Friday, August 22, 2014

Book Ready for Purchase

“Too Cold for Alligators” finally meets with my approval. Finally! It was a long time coming to get to this point and now I am ready for readers to buy.

I received my author’s copy on Wednesday afternoon and quickly looked at the pictures. They are a little dark, but that could be from my editing. I can’t tell when editing exactly how the picture will print on the book paper. I did lighten the photos and add more contrast to the original pictures. The book is now acceptable (to me) at this point. Even the printed text and maps look better.

Yesterday morning I did a more thorough look and the book passes muster. I am now ready for readers to purchase copies. I have ordered 50 copies and should have the books on hand for the upcoming estate and art sale that will be going on here Aug. 29 and 30. I will do book signings for anyone wanting to stop by and purchase a copy.

Have I learned lessons throughout this process? Of course, I did. I will know to make the photos even lighter for the next book. Maybe if I print a few on regular copy paper, that might help me with how the photos will look on book pages. I cannot trust that what looks good to my eye on the computer is how the photo will print on other printers and papers.

How do I feel about AuthorHouse and such publisher/printer companies? I’m not sure how much to say until all is really said and done. The main thing is that these places expect the authors to do most of the work unless the author is willing to pay a lot of money up front. You have to stay on top of everything and sometimes fight to make sure you get what you want.

That said, AuthorHouse did always come back and work to resolve the issues. One of the frustrations was that that every part of the publishing/printing process had a different contact person and sometimes that person had a slight accent and/or talked fast which made phone conversations a struggle. One guy I could hardly understand at all… which made a long phone call ending in total frustration when I found out he was trying to get $4,500 out of me for “marketing.” However, each person was friendly, polite, and patient. Most of the time, they responded back quickly.

So right now it’s about waiting for the copies of the books then seeing how well they sell. It’s waiting to see how many sell through AuthorHouse and, etc. I’m holding my breath… kind of. I sooo want people to like my book!

Please visit AuthorHouse or to purchase a copy; available in soft cover print or ebook. You can also read an excerpt. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Reinventing Our Dream Jobs

The world is changing. What worked in the past doesn’t necessarily work now. I got into two conversations yesterday which turned to the same topic. How can we reinvent ourselves and help one another; some to provide a service while others are the artists selling their work.

Now, I do not know that much about marketing (my weakest point) as I don’t enjoy it and don’t want to have to do it. I think, too, in the back of my mind is always the concern of how much trust to put into the ones with whom you do business. It seems to me that the bottom line to marketing is convincing the public to purchase what you are selling whether it is good or not and more and more these days we find out that what we are told is not often the truth or products don’t hold up as advertised. (It’s a form of brain washing with the media and advertising pounding it into you that you HAVE to have this product or… well, I won’t go on.)

We’ve come to know that corporate America doesn’t have our best interests at heart and for CEOs and shareholders it’s all about making as much money as possible without caring who gets stepped on or taken advantage of or even if what they are selling is good. Maybe I have a biased notion of big business, but everything I am seeing and reading makes these convictions stronger. It seems the bigger the company, the more political and corrupt it becomes. At that point, it’s not about providing goods or service to the public, but what they can suck out of people. It’s all about making as much money as they can and to hell with the consequences.

What does that have to do with my topic today? My conversations yesterday were with a framer of art who is not doing the job she loves best and a woman in the printing business who is working for a ruthless company. Here are two women whose expertise in fields could benefit many artists and yet, they are not able to work to their potential.

I had two questions: “How can we reinvent ourselves to help one another and still be able to make a living?” and “How can we compete with mass produced cheaper products?”

Is it possible? I believe it is. We just have to figure out how to do it. For most of us in today’s world, we are not able to have our one dream job. We have to have the job that pays the bills. Some are lucky to have a spouse to provide that avenue, but for the many single women out there these days, the dream is put aside so bills can be paid.

How can we help one other? How can small-town framers and printers provide affordable services to the artists and be able to support themselves? I would dearly love to give work to local business. I would love to be able to sit one on one with a printer to discuss exactly what will work for me. And, in this do-it-yourself world (which is another subject I can go off on). I would much rather devote my time to my art and not fight with matting and framing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to support each other so we are all doing the jobs we love?

I believe it can be done. Somehow.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Getting Publicity

I participated in an Open Studio Tour last weekend at the Well Sweep Gallery in Hillsborough. A photojournalist from the “Villager,” a free newspaper covering the Antrim, Deering, Hillsborough area, came by on Saturday afternoon and spoke to all the artists and took pictures. He included me which was unusual because once people from a newspaper find out that I am also a photojournalist, I am often ignored.

And, because I know that usually one, maybe two, photos are used in newspaper stories I didn’t expect to be represented. Plus, photographers generally focus on skinnier, good-looking, interesting, more charismatic, out-going people than I.

I was surprised however to receive an email later asking for a blurb on where I get inspiration for my art. I responded with a couple of paragraphs to give him something to work with. Again, I did not expect that I would make the paper when there were many other artists around.

Yesterday, my friend and artist, Nan McCarthy, posted a link to the Villager on Facebook. I clicked on the link and was delighted to find that quite a few of the artists were listed with photos and blurbs about their work. I am on page 8! How exciting! Not only was there a photo of me, but almost everything I wrote in my blurb to him was printed. Yes! Recognition. How sweet.

You can read the Villager for free online at

Friday, August 8, 2014

"Too Cold for Alligators" Update

I finally heard back after sending updated photographs to AuthorHouse. It only took a week. I opened the file for the new galley to make sure the changes looked good. I thought for sure they’d get it right this time.

These pictures were worse! How can that be? The pictures were all blurry and this time, so were the maps. Why did they alter the maps? It looked like the images were all double exposed, like one image was placed atop the originally. They were all horrible out of focus. This was worse than the first time!

Needless to say, I was devastated. Is this the kind of work AuthorHouse does? I immediately shot off an email and I called. My contact person was unavailable, of course, and I left a message on her machine. When they were first working with me, they’d get back to me right away. This time there was a wait. I guess when everything is early and they are roping people in, the communication is better. I went to bed Wednesday night feeling like I’d been scammed.

Yesterday morning my mind had its usual flow of words and my anger and disappointment escalated. How much time have I spent on this project? How many other projects were left behind? And then to find I am STILL not be done with it? Do I give up? Do I turn into a bitch and rant and scream at them? I was nervous about sending the last complaint and to have to do it again is way beyond my comfort zone. The self-doubt warred with the frustration. Was this a sign my book really isn’t good enough?

Everyone keeps saying I need to stand up and demand satisfaction. This is a year and a half in the process. I can’t just let it go!

I made a list of all my issues so far and the disappointments and after doing my morning chores, I settled at the PC to send off an email. I explained my disappointments, that I felt I’d been scammed, and accused them of talking big and not being able to deliver a sell-able product. I called them amateurish and said if they couldn’t handle images, they should have told me up front. I also asked for my money back.

An apology was received mid-afternoon. She was sorry, but what she sent was a low-resolution file for me to approve, that she should not have sent such a big file through email. She re-sent the higher resolution galley through (which is what I used to upload the photo file to them) and when I opened the manuscript in that program with the corrections, the photos and mapped looked really good. What a difference! This was more like it and if the book comes out like it looked there, I will be pleased. I signed off on the galley and now it’s waiting to get a printed copy. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Line Between Fine Art and Fine Crafts

I did my first outside show of the season on Aug. 2 in Goffstown. There was light rain during set up and a couple people questioned whether to continue or pack it in. I opted to keep going and by the time we were set up, the rain had stopped. Rte. 114 through the center of town sees heavy traffic and lots of people stopped by to admire the art work. We enjoyed some great conversations.

I shared my canopy with Nan McCarthy who does “impeccably detailed fine art;” ie: very detailed small and miniature, photo realist, acrylic paintings. I do charcoal landscape drawings and photography and we both had cards. I love giving customers a variety from which to choose. I love seeing the variety of art styles and products, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s too much of a variety.

I enjoy sharing the canopy because the set up and take down work is halved when shared. The conversations to and from the shows are inspiring. It’s also nice having someone in the booth so we can take turns visiting the other artists. It’s hard not to have self doubts when sales are slow. Questions abound. Is it either one of our faults? No, we are both very good at what we do.

Cyndi Hurlbut, who had the canopy next to ours, shared some ideas she’d been contemplating. It’s an old topic of the differences between fine art and fine crafts. Many “fine artists” don’t want to participate in shows where there are crafts. Her work is more along the line of fine art crafts. She said that recently she was put amongst flea market vendors during a show that mixed art and flea market. She didn’t make any sales as customers who visited that area were after the cheap “deals.”

The first year that the Center for the Arts in New London held their Art on the Green summer show, Nan and I shared a canopy. The next year we were told there would be no sharing AND I was told that I could not have my charcoal drawings and photographs under the same canopy. They were separating the “fine art” from the “crafts” and they considered photography a craft and not an art. Needless to say, I’ve not participated since. I could not imagine choosing between my drawings and my photographs. It’s what I do!

It’s been a couple years since then and although I don’t do a lot of shows, I think I’m beginning to understand. I’ve always considered any kind of creativity as art, but from a selling point of view, there does seem to be a difference. Certain types of customers are looking for that fine art and not the other and vice versa. Does this mean that the true “art collector” will not visit the booths or areas where there are crafters? And where is that line?

There also seems to be some kind of prestige at being able to say, “I’m a member of this, this, and that.” I, personally, have never been impressed by that and I tend to be bored by seeing these lists of memberships and where people have exhibited. I am more interested in the art work. I don’t care about their long lists of bragging. Maybe I’m wrong and it is important.

And speaking of memberships that brings me back to Cyndi’s subject. We’ve been members of the Hillsborough Area Artisans and Cyndi also belongs to the Monadnock artisans group. Both groups are going through some transitions. Both groups have fine artists and fine crafters and Cyndi is wondering that instead of mixing the artists and crafters, would it be more beneficial to the members to have two shows; one for the fine artists and one for the crafters.

This is a subject that will require some thought and conversation. In the past, I would have been against it, but now…