Friday, March 22, 2019

SELF-PUBLISHING - Part 4

The God Interviews

My relationship with the Deity is argumentative but generally good. Put it this way: we believe in each other. Whether you believe or disbelieve in a Deity is not my business and frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn. Religion is a whole other story, a problematic one. Please keep in mind that when I say Deity or the G-word I’m not talking about religion, any religion. I’m referring to Something which is real, unknowable, and not a human construction. 
Yes I know! The logical response to that statement is:
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, Blaugustine. 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 second-hand copies are generally available via Amazon or AbeBooks etc. Herewith the cover and some sample images.



Monday, March 18, 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).

Two different covers: left - first edition 1989. Rght: second edition (current) 2016

Front and back cover of current edition.

Page 9, Augustine's True Confession

Box I made as a stand for the original journal.

Thursday, March 14, 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.
b) My mother’s middle name was Augustine.
c) Augustine Road was a street next to where I lived at the time.
d) in 1979 I drew a journal titled Augustine’s True Confession (not yet the cartoon Augustine and not Saint Augustine either).


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 a list of 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.

I loved drawingThe Augustine Adventures but all the photocopying, stapling etc. became a time-wasting chore and, feeling confident, I started searching for a publisher to take over the business of bringing Augustine to the wide world so that I could concentrate on creating new scenarios for her. Well, the world of publishers wasn’t ready forAugustine I have a file of pleasant rejections, including “Love it but not commercial enough.”

Discouraged, I ended the Small Packages series at booklet No.10, Augustine Angry. 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? Anyone want to subscribe?


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

ON SELF-PUBLISHING - Part 1

Returning to the subject of publishing, here's 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 on my website.

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).

Here are my self-published so-called Trade Books: intended for mass-market distribution at low-prices. I’ll elaborate one by one in the next posts.

Monday, February 25, 2019

SHORT LISTED!

Yessss! First longlisted and now shortlisted! What next in this listed world?
Winners will be announced on 31 March.

https://laydeezdocomics.wordpress.com/laydeez-do-comics-aw…/

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.






Sunday, February 24, 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.






Tuesday, February 19, 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.

TO BE CONTINUED





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.