View Full Version : For anyone who has written a book...

05-14-2004, 12:19 PM
I'm kicking the idea around of writing a techniques book for digital art. I assume others with experience have had similar aspirations.

If you have written (or have tried to write a book) is there any advice you'd like to share with us? I don't even know if there's a standard procedure.


05-14-2004, 02:49 PM

I've written two novels and published one, but no techniques books yet -- just one article for Ann Kullberg about using the computer to enhance colored pencil work. The idea of a non-fiction how-to book is intriguing, but I have the impression that one needs to tackle a unique subject or combine some sort of special "ingredients" to make the work appealing to a specific type of audience.

With fiction, unpublished writers normally have to finish a work then sweat blood for years to get it published. With non-fiction, I think (stress "think") you write up a proposal of the project, present the proposal to publisher/s, and try to get it accepted.

I found a publisher through www.authorlink.com. I think they handle non-fiction works, too. You could check out that site or research non-fiction writing on search engines.

Kristy Kutch, an internet buddy, is writing a book on colored pencil techniques. I'll email her and ask her how she managed to launch her project. :)

Good luck!


05-14-2004, 04:32 PM
thanks for the response :)

My plan is to share a variety of specific techniques. So, it wouldn't be a general "Teach Yourself Photoshop" or "Lightwave for Beginners" type of book.

But there are some issues that are unclear to me. For instance, I have design skills but I don't know if it would be a wasted effort to design and layout all of the pages before I shop it around to publishers. I would think with book on computer techniques it would be better, but I'm not sure.

It's alien territory for me

05-14-2004, 04:51 PM
This type of writing is alien territory for me, too. :) However, I wouldn't do more than a few sample chapters of design and layout. Whoever published your book would probably have their own layout in mind. Like Wordware has a distinctive layout style -- as do the WOW books. Wow, can you imagine a Lightwave WOW book? :D That'd be dynamite.

Something else to consider. For me, writing fiction was a joy, but publication has been akin to swallowing a hefty dose of arsenic. :D One major bellyache. If you do decide to create a book, you better fall in love with the project or you'll be bald and psychotic before you're through. ;) Then again, maybe I just had a bad experience and am shell-shocked.

I emailed Kristy, btw. It may take a few days for her to email back if she's doing a workshop or something. :)

05-14-2004, 04:56 PM
I've worked on a few books and all I can say is...have some people tech edit it along teh way....and remember to write for teh slow guy in teh back of teh class

05-15-2004, 11:52 AM
Hi, 5 pts:

Here's what Kristy says...

Hey, Jan...I was approached by an editor from Watson-Guptill Publications while I was demo-ing colored pencils at a trade show in Chicago a year ago. I fell into this Watson-Guptill opportunity through an angel on my shoulder, I think. This lady was watching me draw, and I said that I have all of her company's books by Bet Borgeson, the "godmother of colored pencil". Then she asked me if I'd ever considered writing my own book...I had to submit a sample chapter-by-chapter outline, 15-20 slides of my work, some biographical information, and I also had a sample step-by-step demo/narration on slides, which I included. I'd advise your friend to try Lark Books, too. they're in either NC or SC and have an excellent reputation as a small-but-classy publisher.

Hope this helps. :)


05-16-2004, 03:44 AM

thank you very much :)

05-16-2004, 07:00 AM
Here's my suggestions. Leave out the fluffy, as tempting as it is to entertain. 50 pages of succinct informative text is better that a 1000 pages of bloated info-tainment.

05-17-2004, 09:16 AM
Originally posted by riki
Here's my suggestions. Leave out the fluffy, as tempting as it is to entertain. 50 pages of succinct informative text is better that a 1000 pages of bloated info-tainment.

No problem here. It bothers me when I have to read through a 'witty' background story or similar that leads to the real information.

05-17-2004, 09:32 AM
Yeah I really hate articles where they hype it up as a "must read' and then spend the first three quaters krapping on.

There's a few authors and publishers floating around these threads that might be able to give some advice. Look for dan Alban and the Wordware guy, sorry I've forgotten his name.

Dave Davies
05-17-2004, 10:00 AM
My 2 cents: Use a good grammar checker, and be sure you don't write for more than a 6th grade level. That's what the average reading level is, and is what newspapers and the major encyclopedia's (encyclopediae)? are written for.

Dave Davies

05-17-2004, 11:09 AM
There's not much money in writing computer books - unless it's a mainstream Photoshop book or something like that. Most of us from what I understand, do it because we love what we do.

Organization is key. Tell them what you're going to do, tell them how to do it, and then tell them what you did.

I've just completed my 8th book, and this process seems to work :) College wasn't a total bust! I'm putting that broadcast journalism degree to use :D

05-17-2004, 11:49 AM
but have a cd of jpg files for sale at cafepress, and a lot of individual jpg files for sale at turbosquid...

Here's my two cents... you can either go the traditional publisher route, or try to publish yourself... if you do publish yourself, be warned that isbns are not cheap... They range in price based on how many that you buy at one time...

Following prices taken from http://www.bowker.com - the place that has the monopoly on isbn distrubution, and I posted the calculations on the boards at cafepress's forums...

There's registration fees...


The Publisher Registration Fee is as follows:
$14.95 10 ISBNs; $39.95 100 ISBNs; $119.95 1000 ISBNs; $299.95 10,000 ISBNs.




100 ISBN Block = $800.00
1,000 ISBN Block = $1200.00
10,000 ISBN Block = $3000.00

SO that calculates out to
100 ISBNs = 8.00 per ISBN
1000 ISBNs = 1.20 per ISBN
10,000 ISBNs = .30 per ISBN


Turns in to...

100 ISBN Block = $800.00 + 39.95 = $839.95
1,000 ISBN Block = $1200.00 + 119.95 = $1319.95
10,000 ISBN Block = $3000.00 + 299.95 = $3299.95

Which means that it actually calculates out to
100 ISBNs = 8.40 per ISBN
1000 ISBNs = 1.32 per ISBN
10,000 ISBNs = .33 per ISBN

BUT STILL, Thats a GIGANTIC change in the cost PER ISBN... and is massively in favor of the big time Publishers.... Almost makes me want to take out a loan for $4000.00 to turn in to my own publisher, selling them to everybody for 25.00 per ISBN as some others are doing according to other posts.. meaning that I'd be taking over 24.00 profit on each of those 10,000 ISBNS...

Look around the boards over at


if you are interested in self publishing, especially with http://www.cafepress.com - which has zero cost in startup fees... basically, you just send them a pdf of your book, upload a jpg front and back cover and you can start selling... isbns do not come with that deal... but it would be one outlet for a new publisher like yourself... and while you sell there, without isbn, you could be looking for a "real" publisher to get you isbns or save up to get yourself some isbns... if your book is not too long, you may actually be able to sell it on turbosquid also, as a tutorial? OR as an ebook on a cd at cafepress, which would be a lot cheaper of a base price than if you sold it as a physical book... maybe put a lot of .lwo and .lws files in a special folder structure in the cd, etc...

IF YOU DO SELF PUBLISH, you could be making a lot more than if you go the other way of traditional publishing, especially if you do get isbn number on your book, and start selling it via a big time reseller like amazon.com.

Also, even though it is expensive as far as isbns and advertising goes, I think that self publishing is a really cool route to go... as you can see, you can probably get around 1000 or so isbns for the price of the full version of lightwave if you are buying it new instead of upgrading... which is a lot, but not a whole lot... then you could create a ton of books (up to however many isbns you bought), and start being your own publisher... or team up with another person or two, and start your own publishing company.... I KNOW that several folks on cafepress do publish technical manuals and computer books... don't know how successful they've been, but if you look around the forums over there, you can ask em. :)

05-18-2004, 01:06 AM
very sorry to jump in boat... but what is a ISBN...?:confused:

05-18-2004, 03:51 AM
It's a number/code on the cover of the book. I THINK you can print your own though...the lady that I published with does -- somehow. I know she doesn't pay that expensive price for 'em anyway. :)


05-18-2004, 09:03 AM
but you must pay bowker.com for the isbn to be able to print it and use it... they keep the central database on numbers... that is if it's in the United States... there's other places in other nations, but that ones for the U.S. It is a monopoly... like it or not... just like the guys that keep the database of what .com ties to what ip address is a monopoly... and there's not a lot you can do about it but pay your charges and go about your business.

You pay to use the number... but then you print that number on however many copies of the book that you produce... it's the same number for all the books... but you do need to get the number paid for in order to use it.

05-18-2004, 02:49 PM
Yes...I think "my" publisher said she had to pay $25.00 per title, but she puts her own ISBNs on the covers when she prints.

The self-publishing route is not a bad idea, 5 points. With today's software, and the availability of printshops who'll bind books, you might consider it. No offense to publishers on the board here, but after you sign that contract, your book becomes their book. They call the shots as to what goes in and comes out. :) That's a bitter pill to swallow, too. I had to keep telling myself, "You signed a contract. Suck it up."

Just get a good proofreader. You'll miss your own mistakes.

And I don't know about other cases, but in my experience, the author winds up doing a lot of the promoting -- and selling.

There seems to be potential for textbooks in the graphic arts works that are coming out these days though. :) It'd be nice if you wrote a book and an institution like SCAD adopted it as a text for a class.

I wish I knew enough about LW to write a book. That'd sure be a labor of love. :D

05-18-2004, 03:44 PM
hehe..I went to SCAD ;)

Thanks everyone for the info. I'm hoping others might be inspired, too. There's a lot of good tutorial writers around here.

And just for the record, Photoshop is the primary application and topic. I'm not even close to writing a LW book. Write what you know, right?

05-18-2004, 11:22 PM
Dear, I am sure today with the internet, all you need is yourself ! Write a book, publish under your name with a bit of publicity on a few CG sites, when you have 10 first orders, Print 100 copies first, there is a printshop here that does it very fast, so I am sure in US even faster, and then watch how fast it sales.... if the isbn stuff is a law, publish it in another country, no ISBN in Switzerland or Luxembourg, or Virgin Island.... no ? what the heck....:D :rolleyes:

I bet U in 10 years from now, there is going to be sooo many laws on the internet, that's why One should take advantage of the lack of it while it last...!

05-19-2004, 02:01 AM
I don't understand why there's all this fuss about the cost of an ISBN. An ISBN is required for each title, but you are selling many copies of the same book using the same ISBN. I don't see what a big deal $25 would be if you've worked hard to produce a book. If you sold 250 copies it would just be 10c per copy.


05-19-2004, 06:51 AM
you don't HAVE to have it... BUT... on the other hand, without it a lot of people won't even consider carrying your book, especially outlet stores, and places like Amazon... etc.