Photography

A gentle plug for my two books as Christmas nears

Books of my photography make great gifts for yourself, or for the photographer in your life!

My newest book, Textures of Ireland, collects black-and-white photographs I made on a 2016 trip to the emerald isle. If you like travel photography, or rich black-and-whites, you’ll enjoy this book.

From the book’s introduction: “We rented a car and drove to Ireland’s northern tip. Over several days we slowly made our way back to Galway, passing through Portrush, Letterkenny, Donegal, Ardara, Killybegs, Sligo, Ballinrobe, Clifden, and Oughterard. The beach town of Barna, a short distance from Galway City, was our home base for the next several days.

“I chose T-Max for its low grain and well-managed contrast, in its ISO 400 form so I could confidently make photographs in a wide range of available light. I had no idea it would yield photographs so rich in detail you want to touch them, and when you do you’re surprised that your fingers can’t feel the textures.”

Textures of Ireland, 36 pages, $14.99 plus shipping. Printed on demand at Blurb.com.

My first book, Exceptional Ordinary, is a collection of images I’ve made with my favorite film camera, the Pentax ME.

From the book’s introduction: “You can realistically expect any working 35mm SLR to perform well. With rare exception, they come with good features and optics. … Get even a basic body in working condition and even an entry-level prime lens like a 50mm f/2 and you can make wonderful photographs for years.

“I didn’t know any of that when I went looking for my first SLR. I simply wanted a Pentax K1000, as it was the SLR I knew best. I was once married to a pro photographer who did wonderful work with hers. … But even 20 years after the venerated K1000 went out of production, prices on the used market were more than I was willing to pay. But I kept coming upon another Pentax SLR, the ME, and they sold for peanuts. And it took all of the same lenses as the K1000. So I bought one. And I fell in love with it.”

Exceptional Ordinary, 44 pages, $14.99 plus shipping. Printed on demand at Blurb.com.

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Film Photography

Photos from my new book, Textures of Ireland

Here are a few photos from my new book, Textures of Ireland, to show you the incredible scenes I captured on black-and-white film. Don’t these images look almost three dimensional? I shot Kodak T-Max 400 film, by the way, in my Nikon N2000 through my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens for all of these photos.

If you’d like to buy a copy of my book, scroll to the bottom for links.

Portrush

Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Sligo Abbey

Sligo Abbey, Sligo Town.

At Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, County Galway.

St. Stephen's Green

Caretaker’s house at St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin.

TexturesOfIrelandIcon Textures of Ireland Book

A copy of my book, Textures of Ireland, printed on demand and mailed to you from Blurb.com.

$14.99 plus shipping

Buy-Now-button

 

Textures of Ireland PDF

A copy of my book, Textures of Ireland, as a PDF — which I will email within 24 hours to the address you provide.

$4.99

 

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Film Photography

My new book: Textures of Ireland

Ireland is a country of color — especially green, in astonishing shades across its rolling countryside.

texturesofirelandcover1.pngYet I shot black-and-white film all over that country, looking for light and shadow. What I got was a set of images with such texture that you want to touch them. When you do, you’ll be surprised not to feel the textures in your fingertips, as if they were pressed into the pages in relief.

My new book, Textures of Ireland, shares the best of my black-and-white photographs. You’ll see scenes from Northern Ireland in the region where the show Game of Thrones is filmed, country scenes from Ireland’s rich northern and eastern counties, as well as ruins and modern architecture from cities and towns.

I’m offering my book in two ways: a traditional paper book printed on demand at Blurb.com, or as a PDF. The PDF is the fastest and least expensive way to see my book — but the textures come out best by far in print. I hope you’ll buy a copy today!

Textures of Ireland by Jim Grey, 36 pages, published via Blurb.com.

TexturesOfIrelandIcon Textures of Ireland Book

A copy of my book, Textures of Ireland, printed on demand and mailed to you from Blurb.com.

$14.99 plus shipping

Buy-Now-button

Textures of Ireland PDF

A copy of my book, Textures of Ireland, as a PDF — which I will email within 24 hours to the address you provide.

$4.99

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Film Photography

Fortunately, my first book remains available

I had so hoped to have self-published my second book by now. I have a couple ideas percolating in the back of my head. I’ve even written content for one of them, which I’ve shared here in several posts.

But life has been unexpectedly challenging and I haven’t been able to make these projects a priority. Maybe in 2018.

Fortunately, my first book remains available.

For those of you new to this blog, in April I self-published a book of photographs I’ve taken with my Pentax ME SLR. I bought it on eBay for a mere $16, showing that even the humblest SLR can produce great images.

Click here to see a preview. Click my book’s cover below to buy one on Blurb.com — a paper copy you can hold in your hands for $14.99, or a PDF for $7.99. If you like the photographs I share here every day, I think you’ll enjoy my book.

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Photography

More lessons learned in self-publishing

My book, Exceptional Ordinary, has been on sale for a couple months now. And it’s just not selling.

BookPromoI’ve managed to sell nine paper copies and two PDFs. Which isn’t bad, considering that I’ve barely marketed the book.

I’ve pitched it here four or five times. I mentioned it a couple times on Twitter. I shared images from it, plus a link to buy it, on Instagram a handful of times.

That was my entire marketing push. Holy wow, does this stuff ever take time. And that’s the lesson learned: marketing takes creativity, effort, and persistence.

It probably also hurts that I chose such a niche topic with no obvious market beyond people who already know and like my work, and perhaps other film photographers and Pentaxians.

It certainly also hurt that I gave away the PDF for two days after announcing the book. But I knew that would hurt. About 50 of you took me up on it. And I figured this book wouldn’t sell well as a result of it.

It doesn’t matter to me. I actually achieved my goals with this book: to experience the self-publishing process. Win!

I have ideas for a future books. I’d like to re-survey the Michigan Road in 2018, which will be ten years after I did it last time, and publish a book of interesting photos from the tour. The market there is people interested in Indiana history, and people who live or have lived on or near the road. I’d also like to do a book about the many farms that lie inside the city of Indianapolis. It’s surprising to many just how many farms have an Indianapolis address! That market could include people who live in Indiana, and people who have an affinity to farms, and people who enjoy landscape photography. And maybe there’s a book in photographs of the repurposed stores of the defunct Roselyn Bakeries of Indianapolis. Their buildings and signs were distinctive; the dozens of them that remain are easy to recognize. Some of them went on to good, noble uses; others not so much. It’s a study in urban architectural reuse, and people interested in that might buy such a book.

So my refinement for my next book is to have an addressable market in mind, and a plan for addressing it, before I publish.

Thanks to on-demand printing, it’s never too late to buy my book. It’s reasonably priced at $15.99 for the paper copy or $8.49 for the PDF. I’d love for you to hold a copy of my work in your hands. You can do that by clicking the cover below.

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Photography

Lessons learned in self-publishing

I created my book about photography with the Pentax ME as an experiment in self-publishing. (If you’d like to buy one, either paper or PDF, click here.) After all, the Internet and print-on-demand technology mean you no longer need a traditional publisher. You can do it all yourself: writing, layout, marketing. But that’s the rub: you have to do it all yourself. It sucks down large quantities of time at things you may not enjoy or be good at.

I’ll do it again. But I’ll do some things differently next time. Here are some things I learned.

Rife's

A photo from the book

Choosing the photographs was the hardest part of the project. Because this project was about experiencing the bookmaking (and selling) process, I chose to use photos I already made. It was surprisingly challenging and time-consuming to pick through all the photos I shot with my Pentax ME. All of my insecurities as a photographer came out. What if this photo, which I love, isn’t actually all that good? Am I leaving out a photo that is truly good? Fortunately, a reader (who probably wishes to remain anonymous in this forum) offered to edit out the photos that shouldn’t make the cut. That advice was invaluable.

Choosing Blurb as my publisher was easy. I chose Blurb largely because Mike Connealy has published two books that way (go buy them; they’re lovely). My copies of his books are of acceptable quality for the cost. And from his experience I knew that the process for making and selling the book would be reasonable.

Blurb is a decent choice for an image-intensive book. I think there are better choices for text-intensive books. I’ve been investigating CreateSpace, for example, for a text-intensive book I have in mind.

Laying out the book was the least rewarding part of the project. I used Blurb’s BookWright software, which is a lightweight page-layout tool. It works, but it lacks much of the power I hoped I might get based on my past career experience in publishing and technical writing. As I’m still on the tool’s learning curve, I may yet find features I wished I knew about while laying out this book. Primarily, BookWright’s page templates didn’t function as I expected and offered no good way to apply a template change across the book. Blurb allows upload of PDF from other layout platforms and I may try that next time.

I had to rescan several photos because BookWright warned me they were too small for successful printing. I don’t understand that. The film lab scanned those photos at about 1500×1000 pixels, and I’ve successfully printed 8x10s from such scans before. But just to be safe I dug out the negatives and rescanned them at larger resolution on my Epson V300.

I won’t put off titling the book next time. I don’t enjoy writing titles, and when no title easily came to me I decided to figure it out later. Later came right at the end, after everything about the book was finished. I dithered for a week over the title. I don’t love the title I chose, but it is by far the best of a dreadful lot I brainstormed.

The book is priced far higher than I want. Ideally my slim volume would be priced at less than $10. But because Blurb makes its money selling books that people like me create, a book’s base price includes their profit. My book’s base price was slightly more than $10. Any profit I take has to raise that price.

I knew I wanted to make a small profit on each book sold — enough, I decided, to buy myself a roll of Tri-X. That seemed reasonable.  That’s why the book is priced at $16, and even the PDF is $8.50. That’s too much, if you ask me.

Pricing is a black art. Even people who do it all the time struggle with it. When I worked in publishing, I remember difficult discussions over whether a particular book should be $14.99 or $19.99. $14.99 might lead to greater volume at lower margin, while $19.99 brought greater margin at the likely cost of lower volume. A wrong choice could cost us big.

Eric over at Little Black Star recently self-published a delightful little book of his recent work. He charged $7. That tiny price made it so easy for me to click Buy! I assume he took on some or all of the printing and binding himself, however, and that’s a lot of work. I bet he also has to keep an inventory. I have none of that with Blurb. When you order, they print one and send it to you.

I’m not enjoying marketing the book. I don’t enjoy sales or marketing and don’t really know what I’m doing with it. I’m hawking my book here (and, by extension, on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) and am telling friends and family as I see them, and that’s it.

The other book I have in mind would deserve, I think, a more serious marketing push. I’d want to distribute that book through Amazon.com. I might create a Facebook page for it and pay to have posts on that page promoted.

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