Why You Should Self-Publish Your Photo Book

Self-publishing books, thanks to the Internet and computer technology, has never been easier.

Most photographers dream of accomplishing two things in the publishing world: Having their work appear in National Geographic or other magazines and showcasing their photography in a coffee table book. I can’t help you with the first one but can with the second.

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As the author of thirty books produced by many different book publishers, some of my recent work has been self-published. The reasons for doing so are the same reasons I’m going to suggest that you should try self-publishing.

Been There, Done That

Except for photographs made on the moon, everybody has been almost everywhere and photographed just about everything. Your chances of getting any publisher to take seriously a book on landscape photography featuring classic USA locations such as Arches National Park or Yosemite—no matter how good they may be—are slim to none. The first shots at books like this are given to “name” photographers, but you can happily self-publish that very same book and even sell several thousand copies.

My writer friend Don Bain recently worked with me to produce a coffee table book called, Acapulco, Paradise of the Americas. The self-published book contains more than 100 color and black and white photographs of Acapulco made during several trips that Don and I made to this truly magical place over the past few years. The book is available in either hardback with dust jacket or softbound from Blurb.com. ©2008 Joe Farace


My new traditionally-published book, Digital Monochrome Special Effects, will take two years from when I originally submitted the material until it’s finally published in early 2009. My editor tells me this is a “normal” production schedule for this kind of book. I ‘ve been told that scholarly or books for academia take double that amount of time. Do you want to wait two to four years to see your book in print? You don’t have to if you self-publish it.

As I write this, Digital Monochrome Special Effects has been edited and designed and is being sent to the printers with an anticipated available date of January 2009. ©2008 Joe Farace

It’s a Collaborative Process

Why does it take so long? After you finish your book the manuscript and all the illustrations are sent to a technical editor for content evaluation. After that it’s fact checked and copy edited. Each of the three different people who are responsible for these parts of the process take their time (and are sometimes not well paid) but more importantly also add their thoughts in the process, which might not always match your original concept. Conflict about text and even selection of specific images are not unknown during this phase and this part of book publishing has become so contentious and onerous to me that it’s the main reason that most of my new books will be self-published.

But It’s Your book, Isn’t it?

The various copy editors, technical editors, and proofreaders involved in publishing your book don’t agree. They see it as their book too. When changes were made to my books that I have vehemently disagreed with I’ve asked them to put their name on the book cover so they can share in the bad reviews but that’s not how it works. If the book is a best seller, it’s to the publisher’s credit; if it’s a flop, your name is on the cover. Self publishing takes all of these buttinskys out of the process--but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have someone sympathetically proofread your book.

Tomorrow I'll show you how I'm using my latest self-published book as a marketing tool.

Joe Farace is the author of How I Photograph Cars, which is self-published via Blurb.com. Visit their website and search the Bookstore under “Farace” to order a copy. Softcover copies are $19.95 plus shipping.


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