Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Big Book Sale

Every year for a great many years one of my favorite days of the year has been the SF Public Library's BIG BOOK SALE. Held at Fort Mason and full of thousands upon thousands of books costing no more than three bucks apiece, it is pretty much our idea of pure heaven. This year we bought 45 books for 96 dollars (you can see them all stacked up in our home in the bottom photo). Nicely done, us.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Stumbling Upon Stella

New buildings in San Francisco are required to have a certain amount of public open space. They are also, I have heard, required to spend a certain amount on publicly-visible art. The latest great big corporate building in my work neighborhood has an enormous public atrium with tables and chairs and a cafe. Though I've walked past it many times I only went in for the first time yesterday. And that's when I realized the three very-large-scale artworks hanging in this space are in fact real live bona fide Frank Stella pieces. One of them, just above, not dissimilar to the ones I fell in love with a the big Whitney show last fall (that show, by the way is coming to the de Young this November and I highly recommend it to the Bay Area folks among you) (oh, also, they also have several of these Stella wall constructions in their own room in the new wing at SFMOMA which are well worth a look). Wonders abound.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Poem #11


how we used to sometimes
climb the path to Indian Rock

no street associated with this path
a narrow sidewalk cutting straight

through the middle of three blocks
backyards and fences facing onto it

branches overhanging and shrubs and
flowers and weeds all along the sides

running between the Alameda and the
Arlington two parallel north-south streets

in the Berkley hills that both start
with the letter A and the word The

image source is here

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book Publishing 101

I had the honor of writing a post over on the Chronicle Books blog explaining the publishing process of how a book gets made from start to finish. I like how it came out so much that I thought I'd just reproduce the whole thing here for your enjoyment. Here goes:

When you work in publishing all day long, you come to think of the process of making books as being this natural and organic thing that everyone understands just as intuitively as you do. But alas, many of the processes of book publishing are not familiar to the general public, or are cloaked in industry jargon, or both. Let’s demystify some of this stuff, shall we?

This is a general overview of some of the most usual publishing practices that we use around here—of course, there are always exceptions and other possible scenarios that come in to play from time to time, and other publishers may do things differently. But here are the basics of how it works here at Chronicle Books, in a dozen simple steps.

Step 1: Book Proposal

To kick things off, you send in a book proposal. Publishers have submissions guidelines telling you what to include in your proposal and how to send it. Chronicle’s submission guidelines live here. (And a handy post I wrote about how to propose an art book lives here.)

Step 2: Initial Conversations and Approval

First, there are some initial conversations between you (or your agent) and your would-be editor. If the editor likes your proposal and wants to publish it, he or she takes it to an acquisitions board meeting for official green-lighting.

Step 3: Offer

The editor is now empowered to make you an offer. This is a formal letter outlining the materials you will deliver, due dates for those deliverables, how much the publisher is offering to pay you, and other details.

The financial piece of a standard publishing offer takes the form of an advance against royalties. An advance is a sum you are paid upfront to help offset your costs of working on your book. Royalties are the percentage of the sale of each copy of the book that you earn. Down the road, when your book starts selling, the royalties on each copy go towards earning out the advance you were already paid. When enough royalties have accrued to zero out the advance, you start getting royalty checks. But even if your book never sells enough copies to earn out your advance, the advance is still yours to keep—you do not have to pay the balance back to the publisher.

Step 4: Contract

You (or your agent) negotiate a deal with your editor. Once you’ve reached an agreement you both are happy with, you virtually shake hands and you have a book deal. A contract follows several weeks later. Since the contract contains a good deal more detail (and a lot more legalese) than the offer letter did, there may now be some new points for negotiation. Once that’s done, the contract is signed and everything is official.

Step 5: Writing/Art Making

You go write a book. Or, in the case of many of my authors since I work on art books—you go make the art for a book.

Step 6: Final Draft

Your deadline rolls around and you turn in your final art and manuscript to your editor. Art takes the form of high-res reproduction-quality digital art files. A manuscript is your clean final draft of the text for your book in a Word document.

Step 7: Editing

Your editor edits your delivery. For text this means marking up your manuscript with questions and suggested changes, most likely using the track changes feature in Word. For art this can mean discussing the matters of the image edit and image sequence. Once the editor has done his or her big-picture edit, the manuscript will also go to a copyeditor to catch the smaller stuff (spelling, grammar, typos, etc.).

Step 8: Galleys

The final clean manuscript and art go to the design department to lay out the book. You, your editor, and a proofreader all review galleys. Galleys are the book all designed and laid-out, viewed either on-screen as a PDF or as paper print-outs. This is the time we all make sure no mistakes have slipped though, and that everything is making sense on the page.

Step 9: Proofs

Once we’ve gone through several rounds of galleys to make sure everything is just as it should be, we send the book files to the printer and they output color-accurate proofs. Our production department reviews the proofs in a light booth to make sure the color looks great. With my authors who are artists, I send proofs with them as well to confirm color accuracy.

Step 10: Advances

The book is printed and bound at the printer. Your book is finished! We receive advances. Advances (not to be confused with an advance) are a small number of copies of the book that are air-freighted from the printer to the publisher so that we can see the finished book as soon as possible—we send a couple of copies to you the author, and our publicity department uses advances to pitch the book to long-lead media (aka glossy magazines that determine their content 4-6 months in advance).

Step 11: Marketing and Publicity

Our publicity department and marketing department coordinate with you to make plans for the book’s release and promotion. Just like the publication process outlined above is a collaboration between author and publisher, so too is the execution of the book’s marketing and publicity plan. We reach out to the media, you reach out to your fans and followers, we work together to coordinate promotional activities specific to your project.

Step 12: You’re a Published Author

The book comes out. The world is astounded by your brightness.

PS—A word about timelines: all of the above typically takes about 1-2 years total. This sounds like a long time until you get down in it, and then the time flies by like the wind.

Photograph by Irene Kim Shepherd

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Continuing the fashion-by-color theme (here are pink, pink, yellow, and gold) today let's look at bright cobalt blue, shall we? (Ok, so strictly speaking the blue in the above photo is more cerulean than cobalt but I love this image of Helsinki street style way too much not to include it).

Above: photo by Liisa Jokinen and/or Sampo Karjalainen of Hel Looks

Photo by Vanessa Jackman

Roksanda Ilincic

Photo by Tommy Ton

Photo by Soren Jepsen of The Locals

Claire Pignot

Photo by Anastasiia Sapon


Tsumori Chisato

Brittany Watson Jepsen in Honey of California

Monday, September 19, 2016

Lite Brite

When someone gives you a lite brite and you get to play with it with your grandma, life is pretty good.