It seems I’m coming late to the new year, and we are already half-past January. The wave-shift from publishing the book of letters is still in process, as I’ve had to change from editing and preparing the book itself, and put on a marketing hat. I just hope this marketing hat isn’t too silly-looking.
It goes against everything my mother ever taught me about good manners, but these times are very different. What used to be called “boasting” and was frowned upon, is now “self-promotion”. What used to be called “name-dropping” is now “networking”. The game has always been the same, actually. I’m learning to overcome the barrier inside myself that says “don’t call attention to yourself” “don’t outstay your welcome” and other such adages that were drilled into me at a very early age. Now some people hire others to boast for them – the PR people or the advertisers who do this for a living. Without embarrassment. I’m not able to afford that.
I realize I need to do it for the sake of the book, nothing to do with me at all. I can get my mind around that. I certainly feel no qualms about promoting, recommending, and lavishing praise on the work of others. I genuinely want people to see and know about all the books, movies, sites, objects, etc. that are wonderful to me, and I just naturally want to enthusiastically share them. But when it comes to my own work, I feel the block, and have to use inner force to move past it.
One way I’ve done it is by telling myself that this is for Shamcher and his work (which it is) and I’m just a messenger of that (and not the only messenger either.) This works for me. Another help is to realize, as I have, that I actually didn’t even write this book, it wasn’t written with an audience in mind, but was always an intimate correspondence. Even though Shamcher asked me to publish the letters someday, and he always saw the book somewhere in his mind’s eye, it didn’t make any difference to what we wrote to each other at all. We never wrote for the public. So with that in mind, I can promote the documentation of this relationship – not as a book about MY relationship but about the inner impulse and resonance of the abstract message behind and within the letters.
So maybe the marketing hat isn’t so silly after all. I’m just helping the book reach the people that would like to know about it and to read it….
And for me to think that my little feelings and awkwardness are more important than the message within this book – now THAT attitude is foolish – I’m the one that’s silly! The marketing hat can be graceful and beautiful – and for the next little while it is the required dress code for the day.
Becoming a tea-lover, tea-freak, tea-lady, tea-connoisseur, you name it – I’m suddenly fascinated by all things tea. At first I thought I should have a tea blog, then decided to just include it in this blog along with all my other fascinations. But if you like tea too, then by all means let me know what you love, why you love it, how you brew it, how you do it.
As I dash this off, I’m sipping Mighty Leaf Organic Breakfast tea – they call it ” a robust wide-awake blend of English Breakfast black teas.” I don’t know if it is that robust, actually, but I do love it – and I also appreciate their delicate fabric teabags.
Another favourite of mine, and I know this sounds very anti-elitist, is Kirkland green tea. Yes, Kirkland green tea with matcha, in tea bags from Costco. It has exactly the right combination and zap. I love it, especially at around 3 in the afternoon. Just what the doctor ordered! Clarity of mind? Absolutely. Delicious? Oh yes! But then, I may as yet have an undeveloped palate. For all I know, this Costco green tea might be dreck, even though I enjoy it.
That’s it for the day’s tea report, with this one exception: I met an old friend for tea on the weekend. We went to the beautiful Farfalla, here in Vancouver, and had some exquisite French Earl Grey tea. We’d almost selected a smoky Earl Grey, but once we caught its scent, we knew that it would be too campfire-tasting for us, and went instead for the floral Earl Grey. I know we weren’t supposed to have it with milk, but they gave it to us anyways. Delight!
And for fun, here’s another BFI video, this one on how to make the perfect cup of tea (in 1941, that is!)
It’s happened to all of us. Files lost in some cyber-nightmare. Computers. We rely on them for our composition, but must always remember the words of the Prophet Mohammed: “Tie Your Camel.” You know what I’m talking about here. “Oh, I’ll get to it soon,” are famous last words. Regular back up is a necessity while working on anything using computers, which, like all things in this world, are subject to entropy and degradation. Back up is just a normal part of your work flow.
A close client has just lost 4 months of valuable work, nada, gone, kaput. Just like that. And not because she didn’t back up. She did, or the person who does her tech support did it for her. The issue was with file names: two files with the same name in different areas. He backed up the older one, not the most recent. Then the most recent was trashed. Regular back up would have lessened the gap between those versions of the project. File naming the different versions also helps. All this is totally visible in hindsight.
Word to the wise: back up your work!
And by the way, I also keep all the older original versions in case I need to go back at any time. Even when a project is “completed” I keep them for a time, just to be sure. Anal? Probably. But it has come in handy more than once.
The launching of a self-published book without the infrastructure of a publishing company and the publicity machine behind it can be daunting for an independent author. I recently attended a very successful book launch event that used all the necessary components to reach the intended audience. First of all, this event was a celebration of the author’s commitment to the book and its message. How did this play out?
An email invitation was created and sent out to all the author’s contacts. It’s a good idea to establish an active contact list well in advance of your launch. This colour email invitation was a very small file-size, so it didn’t clog anyone’s mailbox.
The event itself was a celebration, party and sale. Book tables were set up in a few areas, with volunteers to help attendees buy the books. The author was more than happy to sign the books with personal greetings and thanks. Wine was generously offered to all guests, and the catered finger food on the table was an appealing display of cheeses, fruits, kabobs and the like. On the food table was a large standing display card of the cover of the book, featuring a photo of the author. At every turn there were reminders that this was not just a normal house party, but a book launch event.
This event was held in a large home that had been generously offered to the author for the launch. Being in the home gave an intimacy that would not have been present in a public place, but the home was large enough to ensure the quality of the event wasn’t compromised by crowding.
On 2 video screens in different rooms, a video of the author answering interview questions about the book was playing non-stop. Guests could drop in and out of this aspect of the presentation. After a toast to the author, there was also a formal live presentation, during which the author gave a short talk, and thanked publicly all those who had helped in the development of the book. This was followed by live music – two songs that had special meaning in relation to both the book and the author’s life.
After the formal presentation, guests mingled as at a party, more wine was poured and some new guests arrived as other guests departed. The entire event was recorded for use on the website, both as video and in still images.
With client books in various stages of evolution, plus the new blog part of this business, I’ve been quite busy for the past month. There is a renewed interest in blogging of course, which is growing exponentially, but this doesn’t eliminate the book as a method of keeping, transmitting and retaining information, thought, and meta-concepts.
When a person learns to speak another language in a rudimentary way, she may be able to communicate the basics, but the subtleties and metaphysics in the language can take a very long time to evolve.
I feel new media still has a long way to go in this regard, before it can embody the rich and deep interior landscape that has been the realm of literature for the past many-hundreds of years. The place of the book is still ensured, even if the book is in an electronic version. What comes to mind here is McLuhan’s studies in the effects of light “on” a screen as in movies, and light “through” a screen as in television.
We have all felt the fascination and seduction of a strong jewel-like visual image on the computer screen, followed by a let-down when that image is printed and looks flat, and rather emptied of the illumination. “Light through” brings it to life, “light on” – not so much. With text it is a different story. The “light through” makes us feel as if we were viewing, rather than reading, and other aspects of the brain and our sensorium are activated. The process is more rapid, scanning and viewing. “Light on” – the printed word – we are back in the realm of reading. Both methods are complementary, and we prepare differently for each.
Although the books we prepare are put together on the screen, written in Word, or some such program, then laid out in InDesign, their destination is not the screen, but the page. They are created as books, not as screen-experiences, not even as documents of screen-experiences. The process is one of projecting the mind to imagine the words on the page and to imagine the page in print, working from that point of view.
I was really interested in the Amazon print on demand arrangement for books that are all ready to go, and only need to be printed. This is different from their BookSurge service that does the kind of work we offer here at Alpha Glyph. At first I was very keen for it, because it combines the Amazon sales engine with your self-published books. This automatic listing is a real help, and they will also drop in an ISBN number for you, or you can use your own. I have liked using Lulu, and have been very happy with them, but there is still the issue of listing with Amazon, which this service solves. Or so I thought until I discovered the fatal hitch: US only. Drat. They don’t arrange the financials outside of the country. And this has nothing to do with amazon.ca, only .com. So I’m back to where I was before – recommending Printorium in Victoria or Lulu, or the venerable Blitzprint in Alberta (Venerable in print-on-demand years, which are kind of like dog-years.)
One of the last steps to take in putting your book together is the creation of the index, when all pages have been finalized. Just put together a little index, right? Not so fast…..
When your book is completed, or so you think, the index can appear to be an afterthought. But it is actually a valuable time-consuming work in itself which is an important component of your final book. There are amazingly skilled indexers who specialize in this task alone.
InDesign, for example, has a great indexing tool, but the intelligent portion of the work has to be done by hand, as each reference must be selected initially at least once in the text. It’s also a good practice to check and proof the additional referenced pages that InDesign automatically adds, as there is no need for duplicates of a single page reference.
I recommend that if you are self-publishing your book, prepare your index items yourself, as part of your manuscript. When doing so, you can not only save money on the task, but you can indicate some of the nicknames or shortened versions of the topics you’re including. A computer indexing layout program can’t know these subtle references and will only search for and select exact words. A flexible mind can create a tight and very useful index, better than any program can. A layout program can be used to define the index within the document itself, in preparation for publication, but is no substitute for your own intelligent mind.
Here’s a great new site from the prolific Rosie! Check out her new listing of free and near-free Vancouver events here at her new VanCal site. Updates, reviews, upcoming event listings, its all there!
Here’s what she says about VanCal:
We have a young family and full time jobs, student loans and a mortgage. Access to the arts isn’t just the purview of the upper middle class, it’s available to everyone. You just need to know where to look.
VanCal is a calendar for everyone who wants to get out and enjoy arts and culture in Vancouver but can’t afford the Chan Centre. The information is collected from the free publications and wherever I hear about it – the important thing is to get out there and support Vancouver’s vibrant arts community.
(Surprise: Link here to see a random post from my blog.)
We’ve launched a new blog service, Alphablogs, as a division of Alpha Glyph Publications. One of our first efforts was to do a workshop on creative blogging for marketing and promotion, through the Alliance for Arts and Culture here in Vancouver, with follow-up sessions a week later to answer any specific questions that participants have about their blogs.
I’m especially happy to welcome Isabella Mori as a colleague in the Alphablog endeavour. We came to know one another better when I was helping her self-publish her book of poetry. Isabella is a long-time blogger with some great blog SEO experience. Her blog, Change Therapy, was established for her work as a therapist here in Vancouver, but her interest in things bloggy and technical allows her to apply her expertise to the business needs of others as well.
I just shared a BNI network lunch with Isabella, where I presented some of the main benefits to businesses to have a blog, and outlined how we could help indie entrepreneurs get their blogs going on a strong footing.
I’m working with a client to help organize a vast quantity of her previous materials, which include writings, presentations and workshops. There is no shortage of content to work with, and our challenge is to find the centre.
Together, we are defining the centre of the work which she has been doing over the years, which (despite its various aspects) is all grounded in her approach and expertise. Then there is another centre, which is perhaps a deeper and more meaningful one, which is the directive or result of this work to date, and how that work relates to her audience and her clients. What is the centre for them? How does her work define that as well? By finding both her centre within her materials, and the centre in her audience, we can define the two in the place where they match. Bingo! We have the centre of the whole work, and can proceed from there. All the materials then radiate from this centre.
This way of concept definition is a wonderful process in which discoveries made can help to redefine the work of decades. As a process for the client it is both empowering and satisfying, giving a clear direction for future efforts.