Writing a Photography Book

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by billy_mabrey, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. Recently, I have been musing upon the vauge ambition of putting together a photography process book. I work primarily in the Gum Bichromate process, an older photography printing technique that very few are aquainted with, not even the photographers I come across. Those few that have heard of it tend to be very misunderstanding of the process in most cases, unaware of its full potential of photographic/artistic expression. I have often returned to do a show and tell for my old college proffessor's photo classes, and have been told I am among the top 15 in the US at this process.

    I maintain an evolving website devoted to my gum bichromate photography work and tutorials on the process at www.billymabrey.com so that you can see what I am talking about if you are unsure.

    I know that most visitors to my website are usually other photographers interested in learning about or seeing gum bichromate prints, and I know most people enjoy reading and holding a book much more then staring at a screen. There are very few books out there on the process, and most become so bogged into technical detail that they shun creative readers away.
    I feel I could write the book fairly easily (perhaps not quickly) and in a less technical, very visual way, stimulating to the visual thinkers that artists and photographers are. I even would like it to be inspiring to non-photographers if possible.
    However, I am not sure what to do after I hit save for the last time in Indesign...

    Should I print/sell the book myself via kinkos or some similar vein to start with?
    Might I seek getting it published somehow?
    Where would I start in getting a photography book published?

    Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!
  2. The most famous and successful publisher of photo books is Morgan & Morgan. Then there are photomagazines and The Photographers Formulary you could contact for opinions.

    A book on such an alternative process would, by definition, have a very limited appeal, so few publishers, if any, might be interested. If you self-publish, your next biggest problem would be promoting it. Today, book publishers, like movies producers, spend huge amounts of time and money promoting and advertising their products, even millons.
    There are, however, several university presses who publish off beat books. They are not as profit motivated.
    At the very least, I'd do a bit of market research first.
  3. BTW, go to Google.com and key in Self-publishing a photography book. There's quite a bit there.
  4. this sounds like a perfect project for blurb.com

    you can write your own book, on your own time, then publish it. they then allow you to market it on their site. Over time, with some of your own effort, your could broaden the marketing. I dont think there is enough readership to allow you the margin you would need to make a proffit, if you "farmed" out the publishing or the marketing.

    I have several friends that doe VERY well self publishing.
  5. Being a writer, I always recommend investigating options other than self-publishing first.
    While some people do do well publishing their own books, most do not. OTOH, if your
    book has an identifiable market and if editors at publishing houses turn you down, if their
    reasons are that the buyership for your book is too specialized (rather than the book being
    not of publishable quality), self-publishing may well be the way to go. However, if the
    commercial publishing houses turn you down, see if there is a university or scholarly press
    that might be interested, too.

    Because this is not a novel, you can probably get away with submitting a partial
    manuscript (two or three sample chapters with images) and a detailed outline. I can direct
    you to sites that talk about book proposals for nonfiction if you'd like.

    (N.B. that I do not write photography books, and I'm sure that this field, like any in
    publishing, has its own publishing peculiarities, but overall, most self-publishing efforts
    cost their authors money rather than make it. But I do understand that 1) there will always
    be exceptions; and 2) most commercially-produced books aren't exactly goldmines to
    their authors, either.)
  6. Nice work Dan!
  7. As you pointed out, your book's subject matter, unlike "digital xyz", is likely to attract only a small audience. You should guestimate whether publishing such a book will recoup your investment, even at the rock bottom cost of <$30 a single copy at blur.com.

    But not all book publishing is about making a profit. Many photographers/writers, even those well established, would publish books at a loss. It is a labor of love. Perhaps electronic and online publishing has made the process less costly these days.

    Instead of having a book printed in hard copy, many have taken another approach. They publish and ship ebooks on CDs. The buyers can print the contents in pdf if they so desire. This works especially well if the content's main focus is in text and not in the images. In fact, many sites that started out offering "free" tutorials and PS actions, etc. would eventually turn these into profitable products. Assuming that they are any good to begin with.
  8. [ Dan Heller, Apr 26, 2007; 03:23 p.m.

    My blog entry on the subject may be helpful ]


    This man has a great site with loads of info.

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