Self-Publishing Journey: The Importance of Staying Organized

Self-publishing my first book was one of the hardest things I have ever done. There were so many skills that I had to learn that my head would actually ache at the end of the day. The worst part, however, was that I never felt like I was on top of things. No matter how many hours I worked, I felt like I wasn’t getting enough done. My desk always looked like a tornado swept through my office. Finding a particular sheet of paper would provoke an anxiety attack.   When I was in high school and college, I thought that I was fairly organized, but when I started this journey of publishing Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I found myself constantly feeling overwhelmed, disorganized, and anxious. There were post-its everywhere with half-written notes. Because there were so many moving parts in the self-publishing process, it was easy for me to lose track. Fortunately, I didn’t miss any important deadlines, but I realized that I suffered more than I needed to because I wasn’t organized enough. I needed to create a system that would work for me.   It’s really important to have a method for staying organized. Each […]

Why You Should Consider KDP For Your Photography Book

One of the lessons I learned while working on my first book was the idea of selling it as an ebook. To be perfectly honest, I have never read an ebook. I guess you could say that I’m old-fashioned because I really enjoy reading from an actual book. I love the way they smell, and there is something about the physical act of holding a book and turning the pages that feels good to me. Plus, I like how they look on my bookshelf. Because I wasn’t that familiar with ebooks, I didn’t think that Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits would be appropriate as an ebook. For one thing, Tattle Tales is predominately photography, and I always felt that people would prefer to view photographs in an actual book instead of on a tablet or smart phone. Since the release of my book, I have reevaluated my position on ebooks for photography books and here’s why:   Benefits of Publishing Your Ebook on Kindle: 1.) Expand your exposure to other potential readers through Amazon Advertising: Since Amazon Advantage no longer accepts new members, I had to join Fulfillment by Amazon. FBA doesn’t allow book ads, so I had to […]

My Writing Influences

When I was a writing student, one of my mentors taught me to carefully analyze and learn from authors I admired most. This isn’t to suggest that my writing voice will ever emulate the styles of those who have inspired me to write fiction, but, through the practice of studying great works, I have become more discerning and aware of my own habits and weaknesses. Becoming a skilled writer isn’t so much about sounding like everyone else. At least part of being a really good writer is about developing a strong authentic voice.   In college, I was obsessed with 19th century literature. Don’t laugh (okay, you can laugh), but I wanted to write like Herman Melville and Jane Austen. My first writing coach actually did kind of laugh at me because my writing style looked nothing like 19th century literature. Over the course of several months my mentor had me work on discovering my writing voice and learning about other novelists whose styles were a little more similar to mine.   Adjectives that have been used to describe my writing are terse, gritty, and masculine. I’ll admit that I wasn’t happy about this at first. However, as I started […]

Photographers Supporting Photographers

  When I first started to learn how to use a DSLR camera, I was amazed at how many photographers offered to help me grow and teach me some tricks of the trade. Stephen and Adam (pictured above) were two such photographers. Stephen was my first photography instructor, and Adam runs Global AZ Media. Thanks to Adam, I have covered several concerts that have come through the Phoenix area. Both of these photographers gave me opportunities to become a better photographer and photojournalist. When I started my first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I wanted to interview these two and include them in my book because they both impacted my photography.   No art is created in a vacuum. It truly is a collaborative process because we can’t help but bring in experiences and lessons that we learn from other people. I always try to be supportive of other artists because I think that there is room for all of us, and I want to be part of an artistic community. Competition is a natural effect that drives many of us, but it doesn’t have to become a negative force in our lives. Someone once told me that […]

My Relationship With Fiction

Before I became a photographer, I studied creative writing. During my time as a graduate student at California College of the Arts, I finished my first (and very rough) draft of my novel in addition to a handful of short stories. When I started my novel, I didn’t even know it was going to be a novel. At the time, I was working with a mentor who wanted me to practice writing emotions associated with the description of a room. A single writing exercise turned in to the first two chapters of my story. Since then I have learned more about fiction through the process of writing my first novel.   It’s not easy for me to articulate my relationship with fiction because it has evolved over time. I used to believe that there was a sharp divide between myself and the material I created. The reason I chose fiction was that I wanted to explore personalities and subject matters that I thought I would never experience in my own life. It has always been too difficult for me to write about anything that too closely resembles my life. I can’t be entirely authentic because I get anxious. Part of […]

Antique vs Vintage: What’s the difference?

Before I had started working on my second book, which explores the history of mannequins, I had always used the words vintage and antique interchangeably. It turns out that they are not the same. Antiques are items that are over 100 years old. There is no definitive rule for vintage, but it usually refers to items that are around twenty years or older.   One of the models that I frequently work with is known for her beautiful vintage wardrobe. Her name is Liliana, and I met her roughly three years ago when I was working on my first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. Most of our shoots have been in the studio, but this time we decided to photograph at her home, which she has furnished and decorated with antiques and vintage items. Her home reminded me of something that I would see in a magazine or a museum. She told me that most of the items she found in Goodwill stores around the Phoenix metropolitan area. Needless to say, I was in awe of her home and often got distracted looking at all the figurines, artwork, and other items that I don’t usually see anywhere else. […]

Why I Wrote A Book About Mannequins

  I had never planned to work on a project involving mannequins. Even though I found them interesting, I just never thought to write a book about them. This changed during a trip I took with a friend of mine back in 2015. The two of us were walking along State Street in Santa Barbara, California when an antique store caught our attention. Their store front was so colorful and filled with interesting things that we were immediately drawn in, as though strings were pulling us into the store. Once inside, I started to notice several mannequin heads perched on shelves and stuffed between other antique and vintage items. Each one was different. I was so enchanted by these busts that I started to take pictures of them with my phone. I didn’t touch or move them. I only wanted to show their beauty and uniqueness.   From that point on I began photographing mannequins whenever I saw them in an antique store. I also started reading about their history, and I learned a lot of things that surprised me about these fashion dolls. Mannequins have been used for thousands of years. In 1923, Howard Carter discovered a mannequin that […]

Adjusting to the “New Normal”: Life in the time of COVID

I know everyone has been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another, and some have been more affected than others. In fact, I’ve been reluctant to express how the pandemic impacted me because I know that on the spectrum of struggles there are people out there who have it much worse. However, regardless of where anyone is in the spectrum, it’s important to acknowledge that there is a connection between current events and our emotional health. As a dear friend once told me, “Pain is not a competition.”   Since we are in the midst of unprecedented times, I’ve had to completely rework my timeline and strategy for my projects. Most of my freelance work has been on hold because people aren’t hosting or attending large events. This means that I have had to reevaluate my budget for publishing, marketing, and advertising. Since I’ve had a career in the arts since I was eighteen, I understand that uncertainty comes with the territory and being able to adapt is crucial. For me, this means exploring new ways to create content and generate revenue.   I’m still in the process of figuring it out, but I’ve made changes to my workflow […]

Author Photo: Why you need to have one

Having a really good author photo is especially important because anywhere between 600,000 and a million books are published each year. That’s a lot of competition. Even if you’re a phenomenal writer, you still want to do everything you can to increase your chances of a potential buyer noticing your book. While you may think of the author photo as just the small square image inside your book, there are many other uses of your photo that you probably haven’t considered.   In this blog, I’ll explain why author photos are important and give you some tips on making sure you put your best foot — or in this case your face — forward. Why do I need an author photo? Some people just don’t like having their photo taken. I completely understand those people because I’m one of them. However, there are some things in life that you simply can’t avoid, and this is one of them. Creating your brand is one of the most important elements in creating a successful career as an author. Your photo is a part of that branding. You don’t have to have a bunch of photos of yourself, but I do recommend having […]

The Second Book: Lessons Gained and Lessons Learned

When I was in graduate school, a mentor told me that each book was like starting over. Each project has its own differences and challenges. I didn’t completely understand this until I started working on my second book, which explores the history of mannequins. Of course there were certain things that were easier about making this book because I had learned those lessons while working on Tattle Tales. However, when it came time to publish the second book, I realized that I had to do things differently. This meant another learning curve and a bit of frustration.   Being a writer, and especially a self-published author, means that you’re constantly learning. Besides developing your skills as a writer, you have to stay on top of all the new ways of marketing, publishing, and distributing. In the age of technology, the rules are always evolving and changing. Additionally, what works for one book may not work for the other book. I’ve listed some of the lessons I have learned from my second book.   The message of this post is to urge self-published authors to be flexible and open minded. I had a much different idea of my path when I […]