Writer’s Spotlight: Janet Russell

Venti LatteClaret stopped by and set a stripped quadro-iced toffee nut venti breve down by the Mardi Gras tree on Janet Russell‘s table. Red was crumbling the cinnacrystals on the top of a chocolate loaf. Claret was not sure why she was repeating the same pattern, but figured it had something to do with the whispers about a fractalista, cats and art books.

M3: Janet, when we embarked publishing your art book, you issued me a great deal of trust. What was the biggest surprise of the publishing process?

JR: All of the details and contacts it is necessary to know in advance, like POD suppliers, securing ISBN, LOC numbers, etc… And how a publisher needs to have all this info right at their fingertips, or the process would take forever! In my opinion, it’s a challenge to have it all together for one book, but to manage to juggle all this info, keep it straight and apply it to several books like you did for launch? That’s just a plain miracle. And the legal details. Oh,my! *Namaste bow to you, Red*

M3: (Grins) You have no idea. You learned a lot of new vocabulary hanging out in the War Room. What is your best advice for artists who want to publish art books?

JR: I think it would be: carefully and fully prepare your work for the book. Have them in the order you want, create a file for each that is the exact size needed and most importantly, keep yourself and your work very well organized. If you haven’t titled them, make sure that’s all done way ahead of time, too. Preparation and organization are the most time consuming but important part of the getting published process.

And make sure you know about bleeding margins and such. Knowing all that helped immensely when it did come time to actually lay it out to send off to the publisher.

Janet Russell

Put a face with the name.

M3: You found out layout was very different than posting to galleries. What was the most striking thing you learned in the layout process?

JR: I was lucky enough to have a pretty basic layout in my head for the actual book content. But once I set it up, all my formatting in Word was totally lost when translating book to PDF. Fortunately, I hadn’t formatted too much, so that wasn’t too drastic – I hope! I enjoyed setting the layout very much though. I think my subconscious has been preparing me for this experience for many, many years! The entire layout seemed to just fall into place for me!

M3: All that formatting loss happens to all books. Let’s talk about beta. Although your book is primarily illustrations, how important was the beta reading of your book?

JR: I’d say just as important as for any other type book. I mean, there are certain things that I never thought about, like making sure the publisher realized what orientation an image should be. Plus, the written parts need to be clear and easy to understand.

I think it’s important as a first step and as a last step to make sure the edits haven’t created any issues.

M3: I agree final beta is as important as first beta. You participated in the beta reads for a number of books as well. How did it change the way you look at the publishing process?

JR: I really like the fact that so many eyes go into the prep for just one book. I had no idea what beta reading meant, but realized it was right up my alley, as it’s not so much reviewing the manuscript for grammar and such, but more, really to see that the book doesn’t lose continuity and/or impact as it goes through the editing, rewriting process. I was lucky to read two great memoirs, yours and Gail’s, a genre I wasn’t that familiar with. I was impressed by the honesty you and Gail displayed in sharing some of your deepest thoughts and feelings. And I feel I got to know you guys quite intimately, as well.

M3: Getting out of the art world to play in the author’s sandbox is a bit different. How do you feel about your writerly colleagues?

Janet Russell

Lots of Fun

JR: (Big smile) I’m happy you asked that, Red. I barely knew one or two of them, but in working together, I found a very special set of folks who were just as interested in getting someone else’s book right and ready, as they were their own.

What I loved most was, without realizing it happened, I found myself developing deep bonds that went beyond our mutual goal. I treasure that a bunch of strangers, focusing on a shared  goal, even to putting less priority on their own project, can bond and achieve the goal set. I found it to be an uplifting experience.

M3: The community aspect of RedmundPro is very different from other venues. You collaborated on the production of your trailer. What did you discover about your images making the trailer?

JR: That was pretty easy. We just used 5 or so images from the back cover and included comment bits from my galleries, also from back cover, on them, I had to make sure the text was short, the color was clear and easily readable in a second or two. Choose a font, size, color, placement on image – all of that.

I decided to let the video creator select the music – I’m glad I did. It was a good exercise for me to give away some of the creative control. I usually like to be in charge. (wry smile/grimace)

M3: The folly of many an artist. Outside input is actually a good thing. Speaking of collaboration, some of your art was used in a cover for another author. How will this help you with sales of Fractal Dreams?

JR: Thanks for the plug, Red!! How can it not!? I was so proud to have it requested for cover use, I almost forgot I had a book coming out, too! That’s like padding the résumé without even trying. You know, double icing on the cake!

M3: Let’s talk more about sales and marketing. What avenues are you going to use?

JR: That’s a complicated subject. (wipes brow) Marketing paths will include posting links to FD on all my online galleries, Facebook, Pinterest and my blog. I’m still learning how all the social media link to each other and work individually.

Then, I’ll share my book with all my family, friends and regular local merchants, medical professionals, et al. Many of them will be customers. I’ve already got their anticipation level up, so when the print edition releases they’ll jump right on it. (fingers crossing, and arms and legs…)

Bottom line, though, it’s not easy for me to promote myself or my “product”. Sharing my excitement is one thing. Getting them to want to purchase is another entirely.

M3: The secret of marketing is making customers of everyone. What is your favorite social media and how are you going to capitalize on it?

JR: (chuckle) I never thought I’d say this, but now that I’m getting a handle, albeit small, on Facebook, I see the value it has in networking and in getting exposure for me and my work. I’ve had a personal account for years and hardly ever used it. Now I spend time daily either on FB, networking (finding new artists, etc. to “like”) or planning how I can link it up with my galleries or my Pinterest account. I love Pinterest, too.

M3: Facebook is my go-to. Social media and books necessarily mean writing copy. What did you find out about yourself as a writer?

Fractal Dreams CoverJR: (shy smile w/sidelong glance) Well, because I have always been a voracious reader, and closet writer, and knew what I wanted the Foreword and Afterword to contain, that was a pretty easy part for me. Somewhere in my soul I knew one day I’d publish a book of some sort, so I subconsciously knew how I wanted to thank and credit folks, stuff like that.

I enjoyed writing the pro- and epilogues. It was kind of free style, like my blog is, so it felt comfortable and real.

M3: Another piece of writing which is mandatory is the jackback. How important is a great jackback?

JR: Oh… about this much! (grins and spreads arms wide apart) I always read a jackback before buying a book, but never thought about how it influences me in my decision to buy or not, to read or not. I always thought they’d be hard to write, but I found them to be a stimulating experience that would help me get into a reviewing mode for the book. It has to have just enough info about the subject of the book and what happens in the book, without giving anything away. Not easy, but very fruitful!

M3: What do you hope Fractal Dreams will do for readers?

JR: Ever since I took up with fractals, I found it to be a sort of black sheep branch of the art world. So many people think, just because it is based on math that many applications perform in the background, that the artist has nothing to do with the creation of fractal art. So not true. I’ve sort of taken up the challenge to get fractal art accepted as easily and universally as any digital art.

We don’t create fractals so much, as explore them. You need a good eye to find some good images, cropped just right, just the right colors to enhance it. That is what makes fractal art art.

M3: (Mumbles to self: I make them from scratch.) Are you going to put out another book?

JR: Honestly, I haven’t really thought that out yet. I can’t see why not, though. This was a very rewarding experience. Perhaps I’ll find another slant or angle in which to present my art. I can tell you one thing – I already have enough images to make another book, but since making art is addictive to me, I’ll have plenty more new stuff too. And of course the new stuff is always better! I think I don’t want to do another book just like this one, but something  different and creatively interesting. So, I’ll have to let it simmer for a while. Maybe add some poetry, or so. The ideas are already flowing.

M3: How has publishing Fractal Dreams changed the way you view yourself?

A FRIENDSHIP FLOWERS - basicFlower1-042012 - render2-001-003JR: Hmmmm…. I think the biggest difference is that I previously saw myself as a solitary artist/person. I didn’t really interact with folks, real life or cyber friends, about art. Except perhaps for a few friends I’d made on my first gallery sites, I didn’t think they’d be interested.

Take my family. Everyone perceived art as my hobby. When it became more serious for me, I realized it was up to me to convince others how serious I am, personally/professionally. Recently, someone asked what I do. I immediately said, “I’m an artist.” One of my sisters laughed out loud at my response – my wake up call to get out and promote myself and my work. Not an easy thing to do, but quite rewarding.

M3: Promote away. In 15 words or less, why should the M3 Readers buy Fractal Dreams?

JR: FD will first define fractals, then show you 80+ inspiring fractals, tweaked with texture, color then cleverly titled. OK, that’s 18ish – is that OK? Or can you edit it to 15, please?

M3: How about… Fractal Dreams defines fractals, shows you 80+ cleverly-titled, inspiring fractals tweaked with texture and color. That is why I am an editor. (Grins)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dearest M3 Readers,

Take a few moments to get to know Janet Russell and look at Fractal Dreams. The raffle runs until 01FEB13, the day FD comes out in print. You can pick up your ebook from RedmundPro today.

Connect with Janet on her blogFacebook and Pinterest. You can buy and browse her art on Fine Art America, Zazzle and Deviant Art.

Thank you for your continued support of the authors and artists of the M3 Coffee Shoppe.


#Hashtags: #art #books #giveaways

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  1. Janet, it’s wonderful to hear you talk about Fractal Dreams and your art. I collect art books, and look forward to having yours! Thank you so much for your kind words as Beta reader for my memoir. Your feedback was so helpful.
    Gail Thornton recently posted..Gnarls Barkley Basement Performance (playlist)My Profile

    • and many thanks to you, as well. Gail! But first I apologize for the lateness of my reply – I’ve been ill of late and off the grid.
      Beta reading your book was a pleasure I’ll not soon forget. It was like sitting down with you and learning all about you, but in a format that made it a very enriching and entertaining experience.

      BuddhaKat recently posted..Finding the Found Long Lost Friday Fractal Feature…My Profile

  2. I have enjoyed this interview immensely and I think that your replies offer a great insight to your distinctiveness.

    You are an imaginative individual who is clearly an artist and adventurer, someone who is not afraid to reach out and stretch the power of imagination, thus broadening the horizon on your art and creativity.

    Good luck with your Fractual Dreams.

    • Why, what a nice thing to say, Gray! Thank you most kindly. It’s not often I get to be that vocal/verbal about art and it is enlightening to me as well, to think of it in terms/words that make sense, but get a specific point across!
      Thanks, Again (sorry for the late reply – just coming back from a rather long and icky illness).

      BuddhaKat recently posted..Finding the Found Long Lost Friday Fractal Feature…My Profile

  3. Janet Russell, your Fractal Dreams is a beautiful book! Interesting stuff for the artistic/mathematically-ordered mind–stuff that dreams are made of.
    Great interview, you two! I notice Red always asks just the right questions. How DOES she do that anyway? “:)

    • Really – how DOES she do that!?!?!? Thanks most kindly, Raymond for your kind comments. By their very definition, it’s not easy to describe right brain stuff using left brain tools!!
      (sorry for late reply – been out sick – UGH!)


  4. You lose formatting converting a word document to PDF…really??
    Bearman Cartoons recently posted..Five Dollar Foot Long – ZombwayMy Profile

  5. YAY! Your enthusiasm is infectious – I am glad you can share your art with more people now – it is a part of who you are – and beautiful as you are. Great interview I shared it all over the place – 🙂
    ♥ Lizzie
    Lizzie Cracked recently posted..Ridiculous Language is English; Mid-Afternoon Mental MomentMy Profile

    • I hope it’s contagious! I love sharing my joy and pride in my works and feel most humbled that they have been so well received!!
      Thanks for spreading the word, Lizzie (sorry for late reply – been a veddy sick girl – but getting better now)!


  6. This interview was not only insightful, but very informative for one who is thinking of self publishing. Although, Red, I’ve been sick, so it’s been on the back burner…but, Janet, your book sounds wonderful and I wish you all the best! Thanks to both of you for sharing your excitement with us!
    Love and hugs,
    (Red, I’m sorry I’ve missed many posts…I’ve lost momentum with this darn flu…hope you are well!)
    LScott recently posted..Random Haiku 🙂My Profile

    • I am, and I am beginning to see daylight. <3 I will be ready when you are, Lauren. Glad you made it by today. xxx

    • Thank you most kindly, Lauren… I just beam with pride whenever I get a chance to share my work – they’re all my kids and now they are out there on their own!
      I too have been down with something not fun at all, so I hope you are feeling better, Lauren. And thanks a bunch for sharing the fun!

      BuddhaKat recently posted..Finding the Found Long Lost Friday Fractal Feature…My Profile

  7. Janet’s fractal images are really superb. They should great in print form.

    3D digital art like I do isn’t really accepted as art, either. Or in my case, accepted as a true comic strip. I get very little if any acceptance from cartoonists. Art should be judged by what it is, not by how it was created.
    Binky recently posted..Mouse TrapMy Profile

    • I am lucky to have already seen the book. It is amazing.

      I do not agree with those who say your art is not art. I love it. Regardless of the software involved, designing and capturing the scenes, lighting and actions with expression is definitely art. No question.

      • Thanks, Red. Designing, modeling, and rigging the characters is no small matter, either. And making all the prop and set and scene models can also be very time consuming.
        Binky recently posted..Mouse TrapMy Profile

        • I know. It is why I am always amazed at the light effects you use and the shadowing. One day, I am going to have to sit down and learn it as well. Little V is getting more serious about animating. Since I am the teacher, that means I have to learn it as well. 😉

        • It can be very rewarding, and fascinating too. What we can do ourselves now, couldn’t even have been done by a studio at any cost not that many years ago.
          Binky recently posted..Think Like A KnifeMy Profile

          • And a lot of the hack came from those willing to try what ink artists thought could never be done. Yet still, it is not something everyone can do.

    • Oh my – there is no way I could get across the things you do with little mannerisms of expression, like a half raised eyebrow!! And it saddens me that folks seem to think art should be put into little boxes and kept in their separate places. Really, art is ALL about being different, doing something in a way that someone else can’t do it – doing it like ourselves!!!
      Thanks for your kind comments, Binky! And don’t let the naysayers get you down!!

      BuddhaKat recently posted..Finding the Found Long Lost Friday Fractal Feature…My Profile


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