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HOW DO YOU LET BUYERS KNOW WHO YOU ARE?

Published December 9, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Promoting yourself as an artist or a writer is hard work. Don’t expect someone else to look out for your interests. Does this promotion time take time away from creating your work? Yes, it does. unless you are very, very lucky if you don’t spend at least some time per week marketing yourself and your work, you will make very few sales.

What methods can be used to promote your art?

There are nuts and bolts types of promotion, flyers, advertising on TV/Radio, etc. And there is the Internet. Flyers and advertising are more time consuming and they cost more money that using the internet. A 1% return response to a typical mail campaign is considered a good response.

Most of the internet is free but typically, a pay-per-click ad on Google or Facebook (an ad where you pay only when a viewer clicks on the ad) is usually around 2 cents a click. The ads run automatically until you run out of the money you allocated. If you are doing your own promoting, to better utilize the time spent on social networks, make a list of what you expect to accomplish to promote your art that day, and then strictly compartmentalize what to do there.

For myself, I schedule 2 hours per week for business. At the end of the two hours I am done, whether or not I actually accomplished everything on my list. The 2ndthing is not to do purely social things while promoting your business. Schedule a different time to catch up with friends and family on your social networking site.

In this day and age, the internet is an essential tool for Artists. Art buyers will often first check out an artist’s website for information before picking up the phone to call directly. A website is also useful because it should show how to contact you. Since the general public now spends an average of 4 hours online daily, why shouldn’t they spend it with your art or your books?

Social networking sites like Pinterest and Facebook now have Business pages you can add to your regular networking sites. There are also plenty of free build-your-own-website hosting sites out there now. Because these sites are supported by the ads they run, ads will appear on your site also. Play around until you find a user friendly one that includes optimizing your site for mobile searches. I recommend Yola.com.

Many authors cross-promote each other’s books to gain visibility with a relevant new audience of readers. It’s a mutually beneficial way to inexpensively boost book sales and word-of-mouth buzz — and to make new friends and build relationships in the publishing community. You can also reach out to other authors in your area and join with them in group book signings. Go to the Local Writer section of your local library and see who has book there. You can then search out their social media sites and their web site to get in touch with them.

There are also sites set up for writers such as www.Bookfunnel.comwhere writers can join with other writers who produce books in the same genre to promote their books. These promotions are usually no charge, but they do require a writer to share the promotion on both social media and with their e-mail list. The site has two distinct type of promotions; one is a newsletter builder (readers sign up to join your list) and the other is a sales promotional page for e-books. FYI the newsletter page involves giving away a free e-book. This is an inexpensive way to encourage readers to join your e-mail list.

 

 

Earning Residual Income With Your Work

Published December 2, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

We may as well admit it: all of us secretly want to not only create fabulous art but want the public to appreciate it so much they pay us fabulous prices for it. The wonderful thing about making prints of our work is it a way to earn residual income on our art. If an artist sells a painting for $500 that is a one-time fee; if that same artist also sells 20 prints for $15 each then they have earned a total of $800 on that same painting. Naturally as an artist, you want any reproductions of your art to reflect the quality of the art itself, which means you want to make the best quality reproductions you can find. I have had several artists ask me where they can get good quality prints made at a reasonable price. It’s a good question. There are two ways to go with this: make the prints yourself or get them made professionally.

If you are planning to make them yourself, besides the printer, you will need a good quality camera that takes high-resolution photos (Canon Rebel is excellent but there are others out there). I don’t recommend a point-and-shoot camera or your cell phone if you intend to make professional looking reproductions; although the smart phone photo quality is improving, I did notice that quality seemed to suffer with larger size prints. I would also recommend a good photo-editing program such as Photoshop Elements. I chose Elements because it will service either Apple or PC computers, the basic editing techniques are simple and it does have tutorials.

A printer that prints on a variety of paper products is essential if you are making your own prints. What brand of printer makes the best prints? Well, there are a lot of differing opinions on this, all having to do with what kind of ink will give you the truest colors, how easy they are to use, whether to use ink jet or laser printers, etc. Making the prints yourself does mean that you are probably going to be limited to paper and the sizes you can make; most home printers will only take legal or letter size paper. The printer that gave me the very best prints I ever made at home was an inexpensive Kodak printer. Unfortunately it proved too fragile to last long. Epson, Brother and HP all make good machines that will give you nice paper prints. You can even obtain letter size “canvas paper’ for printing on the internet, although I wasn’t really happy with the quality of the prints I made with it on my home printer. If you are going to make prints yourself, you should consider the cost of the ink. Many ink jet printers devour ink pods like a T-Rex. If you make a lot of reproductions, Ink jet refills can be so expensive that you might find it less costly to get your prints made by a print shop. Laser printers also make good quality prints, but a color laser printer and the toner to go with it can also break your budget. You will need to decide if the cost of the printing will allow you to still make sales at a profit.

The next option is to have your prints made by a professional printer. I am speaking here of commercial printers such as Kinkos or CopyMax’s Impress. The photo departments of Costco, Walgreens, Wal-Mart etc. may not give you a professional quality print because their print programs are designed to “flatten or homogenize” color to an “average” standard, however they also will work with you on this issue because they want your return business. Most of them can also do a canvas print mounted on stretcher bars. Again, ask for a proof because if you have vibrant, saturated or delicate shades you may find your print simply doesn’t reflect these qualities.

To use an outside printer you need a high-resolution jpeg or other type of photo of your work. If you are not a photographer, I suggest you arrange to have a professional take the photo in order to ensure that the photo has no distortions and that the color is true to the original art. You can have the photo transferred to either a jump drive or disc. An issue with having your prints made by someone else that doesn’t come up with DIY (Do It Yourself) printing: calibrating their printer to your photos. Calibrating a printer has nothing to do with the printer type; it has to do with communication between the computer and the printer. Even if the photo from your thumb disc looks okay on their computer screen, the print may still come out darker or lighter than your art. Always ask for a proof before accepting the print because it may be necessary for you to take your disc or jump drive home so that you can adjust the lighting or color of the photo in order to make the print “true” to the original when using an outside printer. If you do this, always save the “adjusted” photo as a separate file and leave the original alone. Making these changes is much easier if you are dealing with a local printer.

The other option for having your prints made is to find a local professional who specializes in making art prints. Here in Fresno we have several but Mullins Photography is the one most favored by local artists. If you bring in your art, they make their own scan and reproduce a print that is virtually identical to the original. Ask other local artists in your area where they get their prints made. Be prepared to open your wallet for this option though; because the cost of the initial set up fee will be more expensive than say Kinkos or Impress. On the other hand, it probably will be a one-time fee for that particular piece of art and the quality will be the best.

You can also order prints from the internet; a number of Internet sites do on-line printing. These sites are sometimes referred to as POD (Print On Demand) sites, and most of them do an excellent job. Fine Art America for instance will not only make your prints on a variety of paper, metal, cards and canvas, but also sell matting and framing and ship to your customer. With on-line printers however, you will have the same difficulties with the calibration as with your local outside printer. Since you can’t demand a proof from this type of site, I would suggest you get a small print made for yourself and adjust the photo. Keep notes on what you did so that you can use them when sending in later prints. The nice thing about most POD sites is your customer may order directly from the site without you having to deal with nasty stuff like figuring out shipping costs.

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF A CRITIQUE

Published April 6, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

For many of us, giving our work over to an individual or a group to be analyzed is scary, but so much can be learned by having someone not intimately connected to you evaluate your work. An unavoidable truth in the art world is that all through your career all kinds of people are going to say all kinds of stuff about your art. Some of them will even tell you to your face. Others may write about it, post about it or gossip behind your back. An artist not only has to learn how to handle this nonstop blitz of feedback, comments, and criticisms, but also how to gage and respond to what is said, and most importantly, how to not take what is said personally. To get the most out of a critique, it is important to decide Before submitting your work to a critique, what you really hope to gain from it. This is where some honest personal soul-searching can be useful. Most of us always try very hard to create the very best art we can. We put the total sum of our skill into every painting or sculpture. Unfortunately, when we ask, “how do you like it” we do usually hope for an endorsement of our efforts instead of an evaluation of what is technically wrong. Evaluate the person doing the critique. An important determination you need to make about responses to your art is whether a comment is based on the individual’s personal tastes or is instead based more on their overall knowledge and understanding of the type of art you create.

Decide what you like about your painting before asking for criticism or reviewing a critique. The better you know what it is you like or dislike about your work beforereceiving criticism, the better you will be able to evaluate what is being said. Listen to what is said, make sure it applies, and then ask yourself: “would it be better changed, or do I like it just the way it is?” Don’t get defensive! Remember; a critique doesn’t have to become an argument to win the critic over to your side.

Seek the opinions of your peers whenever possible. The more respect you have for the critic, the easier it is to accept the evaluation by him or her. It helps also if you attempt to understand his or her biases. We all have them. Some of us are technical sticklers and others like to see the breaking of rules.

Don’t discredit positive feedback. Because we often feel guilty at accepting praise, It is often easier for us to accept negative criticism than praise.

Painting The Familiar

Published March 30, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

When selecting what to paint or write, we all have familiar subjects or places we return to time after time. For me, when paging through my reference photos to paint a landscape, I inevitably return to a scene with water because I find water movement visually interesting. Perhaps this is why I find my own still life paintings so uninspiring, although I do often admire those done by my friends.

When painting do you revisit a favorite subject many times? I know that I do, despite having heard critics ask, “Why does he/she always paint the same thing” about myself or other artists. I take issue with the idea that painting the familiar will mean you are creating a clone of a prior work since I believe that even if you are attempting to re-paint a scene or subject that you have painted in the past, the painting will be different. you are not the same person you were when you previously rendered this subject so why should your art be the same? it is true that as artists we have the need to stretch our boundaries by working with materials and subjects we are relatively unfamiliar with, our life experiences and what we have learned will shape our work even if we are painting a familiar subject. If you returned to the scene of a previous work and painted the same scene would it be the same?

In my experience, the 2nd painting never comes out the same as the 1stone. For one thing, I have learned new techniques, and grown in my artistic abilities. For instance, I did two paintings, “Hunting The Levee” in 2002 and “A Man And His Dogs” in 2003. Essentially they are the same scene, taken from a single reference photo. However, in the 2ndpainting, I felt much freer to play with the tableau and add and subtract elements from the photo. So yes, I feel that returning “to the scene of the crime” as it were can be valuable to an artist.

 

Dealing With Negative Comments

Published February 2, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

What response do you make when some person posts a negative opinion of you or your work on your website or a social network site? Want some tips on what you can do about this without starting a major public feud and how to turn a negative into a positive action?

Congratulations. You now have a brand new web-site (or blog site). You have spent hours designing it and putting into it everything you think will help you make it popular. Whether you created this site in the hopes of developing an audience for your writing, selling your art, promoting a non-profit organization, business or for some other reason your new site is precious to you and you need to share it with the world at large. There are so many ways to do this beginning with sending e-mails to friends and family, advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google AdWords, etc.

Most of these sites have suggestions as to how to reach other members to tell them about your new site. After you have followed instructions from these sites to publicize your work,  in a couple of days when you call up your site to see if anyone has actually looked at it, and among the positive comments posted, you discover that someone has written something ugly either about the site, your work or you and posted it on yoursite. This is a little like having someone kick your baby and you are justifiably offended. The question is what do you do now?

In answering this I’m going to make a couple of assumptions: 1) you haven’t done anything to the negative poster to make them want to embarrass you by publicly posting ugly comments to your site, and 2) this isn’t someone you know well because obviously if you were well acquainted with them you wouldn’t have sent an invitation in the first place.  If you are like me your first impulse would be to slap back at this person. This is entirely a normal reaction and it is a perfectly understandable, human impulse to strike out at what injures us. However, I urge you not to give in to this impulse. If you start an insult slinging match by posting a nasty response to the negative comment on your site it will only increase the adverse impression of your site with potential customers and visitors that this person has created. It also will make you look unprofessional and probably detract from your sites message which should be about the work or ideas you have presented there.

You cantake positive action when this happens, but first you need to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Your first action should be to find out a little about who this person is and how they came to visit your site. When you do find out this information I advise you to resist the itch to retaliate by posting something ugly in return on theirsite. I understand you would like them to know how you felt but this will only escalate matters, so don’t do it! Once you know who they are, simply remove the comment from your site and if the site offers this feature, arrange to moderate any future comments posted. If the person posted the comment using Facebook or Twitter, you may need to change those settings also to require comments to have your approval before being posted.

You should realize that if this person received an invitation to view your site the invitation may have come from you, especially if you were innocently following suggestions to increase your circle of influence put out by LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google. All of these sites encourage members to make new connections by checking out other members who are interested in the same things, belong to the same groups, follow the same companies, etc. and send out invitations to connect. These suggestions are not necessarily bad; in fact you may make some valuable acquaintances and good friends by using them. Please be aware however that the old adage about kissing frogs also applies; you may also have unintentionally reached out to some people who practice behavior my mother used to call “rude, crude, and socially unacceptable”. You won’t be able to screen these folks out ahead of time because this kind of character reference does notget posted on their self-created profiles! Hateful people exist and they just love to spread their discord and repulsive behavior onto others. The positive thing you can do I mentioned? Sometimes it helps to visualize yourself blowing a big, noisy, fat raspberry at this person, and then start a “Do Not Send” list and check it before you send out invitations to view your work. Good luck!

Gail

ADS ON FACEBOOK—IS IT WORTH IT?

Published January 26, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

I started this topic because I think my experiences with attempting to post an ad on Facebook can provide valuable information for other writers considering Facebook ads for their books. Let’s be frank, the purpose of an ad should be not only to announce a new book, but to sell copies as well. At least that was my purpose because I think whether or not a book is successful should be judged by how many want to read it. Unfortunately, if you can’t advertise its presence, how are readers going to know it’s available to read? If sales of your book aren’t what you are interested in, then you don’t really need to read this post.

With the launch of my new book – A year and a day, I began experimenting with target ads on social media and Facebook seemed like an ideal place to start. The price was somewhatreasonable; they wanted $155 for a month of advertising to users who had previously showed an interest in the type of book I wrote in the 25 countries that I selected.  I rapidly discovered that Facebooks platform for developing an ad is notuser-friendly and despite claims to the contrary, Facebook has done little to make it so.

Issue 1– Selecting your targeted interest group: if your users’ interests are on Facebook’s list of interests then selecting them is easy. Too bad Facebook doesn’t provide instructions as to what to do if you can’t find your interest group. However, you CAN type in what interests you are looking for (just don’t expect Facebook to tell you this). Surprisingly, although movies and films areon the list, books and reading is not, so I had to type it in. I did and lo and behold, a list of types of readers came up!

Issue 2– Choosing countries where the ad will appear: since both my book and the ad are written in English, and I have no translations into other languages, I concluded it would be a waste of time (and money) to target any Countries who didn’t speak English or teach English as a second language. FYI have your list of countries prepared ahead of time, because they all have to be typed in manually. Surprisingly, the hardest one to get through the system was Great Britain (England, Scotland, Ireland and Whales as well as some territories) which Facebook kept kicking out. FYI Facebook uses the newer “United Kingdom” which took me some time to find.

Issue 3– Does Facebooks design criteria work? Does it allow you to develop an ad that will encourage readers to click on through to your selling platform? Well, that is really the issue here. If I am going to pay Facebook for an ad, then I expect it to be worth it in sales. How do you compute whether or not the ad is paying for itself? Well, a successful ad should have between a 2-5% return. In other words, if you pay Facebooks minimum of $155 then you should get a minimum of 5 to 10 sales off it the first month. Think this is Low? Get over it. Ad results usually expand exponentially (in other words, the more times an ad appears, the more sales it will generate). Why the heck do you thing those TV ads appear so often?

Before I tried to design mine, I looked very hard at other author’s ads and I discovered something disquieting.  The ads for other books I viewed on Facebook made me wonder why the authors didn’t do more to catch and hold potential buyer’s attention. Most times, there simply wasn’t enough information in the ‘sanctioned Facebook ad’ for me as a reader to follow through with a click to learn more. After attempting to work with Facebooks Ad Manager, I now know why so little information was included—Facebook doesn’t allow the kind of ad needed to pull potential readers interest. Since Facebook didn’t include books or readers on its regular interest platform for choosing an audience, I am left wondering if Facebooks management team reads. If they do, they should knowthat while an eye-catching cover image might make a potential reader take a second look, it’s the descriptive text that motivates a potential reader to open a book, or in this case, click on through to a site with a fuller description. While I understand the principlebehind Facebook’s ‘no more than 20% text’ rule in an ad, implementing it is so difficult as to make it practically impossible and still garner sales.

Issue 4— what does Facebook count as text and how is computed? If a link to a site where the product can be purchased is included in an ad, does that link count as text?

Issue 5— how much does an image provided count against the 20% text rule? In other words, if there is text on the photo provided is that included when the 20% text is figured? Does Facebook automatically turn thumbs down on anyad image with text?

Ad buyers are left to guess because the answer to these questions because it isn’t provided anywhere on the Ad Manager Platform, and God help you if you try to find out because Facebook won’t.

Conclusion: It would be much more user friendly if Facebook simply instituted a text character limit rule in the same way its competitor, Twitter does. The fact they haven’t tells me Facebook is more interested in collecting money than anything else. If Facebooks wants its ad buyers to succeed, they should provide a more user-friendly platform to develop them. I closed my ad account on Facebook and will be exploring other social media platforms to advertise my work.

AFTERTHOUGHT: I shared a free preview of this book (just the prologue) with some of my groups and Facebook shut me down for “Illegal Activity” for the weekend. I had to jump through hoops for them to allow me back on my own site. Was it worth it? Maybe, even if it was just for the pleasure of annoying the moguls at Facebook!

 

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