22 March 2019
SELF-PUBLISHING- Part 4
The God Interviews
Ha ha ha ha ha ha!
My answer to that response is:
Ha ha ha ha! Logic has nothing to do with it.
I started drawing The God Interviews in 2004 as a comic strip, posting installments on my blog. It got such enthusiastic comments that I decided to see if any mainstream publishers would be interested. Again I received the “lovely but not commercial” replies so I opted, reluctantly, for self-publishing. Digital technology was now available and preparing a print-ready PDF, though time-consuming, was not a problem for me. I chose to have full colour throughout - a mistake which made printing the book much more expensive than it would have been had I stuck to black and white. Initially I used Lulu to print the book and sell it via a page on their website but their charges were too high so I found other companies to print extra copies on demand.
The God Interviews, the book, was launched at the Cartoon Museum in 2006 and had some excellent reviews but, as usual, I didn't have the contacts, the patience or the chutzpah to promote it adequately so it sits on the shelf, dozing. I’m out of copies at present but used copies are generally available via Amazon, AbeBooks or other dealers. I will get at least 50 copies reprinted so if you can't find one secondhand, let me know, Herewith the cover and some sample images.
18 March 2019
SELF-PUBLISHING - Part 3
In 1979-1980 I drew/wrote (drote?) a journal to let off a lot of steam during a period dominated by a difficult and steam-filled relationship. Existential angst liberally sprinkled with self-deprecating humour, it ended up as Augustine's True Confession. In 1989 I applied for financial help from the Arts Council to self-publish this book. Having painstakingly filled in the many requisite forms, obtained printing quotes, worked out a budget etc. I sent in my application and behold! It was accepted. The Arts Council of Great Britain gave me about £1000 towards the publication of Augustine's True Confession for which I was immensely grateful, even if the actual costs were twice that amount. Distribution and promotion, as always in self-publishing, were the problem and I gave away more copies than were sold. But eventually they were all gone.
In the photos below, the cover on the left is the one I used on that 1989 first edition. The simpler one next to it is on the second (current) edition published jointly in 2016 by NdA Press (me) and bookartbookshop (wonderful Tanya Peixoto) to coincide with an exhibition of some of my artists' books which Tanya invited me to hold at her legendary bookshop in London in May 2016.
You can buy copies of this edition right now for £10 (plus postage) either from:
bookartbookshop, 17 Pitfield Street, Hoxton, London N1 6HB
or from me (leave a comment below).
Box/stand for the original journal of Augustine's True Confession.
14 March 2019
SELF-PUBLISHING - Part 2
In 1984 my cartoon alter ego Augustine was born. Suddenly there she was, my fully altered ego. Why the name Augustine?
a) I was born in August.
Up to 1988 I produced ten Augustine mini-comics in a series called SMALL PACKAGES. This was before digital technology therefore to produce and distribute these booklets, I used ancient processes such as photocopying, folding, cutting, stapling and sending via snailmail.
By word of mouth and innumerable letters I managed to acquire about 200 subscribers. I charged only 50 pence per booklet and if they paid in advance for a year they received a new Augustine booklet every month, more or less. After a while I increased the price to 60 pence per mini-comic. I was overjoyed when The Augustine Adventures got rave reviews from everybody who received them. See some of these reviews.
What a total freaking idiot I was! I should have continued, just carried on drawing the booklets, photocopying, stapling, sending them, and by now Augustine would be a household name. Maybe I should bring out an Augustine Omnibus?
12 March 2019
ON SELF-PUBLISHING - Part 1
Returning to the subject of publishing, herewith my experience of self-publishing.
I’ve always written stuff but not writerly writing, you know what I mean? I just have a habit, since childhod, of writing my thoughts down, at least those which seem worth a second thought, usually with images, often cartoons. I've accumulated projects for books galore (hardly ever fiction). Whenever a book project has seemed to be ready for sharing with the world, I’ve sent it round to mainstream publishers and/or agents. But when there's been no response, or when response has been “Love it but it’s not commercial” (precisely what the head of one well-known publishing house told me) then I resorted to self-publishing. I’m not including here limited edition artist’s books because I’ve posted about these often and they’re featured here.
The preparation of an illustrated book for self-publishing is something I enjoy and with digital technology it's become fairly easy if you have a knack for that sort of thing. The problem comes once the book is ready and you, you alone, are responsible for promoting and selling enough copies of this creature to cover your printing costs, or even make a small profit or, failing both of those goals, at least to find somebody who will write an intelligent, attentive review of it, preferably not family or friends who believe everything you do is genius (okay I don't have many of these).
25 February 2019
Yessss! First longlisted and now shortlisted! What next in this listed world? Winners will be announced on 31 March.
Here are some of the sample pages of my gnovel-in progress which I submitted for this Award. The working title is DOUBLE ENTENDRE but this might change when the book is finished. There's a long way to go yet, it will be 200 pages at least.
24 February 2019
BEING PUBLISHED- Part 3 - HUMOROUSLY
Life offers experiences I can’t refuse. Some of them demand translation into a suitable medium which, for me, often requires humour. Even miserable situations have a funny side and that’s how The Joy of Letting Women Down came about. I decided to satirise the type of man (I named him the Worshipped Male or WM) who is irresistible to women but I also wanted to make fun of the women (including myself) who, against our better judgement, are irresistibly drawn to him/them.
After several rejections and nearly-but-not-really finding an agent, the book was taken by Robson Books and published in 2000. I was interviewed on a few radio programmes, which was fun, but apart from a couple of local papers,the book was ignored by the press. Oddly enough, it also didn’t seem to be available in most bookshops where I..ahem..looked for it. I blame the cover though it was my idea and my design. Probably a mistake. I still think the book is funny and exageratedly accurate but what with MeToo and everything I can’t imagine it being re-issued today. Anyhow it’s available secondhand for practically nothing on Amazon and elsewhere so go for it! Here's a taste.
19 February 2019
BEING PUBLISHED EDUCATIONALLY - Part 2
Always searching for sources of income which won’t require me to do things I hate doing, I started sending ideas to relevant magazines. One of them, Canvas (now defunct) accepted my proposal to write and illustrate a series called Experiments in Seeing. They published this series and others I sent from 1968 to 1970. I then decided to expand the theme into a book and sent an outline to various publishers. It was accepted by Batsford and published in 1973 as Designing with Natural Forms. I didn’t like this title, preferring Experiments in Seeing (because that’s what it was) but I had no say in the matter. Didn’t have much say about remuneration either: sitting in the office of the head of Batsford, an old school English gentleman, I politely pointed out that the royalties offered to me in the contract were beyond ridiculous in view of all the work I was doing. He laughed in jolly English gentlemanly fashion and said that having my name on the book should be reward enough…ha ha! But he did, very slightly, increase the percentage of royalties to be paid to me.
The premise of this book is an experiment: to take a few familiar subjects and look at them as if you'd never seen them before, allowing ideas to arise spontaneously from this concentrated but ‘innocent’ way of seeing. I didn’t want to know in advance what the results would be and they surprised me. Designing with Natural Forms got great reviews and, like An Artist's Workbook, made no money. The truth is that money and I have never had a close relationship. We don’t understand each other, don’t speak the same language, don’t iike each other, and that’s that.
Water was the first topic I chose to focus on. I filled a dish with water and asked Ted to take photos of the patterns made by the waves when I shook the dish. A lot of unexpected ideas arose from this. You'll have to get the book in order to see how this and the other experiments arose and progressed.
TO BE CONTINUED
18 February 2019
BEING PUBLISHED EDUCATIONALLY- Part 1
I was part-time teaching a multi-media class to adults at Camden Arts Centre when the publishers Studio Vista got in touch and asked if I’d be interested to do a book on collage for their How-To-Do It series. Naturally I said yes! Then I thought: h’m, I don’t really use collage that much but I can certainly write about it. I asked Jack Yates, a colleague who worked mainly with collage, whether he’d like to collaborate and do some of the How-to examples. Of course he said yes. We signed a contract with Studio Vista and Creating in Collage did well - there were Dutch and Swedish editions and it was also published in the U.S. by Watson Guptill.
With one foot in the door of mainstream publishing I felt encouraged to gather the notes I always kept about my work and when teaching. I came up with the idea for a book to be called An Artist’s Workbookand sent an outline to David Herbert, then head of Studio Vista. He was enthusiastic. I signed a contract and was paid an advance (about £500) which seemed astonishing - this was 1968 and I was just about managing to pay my bedsitting room rent. I needed many photographs which were taken by an excellent photographer, my friend Ted Sebley. Studio Vista published the book in 1969 and it was taken up in the U.S. by Van Nostrand Reinhold. It had great reviews in the educational press.
“Natalie d’Arbeloff clearly defines the nature of a workbook as a personal inventory of formal ideas, and she is well aware that it has its ultimate justification only in the development of works specifically related to the individual creative talent and temperament. It is, at one and the same time, a means of study and a spur to creative thinking.” May 1969
An Artist’s Workbook went out of print years ago but second hand copies are still available via Amazon etc. I’d love to find a publisher who would bring out a new edition (rights have reverted to me).
Here is a link to Amazon page where you can find secondhand copies of some of my books. Ignore the "unavailable" under Old Stile Press publications: not true! they are available from OSP. The artists' books on that list are not mainstream published and don't belong there. More on this later.
My adventures in publishing have wandered along two different roads. For the benefit of anyone who might find it useful, herewith a resumé in answer to the question: how was it for you? The future is yet to come and I’m hoping for an interesting sequel.
1. BEING PUBLISHED (by those whose business it is to publish)
08 February 2019
Announcing the longlist for the Laydeez do Comics Award 2019
Congratulations to Lilith Ai, Natalie d'Arbeloff, Camille Aubry, Niki Banados, Alice Clarke, Maria Flower, Jennifer Gloster, Caroline Grebbell, Sophia Luu Amelie Persson, Edith Pritchett, Irina Richards, Teresa Robertson, Jeeti Singh, Zara Slattery, Myfanwy Tristram and Anja Uhren!
My name's on the longlist! Shortlist to be announced later this month and winners TBA at the end of March.
The brief was to submit just 12 pages of a graphic novel-in-progress which will eventually be at least 200 pages. So I sent sample pages of Double Entendre, the graphic novel I've been working on sporadically for quite a while. It's still got a long way to go but would certainly benefit from a boost of encouragement such as this.
Mine is on the second row, first on the left below. These are not the final books (obviously, since the Award is for work in progress) and only contain the few sample pages submitted to the judges.
Temporary cover. Will probably change when the book is finished.
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