September 30, 2014, 12:18:20 PM

Author Topic: Finding a book publisher  (Read 1564 times)

yorgasor

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Finding a book publisher
« on: February 20, 2014, 05:29:35 PM »
So, I've found an angle for a series of books on national parks at night (ones far away from cities, with beautiful dark skies), where I'd go spend a few weeks onsite getting photos.  I'm not a well know photographer with years of professional experience behind me, but I'm confident that within this timeframe I could come up with a book's worth of high quality photos (assuming it isn't cloudy the whole time).

Has anyone here tried pitching a book idea to a publisher?  Are there any publishers I should try pitching my idea to first?  Any suggestions on what I should make sure I include in my sales pitch?  If I find a publisher whose interested, are there any contract gotchas I should look out for?

The ideal would be I'd get a certain amount up front to help cover expenses and any additional gear I'd need.  I'm a realist though, and I wouldn't be surprised if I had to do the first book all on my own, and then try to find a publisher to print it and then maybe get the next trip funded. 

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Finding a book publisher
« on: February 20, 2014, 05:29:35 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2014, 05:41:23 PM »
I don't mean to discourage you, but there are hundreds actually thousands of books on National parks and other subjects.  There is very little money in publishing them, since they do not sell by the millions, and most of them end up being dumped for a big loss.  Publishers must sell them to book stores, and its a tough sell.
In this kind of business, credentials are everything.  Being published in National Geographic, or having other successful books, Calendars, etc helps, but is no guarantee.  I'd work on getting your creds built up, submit to magazines and other publications, a publisher is not likely to even talk to someone who doesn't have some very impressive credentials.
 
Get a agent, you will get nowhere fast without a good agent.
 
As you noted, self publish.  Perhaps you can get custom orders for calendars for local businesses. 
 
Good luck, but just having good or even surpurb photos might not help much, they are a dime a dozen.

Nitroman

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2014, 06:22:31 PM »
Totally agree with Mt Spokane Photography.

I've had three books published over the years and it gets tougher.

The cost of producing, designing, printing and then distributing paper books is enormous and the economic climate means many publishers are struggling and not keen on taking big risks.

Even if you do get a book out, there is very little profit to be made from hardback or paperback books. Print runs are low (less than 10k) and most end up in remainder book stalls. Remember, authors usually get 5-10% royalties on net sale price - Ie : approx 50c to $1 on a $10 book or $2 on a $20 book etc. Book clubs and discount book retailers sell books for heavily reduced cover prices so royalties are even less.

Ebooks might be a better answer, but depends upon the content. If it's factual you may sell some copies ... but if you had a coffee table type photography book in mind not many people will want that in electronic form on Kindle etc.

Self publishing is probably your best choice - somebody like Blurb make publishing small print run books a possibility. However, you won't make much money this way either ...

Sorry to appear negative, but very high quality pics are ten a penny these days and even the best known photographers struggle to get published in this tough climate.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2014, 06:28:18 PM by Nitroman »

unfocused

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2014, 07:36:46 PM »
Absolutely agree with Mt. Spokane and Nitroman. But, having said that, there is also no reason on earth not to shoot a book.

Give yourself the assignment of creating the book. Researching, writing, photography...everything from start to finish. Spend at least a year working on it. You will become a much better and more disciplined photographer.

That's what I did a few years ago with this project: http://www.unfocusedmg.com/new-salem/index.html

First I produced a book as a sample and published it using Blurb. I have it for myself now, which is important to me. I then decided to turn it into the website above. Through that website, far more people will see it than will ever see any book I might publish (although still not so many).

I came very close to getting it published, but the group that wanted to publish it never followed through. I may still self-publish as a softback magazine as I found a website that does those books on a one-off basis.

Bottom line though, giving yourself the assignment and treating it as though it is a real assignment gives you discipline and focus that you can never gain just shooting for your own enjoyment. It forces you to think about how words and pictures work together. You learn about a topic in depth and you get a much better idea of how to produce pictures that others will find interesting -- rather than just what you like. You'll also learn about layout and design and if you create a website, you'll learn those skills as well.

I now have about three or four other ideas in the works. None are likely to ever see publication, but they keep me motivated and learning.
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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2014, 07:55:43 PM »
Hi, I'm no professional photographer, but I'd be a bit pessimistic about the project, even more so if you expect upfront money for gear and travel..

I've read and researched a bit on publishing and here are what I took away. Art books are expensive to make and have very low print (and even lower sale)  volume(s). As a result they are hard to make a profit out of, so they are hard to get published. Moreover, as a first run you'd be likely to get 500-1000 prints from a small editor (in my home market) and they rarely all sell. Even worst, the best sellers are often the least expensive in the 20-30 bucks a piece price range. That is only going to be a profit around 1$ a piece... and then, many editors actually ask YOU to put some money on the table to share the risk so its unlikely you'll get much in terms of an upfront payment.

In the end, I believe that you are going to need a lot more than the work required for the pics. Think about the captioning, stories and descriptions of the pics, not to mention selling yourself and making the promotion of your work.

Then, there is also the possibity that parks will require a royalty fee or rights on the images or authorisations for publications.

Anyways, its not going to be a few weeks jobs in the end. It is for you to decide if it is worth trying.
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2014, 08:05:06 PM »

Give yourself the assignment of creating the book. Researching, writing, photography...everything from start to finish. Spend at least a year working on it. You will become a much better and more disciplined photographer.

That's what I did a few years ago with this project: http://www.unfocusedmg.com/new-salem/index.html

First I produced a book as a sample and published it using Blurb. I have it for myself now, which is important to me. I then decided to turn it into the website above. Through that website, far more people will see it than will ever see any book I might publish (although still not so many).

I came very close to getting it published, but the group that wanted to publish it never followed through. I may still self-publish as a softback magazine as I found a website that does those books on a one-off basis.

Bottom line though, giving yourself the assignment and treating it as though it is a real assignment gives you discipline and focus that you can never gain just shooting for your own enjoyment. It forces you to think about how words and pictures work together. You learn about a topic in depth and you get a much better idea of how to produce pictures that others will find interesting -- rather than just what you like. You'll also learn about layout and design and if you create a website, you'll learn those skills as well.

I now have about three or four other ideas in the works. None are likely to ever see publication, but they keep me motivated and learning.

Excellent Idea.  Advertise the  book on Craigslist locally, sell it on ebay and Amazon.  Its going to be a interesting project.
 
Put yourself in the position of a publisher, you have to layout lots of wages and cash long before you get any returns.  You have to produce publications that turn a profit, or lose your job.  Now, someone new walks in who has zero experience with publishing books, asks for money to buy photography equipment,  YOU SAY TO YOURSELF ----   IS THIS GUY A PHOTOGRAPHER OR JUST WANTING MONEY FOR BOOZE OR DRUGS?  Then you show him the door and threaten the secretary who let him in.
 
Go to a bank and ask them for money to buy photo equipment and to finance self publishing.  They will want to know how to be sure they will get paid back.  Its really tough to get started, so start small.  Look for any possible opening to get your self published, you might not get paid much if at all, but you gain experience and you are building a portfolio.
 
If you are good, and there is demand for your photography, stock photos are another possibility.  They too are a hard sell.

yorgasor

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2014, 11:22:27 AM »
Thanks for all the tips.  It wasn't necessarily the 'happy' answer, but the one I needed to get an idea of the landscape of the business.  I'll look into the idea of self publishing and see if I can earn enough on the side doing portraits and selling individual photos to see if I can fund the expedition.


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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2014, 11:22:27 AM »

dgatwood

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2014, 07:06:11 PM »

If you really want to get a book out there, have a look at CreateSpace.  They're less of a screw job than most of the other print-on-demand services, but they're still easy enough for normal, sane people to be able to actually do it (as opposed to, for example, Lightning Source, who although a bit cheaper per copy, also require that you know exactly what you're doing).

AcutancePhotography

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2014, 12:03:48 PM »
There is one question that you have to ask yourself... and it is a tough question.

Why would anyone pay money to look at any of your pictures instead of someone else's?

That's a harsh question, but a very important one.

Unless you can come up with a compelling and clear answer, it will be hard for someone else to answer.

Are you going to have access to areas not normally open to other photographers?
Are you going to be using equipment not normally used by other photographers?

In short are you going to be doing anything different than the thousands of really good photographers who also take pictures of the parks?

What do you think will make your photographs better/more interesting/more profitable than the thousands of other photographers all taking pictures of the same thing?

If you can answer these questions, then I think you would be in a better position to pitch a business case to a publisher. 

Just be sure that you don't go out and buy stuff with the reliance of paying for it by getting published.  That is pretty risky.
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mackguyver

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2014, 12:48:58 PM »
Sometimes you just want to (self-)publish a book for the sake of publishing it.  It can be a lot of work and challenge to put them together, but it's pretty cool to have a book of your work, even if you don't make money on them.  I have created two books like this and while this company only produces soft-cover books, I've been very pleased with the quality:

It's called Magcloud and it's run by HP.  They print on Indigo (print on demand) press machines - no crappy color copier prints and use high quality paper.  Not the cheapest, but they offer a 20% discount on 20+ books and run sales every now and then:
http://www.magcloud.com/

Here are my two books - they haven't made me rich, but then again I haven't marketed them and really just created them for myself and my family:
http://www.magcloud.com/browse/magazine/526793

unfocused

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2014, 02:21:20 PM »
Sometimes you just want to (self-)publish a book for the sake of publishing it.  It can be a lot of work and challenge to put them together, but it's pretty cool to have a book of your work, even if you don't make money on them.  I have created two books like this and while this company only produces soft-cover books, I've been very pleased with the quality...

I found MagCloud by accident one day and have been seriously considering using them. Thanks for the information, it's great to hear from someone who has actual experience with them.
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filo64

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2014, 03:55:52 PM »
kickstarter.com comes to mind...

mackguyver

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2014, 04:09:09 PM »
kickstarter.com comes to mind...
Meant to mention that - here's a good example of a successful publishing experience:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/self_publishing_a_landscape_photography_book.shtml

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2014, 04:09:09 PM »

Sporgon

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2014, 05:15:14 PM »

 sell it on ebay and Amazon. 
 

I know a guy who produced ( a very good) book and sold it through the latter. They started off by taking 70% - and then increased their share to 95%. The guy pulled them out and now sells just by word of mouth.

distant.star

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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2014, 06:44:49 PM »
kickstarter.com comes to mind...
Meant to mention that - here's a good example of a successful publishing experience:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/self_publishing_a_landscape_photography_book.shtml

Thanks!

That's a great story. The book also looks exceptional.
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Re: Finding a book publisher
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2014, 06:44:49 PM »