To Self Publish, Or to Find a Publisher... [Part 1]

To self publish or to go the traditional route. This is the question that has been on my mind for the last few days. Both are viable options, but both come with risks and challenges. Here is what I have learned: 

Publishing with a Publisher

  1. I would most likely need to find a literary agent to represent my work. As percentages go, apparently these people have a 3% response rate to potential clients, let alone acceptance. This isn't to say that it is impossible, it would just take a great deal of grit and perseverance to acquire one. Why? Because most publishers don't accept unsolicited work that isn't sent through an agent.
  2. Once I have acquired an agent, they will approach publishers on my behalf (and on my payroll). The acceptance rate for publishers is also dismally low, as there no longer is too much profit to be had in print, and risks aren't embraced. 
  3. Once a publisher accepts your project, it isn't uncommon that they ask you to front a great deal of the expenses, effectively minimising their risk. This doesn't however happen all the time. The most common practice is that you are given a fee for your book, and then they subsequently take it into their own hands. 
  4. The fee will be a one time cheque, and if I'm lucky I'll also get a back-end clause on my contract. This implies that I get a cut of each copy sold, but this is unlikely, considering, as a first time author I don't have much leverage. 
  5. Once a deal is agreed the project goes through designers, editors, proofreaders, production managers, printers, first drafts, second drafts, and then when the final one is ready, the publisher decides when would be the most profitable time to release it, which could even be years. 
  6. A benefit of going through an established publisher is that they have excellent contacts and distribution networks, meaning I would be able to focus on other things while the publisher handles a the brunt of the work. I will of course have to work on it as well, but the work is considerably less because a lot of the tasks would be delegated to experts and professionals.

Part 2, Self Publishing, can be found here. 



Animal Soul Progress Update #1

Working on Animal Soul (which is the working title) has consumed most of my days for the last few months. I suppose it's easy to overlook how much work goes into something like this, ultimately to make it look as effortless as possible. 

The idea is to have the pages look as though they just fell into place, when in truth, the work is heavy. There were seven weeks of three photo shoots a day in different locations, often up to 200km between each, followed by a month of sorting through the 16,000 photos, organising contracts, making my selections and editing each of them. Mind you, with so many different photos in the collection making a cut was by no means easy.

Each photo takes me approximately 30-60 minutes to get print ready, this involves basic tonal adjustments but lots of small tweaking work on the pixel level to make sure the backgrounds are truly black, this is is really what takes the most time. Now repeat this process for about 400 photos and we've got quite a lot of time spent in front of the editing station.

After that came the laying out. I started out with a 112 page gift book concept that has long since been abandoned. After laying out all the photos and trying to figure out which order of photos is most effective (there are literally trillions of possible combinations), I prepared it for printing and sent it off. I had that copy printed and took note of everything I wanted to change. 

I have now spent the last two weeks arduously working to get draft #2 ready for printing. I'm currently waiting to receive the hard copy before I can go back and make adjustments. The current edition stands at 216 pages, has a finer paper than the first draft and is a lot more meticulously put together.

Once I receive the proof copies I can get moving. For now, I'm exploring options. I'm faced with two major ones: Self publish or seek an established publisher to take the project under their wing. Either way, the project is moving. 

More updates later!