How One Artist Self-Published a Book

by Carolyn Edlund

Painter Josh Lance tells the story of traveling the world and creating art through the publication of a book that documents his life and work. We recently spoke about why and how he did it.


Painting of a Chinese baby in traditional dress by Josh Lance

“Chinese Baby of Woyang Village” oil on linen, 17″ x 20″ by Josh Lance


AS: What inspired you to create your new book Travelsmart?

JL: I felt it was important to document my creative journey and my travels as an artist. Both have changed my life for the better in many ways.

I’ve lived in different places in the US, such as New Jersey and New Mexico. When the recession of 2008-11 hit the US hard, and the gallery where I worked shut down, I started traveling throughout the country doing outdoor art fairs. By 2011, I decided that I wanted to travel abroad instead, to see if I could have an art career in Asia.

After staying in Asia for five years, I moved to Colorado, then Europe, and finally back to New Jersey. By 2019, I decided to create a book detailing my travels and my art from the entire decade in chronological order. In this way, readers would see my artwork and style evolve over this nice chunk of my life.

I wanted a strong and honest record of some of my best work of the 2010’s. I have been fortunate enough to have traveled and lived in some very interesting countries. This happened organically, not by design, and I know how one’s environment can affect the creative process. The book is a visual diary that is dear to my heart.


Painting of ponies on the cover of the Travelsmart book

Cover of “Travelsmart” by artist Josh Lance


AS: Why did you choose the Amazon platform to publish and sell your book?

JL:  Amazon currently is the most sought-after platform for self-publishing. It takes about a third of the profit, where other platforms take 60-70%. Because I decided to publish on Amazon, it allows me to charge less to my readers.

Amazon has made self-publishing possible for anyone. It certainly helps that it is a worldwide platform producing books in paperback as well as e-book form. I’ve been impressed with my results, and the quality of the pages.

Being a published author doesn’t only add credibility to an artist. Books are useful as a marketing tool. A published book makes a great addition to the sale of a painting. Send a book to your collectors as a thank you, or gift it in other ways. Order as many copies as you like, and keep some handy for in-person art shows.


Oil painting of a breakfast table in Morocco by Josh Lance

“Moroccan Breakfast” oil on board, 16″ x 20″ by Josh Lance


AS: How did you build your book?

JL:  I used the Pages app and template from KDP publishing (Amazon) and worked on my iPad. I have an old Mac laptop but couldn’t find an older version of Pages to use on it. My iPad is much newer and faster, so I laid out the entire book there using high-res images, photographs, and quotes that I had saved throughout the years.

My researched included lifting photos and thoughts from old Facebook posts and blog entries I had written. Fortunately, I had an abundance of information to use. Good record keeping with photos of art and my travels made the book possible. I wanted to keep the book around 200 pages, because it felt about the right length.

Amazon has very high publishing standards, which required plenty of rewrites. I was concerned about my images coming out sharp and colorful in the book and was very pleased to see that they did. I spent time working on alignment. The sizes of the images needed lots of attention, too. The entire process took me between two and three months.


“Praiano Vista” oil on board, 12″ x 12″ by Josh Lance


AS:  What does your book include?

JL:  I wanted a devote a generous portion of the book to each place where I lived or traveled, which represented that particular time period. In it, I outlined the countries I would cover, including the Southwest US, Taiwan, and Italy.

I was able to use quotes in my book as a nice break from the art, to highlight some of my insights about travel and reflect my mindset at that point in time. I also used travel photographs that I had taken for each region. Some of them directly inspired the artwork represented during that trip.

I included many surprises in this book, including artwork that has never before been seen. A variety of portraits and landscape paintings in the book are uniquely honored with creative interpretations. I also share photos of various subjects I painted, especially from Asia. Some of the artwork that was never put on my website ended up fitting well in this book instead.


Artist Josh Lance painting in the studio in Taiwan

Artist Josh Lance works on a portrait of “Kyota” in Taiwan


AS: What is the message your book shares with others ?

JL:  I pride myself on being a natural storyteller. My spiritual journey is displayed in my paintings, and this book illustrates my own personal history. The book displays the reasons why I painted in this or that place. It is more about one man’s journey than a pretentious retrospective.

Through my book, I hope I can inspire people to take a chance and travel. Create some cool art. Allow yourself to enjoy the process. I look at the book as an extension of what I’ve done, and what I’ve yet to do.



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