Book Contests: Are they worth it?

When I first started getting into photography, I would submit my work to contests now and again. Most of these contests I found through social media platforms. While many of them had reasonable application fees, they were time consuming and I was competing against thousands of very talented photographers. After a while, I wrote off contests.   Fast forward a couple years. . . I published my debut book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, and now I was trying to gain exposure for my book. As a self-published author, it can be extremely challenging to get your book seen by the right audience. According to Forbes, anywhere between 600,000 to a million titles are published each year. The chances of readers stumbling onto your book on Amazon is pretty small.   In the beginning, I was mostly focused on social media marketing and advertising. By chance, I found out about a contest from the Nonfiction Author’s Association Book Awards program. I entered the contest and received two Gold Awards for Photography and Pop Culture. In addition, to receiving an emblem and title, which I could now use for my marketing materials, I got exposure from their marketing channels from […]

A Year in Review

  At the end of the year, I take some time to review my work and reevaluate my goals. I’m certainly not one of those people who does New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to hold myself accountable and make sure that I’m using my time wisely to accomplish everything I want to do. During my review, I list what I think went well and what I would like to improve in the future. When I was a graduate student, I worked with Susan Griffin, a writing mentor and renowned feminist and author. Every time she looked at my writing, she would first tell me what I did well. She explained that it’s just as important to know what you’re doing right because you want to build on that.   Looking back at the past twelve months these are some of the strengths and weaknesses I found in my own work.   Strengths 1.) An education in self-publishing: I had to wear many hats this year because I had to learn about the process of designing, printing, selling, and marketing my book. I’m by no means an expert, but the education I got this year will be extremely important […]

Coast Guard Eases Up on Tattoos

Sometimes we hear things that we don’t expect. I was getting ready for bed when I heard on the news that the Coast Guard was easing up on their tattoo policy. Last Thursday the Coast Guard announced less stringent tattoo regulations so that more candidates could apply for employment. For example, chest tattoos are now allowed, as long as they don’t show above the collar. Additionally, hand tattoos are accepted, but with certain restrictions.   Over the last couple of years, different military branches have also adopted less strict tattoo regulations. Those who are old enough to remember what it was like when tattoos weren’t popular can appreciate the significance of this evolution. Because tattoos are common, it’s easy to assume that ink is unconditionally accepted. It’s hard to say whether tattoos are more accepted or tolerated, and there is a difference between the two. After interviewing so many people with tattoos, I came to the conclusion that tattoos are more accepted and tolerated and it really depends on the environment. As one person explained to me, “it’s following the culture of the customer service.”   Maybe twenty or thirty years from now people will be so used to seeing […]

Tattle Tales: Making the Book – Proofreaders

My book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, has been my first foray into the world of self-publishing. The learning curve has been huge, but I’ve learned so much from other people through social media platforms and blogs. While I don’t consider myself to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I like to use my blogs to discuss some of the challenges I faced and share what things have helped me.  In this post, I’m going to explain the importance of a proofreader.   My book doesn’t have a lot of text. It’s mostly portraits, but there’s nearly 16,000 words in the whole book and most of that were from interview excerpts. Although I think it’s a good idea to have someone you trust look over your work and get their feedback as a reader, it’s absolutely crucial to use a proofreader. My eyes spent so many hours scrutinizing this book that I could easily overlook an obvious error. For me, it wasn’t an option to not use a proofreader. Even when a mistake is minor, it distracts the reader and takes away from the work. Plus, having a professional review your work takes some of the […]

Dealing with Doubt

The hardest part with the arts is that there is no “right” answer. It’s about choices, preferences, interpretations, and so much more. As an creative person, there have been many moments where I have felt doubt creep into my mind. Typically, I’m one of those people who thinks about every outcome, as though I’m playing a game of chess. This is especially the case when I’m trying to get to sleep, and I can feel my fears spiderwebbing. It’s definitely not a healthy way to live, but how do we overcome doubt?    When I can feel the anxiety intensifying, which has been a frequent occurrence these last few weeks, I’ll talk to my mom. One of the things that she always tells me is, “It’s not brain surgery. You don’t have someone’s life in your hands.” This is very true, and I’m glad my work doesn’t involve a life or death situation. However, this doesn’t always help me in the moment when I have to make a decision. I’m a perfectionist and very passionate about what I put out into the world. For example, I had been really stressing about a decision I had to make about a project […]

Wanderlust

Before I became a photographer, I thought I wanted to be a full-time writer. In 2012, I graduated from California College of the Arts with a Masters in Creative Writing. I do love to write, but I found it could be very lonely work.   After I wrote my first novel, I decided I needed to take a break. During this break is when I started interviewing and photographing people with tattoos. I loved combining my passion for writing with photography because it gave me the best of both worlds. I’m an introvert, so I don’t necessarily hate sitting in a room by myself for hours working. However, I like how photography allows me to collaborate with other people. Plus, the process of photography is generally much faster than writing. For example, I spent three years writing my novel, whereas I could photograph and interview someone and see the results within a few hours.   Patience is indeed a virtue when you’re an artist, but sometimes it’s nice (and perhaps necessary) to see something to completion. It makes you feel like you’re moving forward in life. I still love writing fiction, but these days I’m more focussed on photojournalism.   […]