Sell Your Writing on Etsy

Self publishing lets writers choose what they want to publish and… the format they will use. Most often the format is digital now. But… consider going back to print. You can print publish your own content without a big name publisher, or a literary agent. Self publish your own zine and distribute it online through Etsy (or other online stores like it).

I was surprised at how many zines are being distributed through Etsy, in particular. Most are sent as do-it-yourself publications, on paper and mailed out to buyers. However, there is the option of selling a digital copy which people buy and then print themselves. There are pluses and minuses for both. A digital copy is easier to distribute, no mail service involved. But, the print copy gives the writer options. A print publication can be mailed out with extras. I’ve seen publishers make their own stickers and buttons. You could also create calendars for yearly subscribers. There are a lot of extras you could do with your own print publication.

It’s a new (retro) way of self publishing.

teamzineLink: Team Zine – Etsy Teams

Taking Ebooks Back to Books?

Is bookbinding a dead profession?

I hope not. At the very least I’d like to know there are still people who can repair and restore old books.

But, I’d really like to see bookbinding become popular – taking ebooks to a new level.

I almost never read any ebook I have downloaded. Maybe younger people will change their habits enough to include ebook computer time. I find I want a real book, paperback or hardcover, to take me away from the computer. I love reading in bed. I’ve always got a book in my purse to bring out while I have coffee somewhere, wait for a bus, or just find a time and place to read.

If the ebooks were on paper I might read them. But, I don’t really want more computer time when I am not working on computer/ Internet things. I’d read all those ebooks if they were converted into books. I wonder if something like that will come along some day?

bookbinders

Since 1983 the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild has worked to support the development of the book arts in Canada. This web site is dedicated to that effort. The book arts include bookbinding, artists’ books, papermaking, calligraphy, letterpress printing and typography, wood engraving, paper decorating, restoration, and conservation.

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild

The Typewriter Project of New York City

Inside a wooden shack installed at North 12th Street and Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg’s McCarren Park, anyone can sit down at a typewriter and contribute to a collaborative poem unfolding over a 100-foot paper scroll. “The Typewriter Project: The Subconscious of the City,” presented by the Poetry Society of New York in partnership with the Parks Department, is a nomadic experiment in engaging the public with writing.

Source: A Roving Typewriter Records the Subconscious of New York City

Clear Your Head Before Writing?

CaptureI flushed this as a spam comment because it was on an old post which had nothing at all to do with the question asked in the comment. But, just before I clicked the magic button… I cut the actual question so I could paste it in here. See below:

I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I’ve had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin.

I don’t centre myself before I begin to write anything. That would not work for me at all. If I am at peace, confident and comfortable I’d never get anywhere.

Writing has to have some discontent behind it. You can be right pissed off or just mildly bothered, but there has to be some disturbance in your force to get your words started.

If I write when I am content I will think too much. I’ll think about what a loser I am in many assorted ways. I knock myself down, run over myself a few times and then think someone else would be a much smarter choice to write about whatever I was set to write about. A writer full of self-confidence is probably the world’s biggest fraud.

Instead it is all of us who feel like frauds even as we put the pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard. That’s just the way it needs to be. A content writer who really believes he or she is great will not be someone with human empathy and failings.

So, no, right from the start, getting centred is just not the way to go.

I try to trick myself into writing. That works.

Start writing before you’re ready, before you have a plan or know how you want to start. Just start.

Later you can muck around and perfect it. Don’t perfect the life out of it though. Don’t get lost in perfecting it and lose track of your deadline and the actual point of getting it done and letting it go.

If you are one of those writers who feels confident and content (bless you) put a tack on your chair, something to at least make you uncomfortable enough to write something.

I Used to Write on BackWash Kids

bwkids

If you also wrote for (with) the BackWash community network of writers/ columnists join us for a BackWash reunion.

Here is the content from the post above. In text for those who can’t read it from the screen captured image above.

Spin your Thoughts with a Journal

Do you keep a journal? Sometimes its called a diary, I think thats the old fashioned term. What you write in your journal is up to you. Be creative, rant about your family, chronicle your life, or just spin your thoughts on the web.

Keep your journal in a secret place if you don’t want anyone to read it. Or, if you feel like sharing you can read what you write to friends or even keep your journal online with sites like Blogger. Of course, you can do both. Have an online journal and another secret journal for just yourself.

Journals can be kept in plain notebooks or fancy lined paper books you buy in stationery stores like Hallmark. I like to write with a fine tip black pen but you can experiment with all kinds of pens and colours. Add stickers or stick in clippings from newspapers and magazines. If you really want to put in a lot of clippings have a look at scrapbooking. Thats another form of journaling but there tends to be less writing and more drawings.

There are lots of websites about journaling and scrapbooking. Have a look around and see which appeals to you.

Remembering BackWash

Listen to Your World

In a world of noise and bustle, we very often do not listen to it. Singers have often used city sounds as inspiration. Neil Diamond had a hit a number of years ago about the sounds of New York. As a writer you can listen to the sounds in your world and write about them.

Tonight, as I was arriving home, I heard a different sound in my parking garage. A lone cricket had found his way into the garage and the walls and cars worked to amplify his music. I started thinking about “a lone cricket, a lonely cricket, a lonely cricket attracting his mate… you get the idea. The “what ifs” led me to a poem.

Think about the sounds of your world.
What does your child sound like sleeping?
What are the sounds of your family dinners?
What is the sound of your morning? night?
What does the night outside sound like?
What is the sound of pen/pencil across paper?
What are the sounds of your neighborhood on a Saturday morning?
Listen to the park on a Sunday afternoon as the old couple shuffle hand in hand.
Hear the squeak of the swing.
Be very quiet and listen to the wind whisper in the trees.
Hear the waves on the lake…the roar of the jet ski… and the silence of the sail boat.
And what about the clatter of the diner?
Close your eyes, listen to your surroundings. Be sure to have your notebook with you. After all, you are a writer and I have to assume you have it with you all the time. Make quiet time for yourself. After about 20 minutes, write what you have heard. It will provide you with grist for your writer’s mill. What you write now may not have application, but you are training yourself to see. And those notes may just be the kernel of a story.

The post above comes from a friend I met while writing on BackWash.com. The network is now gone, just archives you can find with the Wayback Machine. The writer is gone too. Marcia was taken by cancer several years ago. I posted this because we are having a BackWash reunion. At first I thought it was ten years but it may be more than that. Anyway, it is at least ten years since the days I was a columnist on BackWash. If you wrote for the site take a look at the reunion site and add your update to the Personalities page. 

How to Write a Good Newsletter

We used to make zines with typed and photocopied pages. Those were the old days, before desktop publishing, computers and the whole concept of publishing on the Internet. Now, people are creating email newsletters to promote their online services and businesses. In between are the old, real newsletters which can still be created, written, planned, published and distributed to make money in the real (offline) world.

Consider making money with a real newsletter, in real print (not on the Internet).

Consider how many online newsletters you have actually read lately compared to the actual print newsletter which you pick up while you are out somewhere and likely read during some of your offline down time. I read the same print newsletter every month. It’s distributed through the family restaurant where I like to have a leisurely breakfast out a few times a month. I watch for the latest newsletter there. It’s sponsored by local businesses (it makes money by publishing their ads) and the content is light and simple. If the same content were on a website I would pass it by. But, when I’m just sitting there, enjoying a slow pace, that newsletter gets read and I enjoy it.

The print newsletter is not dead, it’s just a little rusty, dusty and over looked.

Make money writing a print newsletter you can distribute in your local community. Once you have a basic product (the newsletter) get paid advertising to make money from it all.

Open Source (Free) Graphics Editors

Desktop Publishing Software

The Business Plan

Start by looking at what sort of newsletter already exists in your area. You can get ideas from them and decide how you will compete with them. What could you bring that would get new readers, bring new information and attract local businesses to advertise in your newsletter?

Talk to local businesses and see who would be interested in in advertising and what kind of money they would consider fair and reasonable. It would be a good plan to approach them with a mock up of your print newsletter and a distribution plan. This way you will be ready to answer (at least some of) their questions.

Printing and Distributing the Newsletter

You need to find a local printer. Try offering free ad space in exchange for a discount on the cost of printing the newsletter. But, don’t choose a printer based on price alone. You want someone who can print the newsletter on time, without printing errors. One thing you can do is ask about left over paper stock from other jobs they have printed. You could get a bargain on paper someone else ordered and then didn’t use.

Printers can fold and/ or staple newsletters for you but that is an extra cost. Consider doing your own folding – at least until you are making money and can afford to spend on a few nice extras.

Is your newsletter being distributed in store fronts or mailed out? Options for distribution need to be considered based on cost, effectiveness and how well you can track the issues you put out versus how many were read by people. You need to know this for your advertisers. They want to know their ads are being seen.

Passive distribution means you leave your newsletter in public areas where people will pick it up. Active distribution means you have to know who you are sending your newsletter to, you will need to create and build up a mailing list of subscribers. If you use active distribution you can also consider having paying subscribers versus free subscriptions. People might pay for a subscription to a print newsletter if the content were valuable to them in particular. A general sort of newsletter isn’t likely to find a lot of people interested in paid subscriptions.

Read More

How to Write a Christmas Newsletter

Be Creative with Hand-Drawn Images and Scanner Art

Draw and Scan

Start with a scanner. From that one little flat box with a glass screen you can create web graphics from your own freehand drawings and even take it farther and make scanner art.
scannedart
One of the best geekery tools I have bought myself is the small (photo-sized) HP scanner. I splurged on it when I was having a tough day and wanted a pick-me-up, retail therapy. I love the scanner. I knew it would be a great thing for making art. but It’s even better than I expected. You can do more with a scanner than just scan photos.

I’m an amateur when it comes to drawing. I’m not far beyond the whole ASCII art and stick figure stage. However, there are so many things you can do with coloured pencils, gel pens, and different kinds of paper too. You don’t have to draw like an expert to create something unique, colourful and usable. Practice drawing, study some how-to guides for techniques and you will get better at it.

I always draw freehand. People who draw better than I do will start with shapes and sketches, the way most drawing guides and tutorials will show you. I don’t know why I’m so stubborn about sticking to freehand. But, I do like it.

Making Scanner Art

I also clip things out of magazines, sales flyers and the newspaper. The trick with using something you have cut out is to give it a white background. If you add a plain white sheet of paper behind the clipped out picture you will have a much easier time making use of it later. Plus, fewer of your jagged/ cut edges show.

Try placing more than one image (hand drawn and/ or clipped images) on the scanner, like a collage. Experiment and put them in different order, overlap some of them. You can always re-scan the image if you don’t like the first results.

You can add more to your scan than flat paper. I’ve taken everything out of my purse and put that on the scanner, artfully arranged and mildly edited. Have a look at the links to scanner art for some really unique ideas. Real scanner art doesn’t use a camera but often looks that good. It should be right off the scanner too, not touched up with the extra effects which I do when I turn my scans into web graphics.

Keep the window of your scanner clean. Check it for spots of dust or ink from your pens. Anything on that glass will show up on your scan. I use a soft cloth, the microfibre type made for dusting computer screens, so it won’t scratch the glass on my photo scanner.

Resize your Image and Add Text and Special Effects

Once you have your picture or drawing scanned you need to open it in a graphic program to finish it off. Mainly you will want to re-size it and save it to a file type that will work on the web. You can also add text to turn your image into a button, icon or blog header. If you really want to get into designing look at the special effects and other options included with your graphic software.

I used to like the graphic program that came with MS FrontPage, it was simple and straight forward. Now I run Ubuntu Linux (instead of Windows). I’ve started using Gimp and trying various web image editors. Most of the web image editors will give you the basic features you need to turn your image into a web graphic.

Now that your image is scanned and resized, and you have saved it to an image file (.png, .jpg or .gif), it is now an official image. You can load it to anything you like: your blog, your personal site, an email signature, an avatar for your profile, a blog header, any where you can use an image. Images can be tiled for a background or wallpaper. The trick is to measure your image so the pattern matches up.

So, there’s the story of my web graphic ability.

Scanner Art (Scanography)