Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I personally never intended to write a book. I knew that the way I was working with handmade paper as an encaustic support was unique, but I was more intent in getting my work in traditional galleries than in getting my process of working with wax and paper out to other artists. A few years ago, I was invited to demonstrate at the International Encaustic Conference. I accepted the invitation because I was interested in getting back into teaching and planned to expand my teaching venues beyond Texas. It became clear to me very soon that in order to reach a wider audience for both my work and my technique, I would need to publish.

Writing a book is a year-long+ process, so I didn't make the choice lightly. I had to weigh the opportunities that a published book would provide against the time it would take me away from the studio. My husband and I had several discussions about this committment because it would also put house projects on hold. Charlie also knew that he would have to pick up some of my household duties at deadline crunch time. (Never once did money come in the picture. I'll talk more about the financial aspect of publishing in a future post concerning whether to submit to a commercial publisher or to self publish.) In the end, we decided that the benefits outweighted the difficulties especially at where I was in my career.

The first step, I believe, is to sit down with a pencil and paper and examine these questions:
  • Why do I want to be published? What benefits will that bring to my career? (The more you are known, the more e-mails there are to answer, the more charities ask for your donated work, the more there is to the business of keeping up with blogs, newsletters, etc. Count on spending more time away from the studio.)
  • If I needed to spend a year outside my studio, how would that effect my work and my career as an artist? (I multiplied the amount of hours I thought it would take to write a book and then subtracted those hours from the studio time and realized that my art production would be cut in half! In fairness to my local gallery, I had to withdraw.)
  • Make a list of all of your weekly responsibilities with home and family. Which ones can you let go? (Do you need to play bridge twice a month?) Which ones can you hire out (Is this the time to engage a house cleaner?) Which ones can be delegated to other members of the family? (If your oldest could take over lawn care in exchange for more privileges, how much time would you now have?)
  • What skills do I have to write a book? (You will need a high level of organization, a commitment to deadlines, self-motivation and good interpersonal skills.)
  • Who would be my audience and what is unique about what I would be sharing? (Remember that you will need to sell 10,000 or so books. Even if you get a publisher to accept your book, the author plays a big role in getting books sold.)
These questions are not meant to scare anyone serious about getting their technique out there. Like any other business endeavor, it is important to look seriously and consult liberally before setting on a path that will take you life and your work in new directions. If, you have done your homework and have decided that YES, I do have something unique to offer. I do have a audience for my book. And, most importantly, writing a book would be a big PLUS for my art career, than you are ready for STEP TWO.

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