant to bring together everything written on a certain topic in one location - a longer version of the downloadable PDFs you see linked on the right hand side of the page - that you can search even if you're not on-line. It may contain new recipes I've created since the original post, but this is not going to turn into the kind of blog that says do this this and this, "and if you want to know more, buy my book" - I hate websites and blogs like that! You see something interesting, and then it's cough up some cash! Nope. Not an option.

I will not consider advertising of any sort. If I take advertising from suppliers or manufacturers, my opinion becomes suspect. How can you trust that I really like this product or that fragrance if you see a big banner ad for that company beside the post? My goal for this blog is to share what I've learned and - I hope - pique your interest to learn more about our ingredients, the process, or chemistry! I won't take the random advertising I could get from Blogger because I can't control the content and I am so tired of seeing those "girls in your area want to meet you" ads. I don't want some random ad directing you to buy shampoo or lotion somewhere when I'm trying to encourage you to make your own! So advertising isn't an option.

The whole goal of writing the book is to share information and to raise money for my youth groups. I don't need to raise money for my own needs - I have a great job with a non-profit agency that pays amazingly well considering the sector - I need to raise it for my groups! Every penny I raise from the book will go to our seven library based groups and the group we offer at the alternative school. And, if we make enough, it'll go to help start other groups, like the pregnant and parenting teen activity program starting in October.

I'm also considered offering groups to adults in the Lower Mainland or Fraser Valley area of B.C. to raise money for my groups. If you think you might be interested, let me know. I'd offer a class with recipes, supplies, and the rest - the logistics would have to be discussed as I really don't have space in my workshop for more than two people without getting ridiculously cramped!

And here ends the addendum...sorry for the really long post!


Meaue said...

I do like this idea - you could do things like Anne-Marie - charge $5 for a series on something - that gives a little more than the blog? I am certainly all for paying you for all the extensive research you do - and that it goes to your youth groups is a most positive thing. I like the PBS level stuff - how creative! I'll be looking forward to what you come up with. A collection of recipes would be nice.... your most favorite? I am all for making the blog easier to find things, alleviating us asking questions that we could find the answers to ourselves.

Tara said...

I'd SO pay for your e-book. It's too hard to pick topics, but I love hair care, facial care, extracts, essential oils, and lip balms and with ingredients that are easier to find (ie. somewhat local to Canadians).

Laura said...

I'd buy your e-book! I really enjoyed your Back to Basics series, and I frequently refer to the PDF files you have that detail the chemistry, profiles, and formulating ideas for carrier and exotic oils. I'd love to see some sort of compendium that brings all these things together (maybe with an exclusive formulation idea or two?) in an easy-to-use searchable format.

sfs said...

I would buy a book just filled with your back blogs!

Meaue said...

True to that!!

p said...

I'd totally buy your book, plus a couple extra for friends!

What I love most about your blog is that it helps me to create my own formulations - not only do I know what works, but why! So with that in mind, here's my dream book by you...
I'd love a sort of formulator's dictionary of ingredients, where you have a section on each ingredient, let's take green tea extract, or BTMS-50, or seabuckthorn oil, for example. In the first part of the section, you'd give a lot of background info: the chemistry, what it's good for, the studies. The next part would discuss how you actually formulate with it: usage rates for different types of products (and for what purpose in each type of product), into which phase you add it, and lastly what ingredients it plays well or plays badly with. And then maybe end with a recipe that especially highlights the awesome power of the ingredient.

I guess this would end up being less recipe-intensive than your blog? But I think it'd be a great companion, because when I'm reading a recipe on your blog, I could go to a single source for the whys and how-much's for each ingredient.

Lalla said...

I like your idea. I would be most interested by a book on ingredients ( phytosterols...) and their interactiosn ( lanolin and beeswax, BTMS and cetyl alcohol...)

Lynda said...

I'd also buy your ebook. It would be nice to have the info all in one place that I can look at in my leisure or print out. As for topic - about any of them you write about.

pearlyn said...

babe. i will pay for ur book. heck, i will even buy them now.
how many ebooks have you come up with? i wanna buy ALL

Anonymous said...

I like p's idea. I've hunted high and low for such a book. I like sfs's idea, too.


Anonymous said...

A broad book would be killer. How about your experience and perceptions on these topics: "Homemade bodycare crafting- general", "cosmetics and you", "current trends in bodycare: organic, natural, green, etc: myths and tips", "top 3 fav recipes for 4 or 5 bodycare products: ie, toner, lotion, deodorant, etc". "The awesome future of home crafting cosmetics" where you can point to resources- your blog of course, and what's coming up as far as advances in technology, what you'd like to see, etc. Book Title: "Everything you ever wanted to know about awesome, practical bodycare crafting in the yr 2010." I can say your content, viewpoint, and communication style is practical and spot on. In other words, it works. You got it. From a business profit generating aspect, I think a website and forum would work for you. This is where you could allow suppliers of ingredients you truly endorse, provided the advertisers acknowledge you are providing THEM a service for a fee. Allowing them to advertise as suppliers of ingredients you actually use in your forum. The website could take form as simply a richer, more user friendly graphical path to the blog and forum, a portal in fact, just as google search results are. The horsepower and organization behind this would solve your topic search dilemma, which I believe is just a format/ horsepower requirement. Hope this at least sparks some viable ideas! Love you and the blog, and I can vouch and say we will all buy the book and patronize any internet offerings you provide!