It’s a little late in the day but here is a blog about our adventures of making the #FrockUpFridaybook.
It was around May 2020 that the very lovely Paula Bush wrote on the #Facebook group that the photos in the group would make a wonderful coffee table book. It was a light bulb moment and it just seemed like such a great idea to use the creative photos from the group and turn them into something solid and a positive memory from a very difficult time.
So the exploration of how to make a book began. We checked out local book printers and publishers and nearly all said the project was rather too ambitious , as we wanted to make a substantial book that could accommodate a thousand photos.
We didn’t realise at that point Janice one of our admin team had been in publishing professionally and had made many books. So we had a few distanced meetings with Janice and discussed our ideas . Janice was a wonder, she helped with the first steps of making a book and categorised all the hoops we would need to jump through to create a finished product. She mentioned things like “page trim, paper quality” and legalities of making a book, we were really clueless! (Still are😂)
To be honest all the information was daunting but Janice being incredibly organised found Pure Print a local Printers for us and went and got examples of size and weight of books suitable to use. She did intitial costings on the project and gave us a big list of things we needed to set up before we could even think of going ahead . That meeting was a big shock firstly the amount of work we needed to do, then how much money we needed to start such a project. The initial estimate for the shortest print run was mind blowing …….. £24.000 . I think it took Susan and I a long time to absorb that information, we are after all two people scrubbing for a living (we are both cleaners) and a lot of our work had at that point stopped due to the pandemic.
We went away and looked over the figures and felt rather sick, it seemed like an impossible task. However we are both of the mind set that if you never try to do something you will never do anything. So rather naively we decided to try and at least get the money needed for the print deposit , if the worse came to the worse we’d put our own money in.
So it began, we set out to do something incredibly difficult but not impossible.
Our first task was to set up a simple website and buy the copyright for the brand name “Frock Up Friday” Andrew Francis my husband agreed at this point to loan us money to get us started.
So once these simple tasks were done, we had the idea that collecting all the fab photos would be easy, erm !
We soon discovered you can’t just collect photos and put them in print, you need permission and to keep the quality of the original pictures you need to collect them in the correct format . You also need to organise how you collect these pictures. Organisation isn’t our strong point but Andrew came to the rescue he’s known by friends , as Mr Spreadsheet😂! Not only did he set up folders he found us the best way to collect and store the pictures.
Collecting photos took weeks as the group was so huge people were not noticing the announcements and asking indeviduals for pics by private message was impossible as Facebook have settings to stop people sending spam through private messages, so after about fifty messages we were blocked from sending them, so it was a hard slog to get everyone to submit pictures and be aware of the project.
We also needed a professional designer as niether of us knew how to put a book together. We wanted a designer with the same vision as us , someone who understood the importance of the group and it’s visual impact. We asked designers to submit their ideas and made a short list of brilliant people, after a hard choice, as there was another designer we loved too, we chose Matt. We chose him because his design fitted the vision that Susan and me had. It turned out that Matt was a great choice he knew exactly what we wanted and how to deal with our chaotic way of working. I have never known anyone work as hard, often Matt would be awake at 4am working. We had given him an impossibly short time to design a book and sort through our long list of photo choices . To be honest we loved every single picture😂. Matt also helped us cut our costs by keeping his costs low, as he was aware we want to give the profits from the sales of book to MIND , the frockers chosen charity.
Matt Jackson .
Once the picture were chosen, we could then let everyone know that we had chosen their pictures.That was a fun thing to do.
The Frockers showed us they had faith in us they pre ordered books to enable us to be able to go to print. My goodness we were blown away by people generosity but also the sleepless nights began, what if we couldn’t do this . I had all kinds of nightmares the recurring one was the title of the book was spelt wrong 😂. That would’ve been a massive frock Up!!!
While trying to raise money to make the book Susan and I split roles for a while, she went after local sponsorship , while I applied to lots of grants to help us on our way. The local businesses came up trumps even in such difficult trading times they supported us. we now want to make sure that when Hastings is allowed we will have the biggest frocking party to say a huge thank you to the best community of business people. I managed to secure a grant from a local charity called “The Goodstuff in St Leonards“ who bought fifty books on pre sale. 25 books were for local people who wanted the book but were unable to purchase it and 25 for libraries schools and colleges,a wonderful way to finance the book and give back to the community too. “The Goodstuff” have also given us a small grant to help us promote our big book launch which will now be held next year, exciting things ahead.
Matt found one of the biggest of tasks was checking through the designer spreads and making sure the correct stories were with the correct photos . It’s amazing how you become familiar with so many peoples names, photos and stories. And even though we’ve read the stories before and seen the photos at this point many times, we spent a lot of time getting emotional all over again reading through. At this point it was very difficult to imagine what the finished book was going to look like.
We had to make big decisions like would we have chapters or would we make the book a little different and format it in a different way . We eventually decided the first part of the book would be like the group page with lots of pictures and stories randomly placed but Matts eye for detail meant each page had its very own distinct character. The second half of the book would contain some of the dress up themes the group took part in.
Once everything was in place and the stories were in, we were very lucky to have two professional proof readers cast a glance over the book and check for any glaring mistakes, although most stories were printed as they had been written because we felt the character of the frockers shone in their writing.
We also needed a suitable person to write a foreword for us , this was much more difficult than we anticipated we had several brilliant leads on folks. Some weren’t really suitable not good Frocker material.
We spent a day stalking Eddie Izard which for us was hilarious, finding his car putting notes on it, getting messages sent to his backstage performances but unfortunately Eddie declined as he was too busy. Paloma Faith was a near miss too but she was also busy but sent a lovely message wishing us well . We had lot no replies !
Little did we know lovely Jamie Campbell had already been in the group and loved what we were doing and when one of the Frockers suggested he’d be the perfect person to write the foreword we crossed our fingers and asked . He was delighted to be asked and he has written the perfect foreword for our book and is actually the perfect Frocker too.
After weeks and weeks of checking and sleepless nights the team decided the book was ready to go to print. This part of the procedure was left in Matts capable hands and he liased with the printers as Suzie and I have no idea about the requirements for print ( although we know a lot more now)
So the book was at the printers and at the very last minute we changed our fulfilment company to one in Hastings instead of Birmingham, which proved a great idea as we can now pop and get a bundle of books if we need to and yay it keeps it all local. I had no idea about postage and packaging these people work so hard for their money and who knew what 1,500 books looked like !
It’s a lot of books certainly couldn’t have stored those at home😂
So the book was at the printers and in some daft way we thought whoop whoop the work load would be easier! Errrr nope! Publicity you need publicity ! So for four weeks Suzie and I sent press release after press release a lot of it fruitless. We did however manage to have a follow up on BBC South East after our original Lockdown story and for that we will be truly grateful.
The day of filming for the piece on the BBC was an emeotinal one. We invited Emma Claughton along to talk about her FUF experience and she immediately had us in tears. We were filmed blurry eyed not a good look! Charlotte the interviewer cried and the camera man had a tear too. It was a genuinely a moving moment . It was wonderful to meet a Frocker in real life, all be it at a distance.
Since the book has been mailed the work hasn’t stopped, we’ve had oversee postage issues, Royal Mail clearly don’t look after the postage too well , a few damaged books that’s not good, and even a few have gone missing , this has been incredibly frustrating!
We now have the biggest challenge to sell all of the books, we are hoping each and every person who is in the book buys a copy but also that people will buy it as a memory of this strange time. Once we have covered all the costs of making the book and we begin to make a profit the profits will be paid to the Charity #Mind.
“Mind“was the charity voted for by the frockers as Frock Up Friday has supported many people mental health challenges through Lockdown. The kindness in the group has been incredible everyone has been supporting one another. Who would have thought the simple idea of getting out of you pjs would have created such kindness. we would love to sell all the books so that we can give a big donation to MIND.
We intend to have a little rest over Christmas and then full steam ahead in the new year as we anticipate we are all going to need lots to look forward to in 2021. We are exhausted now but once our mojos back we shall be doing lots of exciting things to keep our little group fresh. Also it’s it’s very difficult to stop both Suzie and I having ideas , if we’d followed up on all of our ideas this year we our work load would’ve been ridiculous as would Matts and Andy’s! Love to you all and I shall keep this blog updated sporadically and hopefully the next chunk of writing will be smaller.❤️