An online magazine for writers and visual artists
Some opening words
— Adriana Barreiros, Editor, @Adriana
IN THIS ISSUE
Beyond a shadow, by Sofia Trindade
Allegory and photography come together in this account of a photographer's city walks during the days of confinement.
A beginner's guide to self-publishing, by Marina Pacheco
A prolific author shares her experience with self-publishing and explains why it might be the right choice for you too.
On encaustic art: an interview, with Encaustichris
A "show and tell" introduction to encaustic art and to one of its enthusiastic practitioners.
Over the past year and a half, as a global pandemic forced people into the confines of their homes, the Internet became for many their only real window into the world. For artists, it also became an avenue through which they could continue to connect with their audience and show the world the fruits of their labour.
Clinkable seeks to harness this uniting power of the web by creating an online home for writers and visual artists of all types. A place where they can work and play, teach and learn, inspire and be inspired, and above all, take part in a community of like-minded people.
Creating art will, of course, remain at its core a physical endeavour. So, too, will artists and audiences continue to crave and thrive on in-person communication. Clinkable does not — and should not — seek to act as a substitute; its intent is to expand rather than replace. Where ink meets the web, whether that's the ink at the tip of a pen or at the tip of the brush, is thus our tag line and our motto.
Today, it is with immense joy that I bring to you the first issue of Clinkable. Heartfelt words of gratitude are owed to the three creators who generously agreed to contribute their time, expertise and creativity to this endeavour, and without whom this first issue would not have become a reality.
I must also thank you, the reader, whose interest and support this nascent project so vitally depends on. If you are reading this, welcome, and thank you. The process of putting Clinkable's first issue together has brought me great pleasure and an invaluable opportunity for learning and growth. My sincere hope is that the experience of reading it can do the same for you.
Beyond a shadow
In 2020, we had to start keeping distance from each other. We could not go outside without an admissible reason to so under the applicable rules. The so-called “hygienic stroll”, a brief walk to help keep the body and mind healthy during confinement, was one of the admissible reasons to leave the house.
One time, I decided to cross the portal between my house and the street, thus entering a new dimension.
My own shadow kept me company, denoting my existence in the realm of Reality.
On occasion, that existence came together, though at a distance, with the reality in which the Other existed too.
Born on 25 January 1978 in Zurich, Switzerland. She began doing photography in 1992. While attending the fourth year of the course in Architecture at Lusíada University in Lisbon, she enrolled in Ar.Co, to pursue Introduction to Drawing and to Photography. In 2004, she moved to England to further her knowledge. She received a BA (Hons) in Photography from Hereford College of Art & Design, showing her work at Rhubarb – Rhubarb International Festival of the Image, with creative director Rhonda Wilson. She returned to Lisbon in 2007. In 2010, she took a course in Photojournalism with the photographer Luiz Carvalho. She covered some of the events for the projects of mente.lisboa (Criativa-mente and Queer-mente).
A beginner’s guide to self-publishing
Have you written a novel and sent it to countless agents, talent scouts and publishers only to get rejection after rejection? Don’t give up, there is a viable alternative to being traditionally published. Thanks to the internet, self-publishing has moved from being a niche, vanity project, to a viable alternative to traditional publishing.
What is self-publishing?
You are the sole person involved in getting your work to market. This doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Just like traditional publishers, you can hire cover designers, blurb writers, editors and marketers to do some of the work for you. You can find all these support professions via the internet and through organisations like the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALi). ALi have a list of recommended suppliers and will also provide guidance on how to find the person or company that’s the best fit for you.
My editor was in the ALi list, my proofreader is a friend, my cover designers were recommended to me via a book marketing Facebook group. As you can see, there are a lot of ways to go about finding your support team. Don’t rush into hiring them though, since you have to feel comfortable working with them. It’s always a good idea to give a new contractor a small project to test them out and if you like their work, then go further.
Self-publishing is easy
The hardest part is writing your novel, but once that’s done and you’ve had the book edited and your cover designed the rest is surprisingly easy and done on-line.
Most self-publishers start by uploading their books to one of the sales platforms. Amazon is the largest platform, and it’s easier than the others. Many self-publishers never bother going beyond, but other large mainstream options include iBooks, Kobo and Barns and Noble. There are also aggregator sites, like Draft2Digital, that will upload your book to all the possible platforms, including to sites that sell to libraries.
Many self-publishers also start by only selling eBooks. But with the development of Print on Demand (POD) it is now also possible to sell paperbacks. In the US, the UK and other countries in Europe it’s even possible to sell hardback books. You upload a pdf of your novel plus the cover file. Then, when somebody orders your book, the vendor prints a copy and sends it to the buyer. Obviously, Amazon et al. want to sell a high-quality product, so their POD books are of an excellent quality and indistinguishable from the traditional publishers’ products. You can even sell glossy photo-filled hard cover books.
With online selling, you don’t have to worry about up-front costs. All the on-line book sellers take a cut of the profit at the point of sale as their fee, usually around 30 - 40%.
What struck me as interesting in the self-publishing revolution is that it is very difficult for someone visiting Amazon or any other retailer to know whether a book is self-published or not. Since many self-publishers set themselves up as a self-owned publishing company, you wouldn’t necessarily know whether you were buying a self-published book or not just by looking inside it. It somewhat levels the playing field for self-published authors.
Self-publishing is fast
The upload of your document to Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, etc. is remarkably quick and easy. Most of the platforms will quality check your document and you will get a message telling you the book can take up to 72 hours to be cleared. In reality, most of my books have been available for sale in under 2 hours.
Self-publishing doesn’t mean lower standards
To maintain a good reputation for self-publishing authors it’s important to aim for the highest possible standard. This makes good marketing sense. If people decide self-publishing is rubbish, they’ll stop buying all self-published authors, not just the bad ones.
Personal professionalism and pride aside, most on-line marketplaces like Amazon also enforce minimum standards. Books with loads of typos and spelling errors are flagged and that may cause your book to be removed. Reviewers will also be brutally honest. The last thing you want is a bad review pointing out what a shoddy job you’ve done.
Self-publishing means more control over your intellectual property
Traditional publishing companies own a surprising amount of control over the intellectual rights of your work. Particularly if you’re a new author, you can find yourself in a situation where it’s up to the publisher whether to sell your book in other countries, produce an audiobook or commission translations. The problem is that even if the publisher is no longer selling your work, you’d have to get permission from them to do your own marketing and sales and they usually say no.
As a self-publisher, you own your intellectual property and can do anything you want with it. Most of the top earning self-publishers are very keen on diversification into audiobooks, paperbacks, hardbacks, large print, graphic novels, translations and anything else you can think of.
Self-publishing means publishing exactly what you want
The self-publishing world is full of cross-genre works that push the boundaries. I would argue that self-publishers are more creative than traditionally published authors. Not because traditionally published authors can’t be creative, but because they are constrained by their publisher.
A self-publisher can break the rules. Many of the how-to write and get published books stress the importance of hooking readers early and ending chapters on a cliffhanger to keep people reading. I’m an introvert and don’t like stressful books. I write what I have dubbed slow fiction. I doubt my work would pass the combined gatekeepers of agents and publishers, but I have found a dedicated fanbase who love my slow-paced books.
Can you make money self-publishing?
Self-published authors get between 40 - 70% royalties from their work. Traditionally published authors get between 10 - 25%. From that perspective it looks like self-publishing would win hands down.
There is a catch, though. How much you earn as a self-publisher depends on how much work you put into marketing. There are over 8 million titles on Amazon and climbing. That means that if you don’t advertise and market yourself, nobody has a chance of knowing you exist.
As a self-published author, you will have to learn the business of book publication and marketing. This includes building a following via a newsletter, usually by offering a free book that people get in exchange for giving you their email address. Newsletters are a great way to get to know what type of readers like your books and to build a relationship with them. In the end, some of your signups will become your biggest fans and can do many more things for you. This can include becoming beta readers, who can help improve your novel through feedback, or forming part of your street team, getting an advance copy of your book and writing a review for the book on launch day.
You will also need to advertise, which can be done via the sales platforms themselves, on social media and via book lovers websites such as Bookbub.
This can feel like a lot to learn, but it is important. I have found that my newsletter gets me an initial bump in sales each time I release a new book. But if I don’t run adverts, I get no further sales. Adverts ensure sales continue long after launch day.
How much you make will also depends on the type of books you write. Non-fiction makes more than fiction. Erotica makes a lot more than literary fiction. Series make more than standalone novels. How you go about self-publishing is up to you, and that’s part of the joy of it. You can be focused on the money-making aspect, in which case writing a series of erotica will probably get you the largest amount of income (although romance and thrillers are also pretty lucrative). Or you might want to publish a family memoir or the novel that you’ve lovingly crafter over the last ten years.
Can you make money straight away?
Although there are always exceptions, most self-publishers agree you need at least three published books to start making money. It usually takes around 7 years of hard work to earn enough money to support yourself.
This is just an estimate. With the number of courses and books out there showing people how to self-publish and market, you may be able to reduce the time it takes. Having said that, competition is stiff, and with the steady increase in book production it’s getting stiffer. This, however, is true for both traditional and self-published authors.
Want to know more?
The Alliance of Independent Authors is a great source of information and support:https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/
Joanna Penn has a free step-by-step book for self-publishers that really helped me get started. You can download her book here:https://www.thecreativepenn.com/
I am a travelling author who currently lives in Lisbon, after stints in London, Johannesburg, and Bangkok. My ambition is to publish 100 books. It’s a challenge I decided upon after I’d completed my 33rd book. Or I should say, my 33rd first draft. I am currently working at getting all of those first drafts into a publishable state. This is taking considerably longer than I’d anticipated!
You can find out more about me and my work, including downloading my free novel, Sanctuary, from my website: https://marinapacheco.me
On encaustic art: an interview
with Encaustichris, @Encaustichris
Beeswax has its own way of flowing, which is different each and every time I paint.— Encaustichris
I had been looking for a way to become more creative. My better half is a very creative person, and I wanted to express myself as well, but I’m rather impatient, so I didn’t know what to start with. Then all of a sudden, in a Facebook group, a woman asked for wax blocks. I thought to myself: “Wax blocks? What the...” She then posted a drawing she made with those blocks, and I was immediately interested. I asked her what the technique was called, and looked it up on YouTube. Three days later I owned my first iron, wax blocks and paper.
How would you describe encaustic art in a few simple words?
Painting with beeswax is the easiest way to describe encaustic art. However, you do not have to limit yourself to painting.
What is your process from idea to finished piece? How do you know when a piece is complete?
Well, I think the best way is to not think about it. Usually when I want to create something really special, it does not work out. Just play, have fun, experiment: that’s the best way. Sometimes, of course, I want to create something specific, and I know the techniques by now. If I don’t have an idea yet, I’ll have a look at YouTube sometimes, but mostly I just try. Surprise! When is a piece complete? That’s the most difficult part of encaustic art. You can go on forever and ever, but usually there’s a feeling of “This is it. Stop now.” And then I listen... or not (and ruin the work).
What kind of tools do you use for your artwork?
I use an encaustic art iron, like the one for your clothes but adapted for beeswax, and a stylus, which looks like a pencil but is hot. Those are the things you really need, or rather, just the iron will do. You need heat to melt the wax, so you can paint with it.
Are there any main themes you seek to explore? What are they?
Main themes, let me think... I think flowers will always be a theme in my work. Apart from that, the point of encaustic art is to just let it happen. Just play. Relax, and play.
What are your main sources of inspiration?
Facebook is a source of inspiration, looking at other people’s work, or music. Sometimes I hear a song and want to paint immediately. Emotions are another source of inspiration. I once had bad PMS and started to paint. The painting became a “wild” one. I don’t know where that came from, but my PMS was gone!
What are the most challenging aspects of encaustic art?
For me, what is most challenging is to let it go and let it happen. I often want to paint something really beautiful, sometimes for that one person... I can tell you up front: it will not work out. Beeswax has its own way of flowing, which is different each and every time I paint. So let go of control. Just paint and play. That, I sometimes find very difficult!
Do you take part in any group or community of artists? What benefits do you draw from it?
Apart from Facebook, I do not usually paint in a group. I did a three-day masterclass years ago, which was in a group, and it was a lot of fun and very inspiring. But now there are no more masterclasses, so I’m on my own. I sometimes paint with a friend though, and that is very inspiring!
How can an absolute beginner get started with making encaustic art?
First have a look at YouTube! Buy an encaustic painting iron, some beeswax and paper. Then start to follow the YouTube videos, and play, play, play! You can also follow a course at encaustichouse, by Wemke de Jong and Michael Bossom. But if you are an absolute beginner, you don’t have to! My advice, however, is to try encaustic art first. Do a workshop, see whether or not you like the technique. The iron and beeswax are rather expensive, but you can always look for second-hand ones on the internet.
"I created this work on a hotplate, the name tells what it is, a warm plate, I put the paper on there and then I start playing with the colours. I'm very satisfied with this one."
"A postcard I made during our first Covid lockdown. I made it to cheer people up a little bit, and it worked out that way: people did like the postcard very much!"
"This is my PMS drawing: it's big (40x50cm), and it still reminds me of that day ;-) I like the drawing though."
"These the two dogs I painted on request. An aunt of a friend of mine loved these dogs and asked me if I could paint them. So I tried, and then she wanted them in one picture: here's the result. It was in her living room until she died."