Archive for December, 2017

Closing the Door on 2017

Add comment December 17th, 2017

Another year almost over and once again it’s time to take a look at what I accomplished and just what kind of year it was. Even though I blog pretty infrequently these days, I always want to sum up the twelve months that are just about to end (even if it is a tad early yet).

For starters it was my second full year of freelancing without a net. Anyone who knows me or has read even a little of what I have to say about working freelance knows that I held a full-time job as a court clerk for over 32 years and that I worked my freelance book design practice the last 25 of those years; and now I continue to do book design and layout as my sole form of gainful work. And when I’m not playing golf.

So what kind of year has it been?

I feel as if it was a slow year. And then I look back and see that I worked on five books this year, and did some clean up work on two other books completed in 2015 for an indy publisher that had shut down and then rose up again briefly.

I also want to smile at how my perspective has changed over the years and that I now call that amount of work “slow”.

A good amount of time was spent on an 800+-page book of photos and text in the form of short essays, as well as a question-and-answer format. The hundreds of photos required a lot of Photoshop work, editing backgrounds and playing with colors. That part of the project was pretty intense and required me to stretch my comfort level with Photoshop, so I had a lot of fun with that book. Despite all that, it was a case of—for the first time in years—where I severely underestimated the value of the job and took kind of a beating on what I was paid, considering the scope and amount of work. But that’s on me for underestimating.

At the same time, I got involved in another of what I’ve come to call “pay-it-forward” projects, taking one design-and-layout job for a young author, a first-year high school girl, and having that blossom into another fledgling indy publisher for whom I’m serving as Creative Director. I just sent the second book for my young author off to the printer this past week.

And looking forward to 2018 I already see a year that looks busier still. I have a handful of proposals and promising initial contacts out, at least a couple of which I honestly expect to result in projects. I have two PDF-only (not PDF for print) projects, both continuing a book I worked on this past year, translations of reviews of the works of Beethoven. The first of those is scheduled to start in January.

To all my friends and clients—past, present, and to come: Happy Holidays (whichever you celebrate) and here’s to a healthy, creative, and happy New Year.

Money Changes Everything Redux

Add comment December 3rd, 2017

A while back I wrote about how I took on a “pay-it-forward” project, designing and laying out a book for a young high school student who had already authored a few books and published them on CreateSpace. That book was The 100 Most Important New Yorkers. While we were in the middle of that, Agatha Edwards’ dad informed me that our young author planned other “100 Most Important” books, the next being The 100 Most Important African Americans. So it seemed a no-brainer to me for them to set up a publishing company. That’s exactly what they did. I signed up as Creative Director and dove back into the design with an eye toward establishing a “100 Most Important” brand for this new indie publishing company, Brooklyn Bridge Books.

We put out a book we were all proud of and I created a look for the series that we could easily adapt for new books.

Now that we’re working on bringing The 100 Most Important African Americans to press, the feeling that we’re a real publisher is hard to deny. Agatha, of course, has her hands full with writing—well, and having a life, too; I mean, she’s a teenager and according to her “About the Author” bio, she has school sports (she’s both an indoor and outdoor competitive runner), debate team activities, as well as music and a composing to occupy her.

But her parents direct the business end of things and edit her, too. And I try to give them a little of the benefit of what I’ve picked up over the years.

For me the “paying it forward” is actually starting to pay off, even though that was not my motivation when we started. Additionally, it’s fun for me to see both the growth of my young author and to participate in the building of an imprint from the ground up. And it’s nice to be appreciated. From the Acknowledgments in The 100 Most Important African Americans:

Most importantly, this book has been produced by Steve Tiano. Steve is a freelance book designer who made this book amazingly intelligent, as he did with my previous book, The 100 Most Important New Yorkers. Steve grew up near where I live and often walked to his grandmother’s house a few blocks away. Steve took a liking to me because I live in his old neighborhood and poured himself into this project. This book is finer than I could possibly imagine because of him. Steve, you are the greatest and I continue to owe you!


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