Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Trials and Tribulations of Book Publishing

The Sagrada de Familia in Barcelona, Spain
One of the sketches that will be included in the book.

Many people have said when they saw my travel sketches that I should publish a book on the subject. I hemmed and hawed for the longest time and now that I have decided to do so, I realize why I have not began earlier. It is not easy. Unless you have a publishing company to back you with editors, writers, graphic artists, layout specialist, publicist  and a retinue of assistants, which I definitely can't even dream of having, the process is formidable. Today, many writers opt for self-publishing, mostly online as eBooks. There are many self-publishers who go the print book route with the help of a number of online book publishers, who provide some layout but mostly printing and some distribution services. In short, self-publishing is not as straightforward as claimed, even with all the geeky help around. But since I was already determined to write this book, I braced myself to face up to whatever challenges unfold. But not without a stimulus.  I promised myself that after I have completed my book on travel sketches, I will order a handmade brass palette by Craig Young in England ( website: http://www.watercolorpaintboxcompany.com/ ).

My targeted reward - The Craig Young The Paintbox Palette

It takes as much as two years or more from placing an order to receiving it and there is no communication whatsoever during the process, yet it is the most coveted palette by watercolorists  all over the world and used by famous ones around like one of my favorites, Charles Reid. It is also quite pricey. My niece, a mother of  four growing teenagers and pre-teens and a three year old, would balk at the price and say for that amount of money she could feed her family for a couple of weeks.  I feel that the palette would be a well-deserved reward, sort of in the league of ”the light at the end of the tunnel”, “dessert after a meal" and "the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow" all rolled into one.

Anyway, for the book, I started out looking at the sketches and notes in my travel journals to pick out which ones I could possibly include. After extricating all my journals from the cabinet (not an easy task as all of the other stuff stored in the cabinet came falling down like Humpty Dumpty), I was surprised that I had completed a number of watercolor travel journals already. I did not realize that I had been sketching our travels off and on for a long time now until I dug through the sketchbooks. That was a welcome surprise.  At the start, I was afraid I may have to dig out tons of old pictures to use as reference for sketching and we have boxes and boxes of those stored all over the house. Talk about daunting! Going through these boxes and searching stored files on the computer may just be what would have stopped this project dead on its track.

my travel journals

I took photos of the sketches in the journals, copied the ones in storage and uploaded them to my computer so I had an idea of how many I would use. I was thinking that the book would be limited to less than 100 pages with maybe just as many pictures and their corresponding narrative. Originally, my idea was that this book would be more of a how to on travel sketching. As I progressed, I decided to make it less of an educational book but more of a travelogue using my sketches and insights on the places we visited.

Then came the search on how I would layout the book. Yikes... so far this was the most challenging part of the project. I researched the internet for book publishing sites and layout software. I asked folks if they knew of any graphic artist that could help me. This is when frustration started to set in. I downloaded a few of the online book publishing software such as Blurb but most of them were geared towards novels. I am doing more of a picture book but not a photo album. Shutterfly had the capability of doing pictures with text on their pages but I would have use their set templates  and print through them which would  just be too cost prohibitive even with the limited print run I had in mind. As a matter of fact, most of the book publishing sites where they provide layout templates limits your capability to print elsewhere.

I, maybe foolishly, decided to do it on my own and design each page myself working to have a sort of cohesive unified feel. Inexperience is both driving me because I don't know any better and intimidating me, also because I don't know any better - but the willingness to try tilted the playing field. I reverted to the good old friend Microsoft Word which also had templates which I tried and chucked. Of course, there are limitations with Microsoft Word also but it helped that I was familiar with the software.  I am hampered by the bells and whistles that Word has. Some of my ideas on design just can’t be done with my limited skills or what is available on the program. If I like to use another line design, for instance, it cannot be done or maybe it can be done with a lot of tweaking and experimenting. Maybe I can find time to experiment later. For now, I am sticking with the basics so I can at least put the concept down.
Since I chose to use MS Word to put together the book, I am in actual book production mode - selecting pictures, writing narratives and tentatively, organizing and arranging them on each page. I am more than two months into this book writing business, my frustration level is down a few notches but I know I still have lots of work ahead. Each day gets me closer to getting my watercolor palette. May the muses be with me. Oh, I accept help, suggestions and inspiration from humans also.

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