Mandalas

Art and religion has many regions of overlap. It is an organic interaction that leads to much richness in cultures. One can just think of all the Byzantine art as an example.

Among the forms of art associated with Eastern religions, one finds the mandala. It is an abstract pattern, usually circular in design and often has some symmetries. Its meaning is some way associated with the universe, however, there’s more to it. Part of the whole significance is the actual creation process of a mandala. A person would tend to start from the centre and work his way outward. In this way, it represents how the individual is being connected with the universe. At least, that is what I understood from what I read about it.

These days one often encounter mandalas in various non-religious contexts. It may even be regarded as a theme in abstract design. One can for instance notice them in adult colouring books.

It is fun to makes one’s own design for a mandala and to let the creative juices flow. The one above I made using POV-Ray. One can play with the colours. Here I decided to make it look like a metal wire construction. The reflection at the bottom did not come out so nicely.

Self-publishing

Finally got things somewhat under control. Been letting the dust gather here for long enough. Not being among those with an aptitude for admin, I went through a bit of a struggle to get to this point. But here we are. Things are looking up.

So, what have I been busy with that allowed all the dust to gather? I wrote a book. Yes, that’s the one: How do we know what we know? It was quite the adventure, especially the publishing part. I decided to try the self-publication route. Over time I’d like to tell the tale of this adventure, and perhaps also some advice to those that wish to follow this path to publication.

The first question that I imagine anybody would ask is: why would you want to self-publish a book in the first place? The obvious answer may be that you may want to avoid all those challenges associated with getting a traditional publisher: finding a literary agent, writing a book proposal, and waiting for a year or so to get any response. On top of that, once you found a publisher that is interested, you have to sign away the copyright to your hard work and settle for a tiny portion of the income that comes with the sale of any book.

However, there are benefits in using a traditional publisher. They take over the responsibility of marketing the book. It does not mean that you are not involved, but you have help. In the case of self-publication, the marketing of the book is your responsibility.

Another benefit of a traditional publisher is credibility. Some types of books are refereed before they are physically published. Obviously, a self-published book does not necessarily go through the same process. So, when people decide to buy a book, they may be prejudiced against buying a self-published book, because they may feel its contents have not gone through the same verification process as a book from a traditional publisher. This issue does not affect all genres. So, it depends on the type of book that you want to publish.

Don’t forget about the editing! The traditional publisher would have professional editors to do the copy editing, proof reading, and so forth. When you self-publish, you need to find your own editors. That is a nightmare all by itself. Rather don’t publish the books without having it properly edited first.

When it comes to the design of the book, which includes the interior design and the cover design, the preference depends on what you want. The traditional publisher would have professional people doing the design, and apart from making some choices and giving approval, you may not have much direct involvement in this part of the process. Perhaps that’s how you prefer it. With self-publication you can also hire professionals to do the design, but you have the freedom to do it all yourself. If you are not very good with this, it could affect the success of your book. If the result is good, then you can be proud of having done it yourself.

In my case, the choice to follow the self-publication option, was based on the fact that I didn’t want to waste time on book proposals. Frankly, I don’t think I have enough of a “profile” to convince traditional publishers that a book I wrote will sell enough copies to make it worth their while. I also liked the freedom to do my one design. Whether the result is good enough to improve the sales remains to be seen. But even if I don’t sell so many of them, the adventure of doing it all myself (and all that I have learned in the process) makes it worth the trouble.