This is the final part of the journey from concept to market for my first coffee table book.
I shot all the pictures for the book over a four and a half month period in 2010 and they are all of Chloe-Jasmine Whichello. The text is a combination of poems by C-J and some of my stories about the shoots. My November task was to find a company to print our book. Luke Knight, my in-house graphics expert had nearly finished the book design and layouts and I knew the project was likely to be best sourced from a company in the far East so I set about finding a book broker with command of the Korean and Chinese languages. I settled down with a glass of wine and an iPad to do my research.
It didn’t take long using Google and following my nose to find Star Print Brokers among the many many options. The team headed up by Edward Starkman use printing resources in the far East, notably South Korea to supply the market in the West. We bounced a few emails back and forth and established a quotation framework. It was then left to me to decide on the project features.
I didn’t know just how many tick boxes could be included in a book specification. From a French fold, blind embossed, matte laminated jacket to the more obvious paper weight and quality. I opted for the most lavish specification at every option just to see how expensive I could get the book, Haha and I was pleasantly surprised. Unlike picking all the extras in a car specification, the price of a book doesn’t get bumped up too much. A £1000 here and a £1000 there but in the whole scheme of things adding features is still relatively good value.
The specification I finally went with is a lavish 12” square hard back book with 158 pages. The book is case bound with a square back and is Smythe sewn with head & tail bands. The full colour pages are printed on 180gsm art matte paper with a spot varnish on all the prints plus a French fold jacket with blind embossing. The end papers are full colour with a flood varnish apparently and this was all gobledy gook to me until I did more research using Wikipedia among other sites.
It is worth noting I had to apply for a ISBN, a barcode and British library classification too. All these details went into the PDFs prior to uploading our project to the Star FTP server. Having wired over the first payment of three we have now started a 15 week journey into the unknown. But I think we are in safe hands. Edward is always on the ball, efficient with his response to any correspondence and a delight to trade with.
Now comes the big wait. Well actually 15 weeks will vaporise if I don’t take action right now to establish a marketing strategy. There is no time to wait, because big money is hanging on this project. Far more than I have ever spent on a car so I need to ensure everything is in place for a fast return on investment.
A coffee table book like this needs careful marketing, not just to photographers but to the art world and first edition book collectors alike. This book ticks all the right boxes. It is the first book by the artist, the first of ‘soon to be famous’ Chloe-Jasmine Whichello and a first edition, signed, lavish production on a relatively small print run. A perfect combination for investors and collectors.
The marketing mix
Marketing is usually a multi faceted activity. The success of the marketing is directly proportional to the effort applied. I usually start a marketing campaign with a brainstorming session to see what ideas come up from a variety of minds. I then distill the ideas into a plan. I set up a spreadsheet to enable data to be recorded as part of my test and measure procedure. By recording the hours and money spent on each marketing element together with the results achieved it is easy to see at a glance, what strategies are working well. I have not yet had the brainstorming session as I write this piece but typical activities will include:
A launch party in a London gallery with plenty of Champagne
A cool website to sell the first 1000 signed limited edition books
A PR campaign using print media
A PR campaign using social media
Promotion on the Prophotonut blog
Set up distribution with:
Societies and organisations book shops
Global online art and photography book specialist retailers
This self publish project has taken a twist. I’ve decided to set up a publication and print sales company called Floppy Chicken. If this book turns out to be the success it deserves to be I can offer a complete service to other photographers wishing to do the same. I have Luke to design the books and a a proven strategy to take them to market. With this in mind I am in the process of setting up www.floppychicken.com The subject of my next post.
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