View Full Version : "How to Paint the Landscape in Pastels"...BOOK help!

Deborah Secor
04-17-2009, 02:33 PM
I've had several requests lately from people for my book, which is titled 'How to Paint the Landscape in Pastels'. I've been a pastel teacher for over 20 years now, and I've written for The Pastel Journal and other publications for over 10 years, but I've never done any kind of graphic layout or design of any kind. Here's my plea...

Is there some kind soul or souls out there who would like to help me out, in trade for something (the book, paintings and the book, lifetime online critiques, my firstborn son--no, wait, can't give him away, he's an adult now!)??? I suspect I could use help in two areas, primarily:

1. Editing. I need someone to read through my text and help me clean up the copy (spelling, punctuation, syntax), as well as making suggestions on how to arrange the book, if needed. This is a big job: the word count exceeds 56,000 (82 s/s pages) at the moment! If you have a talent and some experience with this, and would benefit from closely examining such a textbook, this might be a good fit.

2. Design/formatting. I need someone to take my raw manuscript, lay it out in MS Word, and reformat it in: Adobe Indesign, Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator (all in PDF format), or put my Word program into a PDF file, flatten the illustrations and convert text to outlines, using CMYK... (whatever all that means! :lol: Oh and please don't try to explain it to me. Thanks. I don't need to know how or what--I need someone to DO it for me.) You would be working with a local Albuquerque printer, but a lot can be done online, of course.

I have a lot of unframed paintings I'd love to trade for work such as this. I'm trying to come up with a way to keep this book affordable, so I've compressed it a lot, and tried to hone it to where the words are what matters most. I'm even considering having only 4 color pages, which reduces the cost per book in print.

Yes, I have and am still considering selling it in digital (PDF) format, but I don't have the six months time it will take me to figure out how to get it ready to sell that way, either! So if you have expertise in this and want to assist me in this way, I'm open. I've considered Lulu and recently looked at other online print-on-demand publishers, but none of them is all that simple.

I also don't want the book to cost people too much! Frankly, what I have to say isn't that valuable--if you have to pay over $30 for this book I'd be scandalized! I've posted most of it here on WC at different times, in different places, so please don't think it's sacred, special or rare!! It's just what I know best. God given--a convergence of talents I enjoy having and using: painting and writing (but not editing or formatting!)

I'm quite maxed out right now, so I'm willing to talk with anyone who might be interested in helping me, but I'm not going to be able to invest a lot of time in this immediately. If you think you can aid me in some way, feel free to send me an e-mail (you can send it through WC), and we can talk a bit. I'd love to be able to share the information with people if there are those that will aid me somehow.

Thanks for reading all this!! I'm very open to any thoughts you all have.


Kathryn Wilson
04-17-2009, 03:08 PM
Deborah, are you self-publishing this book, or going through a book company? Self-publishing allows you to have reprints at your request, among other advantageous things.

Just a thought.

And, no, I don't have the time, although I'd love to collaborate - you need someone with publishing experience!

Deborah Secor
04-17-2009, 03:17 PM
Yes, I'll be self-publishing, Kat.

I've been copying, comb binding and disseminating my workbook for 20 years now. I had two whole color pages then, but the cost of printing lots of color pages is staggering now, plus altogether the technology isn't simple.

I could use a POD publisher, too, but that requires some layout and design work I'm not inclined to take the time to do. It's 'so simple' when you know how--but I've already tried to wade through the requirements and I'm totally baffled. Just trying to scare up digital photographs the correct size is more than I can handle.

If I had the means, I'd hire a pro to do it for me! I'm not even sure what exactly I need to do, but for at least a year now the book has been stalled because I don't have time to figure it out, so I thought I'd see if something like this will work. I know there are those who would like to get the book, but maybe it just isn't the right time yet for this to come about. The book can certainly wait, if needed.

I guess we'll see!

04-17-2009, 03:28 PM
Deborah, I would be happy to help with proof reading. I have always been regarded as the speller of the family and English was always my best subject. I did for a short while do proof reading while working for a friend who had a typesetting business, though I would not call myself an expert in the field.

There maybe someone else on WC who is more suited for the task, but my offer is there is you need me.

04-17-2009, 03:34 PM
I am currently the director of publications for a major medical college, a job I've held for about 18 months now. For 25 years before that, I was the editor of the fifth or sixth largest daily newspaper in Michigan. I also teach editing for a major college. I am a wordsmith and a curmudgeon when it comes to the English language, spelling and punctuation. I would like to offer my services for proofing and editing. I don't know what kind of time frame you're looking at, but again, I'd like to be involved. I've been a lurker here for about a year and am trying to teach myself to paint in oils and pastels. I've learned a lot on WC, and a lot from your posts. This is one way I can give back.

04-17-2009, 03:45 PM
flatten the illustrations and convert text to outlines, using CMYK... (whatever all that means!

Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, blacK. Standard four color process printing.

04-17-2009, 03:48 PM
Forgot to add that I have already edited two books on local history that were quite successful regionally.

Kathryn Wilson
04-17-2009, 03:55 PM
WC members come through!!!

Deborah Secor
04-17-2009, 04:19 PM
Man... thanks. I can't believe that you all have responded already!

Carol, thank you so much. It's so generous of you to offer! :)

Phil, I'm...slightly stunned. We should talk! I'll PM you at some point soon. Thanks.

Mike, NOW I get it! :D Still some gobbledygook there.


04-17-2009, 04:51 PM
Deborah, I was happy to offer, but it sounds as if Phil might be a better fit for you. I'm still here if you need me and I do have lots of time as I don't work outside the home. Good luck with the project, can't wait to see the finished book.

04-17-2009, 05:08 PM
HI Deborah -- I was also going to volunteer but sounds like you've got a good partner! (I did a lot of writing in my previous advertising life!) Anyway, I was also going to suggest you reconsider the PDF idea because it really is a great way to buy a book like yours. I bought Margaret Dyer's book a couple of years ago and used to keep it on my desktop so I could look at her paintings whenever I felt like it. I think it's a lot easier than you may think. You should ask someone who has done it -- (not me obvoiusly!)

04-17-2009, 05:13 PM
Hi Deborah,
I'd be happy to help in any way I can - I'd really like to get a copy of the book. I know how to comb bind, I've got Adobe Creative Suite and I'm pretty Photoshop literate. I could lay in photos and do graphic type things. I no good at proof reading, but you've already had lots of offers there. Good luck with the project!

04-17-2009, 05:41 PM
Hi Deborah, I volunteered before reading the thread -- and do have some experience that may help with the project. I've self published before and my dad's self published, the options are varied and the profits for a project like this look very, very good. I'd love to get a copy of the book and I'll throw in another thing I didn't mention in my message.

I do reviews on any good art books I get, so this one will probably get reviewed on my blog, on Amazon, on Hubpages, on my oil pastels site, everywhere I put book reviews. I often review any good art book I get my hands on, especially if I met the author but also if it just impresses me.

CM Neidhofer
04-17-2009, 06:14 PM
I know there are lots of self publishing options, but have you taken a look at this site? http://www.lulu.com/en/products/ Just a thought.


04-17-2009, 06:46 PM
Number two is what I do, though I use QuarkXpress. Actually, it's what I used to do, but who's counting. I even have knowledge of typesetting (how to make type look more professional instead of hot off the computer with a program's default settings).

PDF file: Easy, though file may be huge, depending on size and images

flatten the illustrations: easy click of mouse

convert text to outlines: only used for special, decorative text. If used for the text on each page, the file size would be massive. If done in Illustrator or Photoshop, this would be a way to go.

CMYK: Ditto what Mike said about used for printing. RGB is used on the web and with digital cameras. Sometimes there is a color shift when translating from one to the other.

Even though the work can be done online, you may want to talk with a few people in your area. Look for desktop publishers and graphic designers.

04-18-2009, 06:58 AM
I was going to recommend you talk to Robert! We who live in the rest of the world would love print on demand, or an e-book (downloadable pdf). I've got several, and I gladly pay for them. I'd love yours in that format!


04-18-2009, 08:53 AM
I am a wordsmith and a curmudgeon when it comes to the English language, spelling and punctuation.
Phil is the one! I squirm sometimes as I am reading my art books. Artists are rarely good, clear, and concise writers. A pro curmudgeon is priceless! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:


04-18-2009, 09:59 AM
Thank you very much. I am just one step away from bringing my own markers to the grocery to correct signs that read "Apple's $1.29 a pound."

04-18-2009, 11:04 AM
That's just how I feel Phil!

Deborah Secor
04-18-2009, 01:35 PM
I couldn't agree more. Sometimes I itch to correct things such as this. I saw an article showing a man who actually goes around doing just that, markers and white-out in hand. It's tough to do diplomatically... :rolleyes:


04-19-2009, 01:50 PM

I believe Larry over in plein air self published in PDF. You might want to speak with him. I am sure he can offer provides some insights.


Deborah Secor
04-19-2009, 05:30 PM
Thanks, Ed. I remember when it came out. That might be a good way to go when the book is presentable.


learning to paint
04-19-2009, 09:00 PM

I've written, packaged and designed several books, and I'm here to tell you, there is nothing easy about the process. This doubly true when the material is not only in color, but requires accurate color reproduction.

So far, everyone's suggestions are all good ones--for a one- or two-color book. I'm assuming that a book of pastel landscapes would require full color on just about every page.

So... let me ask a few pointed questions, and make a few suggestions.

1. Are you doing this book because you believe it will earn enough money to make it worth the trouble... or do you simply want to publish the material because the book is useful and ought to be in print?

2. We all love art how-to books--my shelf is full of them--but I think you should consider a very dense website instead. You already know how to publish images and text on the screen. There are lots of us who would be willing to help with web layout, etc.--this is far less exotic than InDesign or other page layout programs. More important, a website completely eliminates the biggest hassle--you need not deal with pre-press, printing, and physical distribution of a self-published book. And you can include some sort of credit card component--perhaps as a contribution. Or, one of the pastel retailers might be willing to underwrite with an advertisement--see below.

3. If you are absolutely certain you want to do a book, it is FAR easier to work with an established publisher than to do the work yourself. If not North Light (and why not, I'm not sure, because pastel books are probably selling reasonably well, and your name is known within the community), then maybe the newly rebuilt Watson-Guptill (now a part of Crown / Random House), or perhaps, Sterling (now owned by Barnes & Noble). Maybe Rockport, too.

4. Along a similar line, I would certainly get in touch with Dakota Pastels, Blick and other large pastel dealers and ask if they'd underwrite the project. Then, you could hire someone to do the stuff you don't want to do, or don't have time to do. Again, you're enough of a "name," the proposal would probably get serious consideration. Heck, you could even include a discount coupon to encourage us to buy the book and then buy even more stuff at Blick or wherever.

5. And here's another idea. Huevchroval is already publishing one pastel book. Maybe another?

6. And another: what if we all encourage Wet Canvas (owned by same co. as Pastel Journal and North Light) to start a POD, pdf, etc. publishing company with some new ways of thinking. Maybe your book about landscapes is the starter seed for a larger group effort on pastel landscapes. Anything that looks like a business model around Wet Canvas will get attention-- right now, this is a very large community supported only by web advertising. Additional revenue streams would likely interest the WC management team.

Enough for now. PM me if you want to talk further by phone.

Paula Ford
04-19-2009, 09:31 PM
Deborah, I haven't read through all the posts, so please forgive me if others have mentioned this. lulu.com is a self-publishing service my husband is looking into to get his book published. Just thought I'd mention that.

04-20-2009, 10:54 AM
As an aside, if\when this gets ready to go to press and if you have any questions about it. I have over 20 years experience in the printing industry. This is split between a large commercial printer and a large financial printer. Areas of expertise would be primailry materials, pressroom and finsihing\bindery.

Deborah Secor
04-20-2009, 11:48 AM
I really appreciate all the thoughts and ideas, and your offers to help me. I'm quite open to what you say here.

I think it's wise to start with the end in mind: a print book, an interactive CD, a down-loadable PDF, a web site--or perhaps more than one of these options, since they aren't mutually exclusive. I have yet to know how to proceed on those choices. I'm inclined to want to provide options for people, if I can. If print proves too limiting (which it appears to be right now), I'm more inclined to a PDF &/or CD. However, the idea of a web page appeals in many ways, especially the idea of sharing what I know and requesting that those who benefit contribute what they wish...

To begin, I need good editing. The words themselves are key to successfully communicating in any of these formats, of course.

Secondly, I need to see how I can best illustrate things. We are a visual lot, so pictures count! I already have a lot of illustrations, demonstration shots and plenty of paintings to show (but not all are high resolution digitals, which doesn't matter that much in a place like WC but in print becomes very critical.)

And I'm now going to take a few days to pray it through. As a Christian I really need to take the time to see what the Lord has planned. I've found that His ways are always the best ways for me.

Please keep your ideas and input coming. You have no idea how much it helps me to hear what you want, or think, or how you could help me figure things out. All experts, thoughtful friends, and curmudgeons are welcome! :heart:


04-20-2009, 12:32 PM
Another person on the Plein Air forum you might talk to is Michael Chesley Johnson. He has two books out.

04-20-2009, 01:19 PM

2. Design/formatting. I need someone to take my raw manuscript, lay it out in MS Word, and reformat it in: Adobe Indesign, Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator (all in PDF format), or put my Word program into a PDF file, flatten the illustrations and convert text to outlines, using CMYK... (whatever all that means! :lol: Oh and please don't try to explain it to me. Thanks. I don't need to know how or what--I need someone to DO it for me.) You would be working with a local Albuquerque printer, but a lot can be done online, of course.

Deborah, you may not want to know how or what, but your requests, especially the second one, show that you lack the knowledge to do this on your own or to know if helpful people know what they are doing.

Considering going from MS Word to PDF is not the professional way to go. I know this is a way used by many for little newsletters and the like, but it shows a lack of professionalism. The look is amateurish. Whatever the look, it reflects on you.

I have never had to deal with the pre-press considerations because there were always designers, art directors, and print production people to handle that part. Sometimes they would be at the printing plant all night to oversee the printing, and they were forever pulling out their loops and looking for dot gain. Look that one up. I have never known of images that looked great on the computer screen to go directly to printing without adjustments unless everything is calibrated perfectly at the printing plant, and I have heard printers complain about the problems that occur even when there should be none. There's a little more to CMYK than printing with four inks ... sometimes another layer of black, or pushing one of the colors, or other things I leave to the professionals.

You have to know which papers will make your images look good. Some papers will kill a good image, and no amount of adjustments in printing will help.

Even proofreading is more involved for a printed piece than checking for spelling, grammar, and good sentence structure. Widows and orphans come to mind. Look it up. BTW, proofreading needs to be done on the galleys before the final printing, and errors can still get through, though they will be blatantly obvious once something is printed.

Some of this is a bit vague because I have only had to make a project look good and to fit the space alloted. I would celebrate when the number of book pages would be divisible by four.

If your printer is in a small shop, look around for a large printing plant and talk with them. It's okay to talk with more than one printer.

Please talk with a publisher or two before trying this on your own.

Deborah Secor
04-20-2009, 01:47 PM
I understand my ignorance, Jenny, and I'm not at all bothered to let it be known! I sure wouldn't post a thread like this one otherwise... I do know about some of the printing considerations (orphans and widows, etc.) you mentioned, but let's just say enough to know how little I know.

My reference to the small local printer wasn't meant to be seen as publishing a book, but copied, collated and spiral bound pages that I would send out of my home, as I have for the last 20 years. I would limit the color pages to a few, depending on cost, and bind them in at the end with illustration references in the text. It would be much less satisfying to me to do it this way, and I'd prefer to show things on the computer, since much of what I have is not suited to be printed.

To my knowledge, big publishing houses are not currently interested in having 'another book on pastel', unless it is
a. A primer that includes basic, basic, basic information on pastel, but applies to all kinds of subject matter and various materials
b. A primer devoted to multiple media (preferable), as above
c. A primer that includes watercolor (more preferable), as above
d. Or we'll get back to you later...

You can see how much less specific they become, obviously because they want to reach a broad audience. My little narrow book, suited to pastelists who paint the landscape, is much too specific, it seems.

Except there are some folks here who want it... :heart: So I clearly need to be realistic in my expectations and see what comes of all this. Thanks for your input--I really do understand, I think, and need to think realistically!


04-20-2009, 02:14 PM
IT'S ABOUT TIME!!! Get all that fabulous knowledge in print and SELL IT!

Best of luck. here to cheer you on! Barb

04-20-2009, 02:35 PM
My reference to the small local printer wasn't meant to be seen as publishing a book, but copied, collated and spiral bound pages that I would send out of my home, as I have for the last 20 years.

Hopefuly you didn't intend to print out the pages yourself, the toner costs would be prohibative. I might suggest looking for a printer that has a Docutech. This is a high speed copier made by IBM. You could send them copy either on a disk or a printed sheets. They could then spit out the pages, colated, for you a fraction of the cost. Sprial or wire-O bound is not a bad idea, especially if it's intended as a workbook.

04-20-2009, 02:52 PM
Deborah, if you want to send out spiral-bound books from your home, consider buying a printer that would handle the job. I have a friend who prints manuals for his company in-house. Other printing jobs are sent out, but for the manuals, he prints them in bunches as needed and buys more printers as they wear out. Since he has the knowledge and contacts to have them printed at the best cost possible, I know he is saving money by doing the manuals in-house. I think his printers cost around $500 each, and he has the ink cartridges (the big ones, not tiny ones for home printers) refilled for around $100 each. He does use either QuarkXpress or Adobe Inline to design the manuals.

Out of habit I always take photographs at the highest quality possible even though I never plan to print them. They are resized for the web, and the JPG quality is set at 30% to keep the file size down. If the image is important and doesn't look right, I will run the quality level up to 50% or 60%. As you have discovered, having the high-quality masters is helpful.

PDF's can be set for printing or for viewing on a computer monitor. The major difference is the file size because of the image resolution needed. Larger for printer-quality and smaller for monitor viewing.

It sounds like you find the idea of a web site "book" attractive. It would definitely be the easiest. Instead of accepting donations, you could consider "pay to view", but that would mean having passwords and tracking to be sure the passwords are not shared. Donations would be easiest, and I have never minded giving donations for helpful sites or programs. Paypal makes it really easy to donate.

The best thing about a web site is that you can easily make changes over time. You know you will do paintings that better illustrate points you have made, and you will have new ideas about explaining methods.

Perhaps you could find sponsors for a web site. I can think of a few who would probably be more than happy to sponsor you.

Decisions, decisions, decision! :)

Scott J.
04-20-2009, 07:14 PM
I hesitated to post anything here, since I really haven't any skills, experience, or advice that would further the effort. Just wanted to say that in any form it emerges I'd pay absolutely whatever for this book. Has anyone priced workshops or classes at a local atelier lately?

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go out and try to find apples at $1.29 per pound.....

04-21-2009, 01:31 AM
OK - off the wall/thinking out loud again. Is there a win-win? Example: Interested parties pre-buy and commit financially to this book with copies to be delivered upon printing? In return, would it be possible for you to provide those who have pre-purchased with an email delivered e-book or mailed CD (these are cheap enough), chapter by chapter to completion of the book? We receive your workbook (can you tell we want it), and you receive funds to print this the way you envision the end result. Is this any different than signing up for an on-line course and paying in advance? The only difference is the workbook will show up on our doorsteps later. It is seed money to finance your book, gives you an idea of how many will pay for it before you go to the lengths needed for publishing, permits you to change your vision of the final version, we get the workbook (whatever the format), and perhaps you will be able to raise enough and print enough that the chapter by chapter is only necessary for a limited number of buyers for a short period of time.

04-21-2009, 06:50 AM
I would love to have the information ANY WAY I CAN GET IT!
Spiral bound, PDF, CD, or whatever...
I have learned more from your posts (ESPs) than from some of my nice hardbound books.

Deborah Secor
04-21-2009, 04:33 PM
Again, some sound advice here...and some encouragement--thanks, Barb. :wink2: Scott and Brett, I'm amazed and pleased at your reactions. Thank.

Nell, yours is an intriguing thought. I heard of a woman who pre-sold paintings to be painted on location in Provence to offset her expenses. I asked her what she would do if it rained the whole time, or she broke her leg and she said she'd just deliver the paintings next year! Hmmmm, I'm still thinking and praying about it all.....