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Re: [BKARTS] Hedi Kyle's Blizzard Book--instructions?

Dear Friends

I thought I'd add my two cents to the conversation about teaching, selling directions, and sharing. As someone who has put a lot of energy into both writing and disseminating written directions as well as teaching, I have sympathy all around. I guess the main thing I have to say is writing directions as easy it seems. When I started making the youtube tutorials, I couldn't believe how much easier it was to stand in front of a camera and do what I do in a workshop than to write out the directions and draw the pictures.

And the selling of material online is not as effortless as it might sound, even after the material has been developed. I have sold ebooks for download online for several years. I began with Paypal and now have them all on lulu.com. As a seller of digital material through Paypal, you can either email the buyer the file or have it be an automatic download from a window that Paypal redirects the customer to which is what I chose. I also sent an automatic message after I received notification of payment by way of email from Paypal saying that I should be contacted if there were any problems. Most people were very nice, but some messages contained a surprising level of hostility which I can only assume was the result of some resentment of and frustration with the digital world in which we live and not a personal attack on me. An angry all caps message first thing in the morning is not the most pleasant start to one's day. Lulu takes more of a commission from the sale but buyers have their own lulu account where the downloads are stored indefinitely so they can always be accessed by the buyer.

I thought I'd also share some of my perspective on selling ebooks. Echoing the theme of nothing is as easy it seems is a similar statement: most people aren't doing as well as it appears or if they are, it is with a lot more effort than is visible. I consider that I have a strong presence on the web, yet I sell less ebooks than one would think. While I get a lot of visits to makingbooks.com, I give away a lot of my material so that only the truly dedicated and interested feel the need to purchase a book. My monthly email newsletter again brings awareness but usually few sales. When I lament to friends and family, suggestions are to take some of the free material off the website or charge for a subscription to the newsletter. I don't feel comfortable pulling back what I have already offered for free so I do neither. I'm not sharing this to complain or collect sympathy but just to illustrate that I think there is a fundamental conflict for teachers. We teach because we want to share and yet we also need to support ourselves.

When I first started makingbooks.com (ten years this year!), I intended it to be a way to promote my teaching. Over the years my work on the web has grown has grown (website, a blog, youtube videos, and email newsletter) and makingbooks.com has taken on a life of its own way beyond promoting my workshops.

I do believe that no effort is wasted and that we gain from all our experiences. My newsletters, accompanied by the monthly blog posts, have made me realize the joy of learning new things and exploring new topics. As I work towards developing new directions in my teaching, I am coming to see that curiosity is an important part of creativity and we can express ourselves by looking outward at the world around us as well as inward to our own feelings and thoughts.

On the more practical marketing side, I have started a new series of digital materials called the Workshop Papers. They are improved handouts from my workshops illustrated with photos of sample books and sell for $2.95. I did my first one a few weeks ago and publicized it in my newsletter. It has sold well. I think that the Workshop Papers are appealing not just because of their lower price but because they are not perceived as a digital file masquerading as a book. Many people who love books have an instinctual grudge against ebooks. For anyone who worries that the book is going away, my experience tells me that it will happen slowly. Most people still want their books to be books.

I think teaching, making art, and making a living all require flexibility and patience but life really wouldn't be as interesting if we always knew where we were going.

in good spirit



NOW ONLINE, Volume 5, No. 2, Spring 2009 of The Bonefolder
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This page last changed: May 19, 2009