Thursday, 10 September 2015

Product development craziness.

It feels like Friday today, and while I'm happy that it actually isn't tomorrow yet (as that gives me a day more to do stuff), I also think that I'd totally be due a Friday today, and a nice weekend.

I've fallen into the gold embroidery instructions thingie, or to put it differently, it has eaten All. The. Time. Product development is two words that sound rather innocuous, but oh, the things that hide behind them. Things you have planned, or are working on and developing, have a tendency to... well, grow. Or suddenly present you with utterly unexpected problems, costing lots of brain power and occasionally some nights of sleep. I've hinted on it on Monday, but here's the long version:

I want the fleur de lis embroidery kit to be as accessible to beginner (gold) embroiderers as it possibly can be, and that includes good, detailed instructions with lots of photos so you will really know what to do, and how it might look. We do have a decent printer, and that's why I can print the one-page or two-page instructions for the spinning kits and for the distaffs at home, but printing multi-page things such as these instructions is an entirely different beast.

So I was planning on writing the instructions and then having them done up by a printer, in some form of a booklet (which is much nicer than individual sheets with their tendency to separate and land in entirely different parts of the room. Or world, if you're like me). So far, so good - but I don't know if the kit will fly or not, so I'd better not plan for insane numbers of it. Especially as it means investing in things that I do not usually have in stock and that are not easily, if at all, saleable on their own. So I've planned to do a single, smallish batch of kits and see how it goes. If it goes very well, I'll do another batch. If it builds a little nest on my shelves never to leave again because it's so nice and comfy where I store my non-sellable ideas... well, I'll be out some money and a lot of time, but I'll live.

Here's the thing, however. The lower your number of copies to be printed, the higher the cost per item. For the low number of embroidery kits that I will make for this first batch, and with the need to provide instructions in two languages (German and English)... well, let's say printing prices for these would be through the roof, and would definitely leave me with a number of copies in the language less sought after.

The solution? Make a single version of the booklet containing both languages. This does lower the printing costs per copy somewhat, but it's still rather expensive.

So at some point last week, towards the end of it if you want to know it all in detail, it occurred to me that I could do a general instructions booklet, suitable for sale separately from the kit, stick that into the kit and provide an additional single sheet with the kit-relevant additional information.

This, I still think, is a very nice solution to the conundrum of print prices and guessing how many copies in each language will be needed. It has a catch, though: General instructions are much more work and need much more writing than specific ones. They also need more pictures, and different ones, including those that need permission to be published.

Thanks to very nice people all around who answered questions and are looking into pictures, though, it looks like I might be able to pull this off in time. I've taken oodles of photos yesterday, stitched, read, looked up terms (textile terminology is always a pain in the neck), stitched more, translated, and done picture processing. The German text is almost done, the English version is halfway there, and I'm about halfway through the piccie issues as well.

One of the many pictures taken yesterday - supplies for gold embroidery and the embrodery kit prototype.

Now I'm hoping the remaining issues will clear up in time - and then there's only (hah!) layout and pre-print checks to be done. Wish me luck.

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