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Old 02-02-2002, 05:58 AM   #1
Valentino Radman Valentino Radman is offline
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exclamation A call for book ideas




I've just received The Artist's Magazine Newsletter, and this notice below caught my attention. Perhaps it might be tempting for some of you with enough knowledge, experience, patience and time... :-)
---------------------------------------------
A CALL FOR BOOK IDEAS

Our sister company North Light Books, publisher of art instruction books, is looking for artist authors who know how to teach beginners step by step. They're open to seeing all media, but are particularly interested in those who can teach basic elements and principles of traditional realistic landscape, flower and people painting in popular mediums (watercolor, acrylic, oil) to beginners in both pictures and words.

Published authors receive advances and royalties. Send 30 slides, outline/table of contents, sample section or chapter, biographical information and SASE for return to: Pam Wissman, North Light Books, 1507 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati OH 45207 (after March 15, 4700 E. Galbraith Road, Cincinnati OH 45236). E-mail any questions to Pam.Wissman@fwpubs.com
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Old 03-26-2002, 05:39 AM   #2
Cynthia Daniel Cynthia Daniel is offline
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Valentino,

We appreciate posts such as this. Please feel free to post anything of this nature that you find.

Thanks
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Old 03-26-2002, 11:43 AM   #3
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
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Hmmmmm....this sounds interesting.

CHRIS SAPER...if you happen to read this, please share a little of your experience in writing and publishing your book...
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Old 03-26-2002, 12:17 PM   #4
Chris Saper Chris Saper is offline
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Book Writing

Writing a book for North Light Books was a wonderful experience in all regards, and eye-opening as well. I cannot say enough about the responsiveness and competence of every department involved in the process.

I would estimate that the manuscript production, including art, took about 1400 hours. I had eleven months time in which to do everything, which amounted to somewhere in the neighborhood of 18,000 words and 225 images. This is the standard 128-page book that NLB publishes.

My 17-year background in hospital administration and strategic planning required me to write constantly, both technical documents and issue-oriented work; so as a result, writing is something I like to do and do comfortably. For someone who does not enjoy writing, I think that the process would be stressful. However NLB has a 100+ page manual that shows you how to write and type the manuscript, and a lengthy manual on photographing art suitable for reproduction. It's essential to be able to work with the tungsten light/slide film set-up they suggest.

Although you are paid an advance and royalties, you must repay the advance out of initial sales, before you begin to get a check. This is not the type of work you would look to to retire on (unlike John Grisham's).

That being said, it is great experience to work with such an organized and professional company, that produces such high quality products. The color reproduction was excellent; the editing staff was so good, that when I got my intially-edited work back, I couldn't really tell where they cut out the extra 6,000 words (I actually sent them about 24,000 words).

Before signing the contract I spoke to Albert Handell and Kevin MacPherson, both of whom had similarly excellent experiences with North Light Books.

So I would recommend to anyone that this project would be a good idea, given that you will be able to do the manuscript production and that you have the time available, as there is definitely an opportunity cost, in regard to the paintings which you will not be able to do, due to the time spent at the computer.

Good luck to all, Chris
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Old 03-27-2002, 11:54 AM   #5
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
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How to Submit a Book Idea and become an Author of a North Light Fine Art Book

I wrote to North Light and this is the info. they sent me....


"North Light Books is always looking for talented artists who can share their techniques...

A. What Does North Light Look For?

1. We publish books about do-it-yourself fine art activities. We need ideas for books that will appeal to the person who likes to learn painting skills in ways that are easy to follow and fun.

2. We publish books with great examples of finished art. All of the artwork and step-by-step demonstrations in the book must be:

- inviting
- inspiring
- of high quality in artistic technique, instructional value and reproductive quality (all photography in focus with proper exposure)

The response of the reader should be "Wow, I want to do that!"

3. We publish books on a basic skill level. North Light books must interest beginners who like to spend their leisure time making art. The finished art, techniques and processes presented should appear to be well within the reach of what the average reader can do. Emphasis should be on relatively easy, fast, fun methods. Reader response should be "Wow, I CAN do that!"

4. We publish books that teach primarily with pictures and easy-to-follow step-by-step demonstrations, not just with words. Illustrations should be clear, instructive, easy to follow and of professional quality. You must build your book around demonstrations with twelve to twenty steps per demonstration that the reader can easily learn from to complete similar paintings or techniques that look good based on your instruction. The reader must be able to see the whole process by scanning the sequence of illustrations without even having to read the captions. In other words, the captions should support the art.

5. We publish books that fit our format. Our books are usually:

- 8 1/2 x 11 inches
- 128 or 144 pages long (though some trade paperbacks may be shorter)
- full color (though some may be black and white)

North Light, not the author, determines whether a book is hardcover, paperback or paper over board, as well as selling price.

B. What You Must Be Able To Do As An Author

1. Create great art and step-by-step demonstrations suitable for reproduction. The art and instruction in the book must be of high quality. You may submit the illustrations to us in several ways depending on what is most suitable. We can work with transparencies, 35mm slides or flat original art (drawings, sketches, etc.) that is flexible enough to curve around the drum of a scanner. However, you MUST submit transparencies or slides of the following:

- highly valuable finished art
- art that is not flexible enough to be curved around the drum of a scanner
- art that is larger than 19" x 25" or smaller than 3" x 5"

2. Shoot good slides of a step-by-step demonstration as you create it, or reproduce each step in a progression with flat art. This is a necessity for doing a North Light book. We have sets of guidelines showing you how best to do this. You must submit your materials as written in the guidelines. Most North Light fine art authors shoot their own slides or hire a professional to do so. However, we may consider working with authors who are willing to come to our studios for a photography session.

3. Write clear, how-to instructions for step-by-step demonstrations. This is also a necessity for doing a North Light book. If you can describe in words exactly what you are doing when you are painting-including what materials, tools, colors and techniques you are using-you most likely have the necessary writing skills. We are not looking for stylish or scholarly prose, lists of anecdotes or travelogues-just concise, easy-to-follow descriptions of how to create paintings or perform techniques that are clear enough for our readers to follow. If your writing is logical and correctly ordered, we can do the rest, such as grammar, spelling and punctuation. However, our editors work with you and your project on much more than the details.

4. Work with editors. Once a committee accepts your proposal, you continue to work with an editor who helps you with the following:

- providing you with guidelines for producing and submitting your materials (this may also be provided to you before your proposal is accepted)
- answering your questions about how you should proceed
- helping you develop a page-by-page plan of your book for you to follow (this may also be developed with you before your proposal is accepted)
- establishing a schedule of deadlines for submissions (you will be asked to send finished chapters for review)
- reviewing and editing your manuscript and art as you submit them
- providing feedback within a reasonable time frame (it is not always possible to provide immediate feedback, since our editors work on several projects at one time)

Most of our authors are artists, not seasoned authors. However, the beauty of writing a North Light book is that you don't have to get everything perfect the first time (unlike, say, a brain surgeon) because your editor will help you make your book the best it can be. Usually, we do heavily edit most fine art books in the interest of being most instructive for the reader. Your editor may cut text or ask you to provide more to ensure logic, accuracy, flow, etc. An editor may cut art or ask you to provide more to ensure good reproduction and instruction, North Light style, etc. We have a set of North Light Standards for Fine Art Authors and Editors that explains further the primary goals we have as editors and that you should have as an author.

5. Follow a detailed outline, clear page plan and all agreed-to project information for the book. Before you write or photograph anything more for a book, we plan exactly what will go in it, arranged in a logical order, so everybody knows what is necessary to complete the work. This makes gathering and producing the material much easier for you. It also lets us know what is coming and how long the book will be before we start work. We need authors who can write the books we need and know we can sell.

6. Deliver material on time. It is essential that you deliver finished artwork and writing on time in order to receive your advance payments and so that we can have your book ready when we can best sell it. You must be able to keep yourself on schedule from the beginning. Good book writing requires organization, discipline and applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. Your editor will work with you on mutually agreeable due dates for submissions. If you do not meet deadlines, we may decide to cancel your book, which means that you will have to return any advances you have received.

C. What You Should Submit For A Potential Book Idea

1. Submit at least twenty high-quality slides or transparencies of the artwork the reader would learn how to make in your book. We need to see at least twenty examples so we know your work is consistently good. It is important that you photograph the slides you provide as you will photograph them for the book. This is especially important for authors who plan to photograph art themselves, so we can make sure the slides will be acceptable.

2. Submit a definition of your book with a detailed outline/table of contents. It is best if you can establish a very specific "handle" or "big idea" to focus the book and give it a definite direction from the start. You may already have this. Whether you already have an idea for a book or do not yet know what your "big idea" is, write short answers to the following questions to develop your idea further:

- What is your book about? What medium, techniques, subject matter and point of view will it include?
- Who are your targeted readers? It must be suitable for beginners, but please define your audience further.
- How will the book teach the reader? In what form will you deliver the instruction? It must include step-by-step demonstrations, but it can also include projects or exercises for the reader to do; close-up details; case studies; artist profiles; before/after or good/bad comparisons; etc.
- What makes your book special and different? What will the readers find in your book that they cannot get in other books? This does not mean your book has to be startlingly new. Nevertheless, what features would it have to set it apart from other books?
- What makes you qualified to write this book?

Then make a detailed outline that shows you have thought your book through.

3. Submit a sample section or chapter (both art and writing) representative of the book.

Send all of the above to Pamela Wissman, Acquisitions Editor, North Light Books, F&W Publications, 1507 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati OH 45207 (after April 16, 2002: 4700 East Galbraith Rd., Cincinnati OH 45236). Though North Light publishes many types of fine art books, I am currently most interested in proposals on the following topics:

- Basic Watercolor for the Fun of It (easy watercolor techniques and projects for beginners)
- Painting Animals (cats, dogs, birds and domestic animals)
- Drawing and Painting People (figures, portraits, children's portraits, painting your family)
- How to Paint from Photos (in all mediums, particularly people and animals)
- Basic Drawing and Sketching
- Flower Painting
- Creativity/Getting Ideas
- Colored Pencil and Water-Soluble Colored Pencil
- Oil
- Acrylic
- Composition and Design
- Learn to Draw with Colored Inks
- Essential of Spectacular Sea Painting
- How to Illustrate Children's Stories
- Landscapes
- Big Reference Books on How to Paint (Watercolorist's Book of Lists, Painter's Book of Common Sense, etc.)
- Artist's Photo Reference: People
- Artist's Photo Reference: Cats, Dogs and Domestic Animals
- Pen & Ink Drawing Essentials
- Nature Painting Basics

D. What's Next

I assess your material for appropriateness to our publishing program. If it appears suitable, I work with you to develop the outline and chapter-by-chapter description of the content of the book further. We will also finalize how to present the material, i.e. step-by-step demonstrations, details of finished work, etc.

At this point, I will ask you to create a sample step-by-step demonstration consisting of all the steps involved in making one of your projects, along with captions telling what happens in each step. This will tell me how we can best help you with the writing and with acquiring quality illustrations.

Once we have a good detailed outline, page plan and sample demonstration, I will propose your project to a review board for approval. If approved, you will then negotiate a contract with one of our business coordinators. The terms of the contract will spell out the advances you will receive, the royalty payments and the due dates for art and finished manuscript.

E. What's In It for You as a North Light Author

There are many good reasons for publishing a book with North Light. We create the finest art instruction books available today and are the leading publishers of art instruction books in the U.S. Our books are in nearly every bookstore and art supply store in the U.S. and Canada. Our book clubs, including the North Light Book Club (with over 60,000 members) and the Decorative Artists' Book Club (with over 30,000 members), as well as others, feature our books. Publications such as The Artist's Magazine and Watercolor Magic also offer them. In addition, our books usually remain in print. We do not publish a book for only one season; our books remain in our catalog as long as there is a demand for them.

Creating a book takes time, effort and commitment. Nevertheless, it is worth it. Besides the obvious satisfaction and pride you will feel when you see your best work in print, there are other rewards.

1. It gets the word out and provides you with more credibility than anything else you can do. A book gives you more credibility than a videotape or teaching a class. A book gives you notoriety. Being the author of a book is a great way to publicize your work and to become known by a lot of fellow artists and instructors. A book with your name on it is good advertising!

2. You share your joys and discoveries with others. Not only do you share your joy in the process of making art, but you also make it possible for the reader to create beautiful things. There is no better way to enrich the joy of others than to share your discoveries and secrets in a well-written instruction book.

3. Publishing a book enhances your opportunities as a teacher. Authoring a book is a great way to reach potential students. If they like what you show them in your book, students will want to take your classes and see you work in person.

4. You make money. As the author and copyright holder, you will receive royalties on all sales of your book. Although you might not be able to retire early (or even quit your day job), periodically receiving a royalty check can be a nice supplement to your earnings."
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Old 03-27-2002, 06:12 PM   #6
Stanka Kordic Stanka Kordic is offline
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Karin,

I hope your going to write one. You'd be great at it! Your work and technique is so different, I think it would sell really well..go for it.
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Old 03-27-2002, 06:35 PM   #7
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
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Thanks for your kind words Stanka...I'm thinking that maybe I will write a book about what I know...

This past week was a bummer Three clients waiting in line for portraits of their children backed out - "postponed," they said - due to the financial hit they took when the economy recently headed south. This is the first I have felt the pinch. Needless to say, this has freed up a chunk of my time. Rats.

Anyhow, I wrote to North Light and the following was part of their reply to me:

Quote:
However, I must tell you that our demand for oil painting authors is not high right now. Oil painting is not a medium that sells as well for us as some others, particularly watercolor, therefore we publish fewer oil books, though we do receive quite a few proposals....
Frankly, I'm not the least bit discouraged...I might just write it anyhow and give them a second chance, peddle it elsewhere or simply make one heck of a lengthy post on this website!
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Old 03-27-2002, 09:18 PM   #8
Steven Sweeney Steven Sweeney is offline
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Whew! I need to go have a little lie-down just from reading the submission guidelines.

While North Light Books isn't the only art instruction publisher, anyone who goes to the studio bookshelf will probably find what I do, that about 95% of their instructional books are from North Light or Watson-Guptill. When North Light says it can't sell oil instruction books [though it's sold a few to me -- perhaps I bought the only copies], it means that under current market conditions it can't move sufficiently huge quantities through its book club and elsewhere to minimally produce a sufficiently huge net profit figure on the bottom line of the workout sheet. They're in business to make money, nothing wrong with that, but it means that the time is past when a corporate publisher might pick up a book with marginal earning potential but one which would nonetheless be a valuable addition to the body of work on the subject.

One of the biggest rolls of the dice in the business, though, is predicting trends, and who knows what the market will demand two years from now, when your manuscript is ready for submission? At the very least, anyone who is very keen on having a go at publishing a book should, first, be very mindful of the remarks by Chris Saper about the very substantial commitment of time and energy, and then go ahead and try to put together a proposal, in whatever form is required by the various publishers. This usually requires a very detailed outline, sample chapters, and representative artwork, as well as your "sales pitch", which is a showing that what you are proposing is something not already on the shelves (or is in some way superior to what's out there).

If you can't get the proposal together, or even if you can but you didn't find it as enjoyable a process as you'd hoped, count your blessings. I once wanted to build a wooden sailboat of substantial size, but I decided first to build a small wooden sailing pram first, just to see how it went. It went fine, beautiful little lapstrake boat, fun to sail, gets lots of compliments at the marina. And I have standing orders to friends and family that if I ever mention building another boat, I am to have both feet tied to a hawser and I am to be keel-hauled behind a tramp freighter steaming toward some backwater third-world port.

Two of the three best North Light oil instruction books I have were published in 1997, so it hasn't been very long since such books were expected to find a market. The cycle will probably come 'round again. I think you're right not to be discouraged, Karin. If you have a book in you, write it. Wouldn't it be great in two years to have manuscript in hand when some art publisher identifies a trend and puts out a call for oil instruction proposals?

Thinking of titles now,
Steven
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Old 03-27-2002, 09:32 PM   #9
Cynthia Daniel Cynthia Daniel is offline
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I thought about writing a book on marketing portraits or perhaps include administrative and business aspects too...all oriented specifically to portrait. In my copious free time, of course.
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Old 03-27-2002, 11:35 PM   #10
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
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Thanks Steven for reminding me of so many other publishers and I am counting on you to come up with a catchy title for my book.

I haven't been much of a fan of "How to...." books and really don't know much about them. Instead, my collection is mostly books on the Old Masters (what else?).

I guess that I have some homework to do...I shall head for the library and start reading every "How to paint" book I can find. If nothing else, pondering a book will help me organize my thinking...

Cynthia - I want to sign up immediately (at your discounted pre-publication price) for a first edition of your book (hardcover of course)!
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