New book: Sell Your Artwork and Crafts Online

One New Year’s resolution down! Actually, it was a resolution I made New Year 2011, but who’s counting? I finally finished the book that I’ve been working on for, oh well – way too long. Enough buildup, here it is …

Book cover Sell Your Artwork & Crafts Online

I was teaching a workshop to help artists and crafters figure out how to sell their work online. When I decided to expand the written materials into a book, I had no idea that the 6-page handout would grow to 72 pages, with 28 photographs and screen shots to show readers what their options are and how to decide what venues are best for their work, like this shot of the front page of my Etsy shop:

The homepage of my Etsy shop

Or this illustration about how to resize the images you post online so they’re not as easy to steal:

Resized photo to post online

I also included profiles of six of my favorite artists: a photographer, painter, mixed media collage artist, printmaker, natural perfumer, and writer — who are all at very different places on the continuum of using the internet to sell and market their arts and crafts. I’ll be posting some of the profiles here, so you can meet them and draw inspiration from their art and the work they’re putting into showing and selling it online.

In conjunction with the book, I started a Facebook group where artists can network and support one another in selling their work online. You’re welcome to join it, whether you buy the book or not.

Facebook page for selling art online

And now for the tip of the day, which isn’t in the book (already working on the second edition!) Yes, you may sell the same items in your Etsy and Artfire shops. If it’s a one-of-a-kind piece it can be nerve-wracking to list in both, because if it sells from one store you need to immediately remove it from the other. But I list my ebooks in both shops. If you have duplicates of anything that you make, it’s good to get the exposure in both venues.

And a related tip: don’t use the same description in both listings. From my research, people advise that you change at least 30% of the language, because Google’s search results ranking, released in February 2011 (called Panda) penalizes duplicate postings.

I listed the ebook on Etsy yesterday, and just now put the listing up on Artfire. If you’re curious, you can check out how I changed the descriptions. I’ll check my Google Analytics to see whether I’ve been Panda slapped — that’s what they call it when your traffic goes way down because the Google algorithm is displeased with some aspect of your website.

Kindle-Garden Delights part 2

When last we met I promised to let you know about my adventures in making my ebook into kindle-ready form. To cut to the end of the story … here it is!

If you’re thinking of kindling yourself (no, that’s not a dirty suggestion), rather than paying someone to do it for you, the best place to start is Amazon’s own help pages.  When you run into problems, you can also check with the related Community forum – lots of questions and answers, and you can post your own queries.

My first obstacle – I don’t have Microsoft Word on my computer. My husband has it on his, but I have WordPerfect instead. One of the critical steps in kindle-izing a book requires saving the file as filtered html, which you can’t do in WordPerfect.  Now, it’s not just that I’m lazy and didn’t want to walk upstairs to his computer. Switching to the other computer meant that I’d have to load some new programs onto his computer (and that makes him cranky), and that I’d have to transport my document and image files (not a big deal, but l was so exasperated that even that small task made me cranky).

Anyway, I stubbornly decided to try the process without using Word.  This decision at least led me to a great resource —  Judith Tramayne’s videos and materials to help authors self publish books on the kindle and other ereaders.

Judith has a series of comprehensive videos that seem very reasonably priced to me, and she offers a lot of her content free – including a series of macros that make it much easier to correctly format the html document that is the best way to get an ebook kindle-ready.  I watched her free videos and downloaded the macros, and took her advice to install Crimsoneditor, a free source code editor.  From the quality of her free videos, I think that paying for the series would be well worth it.  I decided not to because I was so far along in the process that I only needed a bit of trouble-shooting to finish.  But if you’re at the early end of the learning curve, it looks like a good option.

Since my ebook was written in WordPerfect, I had to copy and paste it, paragraph by paragraph, into Crimsoneditor.  Using Judith’s macros to add the correct html coding made the process much easier.

Images are another thing – the kindle is really designed for books without a lot of images. The basic kindle is only black and white, and you can’t really do much fancy with images.

I found the html code to include images, and quickly resized all of my photos for the book in Photoshop Elements.  Unfortunately, the images turned out to be my first big challenge.  I took my nice neat html document made in Crimsoneditor and ran it through MobiPocket Creator to build the book.

For a moment I thought all was well – I scrolled through the ebook in the kindle previewer that I had downloaded from Amazon. Chapter headings … check; text … check;  and the images were all there!! Yes!! But then I got to the last page and found, to my dismay, that all 60 images in the book were also duplicated in a long long row at the end of the book. Yikes.

I looked for some answers on the community forum but never found any satisfactory explanation, and certainly no cure.  The duplicate images weren’t included in the html coding.  Instead of spending a lot of time trying to figure out a fix, I decided to do what I should have done in the first place.  I put the html document and image files onto a flash drive, trudged upstairs to my husband’s computer, and fired up Word. I saved the html document in Word as filtered HTML and ran it through MobiPocket.  It worked! No trailing images. Now one thing that is puzzling — still more comfortable on my computer, I took the filtered HTML file to my computer and ran it through MobiPocket there – alas, I had the same duplicate images problem.  (Insert sad face here)…  So it actually could be that the problem was not caused by not using Word, but due to the fact that I’m saddled with Vista 64-bit on my computer (I know, I can’t stand it either). I read somewhere during my desperate search for help that Vista may cause problems with parts of the kindle-izing process.

To wrap up this saga, there was some more wrestling with the Table of Contents, but suffice it to say that I finally followed the directions carefully and after pulling out some more hair I managed to generate a clickable TOC! It’s not pretty but I’m damned proud of it, so here it is ..

Anyway, the bottom line – if you have Word, some familiarity with html coding, and a lot of patience and time, go for it and try to do it yourself. It’s very rewarding when it finally all comes together.

Kindle-Garden Delights part 1

Amazingly, I have emerged from my adventure in making my ebooks available on Kindle (that’s Amazon.com’s ebook reader, for the uninitiated) with at least some of my coiffure intact.  I have been in the hair-tearing-out stage for the last several days. But first, some history. I had little trouble making my two ebooks, Inkjet Printing on Lutradur and Inkjet Printing on Fabric, into pdfs that I’ve  had available through my Artfire and Etsy stores. The next challenge was putting them up on Lulu, where they are also available as pdf ebooks, or as printed books.

I got through that okay, so let’s move on to the next step. Are you thinking of writing an ebook (or have you already)? What’s the 200-pound gorilla?  Amazon.com, of course. And therein lies the goal that has been on my to-do list for at least a year: get the ebooks formatted for kindle to sell on Amazon. And therein languished the goal month after month, sliding down to the bottom of the list.

What do you think Amazon says about publishing your own book for kindle? I’ll tell you: “Welcome to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, the fast and easy way to self-publish your books for sale in the Kindle Store.”  Yeah, right.  Even just looking through the guides and help topics was enough to send me back to the to-do list.

So although I really like to learn new things and do most things myself, I realized that those ebooks were never going to be kindle-ized unless I got professional help.  I was lucky to have a free phone consultation with the inspiring creative-arts business coach, Jane Button.  Jane suggested I contact Joy Randall, who, among other things, helps writers publish theirs books and ebooks through her business Wisdom House.

And Joy was exactly what I needed! She took my WordPerfect file (more on that in part 2) and transformed it into a file that I could upload to Amazon for the kindle. I’m sure she has heard it so much that she’s sick of it, but Joy was really a joy to work with. She patiently answered my questions, she did exactly what we agreed to, and she delivered days earlier than her initial estimate. So ta-da! My first kindle ebook, Inkjet Printing on Fabric, went live on Amazon.com last week.

If you’re thinking of publishing an ebook that involves a format other than pdf (which can be tricky in itself), and you don’t want to learn how to do it yourself, I’d definitely recommend talking to Joy. You can contact her through her website.  There are many other options but I can’t vouch for them since I haven’t tried them.  Anyone out there have other services they’ve used and liked (or not)?

Anyway, getting that first kindle ebook made was easy – Joy did all of the heavy lifting.  But of course I had to pay her for her hard work. And you know (because I just said it) I do so love to learn how to do things myself. So therein lies the hair-tearing-out, about which more soon!

Inkjet Printing on Fabric Workshop

Inkjet Printing on Fabric

Workshop taught by Heidi Rand

Canyon Trail Art Center, El Cerrito California

Saturday May 22, 2010 – noon to 3:30 p.m.
$35 + materials

Lavender rust quilt

Lavender rust quilt

Welcome to the exciting world of fabric printing!  Learn to print your artwork, images and designs on fabric using your home inkjet printer.  This exciting technique opens the door to endless possibilities for creating original fabric to use in quilts, art pieces, gifts, home decor, and much more.

Fabric vases

Fabric vases

I take you step-by-step through the entire process, from preparing your files to print, to choosing the right fabric and getting it ready to go through the printer, to post-printing treatment, and much more.  I will discuss the importance of knowing what kinds of inks your printer uses, and give you tips to get fabric through even the most finicky printer.

Fabric cuff bracelet

Fabric cuff bracelet

With many examples of printed fabric and fabric artwork and crafts, you’ll get new ideas about what to do with your images and designs, and the knowledge to go home and start printing your own!

Pre-registration required.  Please email me at HeidiRand@gmail.com

Upcoming workshops:

Saturday June 19, 2010, noon to 4. Art quilts and fabric hangings. El Cerrito Canyon Trail Art Center

Saturday July 17, 2010 noon to 4:00 p.m.  Inkjet transfer techniques. El Cerrito Canyon Trail Art Center

Sunday August 29, 2010, noon to 3:30 p.m. Photo Art : Altered Imagery. El Cerrito Canyon Trail Art Center

Sunday September 19, 2010, noon to 4 p.m. Beyond paper : inkjet printing on alternative surfaces.  El Cerrito Canyon Trail Art Center

Sunday October 24, 2010, noon to 3:30 p.m.  Exploring lutradur.  El Cerrito Canyon Trail Art Center

Sunday November 21, 2010, noon – 3:30 p.m.  Handmade gifts with your inkjet printer. El Cerrito Canyon Trail Art Center

Have questions? Interested in registering?  Please email me

If you can’t make the workshop, I also have an ebook to teach you to print on fabric and online classes at CraftEdu

Inkjet Fabric Printing – step by step instructional ebook

I just finished my very first ebook, on my most favorite subject: inkjet printing on fabric.  After writing an extensive booklet for the workshops I’ve been teaching, I decided to put it into ebook form so people who can’t come to my workshops could get the same information.

Inkjet fabric printing ebook

I take you through the entire process to quickly and successfully begin printing fabric on your inkjet printer. You will learn about types of inks, differences between treating fabric yourself or printing on pre-treated fabric, how to prepare fabric for printing, printing the fabric, post-printing treatments, and more.

The information and tips I’ve learned over years of printing on fabric will save you hours of time and much wasted ink and fabric. I have included many illustrations, questions and answers, and trouble-shooting tips.

Illustration: peeling off backing

Illustration: peeling off backing

There’s even a gallery of my original fabric creations to spark your imagination and creativity.

Gallery: butterfly art hanging

Gallery: butterfly art hanging

There are many books on the market about printing on fabric, but because the technology is moving so quickly, a lot of them are outdated. My guide is up to date, and I will revise it as often as needed to reflect changes in the field of inkjet fabric printing. Also, most of the books give general information that might not apply to your personal printer/ink setup. I tell you how to figure out what kind of inks your printer uses, and I can also answer by email personalized questions about your setup, or other problems you run in to when you print fabric. I also discuss the pretreated fabrics that are available commercially, and share the results of my extensive experimentation with printing using the different inks.  In the second edition of the ebook, now available, I added information about using two great products with fabric, inkAID and Golden Paints Digital Grounds (both coatings that make any surface inkjet printable.)  I’ve written a lot in this blog about Digital Grounds, and I wanted to expand the book to include these coatings – most appropriate for art fabric uses.  I also deemphasized the use of Bubble Jet Set 2000, a liquid solution that is the most common product used by people who want to treat fabric themselves for inkjet printing.  BJS contains formaldehyde, and I know a lot of people are concerned about any potential danger.  If you’re interested in the subject, the manufacturer addresses the issue in an article (read it by clicking here).

My ebook is in the format of a PDF file, which you can open and print using Adobe Reader.  I’m offering it through my etsy shop or lulu.com for $10.  Click here for the link to my ebooks section on etsy. If they are sold out and you would like one, please let me know and I will post more copies.  Or click here to see a preview and get it through my lulu shop.