ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 7 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 4, 2003


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.

      Stop in for live music and more at the Fairfax Music Sessions at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax most Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m., at ChowBella in St Albans 8-10 p.m. most Wednesday evenings, at the Kept Writer in St Albans most Friday and Saturday evenings, at the Bayside in St Albans Town most Sunday afternoons, and the Cambridge CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month.
     These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. The booked performances and acoustic Open Mike Nights feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      Will Anderson "writes books on topics very few other people do. I have written articles and books supporting diners, drive-in movie theaters, main street, and small breweries." His most recent book, and the tie this Maine author and publisher has to Franklin County, is The Lost New England Nine: The Best Of New England's Forgotten Ballplayers.
      After this season, Red Sox fans might want to go back to 1912-1916 when the team won three World championships. Those wins came thanks to players like UVM alum and Enosburg native son Larry Gardner who is celebrated in this rich book of baseball lore. It is the fifteenth work of the native New Yorker turned Maine author who writes entertaining and informative books about the little things that add up to a big country.
      This column continues our intermittent series on making a living in the arts.
      Will Anderson is his own publisher, doing business the old fashioned way as Anderson & Sons.
      "I am the Anderson of everything," Mr. Anderson said. He had a bad experience in with a division of one of the major publishers with a book he "cleverly called 'From Beer to Eternity.' I thought it was well written and pretty well researched and the designers had done a good job, but" the book itself "looked like they dragged [it] through a swamp.
      "I had spent a year researching and writing and I was sorry to see my name on it." He decided to try self publishing.
      He has experienced all the stigma of self publishing. "Some newspapers will not review the books because I'm self published." Most reviewers believe only books from major houses are critically valuable (wrong) and only books from major houses can be best sellers (also wrong).
      Mr. Anderson does not use Print on Demand or any of the current systems in vogue. He creates the files, contracts a printer, and stocks inventory just like a real publishing house.
      "I am a real publisher," he said. "I just happen to be small. Anderson and Sons is only one person. But it's true you wear about nine hats." A few years ago, a customer called to complain that the publisher had sent a book to the wrong address.
      "Did I have a 15-year old idiot packing and shipping?" the customer asked.
      "No," he said, "I have a [then] 55-year old idiot doing the packing." Mr. Anderson does all the shipping.
      "The fun stuff is the research and the writing and being there when they print it up in Auburn." He is tremendously proud that the book is printed in Maine on paper made in Maine.
      Once the book is written, publishing includes editing, laying out the copy, proofreading, having it printed "and, of course paying the printer, those are the big steps. Then real work starts: the distribution process, getting it into bookstores, trying to get publicity, trying to get on radio stations. I wear an accounting hat and a promotion hat and a packing person hat," he said. He has considered using a distributor, but "they don't have [enough sales staff] to sell every book, so I'd be out there selling it anyway.
      "You really have to get out there and push your own book. If you walk into the typical big bookstore with 100,000 titles and try to get your book on the shelves. It's fun scrounging around town to find boxes, too."
      Many regional authors including Joe Citro, Vermont's own expert on ghosts, ghouls, and goblins, find better success in the local or regional market than nationally.
      "It's easier if I just write Maine books and I seem to do that about every other book," Mr. Anderson said. "For the baseball book, I didn't even contact anybody outside of New England. Even in Western Connecticut, pushing a book on Red Sox is very difficult." It is carried in 170 independent bookstores plus the chains "which is impressive but also very tiring because I pack all the books and call them to see if they need more."
      The Maine bookstores know his work and take the books sight unseen, a marketing success that has also become true in much of Vermont and New Hampshire. "When I get down into Massachusetts and Rhode Island, it's a harder sell. If they knew the Diner books, they'll know the quality. If not, I have to try maybe one book on approval, maybe two books, and then go from there."
      Self published writers get few awards, but he is very proud of one in particular. "A guy from New York, I was elected to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. Not for my playing," he added quickly. "It's a case where the typewriter is mightier than the bat."
      It also means a lot to him when readers say 'I love your book' or 'I gave your book to my father.' "Recently a woman came up to me and said 'I gave your last book to my husband and whenever we go shopping he sits [in the car] and reads the book. Just reads and reads.'"
      Will Anderson is married to a first grade school teacher and Maine native. "We live in Bath where she can walk to school. Two sons, two granddaughters, and, as of last week, a grandson.
      "I'm going to go out and get him a baseball glove for his first Christmas present and the most important."
      Mr. Anderson fifteen books cover Americana. "I'm really proud of the fact that I'm drawing attention to players who have been forgotten. They worked for the success of their teams and having people like them and now who's ever heard of Duncan Maginnis or Chanty Hogan, my favorite catcher. These guys are part of America's past."
      The Lost New England Nine is available at Better Planet and the Kept Writer in St. Albans as well as in the window of the Enosburg Pharmacy and all the big box book stores. Books can be also "ordered directly from me." He is "glad to inscribe copies, anything short of the Gettysburg address." Call 207-442-7459 or write Anderson and Sons Publishing, 34 Park Street, Bath, ME 04530 for info.


ST. ALBANS--The Blue-Eyed Dog Framing and Gallery series of All Arts Council exhibits began last week with three different shows of artists working in oils, watercolors, and fine art photography. The "oils" show features Corliss Blakely, Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard, Patrick Murphy, and Kate Ritz. It will end on Saturday.
      Starting on Monday, we will hang a new 10-day exhibit of the fine art photography of April Henderson, Gustav Verderber, and me. That show will feature landscapes, nature, and whimsy.
      The AAC exhibit at the Blue-Eyed Dog Gallery is open Monday through Saturday 10-6 at 1 Lake Street in St. Albans. The AAC artists will be on exhibit through Christmas. Call 524-4447 for info.

ST. ALBANS--The Kept Writer exhibit features St. Albans resident Joshua Givens. He has explored techniques from applying thick, sculptural paint, to flat layered washes, to impressionism. His usual subjects are music and animals. On the big wall at 50 N. Main through the end of the month.
      "It is mostly newer stuff," he said about a show that includes a few that are "more abstract" as part of a wide range of his styles.
      "It's fun to have shows in town here at the Kept Writer because I live here and they have a really good spot to hang." He also shows at cafes and libraries in Burlington and at the juried Art Hop.
      Joshua Givens will stay on the big wall at 50 N. Main through the end of the month.

ST. ALBANS--The Northwestern Medical Center rotating exhibit wall feature young artist Deborah Melhuish of Bakersfield for December.
      "Her work is very whimsical," exhibit and volunteer coordinator Dollie MacNeil said. "It is colorful and delightful."
      "I did a couple of pieces and displayed them at the town library and it got popular," Ms. Melhuish said of the paintings of little creatures. She works in pastels and watercolor. Her art teacher is Becky Wright.
      Ms. Melhuish will be on exhibit through the end of the month.


      Gustav W. Verderber has renovated his Sojourns In Nature web site. It has a new look and includes his sojourn in Yellowstone National Park as the 2003 Kodak Ambassador last summer as well as wildlife and landscape photos from New England, Alaska, Costa Rica, and the Galapagos Islands. Sojourns in the Wild -- the Yellowstone will be part of Burlington's First Night Celebration.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2003 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
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