The digital photography evolution lives and the associated expenses required to stay on top are no longer offset by not buying and processing film. As hardware changes and software upgrades, photographers often look for new income streams. Some photographers even cross genres, like photojournalists shooting weddings and sports photographers shooting fashion.
I transitioned from a U.S. Army combat photographer to a civilian photojournalist and enjoy great success in the private in-home glamour market, though it, too, has its diet days. Exploring other methods to supplement my income, I became intrigued with becoming an author.
I soon discovered that publishing a book takes more than writing and taking great images, especially with a well-known publisher, such as Amherst Media. It takes a lot of commitment, passion, and most of all, perseverance, because it can take over a year to put a book on a shelf.
The actual writing is one of the hardest parts. My first book, Garage Glamour, Digital Beauty & Nude Photography Made Simple (April 2006, Amherst Media), needed at least 25,000 words. Most writers can write, edit, and rewrite about 2,000 or more words per day.
1. The first step is coming up with an idea. Once the idea is formed in your head, you’ll need to put a book proposal together for the publisher. A simple proposal includes an outline, expanded outline, marketing plan, three sample chapters, and a cover letter. I also included my biography and some 8x10-inch glossy images that would be used in the book.
The outline will become your road map to finishing your manuscript. It should start with your intent is for the reader and flow to the conclusion of the book. Use Roman numerals, just like your college research papers. Include a preface, introduction, and each chapter. The ideal photography “how-to” book should have at least 10 chapters or topics. Worry about subtopics later; many will come as you write the expanded outline portion of your proposal. The outline will require revisions and edits, just like the chapters to follow, so don’t get discouraged. Eventually, it will all come together.
2. Next, write a small paragraph explaining each chapter or topic on the outline. For example, my Chapter 8—Developing Your Style, included a paragraph that summarized the chapter, how a photographer could develop or improve his style by being consistent in many facets of photography, such as composition, lighting, while explaining the importance of style
3. From this expanded outline, the publisher will want three sample chapters. My outline included the standard Preface and Introduction, and 11 chapters. My proposal included three completely written and tightly edited chapters. The chapters should be typed double space and output on a laser printer. It’s best to use an AP Style Guide as a reference. I use the Associate Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, the standard in the publishing world.
4. Next, provide a cover letter, not more than two pages, covering what you submitted and any discussions you had in a formal or informal query. (Note: If you want to inquire about getting a book published, send a query letter not a cover letter). Include the pitch you used in your query to remind the publisher about what you discussed. The bigger publishers get queried many times each week.
I called the publisher contact directly after finding this information in the 2005 Writer’s Market published by Writer’s Digest Book. Writer’s Digest also publishes the Photographer’s Market each year, a great resource for photographers.
Show how you plan to market your book, or include a separate marketing plan. While the publisher will market your book, send out press releases, and possibly arrange book-signings, explaining what you will do to help sell your book—such as radio talkshows or articles in your local paper—increases your chances of being published.
5. The first manuscript drafts can take months, even years. It took me over a year with life’s interruptions. When you have your first manuscript draft, print it out and use that red pen to cut, make proof-reader marks, and enter corrections and rewrites, page by page. Good authors write, edit, rewrite and enter corrections several times before shipping out their manuscript to their assigned editor.
The editor, in my case, Michelle Perkins, then takes your manuscript, reads it page by page, makes any corrections, and sends it back to you for another round of editing. After reading the book over and over, you’ll ship it back to the publisher’s editor.
6. Next, the publisher will take your images and edited captions and start to design the book. When the editor is satisfied with the design and layout of the text, images, and captions, the book is printed on bond paper—called galleys or galley proofs—and sent to you for another round of editing. Once you edit the galleys, the editor will edit again and you might get one more look before it goes to press.