Self publishing an art book the easy way

Dec 13, 2010 | Business, News | 23 comments

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.

The cover and spine look like this

The cover and the spine complete with the Floppy Chicken logo.

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.

Here are a few examples of the 80 or so spreads showing the ratio of text to pictures and the layout style that Luke has created.

Sample 1. Here are a few examples of the 80 or so spreads showing the ratio of text to pictures and the layout style that Luke has created.

Sample 2

Sample 2

Sample 3

Sample 3

Sample 4

Sample 4

Sample 5

Sample 5

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.

Sample 6

Sample 6

Sample 7

Sample 7

Sample 8

Sample 8

Sample 9

Sample 9

Sample 10

Sample 10

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:
Amazon
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.

The latest Twitter comments are shown below.

Gwyn Cole (@gwyncole)

@damienlovegrove @ms_cjwhichello I am speechless!! I’ve just had a proper read of the book and love it, love it, love it!! Beautiful…

Thu Mar 31 08:12:16 2011

Andy McDonald (@McDonaldPhoto)

@damienlovegrove @ms_cjwhichello This has given me a big smile, more beautiful with every turn of the page. Congratulations to the team!!!

Wed Apr 06 19:11:36 2011

Angela Clulow (@Angelc44)

Had to wait all day until Jeremy got home to look at the @ms_cjwhichello book by @damienlovegrove, it was worth the wait! :o)

Wed Apr 06 20:21:19 2011

Cliff Grainger (@cliffgrainger)

So it’s finally here. The new book from @damienlovegrove and @ms_cjwhichello. Well worth the wait. Beautiful stuff guys.

Wed Apr 06 20:31:04 2011

Sharon Saxton (@Sharon_Saxton)

Wow @ms_cjwhichello & @damienlovegrove I hear the book sold out on Amazon. I’m not surprised. Its absolutely stunning :)

Wed Apr 06 20:36:30 2011

Andy McDonald (@McDonaldPhoto)

@damienlovegrove @ms_cjwhichello pleasure… Great purchase! Erika loves it… Your portraiture has always impressed me… Keep it coming

Wed Apr 06 22:23:39 2011

Please feel free to comment on this project below.

23 Comments

  1. Martin Currie

    Hi Damien

    Wonderful advice, thanks for that. Edward has responded already, so I think Star Print Brokers could be a winner.

    Life in Mauritius is wonderful thanks. I tried to reply to your post yesterday though and was prevented because our internet seems to drop out when it rains…

    Kind regards

    Martin

    Reply
  2. Martin Currie

    Hi Damien,

    I was browsing a broker’s site and saw an image I recognised, then realised it was one of your books: http://www.starprintbrokers.com/photography/. So I searched your blog and read all about it, but was wondering why you chose to go through a US broker, rather than going direct to the printer in Asia?

    Martin

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Martin, How’s life in paradise?

      I used a broker because they handled the colour conversions and the proofing process in the US. They then shopped around for the best price for the print job. The agent also handled the packaging, shipping and delivery to my warehouse and delivery on for the first palette of 500 books. I reckon it saved a months work and I expect they got a better rate for the print job than I could ever have negotiated. I don’t speak Korean and they do.

      I hope this helps :) Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  3. kombizz

    Fantastic informative article – I enjoyed reading it.
    Love to meet you very soon.

    Reply
  4. Radmila Kerl

    Hi Damien & Chloe-Jasmine, I am so excited about your book !!!!! I quite agree with Gwyn… this book is going to be really special to me, the sneak peek is so fantastic! I see the pictures and I would LOVE to be there again … I just can´t wait to get a copy!!!!!
    (I only hope to get a signed copy, haha :)
    I really, really do wish you every success with this book!
    Radmila

    Reply
    • damien

      Thank you Radmilla,

      I will come to Germany this year to shoot with you and I’ll gladly deliver your copy of our book by hand :)

      Speak soon, Damien.

      Reply
  5. Michael

    What a great article. Such detail and advice shared openly and freely. This is why you are such a great teacher, mentor and photographer to follow.

    May I wish Chloe and you every success for the book. Look forward to attending one or two workshops with you in the new year.

    Michael

    Reply
  6. Rory

    Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Having undergone a dedicated training programme through Lovegrove Photography over the past two years, I still can’t quite believe how far I’ve travelled on my ‘photography journey’. The road ahead is less daunting now thanks to Damien and his team.

    A very merry Christmas to all the fantastic team at Fir Tree Farm.

    Reply
    • damien

      Thank you Rory,

      We really will have to get some Irish training workshops on the calendar for 2011.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  7. Juliette

    Hi there Chloe. I really loved looking through your blog. Noice balance. Have always loved fashion but unfortunately schlepp around in scrubs 24/7 these days. Looking forward to the placed pre-pubs esp with the quality photos you have to plugg. Your photographer Lovegrove is absolutely amazing. With ppl like that behind you, you just can’t fail. All my best.

    Reply
  8. Tara T

    Hi Chloe. friend of the good Doc. Love the pics. Love the rpose. Shows promise. best & ttfn. Tara.

    Reply
  9. CoventryBob

    Great news that we’ll all be getting a late Christmas present from the Lovegrove camp albeit in March. We can’t wait.
    Bound to be a success with your track record – looks like you’ve built a winning team around you in Chloe Jasmine and Luke, but not for the first time.
    Keep up the sterling work…

    Reply
    • damien

      Thank you for your continued support Bob.

      Damien.

      Reply
  10. Andy Baines

    Thanks for this Damien! With my book due completion in March , I know where I will be turning too for more advice!!!! Funnily enough, id already specced a 12×12 book too! Good luck with it all and look forward to seeing the real thing soon!

    Reply
    • damien

      Thanks Andy :)

      Reply
  11. Markus MacGill

    Trust me, this book is going to be special! We all know the photographs will be thoroughly treasurable but what’s particularly exciting here is that you’ll be treated to some really intimate time next to Chloe.

    You’ll also get insights into the professional but passionate relationship between the photographer and the beauty.

    And if the photographs didn’t get us close enough, Chloe’s words in the book mean we have a conversation with this uniquely beautiful woman. I’m sorry for the cliche but her considerable beauty goes way beyond skin deep.

    I love doing my photography more than anything – and I love getting to do it at joyful weddings – but one of the great pleasures recently called on my other career as an editor. Getting the task of subediting this book (which I enjoyed while soaking up some sun in Marrakech) really was a great treat.

    You are a prophotonut photographer, so you’re not just a picture-taker – you’re passionate about photography.

    When you enjoy this book, you’ll be sharing in some of the unbridled professional passion that went into it, and you’ll be getting that bit closer to its sexy fascinating subject.

    You are certain to enjoy the time you spend with Chloe in this book – I certainly did.

    Reply
    • damien

      Hi Markus,

      Thanks for everything in 2010 :)) Let’s make 2011 equally exciting.

      Damien.

      Reply
  12. Martin Hill

    Really do wish you all so much success with this project. The images in the set shown are just beautiful particularly love the cover shot. Good luck D.

    Reply
    • damien

      Hi Martin,

      Thanks for your kind words. We are going to rock in 2011. I can’t wait to start shooting workshops alongside you. Let’s make it happen,

      Best regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  13. warren

    nice work Damien especially the shot of the pev in Manchester, it’s one of my favourite places to retire to if I need a few hours away to get some creative ideas under way , Warren

    Reply
    • damien

      Thanks Warren :)

      The Pev wasn’t open when we were shooting but Chris and I popped back later for a pint or two :))

      Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  14. Gwyn Cole

    Damien, this is great and wonderful news! And thank you also for sharing your thought’s and some of the behind-the-scenes details. Not just in this post, but also through Twitter and other posts and comments on ProPhotonut. From a distance, it’s been a beautiful journey watching this project grow. I so look forward to the day I have my copy in hand! Having met and photographed the wonderful Chloe-Jasmine through your workshops — will make owning a copy of the book that bit more special to me…

    Reply
    • damien

      Gwyn,

      You are a photographer Chloe and I are proud to call a friend. Thank you for your support and custom. Your presence among the delegates has been uplifting to both of us. Now is the time for you to climb the ladder of success right to the top.

      Have a fabulous 2011. Damien.

      Reply

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