thinking about galleries

It’s always come up, from time to time, but I’ve been noticing it more in the last few months, that people want to know what galleries I’m showing at. Years ago, it was uncommon – I would tell people I was an artist, and they would ask about the art: “What style of art do you do?” … “What medium do you work in?” … “What is your art about?” … that sort of thing (which I almost never had a good answer for, either) but now when I tell people I’m an artist, a larger and larger share have a first question of “What galleries do you show at?” I’ve even begun to get it at the Phoenix First Fridays Art Walk, where I am a street vendor. People see me standing in front of my art, hear me talking about my art, watch me trying to sell my art, and ask what galleries they can see it in. If my work was in a gallery, don’t you think I’d be there, rather than standing in the road, competing with myself?

My website,, is my gallery, I say. I do most of my sales online, I say, and a fair amount through the First Fridays Art Walk.

Then, about half the time, they want to talk about what other local artists I know, show with, and/or work with.

Sigh. Continue reading thinking about galleries

Numbers for 2009 (and 2008)

I’ve spent the last few days gathering numbers and putting them into a spreadsheet. Now I’m going to take a few of them and try to communicate them to you here. The numbers come from several places, representing podcast downloads, eBook downloads, and sales of books and of art. Since I didn’t make a post about it for 2008’s numbers, I’ll probably include some of them as well, for comparison. I’ll try not to turn this post into a spreadsheet, just numbers, but will try to make it more like my usual rambles.

To begin, a snapshot of right now. As of 1/1/2010, I have 13 titles in some form of publication or other. 5 standalone novels, 2 poetry journals, 2 short story collections, 3 books in the Untrue Tales… series and a single edition containing those 3 books. One of the novels (the Lost and Not Found – Director’s Cut) is currently only available as an eBook. One of the short story collections (Time, emiT, and Time Again) isn’t yet finished, but I’ve released one of the short stories that will be contained in it as a standalone chapbook.  The 3 individual Untrue Tales… books aren’t technically “in print”, though I have a few copies, printed by Cafepress & sans ISBN. I am not counting The Vintage Collection, though it is another book I’ve put together, had printed, and sold at one time. (I plan to edit and re-release it at a later date.) Seven of my books are available as podcast audiobooks, and all but the poetry is available as eBooks. Continue reading Numbers for 2009 (and 2008)

“new” book: Lost and Not Found – Director’s Cut

I’m becoming more free, more liberated in how I think about and how I operate my publishing company. So Monday morning when I saw yet another review of Lost and Not Found which seemed to have misunderstood the entire point of the book and to have interpreted the heart of the book to be a mis-step and an incoherent disappointment… I realized that instead of just thinking about releasing an alternate edition of the book, it was fully within my power to actually release it.

So I took some time on Monday and put together a quick “Director’s Cut” that had all the love story and fantasy adventure that had ended up being the last third of Lost and Not Found, cut out the few scenes that had connected it further to the confusing-and-irrelevant characters-who-get-found-and-forgotten, and re-attached the part of the story that goes to Skythia (released earlier this year as a short story in More Lost Memories). I wrote a few words about why I was creating the Director’s Cut, put them up on I wrote a quick marketing summary so I could put the book up for sale as an eBook on Smashwords. Whoosh, from frustration at people misunderstanding my book to publishing a version of the book that those frustrated people would hate outright, in the space of an afternoon.

Yesterday I sketched for a while & then painted an image for the cover.  I’ve been thinking about doing this with other books (have you seen the covers of More Lost Memories and Cheating, Death?) and I’ve finally decided to do it with the Lost and Not Found – Director’s Cut: I’ve put the painting I did for the cover art up for sale at a price that will allow me to fund a paperback release of the book. If you buy the art, I’ll make the book available on paper. ((Alternatively, if I can get, say, 25 people to pre-order a paper copy, I’ll make the book available on paper.)) Otherwise, it’s going to remain available only in formats that cost me nothing to make available: eBook (and probably audiobook, later this year, especially since I’ve already recorded most of it).

I’m thinking of trying this with some of my future books:  Release them as an eBook and if 1) enough eBook copies sell or 2) the original painting for the cover sells or 3) enough people are willing to pre-order then I’ll put out a print edition.  Because realistically, right now, I’m not even breaking even on the publishing costs.  I sell too-few copies.  I’m not saying this is permanent/final, especially since I sell a lot more paper copies by hand (and make more money per copy) than I sell eBooks, but I figure it’s worth a try.  It’s my publishing company, I can do what I want, right?  The only rules to follow are my own.

So, here’s the brief marketing summary I wrote for Smashwords:

A non-traditional story; no real conflict, no struggle, no antagonist, and -some would say- no plot. A love story of fantastic proportions, of two people who realize that the less-than-comfortable normalcy they’d felt responsible to is the only thing keeping them from achieving true bliss. With a faerie, titans, a two-headed monster, a flying city, amazing museums, unusual time mechanics, & more.

And here’s the page-or-so I wrote “About the Director’s Cut”:

Lost and Not Found was the first look at the storybook universe expanded upon in Forget What You Can’t Remember, More Lost Memories, and Cheating, Death. This “Director’s Cut” of Lost and Not Found comes closer to my original intent, and to the original first draft of my 2002 NaNoWriMo novel, originally released in limited edition under the title Forlorn. Forlorn was written in the final 8 days of November, after a similar ordeal to the fictional one presented in Lost and Not Found.

In response to the criticism and feedback from a very vocal and adamant subset of the people who read Forlorn, and based on advise about what “all” fiction “needs” I spent the following year trying to find ways to give the story I’d written in Forlorn things like conflict, character arcs, and a three-act structure. I ended up cutting Skythia out completely, and writing a significant amount about the writer’s life and the journey toward the heart of the story, which I’ve always believed starts with the word ‘Forlorn.’

I released the First Edition of that expanded, “fixed” book as Lost and Not Found in 2004, and I’ve been receiving two kinds of feedback from readers in the five years since then: One group of people liked the book right up until the word ‘Forlorn.’ This group thinks the rest of the book is a “wrong turn”, and they were disappointed by it. The other group of people typically don’t even remember what happened in the book before the word ‘Forlorn.’ They understood the heart of the story to be the same thing I did, and they loved it.

This “Director’s Cut” of Lost and Not Found is bound to divide readers in the same way, though I expect to a more significant extreme. The people who would have been disappointed by the end of Lost and Not Found will be disappointed by this entire book. The people who would have loved the end of Lost and Not Found will probably love this entire book. And I, increasingly emboldened to do what I want to do with my books and with my publishing company, love the idea of releasing a Director’s Cut of the book, one that I prefer and that I think my true audience will prefer.

Problems of Perception

At the latest Art Walk, for the first time, I had some chapbooks/mini-books to sell at a lower price point than I normally have product at. I had two different, complete, individual short stories put together as 32pp & 44pp mini-books. I printed up 50 copies of each, signed & numbered them, and set the price at $2 apiece. The primary motivating factor here was to try to make sales to all the people who implied they wanted to buy one of my books but that they didn’t have the $13 or $14 required or a credit card (I totally take credit cards). I thought, perhaps incorrectly, that some of those people would have at least a couple dollars with them. I only moved 5 mini-books at the Art Walk.

The fact that people didn’t have (or lied about not having) $2 to buy a short story isn’t what struck me the most about the experience that night. Instead it was this: People assumed they were free.

Now, I could have used a color and/or cardstock cover to clarify that they weren’t simply photocopied brochures or flyers, though I suspect there may still have been some people who assumed they were free. A lot of people picked the mini-books up, looked them over, and managed to ignore the price marked on it in 70pt type. Over and over again. They grabbed, they looked, we discussed what it was, and they moved to walk off without even considering that a product at a vendor booth might have a price.

I thought this was bad enough, then when the crowd had thickened a bit later in the evening, it got worse. People started grabbing the mini-books and moving to walk off with them without so much as slowing down or asking what it was they were grabbing. Upon final inventory Saturday morning I confirmed that I’d caught everyone who’d tried to walk off with an unpaid copy, but the experience further illuminated some problems with perception I’ve been having pretty consistently with my business.

Another aspect of the problem that also manifested itself last Friday at the Art Walk comes across in the oft-voiced assumption that the art I’m showing is prints (as opposed to the handmade originals they all actually are). I’d thought this might be related to my relatively-affordable prices, so this month I didn’t post any prices. More people than ever asked whether my art was prints before (or without) asking about pricing.  I know that some of the other artists at the art walk offer both prints and originals, and that some even offer prints exclusively.  I just wonder what is driving this assumption about my work.

In thinking about this problem, it occurred to me that it might have something to do with the precise nature of my recent work, and of how carefully I’ve worked to produce clean, crisp, bold intersections and interactions of color fields.  That some of my recent work is so well-crafted that it appears to have been created in (or cleaned up in) a computer and then printed out.  That the sharp edges I create with my hand-carved tape-stencils are clearly not created with manual brush strokes.  I really don’t know what it is, I can only guess, and these are what I’ve come up with in the last few days.

The other possibility is that people are projecting on to the work what they want from it.  That they don’t believe they can afford original artwork, so project the idea that the art they want is available as an affordable print.  That they can’t afford a couple of bucks for a chapbook, so they project the idea that they’re free.

Other perception problems I’ve had potential customers express: People who have been to my websites (, and who honestly are not aware that they can buy my books and/or art online (or in some cases, that they’re available for sale at all).  People who have my business card (and/or are looking at one of my websites) and don’t know my address, phone number, or email address to contact me.  (Literally: My name, address, phone number, and email address are on every single page of both of my business sites.)  People who have purchased an handmade original piece of art from me, given it away to someone else, and come back to buy another copy of the same thing for themselves – sincerely believing that what they bought was a mass-produced (or at least multiply produced) item.

I don’t know what to do about these perception problems. Putting “all artwork original” on a sign at my Art Walk booth and on doesn’t seem to have helped to communicate that I’m not merely selling prints.  Offering prints isn’t the answer, either.  Not only do I not like the idea of it, preferring each piece to be handmade and unique, but I’ve also looked into it and found the costs to be prohibitive.  I’d have to at least double the prices on all my art, probably up to double the normal prices (ie: quadruple or more the current prices), or some of the prints would actually be more expensive -just to print- than the prices I’m asking for the originals.  I’ve been thinking of changing my prices, but downward, not upward.  I want my art to be selling briskly more than I want individual pieces to be gaining value.

Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts on these quirks of perception; I mostly just don’t understand them.  Book pricing, perception of value of the printed word, perception of value of chapbooks, these  are a separate discussion I’d meant to get to earlier today, but haven’t yet made time to.  Perhaps tomorrow.  I thought I needed a nap 5 hours ago; by now I need a full night’s sleep.  Good night.

Art Fair in N. PHX, 9/12/2009

I’m showing my art & my books this Saturday (tomorrow!) at:

Angel’s Serenity Art Fair
Saturday September 12, 2009, 10:00am – 4:00pm
4839 East Greenway Road (look for Safeway)
Scottsdale AZ, 85254

Please join us!

In addition to myself and other artists, there will be activities for the kids, a free workshop in the back room and a free raffle. The setting is much more relaxed and family friendly than my normal First Friday Art Walk, so you really have a chance to take your time to see everyone’s art, speak to myself (and the other artists) about the art, the books, and more. A few more details:

Free Workshop
Lisa will be providing a free workshop on interpreting your Angel Cards. You’ll find her in Angel’s Serenity’s Backroom from 3:00-3:30pm

Stop into Angel’s Serenity and enter to win a Tie Die T-shirt.

Our artists will include Authors, Painters, Jewelry, Crafts and more!

There will also have free activity table for the kids including Creating Peace Flags.

Join us!
So, come one out with the whole family and enjoy a day of art, activity and just plain fun!
We hope to see you there!