Self Publishing a Coffee Table Book

For nine years, I had been traveling to Acadia National Park (Maine) every Autumn to photograph the foliage, coast, lakes, mountains and everything else on Mount Desert Island. And for most of those years, I found myself wondering what to do with all the photos I was making. I had a website, Images of Acadia, which is a nice way for others to see your photos, but website pictures are small, and the photos deserved a better venue to be seen properly. Though I’ve sold a number of prints over the years, wall prints are expensive, and finding buyers with free wall space and the money to buy a quality print isn’t always easy. Eventually I realized that most people can afford a book, and if it’s done right and the pictures are good enough, it will sell.

Towards the end of 2014, I’d decided I would publish a coffee table book. The biggest market for the book would be at the national park– in the bookstores, gift shops and Acadia visitors center. I already sell posters in the visitors center, so I had a contact there. I wrote to her and asked if she thought my book was worth pursuing, and did she think it would it sell. Her words to me were, “Love the idea. We are always being asked for coffee table type books. People want to give them as gifts or want a hardback high quality book for themselves. I think it will sell!” That was enough for me to push ahead with the project.

I knew it wasn’t going to be a small undertaking, but I had no idea how much work it would involve. I had to find an experienced printer to make the book for me. I planned to self-publish it, but someone had to print the actual book. I knew there were services out there like Blurb and Apple Books, but the quality is marginal at best. My book would have to be done on a traditional offset press. After searching around, I learned that the minimum print run I could do was 500 books. Any less just wasn’t worth the cost involved, and would push the per-book cost up, so I decided to do a print run of 1,000 copies.

I searched the internet and found a company in Michigan that could handle the printing. I had a sample book sent to me to check on the quality, but wasn’t convinced. I decided to drive the three or four hours from my home in Chicago to visit the company and look through other samples, ask questions and meet some of the people who would be helping with the production of the book. It was a good day out, and I left Michigan satisfied, knowing they were my printers of choice.

Publishing a book is very expensive, obviously. I couldn’t afford to print the books myself, so I turned to Kickstarter to raise the funds for the book. I read up all I could find about Kickstarter campaigns and a month later, I had scripted, filmed and edited a promo video that I liked enough to use on Kickstarter (click here to read more about my experience with Kickstarter). And amazingly… thirty days after the campaign started, 108 people had successfully funded most of the book’s printing costs. Work on producing the book could now kick into a higher gear.
I’d already laid out the design and chosen the photos before the Kickstarter campaign began, but now I needed someone with expert knowledge to help me lay out the design of the book. My good friend Dean, who works at a publishing house– and is a book designer– offered to help me out. For about three months Dean and I went back and forth, sending pdf’s to each other, gradually shaping the book to look just like I wanted it.
I own several fine art photographers’ books and based a lot of my design and choice of paper stock, etc. on those books. I had decided early on that the book had to be the highest quality possible within a reasonable price, so that meant using a heavyweight, 180gsm paper (for an additional $540) that would complement the photos well, along with a cloth cover and quality dust jacket.
By June, the book was at the printers and the long wait for proofs, etc. began. After several weeks and additional changes, the whole process was underway and the presses were finally rolling. A couple advance copies came to me by mid-September and I was able to take them with me on my trip to Acadia in October. I used these copies to show at the visitor center and to the president of the Acadia Corporation, which owns several stores around the Park. All agreed to carry the book when it became available.
Finally, in mid-November, I got a call to say my books were on the way. 167 boxes of six books each arrived on three pallets at my garage. A few days later, on my birthday, I spent the whole day driving to northern Illinois (twice) to pick up shipping supplies– my van couldn’t fit them all in one trip.
Now the Kickstarter backers have been given their copies of the book, and several copies have been sent to Acadia to be sold in stores there. A number of them have been sold though my website (acadiaphotobook.com), in three local stores and on Amazon. The tourists are all but gone in Acadia right now, so I’ll have to wait until Memorial Day when it gets busy again to see how the book sells. If it sells well, I’ll be ordering another 1,000 or more books, so a portion of my profits will be used to fund the next printing.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. Will the book be successful? Will it sell enough copies? I don’t know. Time will tell. But if the reaction of some of the people who have bought it are any indication, I think I’ll be re-ordering more books some time in the near future.

Under October Skies finished book

Under October Skies finished book

Under October Skies finished book

Under October Skies finished book

Under October Skies finished book

Under October Skies finished book

Under October Skies finished book

To buy a copy of the book, visit Images of Acadia. The cost is $75 and includes free shipping to all US addresses. This is the only place to get a signed copy of the book.

My New Book: Art, Beauty and Photography

Sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

I’ve bought a few large, coffee table photography books (Michael Kenna, John Sexton and Nick Brandt are some of my recent purchases), and they’re beautiful works of art. Heavy paper, with rich, large prints that fill the page– you just can’t compare it to looking at pictures on the internet. You have to hold their photos in your hands to really appreciate how beautiful they are.

For the last nine years, I’ve been traveling to the far northeast corner of America every October, to a small island where I spend a week photographing the landscape at Acadia National Park. Now, I’ve put all my best images into my first coffee table photography book. I’ve been planning this book for years, and have spent a lot of time over the past few months putting it all together… and I’m really excited about how beautiful this is going to be. A professional book designer is doing the layout, and a book publisher with experience creating photography art books is doing the printing.

I wanted total control of which pictures would go in the book, as well as all the design elements, so I made the decision to self-publish the book. Unfortunately, publishing a book is incredibly expensive so I’m using Kickstarter to raise funds for the printing costs. If I get the money needed for an initial print run of 1,000 copies, I’ll be covering the remaining expenses of distributing the book and rewards for everyone who backs the project. If all goes to plan, the book will be done by mid-summer.

The book will be big (12×12 inches), with large color and black and white prints. Panoramas will cover the double page spreads, measuring almost two feet wide. The book is 144 pages long, with notes at the back about how I made some of the images, as well as some background information on Acadia.

If you’d like to get a copy of the book, please consider supporting my Kickstarter project by pre-ordering a copy starting at $50 (retail price will be about $60). On Kickstarter, you pledge money to back a project, and get rewards for different levels of support. I’m giving out copies of the book, large wall prints and a photography workshop with me in Acadia (or in Chicago) as just some of the rewards for backers of the project. If the project doesn’t get the full funding, you won’t be charged for your pledge, so you won’t lose money if you decide to back the project.

To find out more and watch a short video I made to promote the book, visit my Kickstarter page here.

One last thing- please share this post on your Facebook page, your blog, tweet about it and let your photography-loving friends and artists know. The more people that hear about it, the more chance we have of seeing the book get printed. Sharing buttons are below the last photo on this page.

I really believe this could be the most beautiful book you’ve ever owned. Below are some samples of images from the book. Email me with any questions. Thanks for your support!

Dawn at Otter Cliff, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

single image dummy single image dummy 2 pano book dummy Sunset at Jordan Pond- the Bubble Mountains, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA Abstract Aspen Trunks, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA The coastline around Otter Cliff, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA Beaver Dam Pond at dusk, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Personal Work- Acadia National Park

Sunrise, Hunters Head, 2014

Sunrise, Hunters Head, 2014

I love my job; it’s what I’ve done for the last 25 years. But every once in a while, I need to get away from it all and find some peace and fulfillment doing something other than commercial jobs. For the last nine years, I’ve spent one week every Autumn in Acadia National Park, off the coast of Maine. From the moment I wake up at 5am (4am my time), until after midnight, all I do is photography, searching for the most beautiful light, color and locations. After dark, back in my hotel room, I review the day’s work and make plans for the next day. It’s strenuous, tiring, emotional… and I love it.

In 2014, I self published an e-book, The Photographer’s Guide to Acadia, which sold moderately well. In 2015, I’m hoping to publish my first hard cover coffee table book of images from Acadia. A couple of my pictures have been sold as posters in the national park’s gift shop for several years. I never went to Acadia with the idea that I would try to profit from my trips, but it’s been nice to have a small demand for prints, which helps cover the cost of my travel to Maine each October.

In 2014, I created almost all my images with a new camera, the Pentax 645Z, a 51-megapixel camera with superb sharpness, wide dynamic range and great handling. This is possibly the best camera I’ve ever used. I’m looking forward to making some very large prints with the images from this camera.

I have over five hundred prints available for purchase; visit my website, Images of Acadia, to find out more.

Incoming Waves, Otter Point, 2014

Incoming Waves, Otter Point, 2014

Swirling Pine Needles, Whitecap Stream, 2013

Swirling Pine Needles, Whitecap Stream, 2013

Dusk, Jordan Pond

Dusk, Jordan Pond, 2013

Rocky Coastline, Hunters Head

Rocky Coast Panorama, Hunters Head, 2014

Birch Trees

Birch Trees, 2014

Ocean Runoff at 1/1600 Second, 2014

Ocean Runoff at 1/1600 Second, 2014

Acadia Coastline, Otter Cliff, 2013

Acadia Coastline, Otter Cliff, 2013

Small Pond, Canon Brook Trail, 2013

Small Pond, Canon Brook Trail, 2013

Early Morning on the Coast, 2014

Early Morning on the Coast, 2014

Rippled Reflections, 2013

Rippled Reflections, 2013

 

The Adventures of Mike’s Camera is the blog of freelance photographer, Mike Hudson. He is available for commercial photography assignments– marketing, corporate, editorial, annual reports, lifestyle, web page photography, and events. His clients have included many regional and national magazines and newspapers, several healthcare providers, colleges, hotels, architectural firms, small businesses and more. Visit MichaelHudsonPhotography.com to check out his portfolio or contact him via email.

 

The Photographer’s Guide to Acadia

The Photographer's Guide to Acadia ebook

The Photographer’s Guide to Acadia ebook

It’s been a while since I posted a new entry. But I’ve got a good excuse! I’ve been writing my first photography book for the last several months. My new ebook, The Photographer’s Guide to Acadia, is done and ready for downloading. Check it out at www.acadiaphotobook.com.

Every year on my trips, I run into other photographers, amateur and professional, and get the same question every time- where should I got to find really great scenery? This book was written with them in mind. I’ve been traveling to Maine every Autumn for the last eight years and have amassed a considerable library of images. But I’ve also amassed a lot of information, like where to photograph when it’s raining, where to go on a sunny day, what lenses are best in Acadia, and how to get to the ‘hidden’ places no one else knows about. I’ve put all this and more into the book.

If you plan in visiting the national park, this is a great guide for photographers, and anyone else who wants to know how to find the best sights in Acadia. Even if you have no plans to visit Acadia, but you’re interested in landscape and nature photography, you can learn a lot by reading what goes through the mind of a professional photographer- composition, weather, camera setting, equipment used, etc.

Unlike a traditional printed book, the ebook has a lot of extra bonus features, like links to websites and Google Maps, to help you find locations easily and simply.

Visit www.acadiaphotobook.com to order a copy, or to download a free, 25-page pdf sample of the book. The book has been written for the iPad and other devices. Check the website for details.