Photography creates a sense of wonder as the photographer documents subjects with extraordinary detail from their unique perspective. There are a variety of photography books meant for a myriad of purposes. In this article we’ll offer tips and examples on how to get your photography book published.
Answer “What’s in it for me?” for Your Audience
The goal of writing a book is so other people read it, right? When compiling photographs together, it is essential to consider who your audience is and what they will gain from your book. In Croak, an ode to late herpetologist Phil Bishop, the mission of the book is to bring an awareness and appreciation for frogs. Western audiences will note the book showcases species from Africa, Europe, and Asia, excluding North American species. The answer to the question of “what’s in it for me to buy this book?” is for readers to have an appreciation for this special species.
Another Exisle book, Getting Closer by Paul Sorrell, is filled with crisp photographs of birds, as well as photographing tips. Audiences can expect to learn how to photograph the wild around them, while becoming more intimate with the natural world.
These questions help in marketing the book to a specific audience and will assist in how you format your book.
Establish Your Platform
You should be recognised within the photography community, even if in your local region. Your photographs should be published in various outlets, including photography magazines. Paul Sorrell’s photography can be found in various venues from airline magazines to New Zealand’s tourism webpage. This provides Sorrell with publishing experience and more exposure for his photography.
You want to be established on your social media, where you can showcase your photography and gain followers. If you’ve been posting your photography for a few years, the followers you’ve curated may be your top buyers when you announce your book. Instagram is the best application for photographers since it is visually focused.
Using his photography skills on Animal Planet and National Geographic, Davis focuses his Instagram to highlight his specialty, primarily capturing and sharing his wildlife photos. Readers will be happy to see a few of his photos on Instagram nestled within the pages of The Science of Hope.
Determine Your Format
How will you organise your book? How much text will be included, if any? Do you have someone in mind to write the text? This is where considering your audience is beneficial. If your book is a coffee table read, minimal text may be best. Consider The Science of Hope with beautiful photography by Scott Davis and uplifting writing by Dr. Wiebke Finkler. The text informs the photographs of different species who humans use as mascots in the effort to tackle climate change. It's much more text heavy than Croak, which includes quotes about frogs from well-known figures, like authors and actors.
In Getting Closer, Paul Sorrell offers photography knowledge, using his photos as examples. The result leads to a “how-to” for amatuer photographers. In this example he instructs the use of “thirds” when framing a subject, like a bellbird.
Underneath the image is a list of his camera settings for the photo, offering helpful information to readers. Sorrell has formatted this book to be a celebration of bird photography, but also a guide on how to copy the techniques he utilises.
Choosing the Right Publisher
While you compile your photographs together it is important to look for the right publishers. The first aspect to consider is where your book would sit within a bookstore. Would it be in photography? The travel or nature section? If you can, go to your local bookstore or library and explore those shelves to see which books sit there.
Investigate which photography books are similar to yours. With a little detective work, you can figure out the author’s publisher, agent, and editor by reading the author’s acknowledgements page. This is where you can find the exact names of the people who can potentially work with you on your own book.
There are a variety of free newsletters which list what publishers and editors are looking to publish currently. There are specific names on the list too, so when you write your query letter, you can address the exact person you want to work with. Check out sources such as Shelf Awareness (worldwide), The Bookseller (UK), Publishers Weekly (US), and Books + Publishing (ANZ). This should be checked often as the market consistently changes.
Your publisher will have to make a business case that your photography project is a worthwhile investment. If you are cooperative, empathetic and have clearly done your groundwork, you make that job easier, making it more likely to get a “yes” from the publisher.
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