Photo Books: Is Self-Publishing An Option?; Four Photographers Share Their Book Knowledge Page 2

Al Argueta: Oftentimes publishers will put the word out when they’re looking for someone with particular credentials to produce a particular book. It’s a good idea to visit particular book publishers’ websites. I’ve also found publishing projects on craigslist, if you can believe it!

SB: If you are self-publishing, what marketing tactics seem to work best for you, given the different marketing tools available (direct mail, e-mail, website, sales calls, social media)?

© 2010, Brian McLernon, All Rights Reserved

Brian McLernon: With three books under my belt and a fourth on the way, I market my books when conducting photo workshops and classes, when shooting with new and existing clients, and on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter). I also bring several copies of each book whenever I’m public speaking and sell out nearly every time; the books are autographed, of course! I also want to start a monthly newsletter about my business and photography for clients and feature the books there, too.

Bill Dobbins: Because my last two books were not self-published, I’ve never taken advantage of all the new channels or marketing and promotion available through the Internet. My feeling is that it is rare for people to generate the sales by self-marketing that are possible when your book is published by a major corporation. But the digital world is changing on a constant basis—who knew a few years ago that you could sell music so well through iTunes—so I’m sure new techniques and new opportunities will evolve on a constant basis.

Photos © 2010, Brian McLernon, All Rights Reserved

Daniel Milnor: What I have learned is that it is far easier to sell books in person than it is online. When people are online their attention span is so short, so fractured, that getting them to buy a book is difficult. People want to know about you, the photographer, hear the backstory, and get a feel for what the work is really about.

I’ve been going to the Palm Springs Photo Festival since the event was created. I was still new to the idea of self-publishing when the festival first came into being. The director, Jeff Dunas, asked me if I wanted to participate in an opening day showing with 20 or so photographers. When I came to the event I not only brought prints, but I also brought a single copy of several different books, thinking I could use them more as portfolios. What happened astonished me. All day long people came to my print area, picked up my books, put them under their arm, got out their wallet and asked, “How much for the book?” Because I wasn’t prepared, I had to say, “Well, that book isn’t for sale, there is only one display copy.” The people would look at me, hold up the book under their arm and say, “No, I want to buy this book.”

So, year two of the festival rolled around and I brought stacks of my books and sold every single book I had. The next year, pulling into the parking lot at the festival, someone banged on my driver’s side window. I rolled the window down and the man said, “Hey, here is my money. I didn’t get a book last year, but I want one this year before you run out.” He could have purchased that book online any time during the year, but he didn’t. He waited to get it in person.

Photos © 2010, Daniel Milnor, All Rights Reserved

Today, and looking at the future, I would say to use all the marketing tools. I use Twitter, Facebook, and my new website ( to keep people informed of what I have to offer. My site has a “publications” tab, which will soon expand to cover the magazine I’m starting. You can run the risk of being shamelessly promotional with this stuff, which gets old really fast, so I try not to overdo it. I think you should use online marketing and social media when you truly have something to say, not just a continual bombardment of promotion.