Magazine Article


Chapter & Verse: Spotlight on Photographer Elizabeth Carmel
How and Why Elizabeth Carmel Self-Published Her New Landscapes Book

Brilliant Waters: Portraits of Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and the High Sierra
"Brilliant Waters: Portraits of Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and the High Sierra" book cover. Images from within the book follow.
Elizabeth Carmel

Elizabeth Carmel

Elizabeth Carmel

Elizabeth Carmel

Elizabeth Carmel

Elizabeth Carmel

“The great thing about InDesign is that it lets you export different versions of the book so it’s fairly easy to send out low-res PDFs.” Carmel works primarily in the RGB color space, so she had to convert her image files to CMYK in Photoshop. When the design is completed, she’ll print a draft copy on her Epson Stylus Pro 9800 printer to send to Star Print Brokers as match prints.

After its initial run at the printer, Carmel will get a digital proof for a final check. “That’s when I cross my fingers and hope the printer gets it right. If I’m not happy with the color, I can make some changes, but it starts to get complicated. There’s definitely some faith involved.”

To accompany the visual poetry of Carmel’s landscapes and waterscapes, she has selected poems by published and unpublished poets to be included throughout Brilliant Waters. Getting permission to use poetry in her book was not as difficult as she had anticipated.

“Everything is online. You go right to the website of the publisher of that particular poet, print out the permission form, and fax or email it back,” says Carmel. Fees for using the poems ranged from $40 for one well-known poet to nothing for a lesser-known writer, who was happy just to be included.

To find poems to accompany her images, Carmel searched, a service that lets you type in a few words and find a list of poems that match. She did a lot of digging for poems with the words “stone,” “sunset,” and “water.”

Spreading the Word

Once the book is published in May, Carmel will handle the publicity, press relations, marketing, and distribution herself. She is currently looking for a distributor to help sell the book to larger bookstores, which will not work directly with self-published authors.

A gallery show featuring Brilliant Waters will help launch the book, which she’ll sell for $49.95 at galleries, local bookstores, via local environmental groups, and online through her site and Amazon. She will also use her 1,000-name email newsletter list to market the book.

“This project proves you don’t have to live in New York to self-publish. I live in the small mountain town of Truckee, California, and put this whole thing together.”

Just putting her first book to bed, Carmel is already thinking of her next. “I’d love to do a book on Denali National Park in Alaska. It’s one of the most inspiring places in the world. You have to have a sense of what sells, but you also have to stay true to your art and to what inspires you.” 

For more Carmel images and a preview of her upcoming book, visit