How to 'write' a photo book
ASK NANAY By Socorro C. Ramos (The Philippine Star) Updated August 21, 2011 12:00
I read your column last week about your advice to writers who want to write a book. I also want to seek your advice. I also want to “write” a book but I am a photographer. I was thinking of doing a coffeetable book similar to those you sell at National. It could feature different homes and their beautiful gardens or my travels throughout the Philippines because I also love to travel all over our country.
If it’s going to be a travel book, I already have many of the photos I want to publish but I really have no idea how to get my book published.
Do you have any advice to me for first steps I should take?
The process for publishing a novel and a coffeetable book are actually very similar. Having your photos ready for publication is a good first step — parang may first draft ka na ng manuscript mo. But there is still a lot of work to be done. For example, unless the book will be purely made up of photographs, you will still need to bring a writer on board to write whatever little text the book will have such as introductions to chapters, some explanatory footnotes, etc.
Unless you want to self-publish, assuming you know a little bit about the industry and what it takes to publish a book, my suggestion is always for aspiring “creators” to approach a publishing company.
These publishing companies are professionals and they have been in the business for a long time. They can provide you expert advice. They know all the layout artists, editors, writers, photographers and everyone you will need to work with to come out with a finished product. They know what sells in the market and they have the distribution.
With regard to the financial arrangements, normally the publisher will shoulder the expenses of producing the book while you provide the content. However, this would mean that the publisher “believes” in your book. Kung tingin nung publisher hindi mabebenta ang libro mo (if the publisher thinks the book will not sell), obviously they will not invest money in it. If you want to invest some of your own money and “co-publish” the book, you will have to talk to your publisher to see how that arrangement can be made.
In closing, I suggest that you go and talk to some of our local publishing houses. Just ask for a meeting and pitch them your idea. Perhaps show them some photos. See who you are comfortable with and who is comfortable with you. Then take it from there and before you know it, you may just find your photographs on the shelves of a bookstore.
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More Advice For A Wannabe Novelist
This is in response to Wannabe Writer, whose letter appeared in the Philippine STAR on Aug. 14. “Wannabe” wants to write a novel, but feels overwhelmed at the thought of just getting started.
Wannabe, my suggestion is to get yourself a big notebook and start writing. The first step is to put your basic story on paper, kind of like a rough outline, without any concern for details, grammar or even continuity. Just try to summarize the whole story.
Don’t try to write the story from beginning to end. You’ve already done that. Now you just need to “flesh out” your story, by writing the details. Focus first on the parts you have thought most about. Work on one scene for a while. If it becomes boring or tiring, start working on a different part. Keep it fun, or you might give up before it’s finished.
After a while, you will start to see something that looks like the beginnings of a novel. That’s when you need to start working on it as a single story, rather than as a series of scenes.
One last suggestion. As often as you can, transfer your notes to a computer. Later you will find that it’s a lot easier to edit your work on the computer than on paper.
For help with your grammar, visit my website www.englysh.com and join the American English Club.
I hope you find these tips helpful. — Michael Brown, The American English Club
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