Create: Mack First Book Prize

Many, many years ago I entered a “first book,” prize. The open call brought submissions from around the globe with the idea being that one of us would land our “first book” deal. Books are a HUGE part of photography and have been since the beginning. Even though we live in the Digital Age, ask any legit photographer what their top goals are and I would be shocked if “book deal,” wasn’t in the top three replies.

The story I submitted had taken years to shoot, months and months to edit and tweak and even longer to polish. I thought it was solid, my friends thought it was solid as did a few industry folks who urged me to enter. So I did. Several weeks later I was greeted with a reply. “You have been chosen as a finalist for the “X” first book prize.” I was shocked and somewhat puzzled. Up until this time I wasn’t sure my work had much value but being a finalist was the precise feedback I was looking for.

And then I lost. But did I? Someone else won the contest and the beloved first book, someone who truly deserved to win. I was happy both for the winner and for myself because being chosen as a finalist was a nice little push from behind. But our story gets even better.

Unbeknownst to me, there were others watching that list of finalists. People specific to the publishing and photography worlds and people I would describe as high-level or strategic. These people noticed I was on the list. Over the past few decades my being a finalist and my work from the project have been referenced many times, in many different places, which has led to a variety of different opportunities I would have never had otherwise.

I was recently at a photography event and was standing with a range of people in the publishing world. My wife asked how someone met me and their response was “I met him right after I noticed he was a finalist for the “X” prize.” I had totally forgotten but this person, obviously, had not.

As we speak, the Mack First Book Award is open for submissions. Taking one look at the range of books they publish is all it should take for someone with intent to take the plunge. Get a second opinion, work with an editor, do whatever it takes to get yourself ready. If you have books on your mind then don’t waste this opportunity. Winning or losing doesn’t matter because winning or losing might not be so cut and dry.

4 Comments on “Create: Mack First Book Prize”

  1. I deleted Twitter and Facebook or I’d retweet/share this. Maybe I’ll link to it on my website. I have a sporadic audience. Two dedicated followers – my parents, neither of whom are into photography. But maybe just maybe a photographer will stumble on it and submit. And I’ll remember it when I think I have something coherent to submit.

    1. Scott,
      I kept Twitter, but this was six years ago and Blurb asked me to do so. Were it today they would have asked for IG, but that is the most destructive of all in my mind. I’d rather have no readers than have to go that route.

  2. I’m so grateful for stumbling across you on Advancing Your Photography last year. You are so young in comparison to all the other photographers I look up to but you are just as knowledgeable and I’m truly grateful to you for constantly sharing your knowledge FOR FREE with us. I would have never known about this book prize if it wasn’t for you.
    I currently have no book to enter this time but I’m working on one at the moment.
    … Maybe next year!
    Thanks again buddy!

    1. Kurt,
      There is another world out there….happy to help make introductions. I don’t have an angle on this stuff, at least not yet, so sharing is what a lot of other photographers did with me back in the day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *