Image Resolution: Inches, Pixels, and dpi

31 Mar

When adding images to your book (or to anything you plan to print), you want to make sure you have the largest, highest resolution files possible. Talking about resolution can get confusing pretty fast—so I’ll try to break it down to the basics.

Especially if you’re searching online for an image, it’s important to check the dpi or the dimensions in pixels if they are noted. To get the best quality, you’ll want to make sure the images you use are at least 300dpi (dots per inch) at the finished size.

However, if you can’t figure out the dpi or can’t get a version of the image that is at least 300dpi, you’re not out of options. While we recommend 300dpi, it’s often true that 200dpi is good enough.

When previewing an image, zoom in to about 200% of the image’s size. This will give you an idea of how it may look when printed. If you’re OK with the way it looks at 200%, chances are you’ll be happy with the way it prints. (Though we still recommend printing out a proof copy before printing the full run of a book, just to double check!)

If you find yourself stretching or enlarging an image a considerable amount, chances are it’s not going to print well.

You can find out what resolution your image is in most photo editing programs like Adobe Photoshop. However, you can also find it easily by (on a PC) right-clicking on the file and selecting Properties.

The properties window will open. Select the Details tab along the top of the window.

image
Here’s where you’ll find all of the info you’ll need about the image, including the dimensions and the dpi.

image
On a Mac, you can right-click on the file and select Get Info.

image
A window will pop up with information about the image including its dimensions in pixels.

image
This image is only 72 dpi, but I still really want to use it. Luckily I can change the dpi by changing the size of the image. This is when I’ll take a look at the pixels.

The image is 240 x 135 pixels (I found this information in the Properties/Get Info boxes above).

The width in pixels divided by the desired resolution will give me the maximum width in inches before the image becomes low resolution. (Pixels/desired dpi=maximum size in inches).

So, I take my 240 pixel width and divide this by the 200dpi quality I’d like. This gives me 1.2 inches. Basically, this means my photo will be blurry or low resolution if it’s larger than 1.2 inches. At 1.2 inches wide, it’s high-res and ready to print.

image

I know what you’re thinking—this is way too small! No worries.

If you know that you need an image to be a specific size (for example, 5 inches wide), you can find out what resolution it will be using a similar formula. The width in pixels divided by the desired width in inches will give you the resolution (pixels/inches=dpi).

So, I take my 240 pixel width and divide this by the 5 inch width I want. This gives me a dpi of 48, which is even worse than the original 72 dpi. This means if I’m enlarging the image; it will look pretty blurry printed and even looks blurry on screen:

image

If you have access to a larger or higher resolution version of an image, you have a better chance of getting it to look the way you want. Luckily, I found a version of the same image that is 1024×576 pixels. This could work.

1024 pixels divided by 200 dpi (the lowest dpi I can go before I risk losing quality) = 5.12 inches. This means I can make my image 5.12 inches wide or smaller and it will (most likely) look good when printed.
image


I’m much happier with the way this image looks, even though it’s still not the recommended 300dpi.

If I wanted to ensure beyond all doubt that the picture would print perfectly without having to re-size it, I’d need to find a version of the image that was at least 1500 pixels wide. (If you’re catching on, you’ll know that I found this by multiplying my 5 inch width by my desired 300dpi resolution!)

NOTE: even though it seems like it may work, going into Photoshop and simply changing the dpi to 300 will NOT improve the way your photo prints. If only it were that easy!

For those of you who (like me) are not mathematically inclined… here are those formulas again:

Pixels/inches=dpi

Inches x dpi=pixels needed

Pixels/dpi=maximum dimension in inches

Crunching the numbers and trying to figure out image resolution can be a real headache, but it’s an important step in getting your book to look the way you want. High resolution images make your book look much more professional, and it’s worth the extra time and effort to get a great looking final product!

Page numbering & order

22 Mar

In order to make your book look as professional as possible, keep in mind these rules-of-thumb:

Depending on what type of book you’re writing, you may or may not need some of these sections. If this is the case, just leave them out.

  • The title page should be the first page of your book (a right hand page)

  • The dedication, foreword, introduction, etc. should all be on right hand pages (odd-numbered pages)
  • Each new chapter or section should start on a right hand page (an odd-numbered page).

You can push these sections to the correct pages by including blank pages in your document. Don’t do this by hitting “enter” or “return” until the text shifts to the next page; instead, select insert and choose blank page or page break.

As for numbering your pages, the easiest way to avoid confusion is to center the numbers at the bottom of the page.


However, left- and right-aligned page numbers can look more professional depending on what type of book you’re creating and can be added easily if you keep a few things in mind.

  • You want to make sure that you select different odd & even pages when editing your header or footer. (Find this toolbar by double-clicking on the bottom section of any page in your document). After selecting this, you can edit the odd and even page numbers separately.


Otherwise, left- or right-aligned numbers will get stuck in the gutter (where the book is bound together) on half of your pages.

  • Odd-numbered pages should always be on the right. This means that odd numbers should appear on the right corner of the page.
  • Even-numbered pages are always on the left. Page numbers should appear on the left corner.


Keep these basic page numbering tips in mind to create a professional and visually appealing book!

Basic Book Layout: A Tutorial

15 Mar

Need help getting started on your book layout? Here are some helpful hints that will help you prepare your book for printing.

While the instructions we’re providing here are specific to Microsoft Word, with some adjustments they can be useful guides for any word processing or page layout program.

The most important things to consider when it comes to the basic layout of your book are the page size and the margins.

The first thing you’ll want to do when formatting your book is to get it to the proper page size. This can be done in the Page Setup dialog box. Finding this is sometimes tricky depending on what version of Word you’re using. In Word 2007, you’ll need to click on the Page Layout tab on the ribbon at the top of the page.


At the bottom right corner of the Page Setup section of this menu, you’ll see a little square symbol.

Clicking this will bring up the settings you need to adjust. In earlier versions of Word, this menu can be access by clicking File (at the top of the screen) and then selecting Page Setup in the drop-down menu.
File menu Word 2003

A box should open, and the first options you should see are under the Margins tab. The margins of your book need to be at least 0.5 inch all the way around. However, we recommend 0.75 inch margins for the main text so you’ll have room for headers, footers, or page numbers.

Adjust all four margins here– top, bottom, left, and right—by simply typing the correct margins in the boxes. Next you’ll adjust the page size by clicking on the next tab along the top: Paper.

This is where you’ll want to enter the final size of your book. You should see boxes that indicate the width and the height of your paper. The size will probably be 8.5×11 as a default. Simply replace these dimensions with the final dimensions of your book.

When you’re finished, make sure you click OK so your changes are saved.

If you’re not sure what size your page is or if the resizing worked, there’s a quick and easy way to double check—and that’s by taking a close look at the rulers that appear along the top and left-hand side of your document.

It’s very important to re-size your page first when formatting your book, as this step often causes the text and images to reflow. Things may not line up the way they had before resizing, and you’ll need to go through your entire book to make sure it is correct.

Now that your page is the correct size and has the correct margins, you’ve got the basics of formatting taken care of. You can stop here or continue with as much formatting as you’d like!

Perpetual list of apps

31 Jan

http://evernote.com/ This is every multi-taskers answer to organization. You can text notes to yourself, share folders and create a hierarchy in your tasks… and it’s FREE!

http://www.projectstat.us/ Let friends and publishers see where you’re at with a particular writing project using this appl.  It helps knowing you’re accountable to others watching could help                                                  you keep on task.

https://bubbl.us/ This free mind-mapping software will let you get your thoughts out and share them with others for feedback.

http://vue.tufts.edu/ A mind mapping freeware that does the same thing as Bubble but without the online sharing aspect. Good news is, it is free, you own all your maps at no cost.

http://wridea.com/ Wridea is an online idea management and collaboration service which is developed for anyone who is interested in managing their ideas on an innovative service with their friends.

http://www.officearrow.com/small-business-management/drill-down-word-oaiur-4113/preview.html#oaiur-in-line-comments-4113 This app helps you break yr projects into discreet proportion and time.

http://www.creativity-portal.com/prompts/imagination.prompt.html Get helpful prompts to get your creative juices flowing from this site.

http://thestorystarter.com/ The Story Starter provides 1,108,918,470 creative ideas ad writer prompts for writers of all ages. All of the story starters are randomly created. This idea generator can be used for short stories, novels, plays, scripts, or just for fun.

http://www.writingfix.com/Classroom_Tools/dailypromptgenerator.htm Whether you’re writing a story or just in your own personal journal this site can help you get started right.

http://www.writing.com/ Create a free online writing portfolio, share your work, meet and bond with fresh minds

http://workingcreativity.com/activities/index.html- This website is full of creative excersizes.
http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html – writing software designed spec. for writing novels!
http://storybook.intertec.ch/joomla/ Open Source Novel Writing Software
http://www.lyx.org/Home Open Source Novel Writing Software
http://jott.com/default.aspx- If you’re out and about and you come up with a great idea, this application will let you simply speak it into the phone and send it to yourself for later.
WordPress: Start your own blog with this free site and let everyone know what you’re working on.
http://slimtimer.com/ Track your tasks to make sure you’re getting paid for the time you’re putting in with this app.
http://www.efax.com/?CMP=OTC-us_tx_houston Email a Fax, membership based.
http://faxzero.com/ Fax right from this site for free anytime
http://www.mailchimp.com/ mass email marketing that actually has good design.

https://my.pbworks.com/- Create your own personal wiki about you and your work using this site.

Pandora.com Music- create your own stations- perfect for all-nighters

dictionary.com – Obviously this is useful for writing anything.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/ – Don’t use slang the wrong way and lose all your hippest readers.

http://storymash.com/- collaborative fiction website, meet up with other people and start a story or finish someone else’s

http://www.writingclasses.com/InformationPages/index.php/PageID/106 Try out this tool to create fun and original characters which you can use or discard at your will.

Jott for iPhone will not only record your notes but also transcribe them. The process involves your recording your notes and transmitting them to a server at Jott, where they’re transcribed and sent back to your iPhone. The process takes a few minutes. You also can get your notes from the Jott site if you want to cut and paste them into an app on your desktop. It’s not flawless but worth a try. Free.

SnapTell Explorer, a free app from SnapTell is pretty remarkable. Snapshoot the cover of almost any book, upload it, and in return you’ll get an image of the book and a list of places online where you can buy the title and search for more information about it. SnapTell Explorer works for DVDs, CDs and videogames as well.

This week, I’ve been playing with Pinger Phone, a new app from Pinger. It’s free (ad-supported). It has a number of worthwhile features but one that stands out is that you can send instant messages to any mobile phone number (like texting, in other words). The difference is that unlike sending text messages, sending IMs as text is free. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a solid 8, maybe a 9, if I use it long enough.

The App Store features several apps that pump binaural audio waves into your head that supposedly will help you be more creative, overcome writer’s block, self hypnotize, feel weightless, meditate, sleep and who knows what else.  I looked at a bunch of them and I didn’t get much out of the experience except a touch of nausea and ringing in my ears. Some people swear by it, though.

http://www.echofon.com/ maybe will help make sense of Twitter- but will at leaste keep you connected in the low left corner of your browser.

http://www.terryburton.co.uk/barcodewriter/generator/— Free barcode generator- Including ISBN!

Finally, the obvious :

  1. Twitter: Twitter can be a great place to share your thoughts as well as promote your new work.
  2. Facebook: Create a professional page on Facebook and let friends and others become fans of your work.
  3. LinkedIn: Make it easy for potential clients to find you by creating a professional profile on this networking site.

What you should know about eBooks

27 Jan

If there is anyone informed on ebooks and what they mean to the changing publishing industry, it is Monique McKenzie, MBA,  president of EXPRESS-eBooks-Now.com. Monique McKenzie is not only a multi-talented award-winning author/journalist  but totes the title eBook Queen. If you go to her website you will see why. It is full of free information- and really everything you need to know about publishing.  She sets some of the facts straight here and is giving away a free webinar! What more could you ask for?

If you think eBooks aren’t an important ally to the publishing arena–think again! Just check the stats.

  • Accounting for almost 10% of U.S. consumer book sales, eBooks are a serious force in publishing. eBook sales increased by a whopping 193% from 2009 to 2010. This year, nearly $1 billion in eBooks sold and those sales are expected to climb to $3 billion by 2015 according to Forrester Research.
  • Not surprising, the surge in eBook sales have largely influenced the sale of eReaders. Not only did those gadgets top the latest holiday season’s gift list, but eReaders were responsible for providing many retailers with a very Merry Christmas! Recently, bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. said its Nook e-reading devices are the biggest-selling items in the company’s history. It sold nearly 1 million e-books on Christmas. In fact, Barnes & Noble now sells more eBooks than conventional books on its Web site.
  • Amazon’s third-generation Kindle was the bestselling product in its history. Kindle’s sales beat the seventh book in the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

So how can you benefit from this huge boost in eBook sales? Get your eBook online. You can do it in less than a week by purchasing prepackaged content (such as PLR or private label rights content) or in a few weeks if you write it from scratch or have it ghostwritten for you. For best results:

  1. Select a topic that you know about: It will be easier to write about something you know about and on an area that you’re interested in. Plus, you’ll be able to better relate to your audience if you’re familiar with the content.
  2. Keep it simple: When you first attempt an eBook, you want to ensure that you’ll actually complete it. If you overwhelm yourself, chances are you won’t finish. Try to keep your eBook to one main topic that will appeal to the most people. Then pull out four or five sub-topics that you want to cover. That should be enough for your first book.
  3. Remember that quality counts: A simple approach doesn’t mean poor quality by any means. The content should be meaningful, interesting, compelling, and accurate. You shouldn’t print anything that hasn’t been fact-checked. Also, hire a qualified copyeditor to review your spelling and grammar.
  4. Set a deadline: The eBook business isn’t for slow pokes. If you’re serious about authoring an eBook, you need to give yourself a deadline and stick to it. You’re not going to reap any benefits by completing an eBook that’s either out of date or no longer relevant. To keep yourself on track, work towards your deadline everyday and pace yourself.
  5. Maintain printed versions of your book too: Even with the explosion of eBooks, readers still love conventional books too. In some instances, eBooks can actually boost the sales of printed versions of the book. People still want choices and since companies like 48hr Books (www.48hrbooks.com/) have extremely reasonable printing prices, it makes it so much easier to offer your customers the alternatives they crave.
  6. Get help: You don’t have to go it alone. Sites like http://www.EXPRESS-eBooks-Now.com can match you with a ghostwriter, point you to prepackaged content, or help you write your eBook on your own. They also have a line of books that you can read for yourself. For a more personal approach, attend a free webinar on creating an eBook, register here: http://www.freebinar.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=EC57D98585
  7. Just do it: Action may not get you the quality eBook you desire but you do have to ACT if you want results. Forward movement is definitely a step in the right direction. Start creating your eBook today!

–Monique McKenzie www.express-ebooks-now.com

Our Youngest Author

25 Jan

When did Elyssa first start writing stories?

Elyssa has been making up stories since she started speaking. She has a great imagination and she makes up songs and stories. She did not know how to write, so her first story was transcribed and illustrated by her sister, Elisha. It was about an Iguana that was afraid of the dark.

That is so cute! Tell us about the book. What is it about?

The book is a compilation of Elyssa’s illustrations. She started drawing these to inspire other children and let them know they can be anything they want to be:

Painter                                          Hair Stylist
Gardener                                      Rock Star
Military Officer                           Chef
Cake Decorator                           Doctor
Ballerina                                      Teacher
Yoga Instructor                          Writer
Lifeguard                                     Lawyer
Zoo Keeper                                  Beauty Queen
Golfer                                           Astronaut
…and more!

What made you want to publish Elyssa’s book?

Elyssa wanted to become a published author and requested this for her 7th birthday. I was not planning to sell the book, but she posted how happy she was on her Facebook page and so the requests to buy the book started pouring in. I set up a website and the rest is history!

How did you set about publishing the book? Did anyone help you?

I helped Elyssa put it together. Of course, the staff at 48hr books is always so darling and helpful. They were there for me when I had any questions.  I self published “Social Media Success Made Possible” with 48hr Books, as well.
One of my best friends, Syed, also contributed with image editing. This was his birthday present for her.

A percentage of the proceeds from Elyssa’s book will be donated to The Positive Mommy Foundation to support mothers in need worldwide.

Tell us about The Positive Mom Foundation and how the book integrates with it.

Our-Mission                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The Positive Mom Foundation is dedicated to raise awareness, provide education, training, tools, resources, advocacy and support for mothers worldwide to improve their lives and raise their children in a positive environment that allows them to reach their potential toward a fulfilling, successful and happy life.

Our outreach
Parenting Guidance         Motivation            Education & Career
Crisis Support                   Relationships        Health and Wellness
Legal Services                    Financial Counseling

…and much more!

My personal motto is our guiding principle:  “You can’t share what you don’t have.” The Positive Mom Foundation serves as an advocate to educate, enlighten, and empower moms worldwide to become what they wish to see in their children. The Positive Mom Foundation is a place to share, learn, grow and have fun, working together towards a legacy of joy and love.
Are there any books in the works for you or Elyssa?

I am writing “The Mom Principles – A Guide to Raising Positive Kids” and both Elisha and Elyssa are working on the illustrations. The illustrations reflect the girls’ understanding of the principles, so it is really wonderful for me not only to see their artistic talent, but also their perspective. They are very excited with the project and believe in it as much as I do.  It’s a family affair!

You must be so proud Congratulations Elayna, Elisha and Elyssa. What an amazing family you are!



Philosophy and a Perspective on Creative Commons

21 Jan

by Nathan Blackerby

During the last century continuing through to the present day, philosophy has come to be identified increasingly with the work of the professional philosopher; its techniques and rich vocabulary needing years of study to master, its history seen as an artefactual object best suited for academic analysis, its practice relegated to classrooms and professional conferences, and its ideas monologically transmitted to a select audience of experts and eventually calcified in journals and books inaccessible or unknown to the general public. Unclear is whether this causes or is symptomatic of a focus on issues so esoteric and obscure as to appear altogether divorced from the questions and concerns that arise from reflection on everyday experience. What is clear is that philosophy’s professionalization marks the beginning of its virtual extinction outside the cloistered halls of the University.

The logic of professionalism demands that the responsibility of doing philosophy rests on the shoulders of those who receive pay for it. The reality of professionalism demands that the non-philosopher have no time for it. This leaves the general impression nowadays that philosophers make a career of dealing with philosophical issues so that the public no longer needs to. Jane Doe, Eddy Punchclock, and Joe the Plumber can rest at night knowing that their tax dollars and payments on their children’s college tuition support Steve the Scientist’s technologically fruitful research, Bob the Business Professor’s training of legions of market-redefining entrepreneurs, and Bella the Biologist’s work on fighting life-threatening diseases. The tasks of one’s own profession coupled with the hustle and bustle of day to day living are often so consuming that simultaneously taking on the task of another profession becomes practically unimaginable. Jane, Eddy, and Joe aren’t expected to perform the tasks that Steve, Bob, and Bella’s respective professions demand. So why should philosophy be any different? What makes Pete the Philosopher’s quest to tackle Life’s Big Questions—or whatever it is that philosophers do—an exception?

Often coupled with the logic and reality of professionalism is the notion that the worth of an activity or discipline should be measured by the degree to which it can maximize productivity and financial benefit. This spells bad news for philosophy: not only does it “bake no bread,” it doesn’t even help one effectively sell the bread one bakes. From this perspective, the professional non-philosopher’s engagement in philosophy reduces to recreation and even the professional philosophers’ work is regarded as marginally valuable, at best.

In the current state of the art, then, consideration about whether one should refrain from doing philosophy is virtually self-affirming, seeing as philosophical reflection appears to bear little significance to productive action with tangible, financially beneficial outcomes. Yet, the slightest reflection on the above appraisal quickly reveals that one should proceed with caution in endorsing a system that enshrines such action as a fundamental determinant of value. Though it may be that certain principles are rejected or endorsed on account of the outcomes to which they lead, it is nevertheless also the case that outcomes are treated with contempt or esteem on account of their agreement or disagreement with principles. If productive action is itself treated as the central evaluative principle, one is bound to unreflectively endorse those actions one currently engages in. The danger in this is that as actions change, one will lose the perspective to determine whether one’s actions should have changed.

What hangs in balance here outstrips individual concern. An unreflective public in the habit of making irrationally uninformed decisions would be prepared to surrender voluntarily whatever social and political power they might have for the sake of salvaging or enhancing some feature of commercially productive action. Were the loss of critical self-awareness to become commonplace (as some may argue it already has), this would spell disaster for free and democratic culture, since the latter depends on individuals taking responsibility for making rationally informed decisions in the common interest. As such, widespread philosophical reflection treated in high regard appears essential to the preservation of free, democratic culture. Yet in order for this to be realized, philosophy would need to be restored in some measure to its Socratic origins as an activity in which members of society participate in a collective, public, and sustained cross-examination of tacit assumptions about human conduct and the world. That is, philosophy must be understood to be more than mere profession.

Kindle vs Printed word

19 Jan

There has been talk of ebooks in our office lately. I started a poll on Twitter today to get some reasons why or why not to use either Kindle or traditional book format.

So, my friends, here are my comparisons between Kindle (or any book on a digital format) and traditional books, the advantages and disadvantages of each:

 

  • E-books are great for travel. They a light weight, compact, and easy to carry. You can take several books with you to the beach with no fuss at all. And unlike laptop or cell phone screens, the display screen on a Kindle reduces glare and can be easily read in strong sunlight. However, when the plane takes off and lands, flight attendants will ask you to turn it off.
  • A kindle doesn’t smell as good as a crisp new book!
  • You can’t Kindle a fire
  • You can’t hide a gun in an ebook
  • If you drop your book in the bath tub, down a flight of stairs, or into a vat of boiling molasses, you lose one book. If you do the same with a Kindle, don’t worry – your library is backed up on Amazon!
  • You can’t use a stack of Kindle ebooks to hold up a corner of the sofa if one of the legs has broken off.
  • Regular books do not include a dictionary or keyboard.
  • You can’t cut a hole in an old ebook to hide your stash.
  • Hitting someone in the head with a Kindle does not pack the same wallop as it does if you bop them with a good old fashioned hard back book.
  • You can’t slip some papers into a Kindle for ease of carrying.
  • The battery on your traditional book will not crap out just as the hero is dangling off the cliff and you have to send it off somewhere for repair or buy a new battery online before you find out what happens.
  • You can’t use a pile of Kindles to smooth down papers. Well, you could but that would entail purchasing quite a lot of them.
  • If you become lost in the wilderness with your Kindle, you can’t use it as kindling for a fire on a cold night. (But, if you also have a GPS, you can find your way back to civilization)
  • With a Kindle, you can’t switch book jackets to make it look like you are reading something significant and so impress strangers at the dentist’s office or on the bus.
  • Radical political groups can burn a pile of Kindles with the same affect as burning a pile of real books.
  • You can’t collect old or rare Kindles.
  • You can’t press flowers with a Kindle.
  • Kindles do not lend themselves to secretive or clandestine exchanges which could harm espionage.
  • On the plus side for Kindle – you can lay on your side when reading a Kindle. Try that with a traditional book!

And there is, of course, the ultimate question – how cozy is it to curl up with a Kindle and a cup of tea on a chilly night? In that case, I guess it depends on what you are reading.

We will see how this list changes as I collect responses to my poll. We shall see!

Shy Custis: Illustrator

17 Jan


I had the amazing opportunity to stumble upon Shy Custis, an illustrator printed here at 48Hr Books. Like many self-published authors, she started her own publishing company, 13 crowns. I decided to check out her blog after seeing so many of her illustrations and was blown away. Her blog struck a chord with me. Being an artist and a writer, I am familiar with the life of a creative. As you know, I am always eager to create dialogue that orbits around pursuing and maintaining a creative life. Shy speaks eloquently and honestly about her daily struggles and triumphs at her attempt at an artists life. She agreed to share a piece of her mind.

Your blog is amazing. It is raw and honest- it really takes you in your head to see what the art process is like for  you.
When you finally decided to pursue art as a career, what did other people think? Did this matter? Did it affect you? How?
Well, I never really “decided”. I always drew a lot as a kid. I stopped for a few years, lost interest, but when I got back into drawing, it just never went away. It never lost it’s appeal, but got more and more interesting for me. Doing it for a living just sort of happened. I started putting stuff together on online galleries, printing prints for my own personal folder, and people began to seem interested. The big kick-starter was when my [at the time friend] fiance took me to my first convention and made me sell prints of my art. After a few of these, my stuff really started making a profit as I got better at art.
I’m not sure what others thought of it. My parents were always pretty supportive of my art, but I never really asked if it was a “concern” to them or not. I think as long as I was doing something healthy and productive, they didn’t care much. Even if they had discouraged it, I’m self-righteous enough that it might have just propelled me more.

Do you have any advice for budding writers/illustrators who are beginning their career?
Try not to make it a career. Make things that you’re interested in, make things that you want to. That’s what really matters. And that’s what make the best work. If the work is solid, then the possibility of it being monetarily profitable will come from that. But what should matter most is your own self-fulfillment, your own satisfaction with your work.

You have published quite a few books with other artists as well as yourself. Can you talk a little bit about  13 crowns publishing?
13crowns is the studio that Coey and I built up years ago, long before we even had the possibility to start publishing books. Back then, we played around with making collaborative stories, comics, everything, anything. We figured if we were ever going to actually do something with all this, we should have something to represent it as a group effort. So 13crowns Studio came out of that. Today, 13crowns has expanded to include three of our closest friends; Rachel and Renee Britton, two great and unique artists, and Rah Metts, an insanely brilliant writer.

Under the studio’s name, we wanted to start putting these books together, not only with us 5, but others that we feel should be featured. Quite a few of the people we’ve featured are already rather well-known, and it was an honour to have them participate. Many others are lesser known, but people we feel deserve recognition regardless.
That’s by no means trying to say that we think we’re some popular wide spread “thing” that artists can get famous through. It’s more just we feel these people are worth printing, and when we have the money scraped together, we want them in our books because we appreciate them.

What is it like combining your writing with illustrations?
Typically, art is how my stories get out of my head. I do write, but It’s my big passion, and it’s not something I usually feel like sharing. So typically I draw scenes or characters from my stories, but don’t share much of the writing behind them. And most the time there’s no real literature behind it anyway, just plot lines in my head.
In the case of Little White and Little Dark, it sort of just exploded into this whole storybook, and since I had the book and illustrations already done, I didn’t see a reason to NOT publish them. So it was almost an accident, I guess.

When I am able to release something “cohesive”, it is rewarding. Like I wasn’t just being a crazed hermit in my little office working away on nothing-in-particular. But just creating at all is rewarding for me.

Have you done any commissions? If,so what is it like from an illustrators perspective to work with an author?
I’ve done a lot of small-time commissions, but nothing really large or on-going. I do like the collaborative aspect of helping authors get a visual likeness of what’s in their head, though it can be a real challenge all the same.

What advice/tips do you have for an author seeking an illustrator?
BE SPECIFIC. Give photo reference or examples of things that you think help communicate what you have in your head.
Find an artist that seem reliable, professional and has a good turn around time. One of the reasons that I don’t do a lot of work for authors is because I draw so, sooo slowly, it takes forever to do anything. Try to find someone that’s good, fairly fast and responsible.

Do you plan on pursuing 13 Crowns publishing? A writing career?
We so plan on publishing as long as we can keep up the funds and the sales! Coey and I do have a story that we’re writing [500 pages already, oh dear], but the possibility of it becoming a published work is very slim. But we will definitely continue to publish artbooks, and I’d really like to many have a collection of short stories from Rah, myself and other authors that we find inspirational. We’ll see!

Don’t stop here. Check out more by Shy at http://www.shysuiko.net/

Live for it. Die for it.

13 Jan

Had a killer post planned for today.  All outlined in my head.  Woke up early to “get ‘er done.”  And then I went out to fetch the paper and everything changed.

Life is like that sometimes.

It wasn’t a headline that rocked me this morning.  It was a quote inserted above the headline that read, “I feel it draws on everything I’ve ever been or done or learned.  In this role, I get to draw on everything that I am.”  Below the headline, which isn’t relevant here, was a picture of man speaking into a microphone, with a solemn look on his face, as if he was telling his children about life.

And I thought, what a lucky man indeed.

This hit me like a ton of rejection slips.  Because that’s how I feel about my art.  Some days I hate it, but most days it makes me feel alive in a way that nothing else — avocation-wise… my partner and son always remind me that I’m very much alive — can.  It makes me remember the dark days of the past few years during which I felt I had nothing to make work for.  A feeling that is a close second to nothing to live for in terms of weight on the soul.

And so I’m back to the drawing board now.  Writing this blog about writing, , which if you’ve noticed— with the exception of this morning’s post — is really about much more than me.  As a blog should be.  I’d say  this is an instructional writing resource, because — again, with the exception of this morning’s post — I don’t really want to write about me.  I want to write about you.

That’s a lesson I’ve learned in time.  It’s not about me.  Never has been. Wish I’d have figured that out earlier.

But I digress, back to that newspaper quote.  Writing doesn’t become that significant a part in your life until you begin to take it seriously, to submit yourself to it and be vulnerable to the reality that it’s always bigger than you are.  It demands that you draw on everything you’ve ever been or done or learned.  Everything that you are.

And becomes, in doing so, everything you’ve ever dreamed of being.

Which makes us, as writers, very lucky folks indeed.

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