Self-Publish an Illustrated Art Book, Part 3

African Animals Pattern Set.
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So – let’s say you’ve finished the manuscript of your illustrated art book. Now what? How do you transform your manuscript from a file on your computer into a real-life book that’s available for you to buy and sell yourself, or for the public to buy from Amazon.com?

The company discussed in the video is actually the printing firm owned by Amazon. They can take your PDF file and have it available within a few short weeks. And your book’s listing will always say “Available for Immediate Shipping” because Amazon’s printing company will print it as soon as an order is placed on their website.

The book I mentioned in the video is Aiming at Amazon, by Aaron Shepard.

You can find CreateSpace.com here.

The printing company that will be printing our own book is Lightning Source Incorporated. They work only with publishers. Now class – how do you become a publisher? That’s right – you purchase your own ISBN.

CreateSpace has lower printing costs for books with interior color, Lightning Source (LSI) is less expensive for black and white books. Books printed by LSI are available to online and offline bookstores — they even sell directly to Amazon.co.uk, something that CreateSpace doesn’t do even though they’re owned by Amazon.

The downside of LSI, even for black and white books, is that they will give you very little help in creating your files and setting up your account. They don’t want to work with people who don’t have good computer skills, and they aren’t set up to offer much technical assistance. This is the company that prints all the books for author services companies like AuthorHouse and Lulu.com.

Edit, 9/21/2019: This post was written several years ago, and CreateSpace is now part of KDP Direct Publishing. You can find more up-to-date information about self-publishing here.

Self-Publish Your Illustrated Art Book, Part 2

African Animals Pattern Set.
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when you buy this three-pattern set. Use the patterns to create memorable gifts, or to bring a little bit of Africa to your own home

This is the second video in this series. In this one, I show you the software that I’m using to create my illustrated art how-to book. These are not usually recommended by self-publishing “experts,” (they usually prefer the much more expensive Adobe versions), but my total software investment was $100. Compare that to the total cost of Photoshop and InDesign at $1400, and you can see one of the reasons why I went with another brand.

I actually prefer the PhotoPlus X3 over Photoshop, and not just because it’s so much less expensive. I used Photoshop for years. It always made feel a bit incompetent, because there are so many fancy functions that I never learned how to use. I did learn how to do basic stuff, though — but I can do those things in PhotoPlus, too — and I think it’s actually easier to use.

Before you jump into self-publishing in a big way, remember to do some research first. This is especially important if you want to sell your book to the public. Certain types of books, like novels and illustrated childrens’ books, are not usually very easy to sell when they’re self-published. Non-fiction and how-to books are said to do better. However, there are lots of reasons to make a book, and profit is only one of them. It may not even be the most important one. But still, do some research before you start so you don’t run into any major surprises.

The book about creating a manuscript in Microsoft Word that I recommended in the video is Perfect Pages by Aaron Shepard. He also has a book that is geared towards new self-publishers who want to sell their books on Amazon.com.

Do you know of an art book that’s been self-published, or do you have one you’d like us to know about? Tell us about it, so we can take a look. And please tell us about your experiences with the process too, good or bad.

How to Write and Self-Publish aHow-To Book – Part 1

African Animals Pattern Set.
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when you buy this three-pattern set. Use the patterns to create memorable gifts, or to bring a little bit of Africa to your own home

This video is the first of a short series showing you the tools I used to build my new book about paper mache clay.  If you’ve ever considered writing or illustrating a book, but you let the idea drift away because you thought it would cost too much money or it would just be too hard, be sure to watch this series.

If you have an idea for a book and you’d like to discuss it here, we’d love to hear about it.

Horse Sculpture – Project #7 from Paper Mache Book

Paper Mache Horse

This horse sculpture is the last project in my new book Make Animal Sculptures With Paper Mache Clay. (The video was made before the book came out – it is now available on Amazon.com)

In the video you can see how I reinforced the legs so the armature is strong enough. A larger horse would need heavier wire, of course.

Now that this series is done, I get to play a little. Since my very first blog post, way back in November of 2008 was a paper mache dragon, I think it would be fun to make another one, using the techniques I’ve learned in the last 14 months. And maybe I’ll try a bit of whimsy, while I’m at it. I’ll take some photos to document the new dragon, and I’ll let you see him just as soon as it’s done.

I’m always a little surprised when I look at my stats, because that first dragon post is still one of the most popular paper mache tutorials on this site. It was made using the same materials and techniques that I taught myself to use about 50 years ago (yes, it’s been that long). Although it will be a lot easier to make my new one with an inside pattern and paper mache clay, (like I made the horse sculpture in today’s video), instead of paper strips and paste, the old methods definitely work.

‘Till then, enjoy.

African Elephant – Project #6 in New Paper Mache Book

Paper Mache Elephant

African Animals Pattern Set.
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when you buy this three-pattern set. Use the patterns to create memorable gifts, or to bring a little bit of Africa to your own home


This video is part of a series showing the projects in my new book Make Animal Sculptures With Paper Mache Clay. (The video was made before the book came out – it is now available on Amazon.com)

This video is a bit longer than normal, because I wanted to show you how the paper mache clay is added to the armature of the elephant sculpture, and how you can add textures to the clay.

Only one more video in this series, and I should have it finished tomorrow. I decided to make the horse the last project in the book, because so many people seem to be intimidated by them

The elephant sculpture in this episode is obviously a lot smaller than the baby Asian elephant I made a few months ago. He was also a lot easier to make. The size isn’t really an issue, since larger sculptures simply take more time to do – they aren’t necessarily harder to make. The big improvement was the paper mache clay.

The bigger sculpture was covered in many layers of traditional paper mache strips and paste, and each one needed to dry. Then I had to form the features, and cover them with another layer of paper. And lastly, the wrinkles had to be added with one last layer of paper strips and paste (because it isn’t an elephant without wrinkles!).

The small elephant was made with only two layers of clay, as you see in the video, so many of the steps were eliminated. And the clay itself covers any irregularities in the underlying armature. Way easier. And more fun.

On a slightly unrelated note, I found out yesterday that my paper mache clay butterfly tutorial is being put to good use. Models are being made to show the life cycle of butterflies, and the finished models will be on display at the State Arboretum in Virginia. I’ll post a link so you can see photos that show how they turned out as soon as I hear back from them.

I’m also starting a list of links over in the right-hand column that point to artists who are starting to use my paper mache clay recipe in their work. If that includes you, or someone you know, please let me know so I can add a link to my blogroll. (Hey – why pass up a free link!)

Begging Dachshund – Project #5 in New Paper Mache Book

Paper Mache Dachshund

African Animals Pattern Set.
Save $10
when you buy this three-pattern set. Use the patterns to create memorable gifts, or to bring a little bit of Africa to your own home

This video is part of a series showing the projects in my new book Make Animal Sculptures With Paper Mache Clay. (The video was made before the book came out – it is now available on Amazon.com)

In this video I introduce you to the fifth project in my upcoming paper mache book. The begging dachshund was designed to show readers how a flat pattern on the inside of an armature can be manipulated so the final sculpture has an interesting pose.

I borrowed the colors of my dachshund from one of the dogs living down the street from me. This breed is so popular I think almost everyone knows someone who would like to receive one of these sculptures as a gift. The sculpture itself doesn’t cost much money, (probably less than $5.00), but she’s precious because of the time and love that goes into making her.

She is a little hard to photograph because I designed her to be looking up at you. When she sits on a coffee table you look down at those big brown eyes – no wonder so many of these dogs end up being overweight…

Spring is happening all of a sudden here in our valley. I have a big shipment of hedge plants coming in the second week of April, so that means I’ll be out digging in the dirt. Fun stuff. But don’t worry – I’ll still be working hard to help Jessie to get this book finished.

Spotted Piglet – Project #4 in New Paper Mache Book

Paper Mache Piglet

African Animals Pattern Set.
Save $10
when you buy this three-pattern set. Use the patterns to create memorable gifts, or to bring a little bit of Africa to your own home

This video is part of a series showing the projects in my new book Make Animal Sculptures With Paper Mache Clay. (The video was made before the book came out – it is now available on Amazon.com)

In this video, I introduce you to a spotted piglet. He’s the fourth project in my upcoming book Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay.

In case you’re wondering, the term “KuneKune” refers to a rare breed of miniature pigs from New Zealand.

I took the dogs out to run on Mt. Emily this morning, and I discovered that I’m even more out of shape than I realized. I broke my toe a few months ago, and it slowed me down for quite a while. At my age, a month of being really, really lazy can make muscle tone disappear fast. I suppose I’m lucky that the dogs are as out of shape as I am, so it wasn’t hard to keep up with them.

When I got back I worked on my new email notification system – you can sign up using the form over there on the right of this page. Don’t miss out on a single video or tutorial.

Now I’m off to the hardware store, my favorite place for art supplies. Today I need to find some heavy wire or thin metal rods to use in the series of large horses I plan to make in the next few months. Wandering around a hardware store makes me happy – so many weird and wonderful things in there, and nice people, too. I hope your day has something fun to look forward to, as well.

Enjoy.