Amelia shop owner Erin Austen Abbott gives first book reading and signing

Posted on Mar 21 2017 - 8:01am by Jacqueline Knirnschild

Erin Austen Abbott can now add ‘author’ to her repertoire of artist, photographer, maker and shop owner.

At 5 p.m. tomorrow at Off Square Books, Abbott, the owner of the local home and gift shop Amelia, will be signing and presenting her new book, “How to Make It” – the ultimate guide to earning a living by creating things.

“How to Make It” features insight from 25 illustrators, jewelry designers, ceramicists, painters, clothing designers and printmakers on how to be a successful creative entrepreneur.

Abbott said “How to Make It” is an extension of her 2011 Instagram series “Studio Stories,” which looked behind the scenes of different artists in her shop. “Studio Series” was just a glimpse, but “How to Make It” is more in-depth.

“This is me actually asking them questions and digging in and getting their take on how to make it as a working creative,” Abbott said.

“How to Make It” includes only a few artists from Abbott’s shop; the rest were selected based on region and the type of craft each artist makes. Abbott said she wanted to have a lot of diversity and variation in the book.

“There’s 13 states and Canada, so I felt like we got a really good range that way,” she said.

All of the featured artists coincided with two main pieces of advice – the importance of taking some business courses and staying organized. Abbott said most of the featured creators in her book have art degrees but were never offered business courses in art school.

“I think every single one of them was like, ‘Why don’t they teach us this in art school?’” Abbott said. “’Why don’t we know how to make this a viable career?’”

Staying organized was another critical component of being a successful creative entrepreneur.

“That was the No. 1 tip,” Abbott said. “You have to be organized to actually be a creative person making a career out of this.”

Abbott said artistic people do not always necessarily think in a structured manner, which can makes business matters difficult. According to her, if an artist is not organized or does not have an organized team member, “it’ll be a constant struggle of feeling scattered.”

Abbott said writing a book for the first time was a wonderful experience. She not only interviewed the 25 artists and wrote about them but also did all the photography for her book.

“It’s been so eye-opening,” Abbott said about being an author. “I think some people think you just sit down and write a book and you’re done, but there’s so much that goes into it.”

Despite the hard work, Abbott still loved writing “How to Make It” so much that she is already in the process of working on her second book but is not at liberty to give any details.

All she said of her next book is that it will be totally different from “How to Make It”.