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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


How do you get the proposal in front of the people who can help make the book a reality? Check the Websites of the various publishers to whom you want to submit your proposal. Most detail how to submit the work. There are also many opportunities to meet photo book editors for reviews of your work at places such as FotoFest's the Meeting Place in Houston (www.fotofest.org) and Review Santa Fe (www.sfcp.org), a two-day conference “for photographers who have created a significant project or series and are seeking wider recognition.”

If you truly believe in your project, don't give up after one or even several turndowns. Pay attention to the reasons given by a publisher who passes on your project. Don't become defensive—it closes you off from learning. Several major publishers turned me down before my first book found a home at Abbeville Press. The book ended up winning both the New York Book Show “Photography Book of the Year” and “Best of Show” awards. Because the book was a compilation of my interviews with many of the great names in 20th-century photography, several potential publishers felt that acquiring the rights to reproduce those photos would be prohibitive. Abbeville Press was willing to see what we could get for a preset limit for rights. We were able to bring in legendary photographers, including Alfred Eisenstaedt, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Gordon Parks, Helmut Newton, Annie Leibowitz, Peter Lindbergh, Mary Ellen Mark and Herb Ritts, at a much lower than normal rate because they and their agents and gallery people recognized that each would be in good company and that the book would serve as a tool to promote and highlight their great work.

At a time in history when we can navigate our way through hundreds of television channels with a remote, creating good books is more important than ever. As Groucho Marx said, “I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book."


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