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Archive for April, 2014

A variety of GORGEOUS handmade books

One of the most popular posts we ever wrote was about how to create a zine – an 8-page booklet created out of a single letter-size sheet of paper. They are certainly fun to make, and quite easy. And they are a simplistic version of a handmade book.500 Handmade Books volume 2

The images below come from a book by Lark Crafts that contains creative, sophisticated, intricate, and interesting handmade books of all shapes and sizes. The books, juried by Julie Chen, are among the 500 books in the aptly titled 500 Handmade Books, Volume 2.

This is the description of 500 Handmade Books, Volume 1, from the Lark website:

Interest in bookbinding and the related arts has exploded in the past decade, inspiring artists to explore the unlimited possibilities of the form – and delighting collectors, crafters, and gallery owners. [T]his collection is a provocative on-the-page-gallery of show-stopping artistry from finely tooled leather covers to books with mysterious accordion folds.

I’m thinking I want to try one or two of these – particularly the ones that lend themselves to the use of postcards – as collector book perks for my forthcoming PubSlush campaign for Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.

I love the multimedia aspect of these books, the dimensionality, the texture, the colors. OK – I’m not a big fan of smoking, but the concept is clever. And the love interest in Stan is an artist, so I love the watercolor tray idea!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. And keep in  mind, this is just a taste of the 15 I really liked. there are 485 others in this book, and 500 more in the first book, so check them out!

p. 18

p. 18

500 Handmade Books volume 2

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500 Handmade Books volume 2

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500 Handmade Books volume 2

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500 Handmade Books volume 2

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500 Handmade Books volume 2

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500 Handmade Books volume 2

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500 Handmade Books, volume 2

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500 Handmade Books, volume 2

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500 Handmade Books, volume 2

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500 Handmade Books, volume 2

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500 Handmade Books, volume 2

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500 Handmade Books, volume 2

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500 Handmade Books, volume 2

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If you have handmade books you’d like to share, please put the links in the comments below.

Laura

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Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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Making your way to the top of the slush pile

When I was a wee chickadee back in my sophomore year at the University of Arizona, I interviewed the then-editor of the UA Press for an assignment that was, essentially, about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’ve long since forgotten his name, but let’s just call him Mr. Editor. Having always loved words and books and the English language, I assumed I would somehow work in publishing. Until Mr. Editor crushed my dreams by telling me that there would soon be no jobs left in publishing because the corporate behemoths and giant bookstore chains were going to gobble up all the good aspects of book publishing and bookselling. I felt as if he were suggesting I’d be better off flipping burgers.

Well, Mr. Editor was certainly prescient all those years ago in the late 1980s. But what his crystal ball didn’t tell him to tell me was that self-publishing was also in the not-so-distant future and that I would have a career in publishing, albeit in a different area than I might have supposed at the time. Good thing I didn’t let him talk me into the burger gig.

Leap forward about 10 years to the summer I spent sifting through the slush pile for my friend, Lynn Franklin, owner of the highly respected Making your way to the top of the slush pileLynn C. Franklin Associates literary agency. I loved working with Lynn that summer because I was inside a real New York City literary agency. Though I realized Lynn’s importance in the industry, I don’t think I understood how important she was until a few years down the road. Lynn was Deepak Chopra’s first agent. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is still her client and personal friend. My present career as an author and a self-publishing consultant was still another 15 years away, and yet I was thrilled to be inside the publishing world.

When you read or hear that the slush piles at literary agencies are floor to ceiling, it’s not an exaggeration. Lynn had stack upon stack upon stack of unsolicited manuscripts sitting around her office. My job was to reduce the stacks as quickly as I could get through them.

You may recall that I’ve said again and again and again that the best marketing tool an author has in his or her tool chest is a well-written, professionally edited manuscript. And, if you’re going the self-publishing route, a high-quality book. The best book you can make. No cutting corners, doing it all yourself, settling for good enough, grabbing the first stock image that kinda-maybe suits your needs, using templates, etc.

That summer at Lynn C. Franklin Associates, I read the first 10 pages or so of a lot of really bad manuscripts. Stuff you’d think people should know better than to do – let alone submit to a literary agent. Subject-verb agreement issues. Stupid misspellings. Misspelling Lynn’s name. No indents – just one loooooooooooooooooooooooooonnnng paragraph. No page numbers. No title. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP – nor is anyone else who tells you that the majority of slush piles are probably best used as fire kindling. Here’s the thing, though. Occasionally, there was a good manuscript in the middle of the dreck. And the good ones made it to Lynn’s desk.

That’s also been the experience of Susan Golomb, another New York literary agent. It was in Golomb’s slush pile that “she discovered Jonathan Franzen’s first novel, the Twenty-Seventh City … and Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics … and Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists… . In addition to referrals, she still takes on new clients from among the twenty to thirty unsolicited submissions she receives daily,” according to an article by Michael Szczerban in the May/June 2014 issue of Poets & Writers magazine.

Szczerban also writes:

The slush pile affords unknown authors the opportunity to grab the attention of publishing professionals with their writing alone. While most authors I know think of slush as something to be avoided at all costs – a nightmarish wasteland policed by twenty-year-old interns – it’s also where some of today’s most interesting and successful writers got their start.

So I’ll say it again. Traditional publishing may be more of a crapshoot, but it’s still a viable option for some. To succeed, though, you must write a really good book. Spend the most you can afford on editing. And be fearless and relentless in your submissions. If you’re doing it yourself, make the best book you can. Professional cover. Professional book design. Professional typesetting. And then market your butt off!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below."Practical Philanthropy" book cover

__________________

Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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8 ways authors are like … PENGUINS

April 25 is World Penguin Day – so of course we did a little digging and discovered 8 ways authors are like penguins.

 

9fcO4oT

  1. Like penguins, good authors are adaptable. Though penguins are flightless birds, they have adapted flippers to help them swim in the water.
  2. Like penguins, which typically live on islands or in other secluded areas, authors frequently need isolation or seclusion.
  3. Like penguins, good authors have a diverse appetite (for other writers’ works). Penguins don’t eat the same thing every day; they consume a range of fish and other marine creatures that they catch underwater.
  4. Like penguins, successful authors split their time (between writing and marketing). Penguins spend about half their time in the water; the other half of the time, they hang out on land.
  5. Like penguins, successful authors do a little at a time. Emperor Penguins are able to remain underwater for about 20 minutes at a time.
  6. Like penguins, smart authors leverage the power of their fellow authors (to market, do book signings, garner reviews, blog, share info via social media, etc.). Emperor Penguins often huddle together to keep warm in frigid Antarctica.
  7. Like penguins, authors are sometimes camouflaged. A penguin’s black and white plumage can help them blend with their surroundings while swimming. You, on the other hand, do not want to be hidden. If no one knows you’re written a book, they’re not going to guess by looking at you, so you’ve got to let them know!
  8. Like penguins, successful authors filter the yucky stuff! Penguins inevitably drink a lot of saltwater, but they have a way to get rid of it. The penguin’s supraorbital gland filters the salt from their blood, which they then excrete through their bills —or by sneezing!

penguins

Here’s to the penguins – ahem, authors – in  your life!

Laura

RESOURCES

http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/animals/penguin.html

http://www.livescience.com/27434-penguin-facts.html

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/14-fun-facts-about-penguins-41774295/?no-ist

 

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below."Practical Philanthropy" book cover

__________________

Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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A massive wake up call… 493 million women worldwide cannot read this headline

For someone whose chosen career is to help authors publish meaningful books and connect those books with the readers they will benefit, I am, perhaps surprisingly, a fairly light reader. I love to read; I just haven’t done very much of it lately. Let me clarify – I haven’t read many books lately. I have a Kindle Fire with nearly 100 ebooks on it, but I use it mostly to check email and read articles and blog posts. My husband and I own hundreds of books – and I still buy them frequently enough. But sometime over the last few years, I’ve gotten out of the habit of making dedicated time to read books.

illiteracy

Until one Sunday about two months ago, when my husband and I decided to go to the library and explore. Since then, I’ve been reading more. But I still hadn’t committed to reading one book all the way through. I’m a reader who always has multiple books going at one time. One in my bag, one in the car, one by my bed, one in the bathroom (yes, the bathroom). Until my last visit to the library, when I picked up a brand new paperback copy of the 1996 novel Pope Joan, by Donna Woolfolk Cross.

This book captivated me from the first page. I’m now 143 pages into a book that truly lives up to that frequently-bandied-but-seldom-true description: page turner. It is the fictional account of the 9th century woman who disguised herself as a man and rose to become the only female to sit on the papal throne. Of course, detractors say her existence is mere myth – but whether she was an actual person or not has absolutely no bearing on this fantastic story.

The initial part of the story deals with Joan’s desire to become educated at a time when women were considered “by nature, quite incapable of reasoning.” … “Their natural humors, which are cold and moist, are unpropitious for cerebral activity. They cannot comprehend the higher spiritual and moral concepts.” (Pope Joan, p. 82)

So here’s this impactful story about a 9th century girl who bucks trends and odds to become educated when even most men could neither read nor write. She read not one, but at least three languages. And while her struggles were a  moving part of the story for me, they were simply plot points. Until, this morning, when I found myself pausing in amazement, yet again, that this story was devised from 26 characters that its author has turned into words that paint such vivid pictures that I can imagine the scenes as if I were watching a movie.

And then it hit me – what an utter misfortune it is for those who cannot read a book for pleasure. And then, of course, the next natural conclusion finally struck me: What about those who cannot read, period?

I set the book down and jumped online to do some basic research, and the statistics are amazing!

  • Approximately 14 percent – or 32 million – U.S. adults are unable to read.
  • In the U.S., two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
  • One in four American children grow up without learning how to read.
  • Literacy is a learned skill. Illiteracy is passed down from parents who can neither read nor write.
  • As of 2011, the U.S. Was the only free-market OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) country where the current generation was less  educated than the previous one.
  • Nearly 85 percent of youths who face trial in the American juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.
  • More than 70 percent of America’s prison population cannot read above a fourth grade level.
  • Of Americans who receive food stamps, 75 percent perform in the lowest two levels of literacy, and 90 percent of high school dropouts are on welfare.
  • Teenage girls ages 16 to 19 with below-average literacy skills are six times more likely to get pregnant than girls their age who can read proficiently.
  • Reports show that low literacy directly costs the healthcare industry more than $70 million every year.
  • Long Beach, California has been ranked the country’s most illiterate city, followed by Mesa, Arizona (neighbor to my home city of Phoenix), and Aurora, Colorado.
  • Worldwide, 774 million people are unable to read – 66 percent of them (or 493 million) are women.

I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired to do something about this. ProLiteracy is one place to begin. Or you can do a search for Literacy Volunteers in your area.

Definitely more on this to come – maybe even my next book. A bit ironic, isn’t it?

Laura

RESOURCES

https://beta.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-literacy-america

http://www.statisticbrain.com/number-of-american-adults-who-cant-read

http://www.proliteracy.org/the-crisis/overview

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below."Practical Philanthropy" book cover

__________________

Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Read Full Post »

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