Create: Let’s Talk Books

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You know, those paper things we run into the house to save after you leave the stove on. You know, those things people burn when they are trying to send some misguided message. You know, those things that cause so much uproar in the classroom. You know, those things that get certain artists banned only to make them even more famous. Ya, books. Books people, books. In our case, photography books. The unicorn, the white elephant, the golden goose of acceptance when it comes to being a pro. But books create their own weather system, one which can go from sunny day to CAT5 hurricane in one short meeting or call. Best to be prepared and cast a wide net when it comes to knowledge of just what “doing a book” actually means. There is more than one answer, thankfully. And before anyone gets prickly, I LOVE traditional publishing and traditionally published books. In fact, I have hundreds and hundreds of books and this is after a major downsizing. I see superb books being produced on a regular basis, so by no means am I down on publishing or publishers. But, like all other businesses, there are somewhat predatory things happening. It’s our job as the artist to wade through these situations until we find something that makes sense. Saying “no” can often be the best decision you can make. (I learned this the hard way.)

1. 6:13, This should be FUN!

2. 8:07, If you are angry or feeling like you are doing a book to prove everyone wrong then stop immediately and do not attempt to make a book.

3. 9:39, Photobooks are for the 1% of the 1%. Keep things in context.

4. 12:15, Books are not easy.

5. 14:56, Artist driven book vs story-driven book

6. 19:09, Most common book deal I see and hear about.

7. 22:48, If you are paying a publisher to do your book, in my opinion, you are self-publishing. Get over it.

8. 26:55, Publishing cycles, twelve to eighteen months

9. 27:20, The ingredients of the majority of books I see

10. 29:10, If you have a real following you can sell a great book or a subpar book, and sell it out.

11. 31:00, YouTube is better than IG because it supports long-form content.

12. 32:30, Does the world need your book?

13. 36:58, Always err toward weird

14. 39:00, You don’t need much. One copy of one book is often enough. Not every book needs a publisher.

Comments 14

  1. Photo to PDF app on my ipad pro, text created the same way with screen shots, all uploaded to dropbox, then shared with local printer. Have done four 40 page zines in the past year, including back and front covers, usually about a 20-30 issue run at about 3.00 to 4.00 per copy. I mail some, deliver some and put them in Little Free Libraries. I don’t sell them. Fifth issue in the works, yes fun! This is not rocket science.

    1. Yeah, stories sell, and that’s why I don’t try to sell mine. I don’t try to tell stories. I quickly lose interest in stories, mine and others as well. The seeing of moments, drawing attention to things, the details that maybe people overlook, words that come up in relation to images, but mostly just capturing inadvertences.

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      Chuck,
      Zines are endless. So many styles, options, prices, etc. 30,000 published in the US each year. I’ve seen some selling for 15k and others given away for free. Love it all.

  2. I went for a run off road along the river the other day. Took my camera with me and photographed anything that caught my interest.

    The next day (last Monday) I saw them sat on the hard drive and thought to myself, what the hell are they doing there? I opened up Fujifilm Japan’s awful self-publishing software and made a $5 book in about 2 minutes.

    So easy! And nobody apart from me will ever see it 🙂

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      Sean,
      Kinda makes us feel like going full circle. Heck, I make Instax prints all the time. Same for cheap copies in my office, on notebook paper, then glue them in my journal.

  3. You mentioned that you illustrated your mother’s poetry with your photographs. I’m also in the process of doing the same thing with my mother’s poetry. I will put a few copies in my gallery but it probably will not interest anybody except my children and grandchildren or maybe some future descendant will discover it and think it’s a treasure. Isn’t that part of why we make art and books? To ensure our immortality on some level?

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      Sara,
      Maybe. I think our reasons are so varied, and for me, ensuring immortality is enough. A simple record. The idea of sharing. Not allowing memory itself to hold the last card?

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