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Author Topic: Book Publishing  (Read 1916 times)


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Book Publishing
« on: November 07, 2016, 07:36:32 PM »

Hello All,

Has anyone been involved with publishing a book?

I believe I am the first choice of a massive project that will take a number of years to complete.  The woman in charge of the project mentioned that they were thinking about publishing a book at the end of the project, although she did not mention if it was for internal use or retail sale.

I did put in my proposal that licensing does not extend for use in books for retail sale, and also mentioned in year 5 it might be good to find an editor, author and publisher (or consultant) to create a retail book.  I have it noted that I would handle this at the time.

I am scheduling a meeting and test shoot with higher ups next week and want to make sure I have all of my bases covered.

If we start talking about publishing, what should I know?  What is there to understand about working with a publisher?

Also, if the self publishing route is discussed, what is involved here?  What consultants need to be hired.  Anyone have a rough idea of cost (assume printing would be done on a Heidelberg using 7 colors, which would be my optimal printing method)?   


Joe Kitchen

"Photography is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent moving furniture."  Arnold Newman
“Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”  William Faulkner


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Re: Book Publishing
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2016, 09:45:30 AM »

Has anyone been involved with publishing a book?

Yes. Rhythm & Beauty, published almost twenty years ago. I learned much about publishing & contracts on the project.

The first publisher was approached by the author directly and agreed to publish the book. The author then contacted me, I agreed, and the publisher drew up contracts for us to sign. The contracts were a mere two pages and were not good. There was no contingency actions (e.g, payments or penalties) if one member of the contract group (publisher, author, photographer) failed on his part of the agreement. Normal publishing contracts have strict timelines & specifics that authors & publishers must abide by, and this did not have any of that. In addition, the author agreed to share copyrights (of the text) with the publisher (a huge mistake). I signed the contract only after the publisher agreed that I owned 100% of the copyrights & licensing rights to all the images.

The entire body of work was produced in about one year, and it was loads of fun. I met musicians from all over the world, and was introduced to instruments I never knew existed.

We wanted a sponsor for the project and approached a company involved in percussion. This company had a great, world-renown reputation. Once approached, they agreed to sponsor the book, but the publisher ceased communications with that company. It didn't sit well with me. Then, while the book was actually on press, the publisher ceased the project. The printing company then locked up all the assets (i.e., the photographs, in 6x7, 4x5 & 8x10 film formats, printing plates and Quark files).

I called a lawyer, who proceeded to verbally spank me for signing such a bad contract. It was a $900 spanking. He showed me how there was absolutely no legal way to get my films back unless I payed the printer the amount owed by the publisher (approx. $160,000).

Meanwhile the author had gone into a drunken stupor, as he had trusted this publisher from the start, and was now badly burned. The publisher had also fired the graphic artist on the project, laying the blame of cost overruns on her. There were no cost overruns, though; No changes to the copy, layout or photographs were ever done.

The author, graphic artist & I proceeded to look for a publisher who would buy the rights to the work, and publish the book. It seemed like a long shot, but we were willing to try anything at this point (the liquor cabinet was empty).

It took two years to find another publisher, Watson-Guptill, and it coincided with the first publisher declaring bankruptcy. It was only through bankruptcy proceedings that I was able to reclaim all my films.

The Watson-Guptill contract was 48 pages, and was filled with contract contingencies, such as:
  • I was responsible for all film & processing costs, all location costs & releases, and all model costs & releases.
  • The publisher was responsible for any films while in their possession, and each image had a cost applied to it depending on if it was a main image, cover image, 2-page spread, inset image, etc.
The book was successfully printed, in Hong Kong, and was published with an audio CD containing original music by the author, and a couple cover tunes, performed by the author and others.

One tune on the CD was a Beatles tune, Hello Goodbye, and the publisher balked at paying the $700 "mechanicals" (the royalties based on the number of books published). I offered to pay the fee, which covered only the first print run. This prompted the senior editor to listen to all the music on the CD, upon which they agreed to pay all mechanicals.

The experience of publishing with an established, known publisher was eye-opening. They answered all my questions about the contract and royalty payments, and about future editions of the book. There were no unknowns for the author & I.

After four years in hardbound, they released a paperback version (without the CD, sadly). The author & I received royalty payments for about ten years after initial publication. In about 2007, the book was "remaindered". All copies in the publisher's possession were sold at a 90% discount. This amounted to about 700 softbound copies, which the author & I bought. He sold them at his performances, I used a few as gifts.

After all that, the underlying element is: The original publisher would never have agreed to the project had we presented a valid contract to him, and the book may have never been published.
~ CB


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Re: Book Publishing
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2016, 09:03:58 AM »

I am scheduling a meeting and test shoot with higher ups next week and want to make sure I have all of my bases covered.

On the technical side, one word: CMYK Determine whether the publisher will make the conversions or you will. Insist on being part of the proof review before printing in either case. Subtle colors, if part of the project can be a challenge.

And as already pointed out, a lawyer of your own. Better to spend the money on a contract review in the beginning than a lawsuit in the end.


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Re: Book Publishing
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2016, 11:40:26 PM »

Hi Joe,

We make fine photography books every day, and am distressed when I read stories like the ones from Chris and Paul.
They do provide valuable lessons about some of the risks involved in publishing.
Correct not to assign any rights for publishing this early in the game, just concentrate on realistic deliverable/payment schedule if they are willing to pay as you go. If not you might consider self publishing, but a lot can change in the timeline you are discussing. Spend most of your extra time developing a list of people who are interested in your project as you go. When you are close it will be easy to pull together a team to help you make it a reality.  A good body of work can always find its value in the market.


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