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Re: trade editions

Dear Artemis and Friends

        I was thrilled to purchase my copy of Aunt Sallie?s Lament at my local
bookstore. I was familiar with the artists book version which I viewed
at the Wellesley College Library. While the trade edition cannot compare
in subtlety and depth to the original, I think the concept holds up. I
was happy to get it at a price I could afford. I display my copy at my
sample table at my teacher?s workshops and point it out as an example of
a perfect melding of text and book form. The teachers respond to it.
        I?ve posted my experiences with publishing in the past. I?ve written
one book with Scholastic, with a second manuscript delivered, and spent
a lot of energy researching publishing as I contemplated doing it
myself. I subscribe to Publisher?s Weekly which is a fun if expensive
way to keep tabs on the industry. I?ve come to understand a bit how
publishers think. The number one rule is ?Every editorial decision is a
marketing decision.? Their primary thought is always who will buy this
book. I think Aunt Sallie?s Lament was thought of as a gift book-impulse
buy. When I bought my copy, it was sitting at the register counter of
the bookstore in a publisher designed display. I know I bought it in the
spring. It was a while ago but my guess is it was in time to be a
Mother?s Day gift. I also think that the subject of quilts is what sold
it. When I show it at my workshops, the people who write down the title
as a book to look for are always quilters or friends or relatives of
        My feeling is that any artists book would be evaluated largely on its
subject matter by a publisher, because that is the category that
determines who will buy this book. The complexity of the printing and
the binding would also be important as that would determine the price of
the book. I think there?s a lot more room for innovative structures in
children?s books- pop-up books are being produced like crazy- so if the
work could translate to kids, that would be a big help. It would also
enlarge the list of potential publishers tremendously. For adult trade
books, Chronicle is probably the most obvious choice.
        As for whether to make the move from artists book to commercially
published book, the decision, of course, is a personal one. Like
everything, there is a trade-off. While your book will probably end up
on a remainder table, it will have reached many more people along the
way. It?s a chance to present your book into a new audience. The problem
is that very few books ?make it? by virtue of their appearance in the
bookstore. Virtually all, if not all, books that are successful are
because their authors get on television and radio and promote them.
That?s a lot harder to do for an artists books and why nonfiction sells
so well these days.
        For anyone interested in working with a publisher, I recommend finding
out as much as you can about publishers think. Even the most creative
publishers must be concerned with their market to stay in business.
While none refer to artists books, I recommend Judith Appelbaum?s How to
Get Happily Published (her thesis is that getting the book in print is
only the first step) and books on self-publishing- Dan Poynter?s The
Self-Publishing Manual and Marilyn and Tom Ross? book that I can?t think
of the title but it contains Self-Publishing. I?ll post a separate list
of websites.
        Also, to be picky about terminology, ?mass market? refers to books that
are published in smaller format paperbacks and are sold in pharmacies
and newsstands, as well as bookstores. They are usually romances and
mysteries, although occasionally other books. For example, Richard
Preston?s The Hot Zone was issued as a mass market paperback rather than
a trade paperback, and I believe they are planning the same for The
Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger.

in good spirit,

Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord
Newburyport, MA

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