Friday, October 28, 2011

New book featuring photography of Grand Teton NP

After selling thousands of my photos over the years for use in books published by others, I finally published my own photo book, featuring my vision of Grand Teton National Park. You can see a preview of this 40-page book by clicking on the book below. To see the book full screen (highly recommended), click on the button just to the left of the blue "blurb" icon. (The pages turn by clicking the tabs on the left and right of the book.)

My purpose for this first photo book: Although this is a beautiful little book, I doubt if I'll sell very many copies. That's because self-published photo books via a print-on-demand publisher such Blurb are about 50% more expensive to produce than books produced by traditional printing. The quality is just as good as a regular book, but the printing-on-demand costs for this 40-page, 7x7 inches book is almost 16 dollars for soft cover and almost 28 dollars for a hard cover edition. I have Blurb add on a profit for me of only $4.00 and $7.00, respectively -- making the final sale price of $19.95 for soft cover and $34.95 for hard cover.

I suspect most of the purchases of this book will be made by me. Some will be used as gifts, but most will be used as stock photography catalogs, where I will give the books to prospective photo buyers, i.e. photo editors and art directors of magazines that I have worked with in the past.

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Prints and image downloads (stock photo licensing) of photos in my new book can be ordered at my SmugMug website.

You can see a daily blog of my photos on my Flickr photostream or view a slide show of my ''most interesting'' images.
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PPUBLISHING YOUR OWN BOOK: Most print-on-demand (POD) photo books are not produced for volume resale. The majority photos books are personalized records of weddings and family events, where only one or two books are ordered for the couple or family members.

Despite the greater expense, digital POD is now allowing many photographers to self-publish photo books for resale, where they would never have attempted to do so before. That's because Blurb and similar POD companies have made self-publishing less daunting, with low initial investment and easy-to-use, online layout software.

Sales and marketing: Many photographers who decide to self-publish through POD publishers, like Blurb, will let the publisher to handle all the sales and shipping (and Blurb has one of the more established systems for helping you announce your new book, market it, and track your book sales). Other, more adventuresome, photographers will pre-print small quantities of books and take them to book fairs or try to place them directly in book stores.

Pricing: While most POD publishers offer discounts for volume orders (i.e. a 15% discount on orders of 50 books), your costs are usually still higher than traditional offset printing (where the initial print runs are 1,000 or more copies). This means that your POD-made photo books will probably be priced slightly higher than traditionally produced books, or you can mark them up less in the beginning while you build interest in your book.

Testing the water before jumping in: The biggest obstacle that POD has overcome is the initial investment. Photo book publishing once required making an initial offset print run of at least 1,000 to 3,000 books (not mention the costs of typesetting, scanning, and color separation for all the pictures). This initial investment usually was over $10,000 -- just to find out IF there was any interest in your book idea!

With print-on-demand, a self-publisher can test the interest in a book before making a huge upfront investment through a traditional printer. If one's hope is to get published through a traditional publisher (and their distribution channels), starting with a limited number of POD-made books can help you get some credible sales information before approaching the publisher and asking them for a book contract.

Other photo book POD publishers: Blurb was one of the earliest and is probably the largest, but there are now dozens of choices. Here's a great review by of Blurb vs. MyPublisher vs. Snapfish vs. MPix.

Definition of ''Photo Books'': Please keep in mind that we are talking about "photo books" -- books with lots of full color photos. If you want to publish a book with just text and a few black and white photos, your costs for traditional printing or print-on-demand will be about one-half of the prices I have been quoting. Two good POD publishers for B/W are Lulu and Diggypod.

You are invited to see my "Most Interesting" images on Flickr (based on popularity stats).


  1. I'm so happy that you are doing this...Your photography and "know how" is exciting to view and read....Thank you and I'll be back!

  2. cool and CONGRATULATIONS,Go ahead,

  3. Beautiful! I loved looking through your marvelous photographs!

  4. Gorgeous photos! You're so talented! I can't wait to buy the book. =)

  5. Hi Royce, I just happened to see your link to my page. I enjoyed viewing your book - your photos are inspiring - hard to pick, but I'd say the night scenery photos are my favorite. Plan to share your post with my Facebook fans :) b/t/w I did a post (7/27/11) on a similar topic about a photographer friend's experience selling his book on Blurb - you may find it of interest. Best!


  6. Your photos are amazing...speaking from the POV of a graphic designer, I cringed at the typeface, however. It looks like an afterthought. I think that your photos are definitely worthy of better type treatment inside and out, and it would be even more stunning and worth buying.

  7. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)