Tuesday, July 29, 2014
It’s time to buckle down and concentrate on the two upcoming art shows. This coming Saturday, August 2, I will be in Goffstown for their Uncommon Art on the Common show. The following weekend, August 9 and 10 will find me at the Gallery at Well Sweep in Hillsborough Center for the HAA Open Studio Tour.
Off comes the writing and editing hat and on comes the artist’s beret. Well, not a beret maybe because I am not actually doing the art, just preparing what is already done for the shows. I made post cards to promote the new book “Too Cold for Alligators” and I printed new brochures yesterday. I’ll do more brochures today and maybe print new note cards.
I wish I understood and knew the terms better for different kinds of hats. You all know that I talk about the hat analogy often regarding all my different “jobs.” I wish I could name a style of hat and come up with a description including color, material and accoutrements for each one. Then I could draw little caricatures of myself wearing these different hats. What fun.
I have today and tomorrow to work on this as come Thursday, I will be back to the editing role again. I have to get as much done as I will be without internet on Saturday and unable to do any newspaper work.
If you’re out and about on Saturday and get a chance, visit my booth in Goffstown from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. I will be sharing with Nan McCarthy and we’ll have an array of cards, prints, charcoal drawings, and acrylic paintings.
Monday, July 28, 2014
I received a phone call late Saturday afternoon from AuthorSolutions. She announced that they agreed to do my changes at no further cost to me. Yes! She started talking about grayscale and the work their production team will have to do. I said that I have the photos in grayscale and asked if it would be easier for me to send the file and she agreed. I liked this better because then I would have control of the editing. (Of course it still depends on the printing.)
I told her the issues I had with the color of the cover being too dark for the background pictures to show and that the font on the back was too small to read easily. She said they would take care of that, too. I next mentioned my mistake of forgetting to put “insert photo 2186” after the text on the last page of the interior. I knew as that was definitely my mistake that it would probably cost me. She surprised me by saying they would include that, also.
I am pleased. A company should work at making sure their customers (authors in this case) are happy with the product. These self-publishing companies are set up to be, basically, printers of what they are sent. However, there must be satisfaction in the result. I have been set back a few weeks and will not have copies of the book for sale at the upcoming shows, but at least when I do get copies they will be up to my standards. They have done well in their agreeing to fix the problems and that they are including my own error is very much appreciated.
So, yesterday after finishing my editing work for the week and writing an article, I went through the pictures. I was told to send the files using wetransfer.com and I uploaded the photos and hit send. It took over an hour for the 50 pictures to transfer. I also sent an email detailing the changes I wanted. Now it’s back to the waiting game, but I am excited. This will work!
The e-book version will not change and is still available at amazon.com.
Friday, July 25, 2014
Busyness caught me again and Gail visited for a couple of days.” I sent another e-mail this morning to AuthorHouse to address other issues besides the pictures in my book Too Cold for Alligators. For a so-called good name company, I am highly disappointed.
Here is the response to my emails last week:
I apologize for the wait. The photos have been checked by the printer’s technicians. Below is the response:
“This is a B&W interior book printed at 106 line screen and in spec. If the author needs clearer, less grainy images, you may opt to upgrade to premium color instead. This is the way it will print on B&W.”
I forwarded your concern to our resubmission team. An assigned specialist will get in touch with you and walk you through the resubmission process. Should you wish not to push through with the change, please let him/her know.
Are you kidding? Needless to say, I responded saying again how disappointed I am and asked them if this is what they do to make authors spend more money to get an acceptable product. I also said that if this is the work they do, they will not get any more business from me.
Maybe I cannot blame them 100 percent. There was my own lack of experience with this type of thing. I should have known that I needed to lighten and add more contrast to the photographs. (That doesn’t excuse the lifeless, dull, grainy grayscaling.) It’s hard to change what looks good on the computer monitor to something that doesn’t look as good and trust that it will print well. Also, it was my fault that I forgot to put an insert photo notice for the last picture.
However, the first pages and first chapter can be previewed on amazon.com which includes the first picture and that doesn’t look grainy, dull and lifeless. Then again, the e-book is in color. Perhaps the problem is just with the printed copy. Still, I am very disappointed! As I don’t do e-books, the printed version is more important to me.
It’s looking to me like this might be a company that throws around big names then keeps milking the authors for more and more money.
Too Cold for Alligators is available as an e-book through amazon.com.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Finding My Way through the Image Processing of Publishing
Another busy morning and I took time to photograph the book cover. When I edited the photo by adding brightness and contrast, I noticed that there were alligators in the background of the cover which I hadn’t noticed before as the cover color is dark. What a nice surprise… but only nice if customers can see it. I posted the picture to Facebook.
I decided to go through the photos in the file and grayscale them. I looked more closely at the photos in the book. Yes, they are still dull and lifeless, but I noticed, too, they are grainy and there are vertical lines like when the printer is running out of ink or the print head is dirty. I also noticed that the maps, while better than the photos, also have that running out of ink look.
I heard back from someone who bought the e-book. She said that the photos are okay, though a little dark. The e-book has the color photos. I do tend to be a little dark with my editing. I don’t know if it’s because of my eyesight or the computer screen doesn’t show the pictures as dark as they will be printed. I have to work on how I “see” the pictures in the editing program and add more brightness and contrast if needed. When I think the picture looks perfect, it tends to print dark.
I tried to take that into consideration when editing the photos for the book. Still, it’s hard to know how they will print in a book. The types of printers, inks, and the book pages play a part in how the images will look. The colors on my program are RGB and the ones at AuthorHouse uses a “CMKY color space,” whatever that means.
I often find when grayscaling my photos, I have to add quite a bit more contrast than from the color photo. So did AuthorHouse just hit a grayscale button without tweaking the photos?
So, I struggle through a Sunday wanting answers or to at least talk with a consultant to be able to resolve these issues.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
I still have not heard back from AuthorHouse. I checked Amazon this morning and my book is for sale there… with a two to three week lead time. Wow. I’m still struggling. I don’t want anyone buying the book in this state. I sent two more emails to AH this morning; more strongly worded than the past two days’ messages.
I’m struggling with coming to terms with how much of this is really MY fault. Yes, I should have made absolutely sure on the pictures. I should not have trusted that when they took the color photos and turned them grayscale that they would adjust the contrast as necessary. Then there’s the fact that the proofing is done online without seeing the actual copy (and now finding that actual copy to be unacceptable).
A lesson to anyone doing self publishing – these print-on-demand places print exactly what you send and don’t question anything. Why should they care? They get your money. So if what you send isn’t perfect, too bad. Oh, my lessons are always so costly financially to me!
Should I have known better to make my pictures lighter? I thought I had enough contrast. What I see on my computer screen looks good to me. How could I tell that the pictures wouldn’t print well on book paper? And yes, when I edited the color photos to send, I did peek at grayscale and thought they looked fine. So, what happened?
Am I now stuck with this? I am feeling that all my work the past year and a half has been for naught.
Friday, July 18, 2014
It’s here! Too Cold for Alligators arrived by UPS at 5 p.m. and I eagerly tore open the package. I opened the book to take a look. The maps came out good. I turned to the last page. The photo isn’t there, the one that was the most important to me. Oh, no. I looked at other photos and my heart sank. They are dull, lifeless, and some are too dark. I am crushed. This isn’t the type of work I do.
Shock set in as I wondered what my role was in all of this. I immediately messaged AuthorHouse to report my disappointment. I know that the “package” I bought (their cheapest, but to me, very expensive) only allowed one set of revisions to the text (which was done before I approved the galley) and that photo changes would cost more money. They required color photos because of the e-book saying they would convert the pictures to black and white for the printed copy of the book. When I reviewed the galley, I commented at the time that the black and white pictures were too dark. I didn’t know if that’s how they would look in print. The coordinator assured me she would speak to the production team. I worked hard on the photos and to see them looking as they do is heartbreaking.
I have 50 photos in the book, well, 49 as the last one didn’t make it in. I checked the manuscript this morning and that was my mistake. I forgot to put “insert photo: The Light in Her Eyes” although I had it listed on the List of Photos page. I am willing to pay for that as that was my mistake. However, the poor quality of all the other pictures brings tears to my eyes. A year and a half of hard work and this is the end result? I am ashamed and embarrassed. How can I expect anyone to buy this book? And if they do, what kind of reviews will they give it? Like I said, this isn’t the kind of work I do.
And of course, I wonder if this is a ploy to get authors to put out more money. They offer as little as possible in the package then offer all other services for additional costs. If you opt not to “buy” more, then do they print as shabby as possible to get the author to have to pay for corrections?
Needless to say, I am heartbroken this morning. I wanted to have the book in hand to sell at upcoming shows. That will be impossible now. I don’t know what to do next. I’ll have to wait to hear from them. I’ll let you know.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
I am proving this week’s previous blog writings correct. I am embarrassed to say that I have been called out on yet another mistake. These last two were totally my fault in not paying attention to numbers. Both instances had me putting in a wrong time. And what was one of the first things I was ever told? Always double check times and dates! Oops, sorry.
Well, sometimes you need the slap to the head to get you to pay attention. At least it’s not a physical slap, ha ha. I need it from time to time as I tend to slide into apathy as things I do the same every week tend to be skimmed through. This goes to show that I have to double check everything.
An email received yesterday informed me that my copy of Too Cold for Alligators has shipped. I can’t wait to see it! Did they lighten the photos? I hope so. They were too dark in the galley which didn’t have anything to do with how I edited, but how AuthorHouse changed the photos to black and white. I commented on it and they said they’d take care of it. I am hoping that everything will be okay and I can have copies on hand for the upcoming show on August 2 in Goffstown.
As for the next book on day trips which has been on the back burner for six months, I’m back to working on it. I have nine chapters done and I re-read them to catch myself up and re-edit. I’m holding off on the pictures until I see how the photos in Too Cold for Alligators come out. I’m also reconsidering the title and use of subtitles.
Random Day Trips: There and Back Again; Around New Hampshire in a Single Day would be a three line title, centered on the page. I’ll probably take out the “There and Back Again.” I never like long titles.
I still have pictures on display (and for sale) at the Connecticut River Bank, Broad Street, Claremont until Tuesday, August 5.
Uncommon Art on the Common is a one day show held on Main Street in Goffstown on August 2 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Artists and artisans will be set up in the park and along the downtown area of Main Street. I will be sharing a canopy with Nan McCarthy and we’ll have cards, paintings, photographs, and charcoal drawings. Come on down and check us out.
The following weekend, August 9 and 10 will find me at the Gallery at Well Sweep on Center Road in Hillsborough for an Open Studio Tour from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
I will be entering photographs in an upcoming show at the Jaffrey Civic Center which will run August 22 through September 27. An opening reception will be held Friday, August 22 from 5 - 7 p.m. Regular hours are: Tuesday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Wednesday - Friday, 1 - 5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
It’s a muggy morning. I put out a couple of bird feeders because I’ll be sitting right here today. I dead-headed a gerbera daisies and marigolds and took trash out to the dumpsters. That was not strenuous work, but it didn’t take long to get sweaty. I forgot to put fresh water in the birdbaths, but I don’t feel like going back out right now. It’s supposed to rain anyway.
I just finished a book about Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas. Here again is another story which leaves me wondering why the world looks at some of these people as heroes. Lately, it seems all these readings are showing the darker sides of people the world sees as brilliant, as masters.
Yes, we see them now as masters, but while they were alive, they greatly struggled to make a living. They often survived only by the good will of family and friends. They were sometimes homeless and often went hungry, disheveled and were very poor. They were ridiculed for their work and many times the media humiliated them. They went through depression and self doubts. Yet they pushed on to do the work they loved in spite of all that. They got together with other artists to support one another… and to sometimes ridicule and degrade one another.
They are revered and worshipped and upcoming artists strive to be like them. But, what of the truth of how they lived at the time? What kind of people were they? The stories may be shocking. Some of these artists treated their families, lovers, worshippers horribly. They were mean, spiteful, and so absorbed with their selves that little else mattered.
Most history writings do not tell us that. These people are painted (pun intended) as heroes. It’s look at the work and artist, not the person who is the artist. The world forgives the artists their faults because of their brilliance and it’s become the same throughout time. Once a person becomes famous, they can get away with being not-so-nice people and the history books too often build them up as heroes.
What price is fame? Or was it fame at the time? Most of these “masters” were not world famous when they were alive, but they were making a name for themselves as they persevered in the craft. They were focused on what they wanted and yet, they were just men (and a few women) who were striving to follow a dream. They wanted to do things their way… just like most everyone. So, what made these artists so successful after they were dead? And are they any different than the successful people now-a-days?
I have to admit that, although I’ve been doing something in the artistic field my entire life, I have never formally studied art. I am only within the past few year reading biographies and looking at the truth of history behind all the media hype and what I am finding out, is not such a pretty picture. And here I’m widening the scope of the topic to include famous people in general and what I’m discovering is that I believe we are better off with the fairy tale heroes than the real-life heroes.
A few brilliant moments in life and a lot of media hype make a hero. Is that the truth? Who was that person really? Was he or she a nice person? How many people did they hurt on their climb to the top? The more I read, the more disappointed I am in our heroes. From George Washington and the whole slew of politicians and other countries’ leaders to writers like J.D. Salinger and artists like Degas and Pablo Picasso, there is not a one of them that I would worship.
It’s time we recognized people for who they are (or were.) We can celebrate their brilliance, but we also have to realize that no one is perfect and for every bit of brilliance, there is the other side.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
My mind is still wrapped around this issue of writing and publishing. Maybe this is because I’m on the verge of having my most recent published book in my hand. There’s always the self doubt, always the fear that others won’t like it or buy it. But there’s also the excitement, the feeling of great accomplishment, especially coming on top of becoming a “real” editor. (I keep using the word “real” because that’s how it sounds to me in my head, a part disbelief and part preconception of what I think others think.)
I’ve been writing for many years and I DO call myself a writer and a GOOD writer in spite of never having been “really” published. Again, “really” being my term because of the belief that truly being published means with a big name publisher. Which leads me to today’s topic: Self Publishing.
Computers are a wonderful boon to aspiring writers. Spell check and grammar correct are wonderful tools to help writers hone their skills. Plus, there are more opportunities to see your work in print. I did a book back in 2010 through lulu.com, then a picture book in 2011 through blurb.com. These were both fairly easy drag and drop programs, choices in size, cover design, etc. were made, then wha-la, I had a printed book.
Unfortunately, the cost to print the book didn’t allow me to make any money on the venture. I did take “My Life Isn’t Flowers” to a printer in Concord who was able to do the printing for less money and I’ve been able to sell quite a few. For the most part, I would have to buy a couple hundred copies to have on hand to be able to put a more affordable price on these books. Most people can’t afford to do that or have the space to store excess copies.
Now, there are print-on-demand places online. Amazon.com has their createspace.com which quite a few people are getting into. With print-on-demand, there isn’t a need to stockpile. Createspace offers the ability to type the manuscript on the computer, change it to a PDF file then upload the completed manuscript to their site. They also offer, for more fees, services to help you create a better book like editing and marketing. There are also other companies offering similar services.
Self-published - what exactly does that mean? First and foremost, you are able to say you are published. You have copies of your book to show people. The cover will look very professional. However, because of the self-publishing world, you have to pay extra for services and they are not cheap. This means that unless you pay for it, there is no editing. What you submit is what they print! So any mistakes are left in and heaven forbid you make a glaring spelling error on your cover. What kind of an impression will that leave on you as a writer?
I’ve heard that there are some bookstores that won’t carry self-published books. I don’t know if that is a fact. I still don’t have all the answers. Part of that is because I’m unwilling to sit for hours studying various avenues online. My mind goes mushy after awhile. Sometimes there’s too much information and I can’t take it in or make a decision and sometimes I think so much that I can’t think any more.
After hemming and hawing and fighting with some issues with createspace.com, I decided to go with AuthorHouse. It was not free, but I chose to go this route because I felt I could get it done quicker. We’ll see how it all turns out. Stay tuned. I’m excited and hope to get my book by the end of the week.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Most writers believe they are good writers. Most writers are good story tellers. I believe that I am a good writer and for a long time, I felt that my writing didn’t need much editing. After all, I’d been writing for years. I was wrong.
I am a good writer, but in the writing and telling of our own work, we are prone to mistakes. Words pour out of me almost like someone is telling me a story. When the words are flowing, I let them because to edit in the moment interrupts the flow. However, words that are speaking through me are like the under painting on a canvas. It’s the background that will need many layers before the project is complete. Each time I reread the piece, I touch up a part here, fix a word there. After awhile, my brain becomes a bit mushy and my eyes just slide over the words. I’ve read this over and over. There can’t be any more mistakes.
But often there are. Like a couple weeks ago when I wrote the word “ascetic” when it should have been “aesthetic.” Two very different meanings with ascetic meaning rigid self discipline (and totally wrong for what I was writing) and aesthetic meaning visually pleasing. In the interview, my mind heard the word ascetic and did not even realize it was the wrong word. In this case, the proofreader didn’t catch it and when the article came out in the paper, the interviewee called me on my mistake. Oops, how embarrassing; sorry.
I’ve researched various avenues for publishing and they all offer extra “services” like editing. (I used quotation marks because, in my sarcastic mind, the company is just looking for more money.) I refused to pay to have someone edit my work. I’m a good writer! I don’t need someone to look for mistakes that I knew I had taken care of. Wrong! I DO need someone to edit and proofread.
I hear this from others, too, who insist they are good writers. They are insulted when their work is edited. However, we all make mistakes. Sometimes it jumps off the page at the reader and other times it’s subtle. You want your writing to be understood, but when the reader has to reread a sentence a couple times to try to figure out what is being said, then that’s a red flag. The writer knows exactly what is being said, but if the reader doesn’t… and again, that’s why it’s helpful to have someone else proofread for you.
I’m not stressing this point just because I am now an official editor. I’m saying this because we all need help. I am getting better all the time, but I know that I cannot be the sole editor and proofreader of my own work. I need someone else to go over the writing when my mind is no longer seeing anything wrong. Oh, most of the time I’ve done the job well, but to have that surety, to know that what goes out to the public is excellent writing will help build my reputation as a writer and I do want to make a living from my art.
And that’s the whole point. I want people to like my writing. I want to sell my books and if people are seeing mistakes or they can’t understand what I was saying because my sentences are too long and confusing, then they won’t buy the next book. More than once I’ve heard someone say, “He told a good story, but I found the grammar and spelling errors distracting. I would not buy his book” or “Her sentences are too long and I couldn’t follow her line of thought” or “The paragraphs were so long that it was difficult to read.”
I know it’s hard to have someone read your work before it is published. You want the reader to be surprised and pleased by your work. You want them to be excited by your writing. You don’t want to give it all away before it’s printed as a beautiful-looking book. But please, if you want to sell that book, make every effort to be sure that it is written well!
Friday, July 11, 2014
Today I’m planning the matting of the commissioned photograph. I looked through my stack of mats and realized I did not talk about mat color with the customer. The main subject is a light blue. I have a light blue double mat over a darker blue. The white mats are all double either white on white or white on black.
My personal choice is usually to go with color for the mats to help bring out a particular color in the picture. However, I know a lot of people prefer white mats as being more professional. I will leave the choice up to the customer. I so hope she is pleased.
This is my fourth week of being THE editor of the InterTown Record. For me, THE is all caps. I still can’t believe it; lil ol’ me being somebody important. I thought I was a good writer before, but this is making me better. I’m learning so much and it’s exciting. I still struggle with some of the grammar. Everyone wants to capitalize everything now-a-days and when it comes some political and town government terms, I’m not sure of some of the protocol.
I downloaded and printed sheets on various rules and I do have a couple of books on grammar, but I need to invest in the AP Style Handbook. I can only say that there will always be a need for proofreaders.
That statement brings me to another subject – writing stories, articles, or a book. I’ve read a few self-published books in the past few years and while some have been very good, others were not. It wasn’t that the stories were bad, but the grammar and spelling errors jumped out and took away from the tale. The mistakes make the writings seem less than professional and the next time that author’s name is seen, that is what will be remembered.
A good storyteller is not necessarily a good writer. Even those of us who are writers still need editors and proofreaders to make sure the writing is up to par, the grammar and spelling is correct, and the sentences flow smoothly. I know this can be an added expense, but it’s well worth it if you want your book to be a success!
And, as my publisher and proofreader keep telling me, you should not edit and proofread your own work. After awhile, your eyes skim over the words and it’s easy to miss simple mistakes. Even with spelling and grammar check, mistakes still happen. In my latest book, after I read and re-read dozens of times and finally sent it off to the publisher, got the galley back for a final look and approval, I found some simple errors (and some glaring ones).
So, if you want to be a writer and you’re looking to be published, please take the time to find someone to edit and proofread your work. It will make a difference between being able to say you had a book printed and being able to announce with pride that you are a good writer and your book is selling.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Thursday, July 10
I attempted to change my strategy thinking that perhaps I could be more consistent with the blog if I wrote in the afternoon. That didn’t work. Inspiration and words are with me in the mornings. I wanted to be able to write about the day’s accomplishments before I signed off the computer, but that will just have to be done the following morning… or when I get to it. I’ll get better, I promise.
By July 4, I’d approved the galley for my new book and it is now at the printer with the promise of having the first copy in my hand in two weeks. I am excited and nervous. Will people like it? Will they find it boring?
I’m sure all authors have these worries, but now it is time to work on the next phase – marketing. This is the hardest part for me. It means putting myself out there, promoting myself (a kind of bragging about myself which feels very uncomfortable.) This is something I have to do. Others may give good feedback and pass on the word, but I am the one responsible for getting the book sold… and to follow through on the plans.
Below is my first official attempt at marketing my new book:
New Book Coming Soon
Sasha Wolfe’s new book “Too Cold for Alligators” will be available for sale by the end of July.
“Too Cold for Alligators” was a year and a half in the writing. Wolfe said, “The hardest part was only being allowed to print 50 photos of the hundreds taken. I wanted readers to see everything!”
Follow her 33-day journey between New Hampshire and Florida as she explores southern culture and historical sites. Share the excitement of personal observations, times of self-reflection, thrill of spontaneous travel and seeing places and things for the first time. Track her progress with the daily maps and enjoy the photographs as she shares some of the wonderful sights seen along the way. Brief historical facts of the areas visited are also provided.
“To actually be in some of the places I’ve only read about was quite emotional and to hear the stories told from a southern point of view really changed my perception of history as I always believed it,” Wolfe concluded.
Details of where the book may be purchased in print and as an e-book will be made available soon.
Jane Pinel, who recently had her book “Dolly” published, is researching marketing and sharing tips with me. AuthorHouse with whom I am publishing my book, offered to do marketing for me for $4,800. Yikes, that’s not going to happen! So what are the alternatives?
The concept of write a good book and a publishing company will make you rich is a fairy tale. The publishing world has changed. What I am being told now is that you have to spend a lot of money before the big publishing companies will even consider your book. In other words, you pay them to publish your book and oftentimes, you may not retain the rights. Even if they do pick it up, it is still up to you to do most of your own marketing. They make it sound good, but the bottom line is YOU have to do 90% of the work.
Marketing takes up a lot of time. It’s basically “beating the pavement” whether you are physically out there going from bookstore to bookstore or working online. All the social media lines need to be covered. My friend, Nan McCarthy, was saying yesterday that 50% of her time is spent on marketing her work. Her paintings don’t sell themselves and as much as she’d rather spend time painting, she spends as much time trying to sell her work. This is especially true with book selling.
I have to ask myself how much time I am willing to put into marketing. If I’m not willing to do that part of the work, how many of my books will sell? The social media places like Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, blogging, etc. is said to “only take a few minutes,” but if you do each of these things and more, that few minutes ends up being hours and those hours take away from doing more writing or art. Add in the other “normal” parts of life and the job that pays the bills, little time is left to do the actual art work or writing of new material.
I’m still finding my way. I want to get back to finishing the next already-in-progress book. But how can I justify writing another book when this last one isn’t out yet? It’s who I am, though. “If I didn’t write, I’d die or go crazy or worse…” I’ve been saying this for years.