Monday, October 8, 2007
Book Smart - Creating Your Own Photo Book
The process of landing a book deal is a combination of hard work, critical evaluation and no small amount of luck
The book points out that “the history of the photographic book goes back well more than a century; the medium of photography and the book format were understood very early on to relate to each other on both technical and aesthetic levels…a photography book should be much more than a repository of images.” Examples of successful combinations of photographic image, text, design and typography bound together as books range from Edward Curtis' The North American Indians, Brassai and Paul Morand's Paris de Nuit and Margaret Bourke-White and Erskine Caldwell's You Have Seen Their Faces to Weegee's Naked City, Eikoh Hosoe and Yukio Mishima's Killed by Roses and David LaChapelle's LaChapelle Land.
Book festivals are great opportunities both for research and making contacts in the publishing industry. In the United States, BookExpo America (www.bookexpoamerica.com) is the place to be. BEA 2008 will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center from May 29 through June 1, 2008. The event combines the largest selection of English-language titles on the planet with special industry and author events. The BEA Website states that its convention is “a dynamic environment for networking, sourcing and relationship building.” It was at a previous incarnation of the BEA, the ABA, that I made contact with Abbeville Press, the publisher of my first book, Faces of the Twentieth Century: Master Photographers and Their Work. Later, they negotiated foreign rights, resulting in both a German and French edition. It's important to keep in mind that publishers set up booths at book fairs to launch new books and negotiate international publishing rights and licensing fees, and for the most part, aren't there to receive pitches for book ideas from individuals. That said, it's still a great place to collect business cards and publishers' catalogs.
The king of book fairs is the Frankfurt Book Fair (www.frankfurt-book-fair.com), held for five days in mid-October in Germany annually. The Frankfurt Book Fair has an impressive history, which dates back to a time soon after Johannes Gutenberg invented printing with movable letters in the nearby town of Mainz. These days, the exhibit hall is open Wednesday to Friday for trade visitors, with the general public allowed in on Saturday and Sunday. More than 6,500 exhibitors and 270,000 visitors took part last year. It's a critical marketing event for the launching of books and an important event to facilitate the negotiation of the international sale of rights and licenses. Visitors can obtain information about the publishing market, network and do business. Publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, academics, illustrators, service providers, film producers, translators, printers, professional and trade associations, institutions, artists, authors, antiquarians, and software and multimedia suppliers all take part.
Presentations & Proposals
Now that you've done your homework and you know what's out there—who's doing what—and you know what a successful photography book looks like, inside and out, it's time to figure out how to present your project.