Gail Williams (gail) Sat 12 Jan 02 10:40
Yep. For a handy link, go to <theat.> Adam's tales there are fun.
David S. Greene (dsg) Sat 12 Jan 02 12:09
Adam and/or Donna: So tell us about your process of creation. FOr instance, now did you decide on what each letter would represent? B could have been Brown (for that little school on the hill in Providence), "I" could have stood for I-95, P could have been Pawsox....
(bratwood) Sat 12 Jan 02 14:05
Some letters/subjects were extremely easy to decide because there aren't enough choices to bother debating. Like Quahogs in Rhode Island. The letter "Q" is never really ubiquitous. For example, in the Massachusetts title, is has to be the Quabbin Reservoir. As far as the letter "B", Block Island is a noteworthy and significant aspect of Rhode Island as well as the home of the state's tallest lighthouse. We knew we had to include it, but it wasn't going to fall under the letter "L" for lighthouse because lobsters are equally important (not to mention arty). Additionally, we could mention Brown along with the John Brown House under historic preservation. It's always give and take deciding the subjects. Some elements are inherently more visual and interesting as coloring books subjects for children.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Sat 12 Jan 02 14:54
One of the things that we agreed to early on is that the book would be a split of natural and cultural history. We tried for 13-13, but I think we ended up with something along the lines of 14-12 (or even 15-11 (depending on how you count the Zoo) It's definitely a give and take, and not only about what the letter stands for, but what the focus of the letter was going to be about. We chose P to stand for Providence Plantations, rather than Providence, and really focused not on the building of the city (which is somewhat covered in the introduction and some of the other letters) but on farming, and the dwindling agriculture base here. Why? Because it was something important and fun and educational, and we wanted to make sure to cover it. Our book is not a guide book or travel book or puff tourism book. (Although it can be used in certain ways for all those activities.) Our book is educational, and it is important to us to cover a wide gamut of the state, not just popular things. We definitely had some moments of disagreement about what should be what, and we worked them out through reasoning, compromise, and forbearance. (WEll, and some stomping of the feet and bull-headedness too! After all Q could be for Quincy too! :o) I'm teasing-- we are both pretty clear on Q for Quabbin Reservoir-- did you know the Reservoir was manmade, and had to wipe out 5 towns in order to build it? Dana, North Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott. It's one of the largest manmade reservoirs in the country! But we are going to figure out a way to get John Adams and John Quincy Adams and Abigail Adams into the book!
Mark Binder (realfun) Sat 12 Jan 02 15:03
Ummmm Maybe you could put them on the letter "A"....
"First you steal a bicycle...." (rik) Sat 12 Jan 02 15:35
I just shipped a bass out to Poughquag, NY. I have no idea how you say that.
Donna Atwood (bratwood) Sat 12 Jan 02 15:53
The real challenge is going to be settling on the "C" for the Massachusetts book. There's cod for the state fish, chickadee for the state bird, cranberry for a noteworthy crop, and Cape Cod itself. We'll be doing a lot of wangling on that. Sometimes, letters get pushed around at the very end of the writing and illustrating. It's all pretty liquid until we are 95% ready to print.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 12 Jan 02 18:20
Divide the page into quadrants!
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Sat 12 Jan 02 18:38
That's a good idea in theory-- but then that means that Donna has to do 4 drawings instead of one-- and instead of 250 words to talk about the subject, I've got 60 words per subject. One of the things that was a little hard to resign myself at first is the fact that the book will never be "complete." Our format and style of book are such that we are not going to be able to do EVERY SUBJECT IN THE STATE. It's not a dictionary or an encyclopedia. It's a learning book. I tried to cover a little bit of everything, and mention as much as possible in the introduction and the timeline, but it just is not going to be complete. In the Rhode Island book, I really wanted to talk about the King Phillip War, the destruction of the Indians in 1676, The Dorr Rebellion (An 1842 Rebellion that resulted in the imprisonment of Thomas Dorr, but also resulted in a radical revamping of the Rhode Island Constitution, which hadn't been changed since the charter of 1663.) D ended up being for Diners (which were invented in Rhode Island) and Thomas Dorr and his rebellion got cut.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Sat 12 Jan 02 18:42
Another thing that factors in to picking a subject is drawability. Rebellion is a harder thing to draw than Rhode Island Red. What will be fun to color? What will be exciting to look at (both as a colored in picture and as a line drawing.) Abstract ideas don't draw well-- it's concrete images that do best. Donna is pretty much a genius at seeing and figuring out what is the perfect thing to draw. fg
David S. Greene (dsg) Sun 13 Jan 02 06:45
Donna, I know you're embarking on a new chapter in your life. Where do you see yourself going next?
Donna Atwood (bratwood) Sun 13 Jan 02 07:22
At the moment, I'm in a fog bank and plan on staying there as long as possible. Seriously, I'm currently back in school to study find art printmaking. I've had numerous requests for prints of my work and haven't yet decided how I want to create the pieces. After 20+ years of working for myself, I'm wondering about getting a university job. I'm not sure if I could withstand the loss in freedom. A few months back, there was some talk about working with the University of Arizona Press. Then the poor economy precipitated a hiring freeze. I'm going to continue pursuing printmaking and my books and see where it takes me. Regardless of my personal goals, the world at large appears to be in such a great state of flux that hanging in the fog bank seems real right now.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Sun 13 Jan 02 14:09
I just returned from delivering books to a Walden's in South County. They are one of our best-selling stores (during Christmas they sold 100 copies of the book all by themselves!, and if they had ordered more they would have sold more!) Three of the clerks told me that their kids loved the book, and started coloring them the moment they got them on Christmas day. The store had already pre-sold 8 of the books that I brought them! (Including one that was being shipped to Johnstown PA. It's really pretty satisfying to receive those kind of kudos.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 13 Jan 02 14:20
I guess! Congratulations. Is this a direct result of your own self-marketing?
Patrizia Dilucchio (fritz) Sun 13 Jan 02 17:48
Donna & Adam, do you see your collaboration extending to other types of books? (I think "A is for _ _ _" books for adults might be a very hot market. Think of the wine industry, for example!)
Donna Atwood (bratwood) Sun 13 Jan 02 18:09
Hi Patrizia! The wine industry would be wonderful. I already have a rep that works the California wine country market and has mentioned the subject for product development. The entire genre makes for excellent still lifes: wine bottle shapes, vines, glasses, accompaniments. Also, old world fruits -- grapes, figs, pomegranates -- are inherently appealing. Though I think I need to get out and see what sorts of materials already exist before getting carried away. This popular subject is bound to have been addressed by some serious publishers, no?
Dr. Leda Horticulture (leroy) Sun 13 Jan 02 18:29
And then there's the labels themselves.
(bratwood) Sun 13 Jan 02 19:06
I think we should make up some of our own vineyards and name a few new grapes. Primo Angeli style label designs with a touch of Mad Magazine!
Eleanor Parker (wellelp) Sun 13 Jan 02 19:07
I must say "wow", the samples on the web page are wonderful! Congratulations to you both, Adam and donna, on such a splendid collaboration. Speaking as one in California, i can't wait for you to address the West Coast. And I also think you could do well with major city A to Z books, maybe Boston to complement you Mass. book. And I'm glad it's reasonably priced. Hope you sell a zillion, more or less.
Donna Atwood (bratwood) Sun 13 Jan 02 19:18
<scribbled by bratwood Sun 13 Jan 02 19:18>
Donna Atwood (bratwood) Sun 13 Jan 02 19:19
Thanks for the compliments and the good wishes. In reality, we are most likely to sell about 20,000 books. If this title had a market of 50,000 or better, a bigger publisher would have already latched on to the idea. But since we're small, we can live on the crumbs where the giants might starve.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Sun 13 Jan 02 19:59
Way back when, castle asked whether or not the sales to Walden's were the result of self-marketing. Sorta-kinda. My responsibilities for the Rhode Island book (and more than likely for the Mass book) is writing the book, and then marketing the book. I came up with and implemented a basic marketing plan. RI A to Z came out in November of 2001. I started marketing it to stores, in middle late October. One of the marketing things that I did was go to NEBA (which is the New England Booksellers Association Trade Show) in early October. we created a dummy sample book for people to peruse. I was able to sell 4 stores at the show, to give us a try. We are now in 65 stores around the state. How did we go from 4-65 in 6 weeks? That was through my pounding the pavement. I went from store to store with a sample copy of the book and a little shpiel. And people bought the book... I wish I could say that it was because I am some kind of genius sales person. (And the truth is, I am not a slouch in the sales department.) But truly, why the book has been so accepted is that the book is a great product, reasonably priced. Store owners can see quite clearly the quality of the product, and why their customers would want to buy it. Of course, I did put in the time, pounding the pavement, and I had lots of rejections from stores (even some surprising stores, that you would think would definitely carry the book.) But I also wasn't selling this book about Rhode Island in Oregon. Every store in RI has a potential to sell this book, because nearly every store in RI sells to people who might be interested. Rhode Islanders. When Donna and I were formulating the book, we did a lot of research, talked to librarians, saw what kind of books were out there, and talked to bookstore owners. I could see that there was nothing like what we were thinking about on the market. Another thing-- The Walden's store that I delivered the book to, the clerks and the manager there are really committed to local authors and to this book in particular. When I arrive, they rub their hands with glee. They are really into it. They love showing it to customers. And their enthusiasm helps sell the book! In the book biz, this practice is known as hand-selling (one on one) and that's really a major secret to good sales in the store. If you guys have any questions about how I went about the marketing, I'd be happy to answer them!
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Sun 13 Jan 02 20:06
I could imagine doing an A is for _____ for the wine industry (By the way, Rhode Island has its own little vineyard industry in Sakonnet!) I've also thought about doing something like that about Clowning or the Circus. But it's already been done (albeit, not as well as Donna and I would do it (knock wood) ) The real question is marketing-- If you don't have somebody out there plugging your books, getting them into stores, doing the leg work, calling people up, it gets really hard no matter how wonderful your product is. Rather than seeing the "limited" Rhode Island market as a downside, I actually see it as an opportunity to be a big fish in a small (okay, very small) pond. A circus book could be sold in all 50 states, but it would be harder to sell it specifically...
Donna Atwood (bratwood) Mon 14 Jan 02 06:31
Don't let his rare bout of humility fool you, Adam is a GENIUS seller! Starting from zero, he rounded up more accounts in shorter time than any of the reps and distributors I've dealt with here in the Southwest (and they are pros with an existing account base). Now he may want to attribute that sales success to the book itself, but I've seen good books go unsold and know better. Adam is a natural born promoter with a big smile, an irresistible delivery, and a loads of charm. I think his entertainment background fully supports this strength.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Mon 14 Jan 02 07:30
Oh Pshaw! (But don't stop!)
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