How do you define self-publishing? I’m not sure the term “self-published book” is accurate. I struggle with this term because there is so much to do in order to get a book published. I learned this first hand when I began to query agents and publishers about my first book. In order to “self-publish” a book, you would have to be a jack-of-all-trades and cover everything from A to Z. And when I mean “cover everything’, I mean:
a.) Be able to write a book
b.) Then edit the book with a critical eye
c.) Know when to tell yourself that the story you just wrote sucked and you need to go back to the drawing board.
d.) Know how to create track changes in Microsoft Word, then decide which ones to fix and which ones to debate against yourself to leave in the book.
e.) Know how to layout a book in Adobe InDesign
f.) Know which fonts are best for readability and then find out that some aren’t good for eBooks.
g.) Know how to design the cover art
h.) Know why you should have a color cover
i.) Know when to say that your cover art was a bad choice, and select something different.
j.) Know how to create and edit eBooks
k.) Know that there is a difference between the files that you have to make for the Kindle, Nook and iTunes.
l.) Know how to purchase an ISBN number or numbers, since you need more than one if you plan to have a hard cover, paperback and various eBook editions.
m.) Know how to hire a company to print your book
n.) Know how to hire a company to distribute your book
o.) Know how to get your book listed with the Library of Congress
p.) Know how to get the press to notice your book
q.) Know how to market yourself so people will know about your book and buy your book
r.) Know how to build a website for your book or for you the author
s.) Know how to contact bookstores to set up book signings
t.) Know how much to discount your book so that book stores will carry your book
u.) Know how to prepare yourself to give an artist talk.
v.) Know how to design an advertisement for your book
w.) Know how to use social media sites in order to promote your book
x.) Know how to convince book stores to short order your book
y.) Know what to say when bookstores won’t carry your book because it’s “self-published’ or “print-on-demand’
z.) Know how to stay calm and carry on, even when someone gives you a bad review on Amazon.com.
Do you see what I mean? Everything from A to Z. There are probably more things to add to this list. These just happen to be things I had to learn about or research when I started writing. This is why I worked with a TEAM of professionals on my book Instant Connections: Essays and Interviews on Photography. You need to have many sets of eyes on everything that you do when taking on the challenge of writing a book and actually seeing it through to the end. I am grateful to my amazing editor, to my proof readers, and for the design team who worked on the layout and cover for the paperback, Kindle. Nook and iTunes eBook versions. And I shouldn’t forget the friend who took the photo for the cover. I couldn’t have done this without my team. I think when you have a good team, you come away with a great end product. Whether you’re working with a large publisher or an indie publisher, there is always a team of people working with you every step of the way. And when you have a great end product, less people will care who the publisher is. Am I bummed out that one of those big named publishers didn’t pick up my book––of course––who wouldn’t want their large marketing budgets. Am I happy with how my book came out in the end––absolutely.
If you know anyone that has every single one of the qualifications that are listed above, kudos to them. In the meantime, please support all authors, whether they are published by a large publisher or an indie publisher. The publishing industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. You can no longer dismiss the little guys. And by the way, all big publishers had to start somewhere, right? And this holds true for bookstores too. Support those indie stores as much as the big box stores and Amazon.
Since I’ve been on a John Adams kick lately, I found this great short video that The Boston Globe featured about one of my Back Bay neighbors, David McCullough, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, John Adams. I hope I run into you in the Commonwealth Ave Mall one of these days. Click on the photo to go to the video link.
Once upon a time I was a photographer. I would photograph people, places and things. I would go on trips all around the world making photographs and that was my artistic outlet. Before that, it was drawing and playing the guitar. I enjoyed drawing and sketching things and I also liked strumming along to my favorite tunes. Now that I own a gallery, I’m not sketching, playing the guitar or photographing as much anymore. I needed to find a new artistic outlet––something that would give me an opportunity to express myself.
Writing and reading were never two of my favorite things. If you gave me a choice between reading a book, writing a story, listening to music or going out to eat, I would opt for the two latter. I’m not sure what happened, other than to say that writing and reading have become my two new favorite artistic outlets and they have opened me up to a world of possibilities. I’ve regained a new appreciation for the art of writing and have embraced it wholeheartedly.
I was asked recently, are you a writer? My answer of course, Why yes…yes I am. What do you like to write? (that’s usually the follow-up question.) My answer: everything. Right now, I don’t want to pigeonhole myself in one genre of writing. Although I am writing a memoir, I have found writing poetry and short fiction equally as enjoyable. I also have a few ideas on how I can incorporate some writing with a photographic project that I’ve been kicking around in my head.
When investing in a new art form, diversify your portfolio. If it’s writing, you never know what will be on the next page until you turn it.
Since we were experiencing shitty weather in Boston and usually not too many people will venture out to visit the gallery when it’s raining or snowing, I opted to spend the weekend at my very first writing conference––AWP13, organized by the Association of Writers and WritingPrograms.
There is a two-fold reason that I wanted to attend AWP: The first reason is, I like writing and I like reading journals. The second reason is, many of these literary journals and books are using photography more often on their covers and I wanted to connect with them and introduce them to my gallery and the artists that I represent.
I attended this event on Friday and Saturday, sat through a few panel discussions and cruised through the book fair. The panels were jammed packed––I’m talking fire hazard packed! I’m glad I used the coat check––it might have been cold and snowy outside, however it was a heat box in there!
The book fair was well-attended and was located on two floors. I actually got confused walking through it and realized that I was going in circles. I took multiple passes on many booths. I had a good time talking with all of the vendors and made some new friends on Twitter. I got tons of shwag that I’m still sifting through.
One very important Tip to being a good Writer is…You must also be a good reader!
I used to hate reading. I know, hate is a strong word, and a powerful word, but I despised it – almost as much as I despise running. I received this patch from a fellow artist while I was on a retreat at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine a few years back. She gave it to me after noticing that I had brought a stack of books to read during the retreat. She also gave me another patch that said Early Bird, because I’d be up at the crack of dawn photographing the fog as it rolled in off the Atlantic Ocean when most people were still sound asleep in their cabins. I think she had a cache of old Girl Scout’s patches that she was trying to pawn off amongst the visiting artists. The silence was so loud on this quiet little island – if that makes any sense to you.
The more that I read, the better I understand the craft of writing. I’m not a fast reader, nor do I think I’m the greatest writer. It all takes practice. I’m glad to finally embrace it.
Meaning, I wasn’t planning to start a whole new blog – I was just trying to upgrade to a new version of WordPress. Since I fucked that all up, we’ll be starting from scratch.
Hello World! – That’s the catchy tag line that’s suppose to start off this dastardly deed of a blog, right?
Most people either know me as a photographer, a photography collector or a gallery owner. The fact is, I have also been writing on and off for close to twenty years. I never really considered myself a ‘writer’, but I am. I may not be the best writer, but that will change. I’ve actually been reading and writing more than ever. My pace really picked up in 2012 after we canceled our cable TV – in my opinion, reality television is dumbing down the American public. I feel cleansed now – whole again.
I began writing my memoir Instant Connections last year – hence the title of this here blog. There is someone out there right now saying, “His memoir…Is he for real?…What the fuck is his story?…He ain’t no celebrity!” But I do have a story, and it’s very interesting. I’m guessing that if I keep at it, it will be hitting the bookshelves in 24 months. That’s two short years.
In the meantime, I’ll be posting snippets from my book on here once and a while, quotes, photos, poems, book and reading suggestions, miscellaneous bullshit, videos and ramblings that I hope will entertain and inspire you – my readers.