Is Publishing a Book Right For Me? A Run-Down For Authors Who Are New to the Publishing Industry

Is Publishing a Book Right For Me? Increasingly more authors and professionals are taking the dive into publishing books. I have been witness to countless authors who have persevered to create titles that were both personally and economically rewarding. Whether it’s the devoted writer who’s been crafting her narrative for years, or the personal trainer wanting to publish a fitness guide for his own gym, the satisfaction of seeing one’s hard work in print is a lifetime accomplishment. Not to mention, a careful and effective distribution plan to sell a new book can net its author over $20,000 in the first year.

Let’s define ‘Publisher’. For the purposes of this article, a publisher is a person who has written or brainstormed content for a book, and has directly hired all the resources and book editors needed to edit, design, print, market and sell the book. The full job of a “publisher”, in fact, doesn’t stop after book printing, but continues through actively selling and marketing the book as well.

What makes a publishing endeavor successful?

The best way to understand publishing is to view it as a journey-a multi-faceted process of frequent book edits, layout design, art direction, copy editing and selling/marketing to customers. When taking the first step in publishing a book, educating yourself on the reality of the publishing business and realistically assessing your own personal strengths and weaknesses is vital. The most successful publishers who take this journey come prepared with knowledge of the industry, and help from the right type of book publishing companies along the way.

Get Help – Enlist Experts to Guide You

Imagine you are about to embark on a journey into a territory you’ve never navigated before, where there is no clear path, where competition with others is fierce, and copyright laws are murky. You’d want a guide to go with you, wouldn’t you?

In a field where there are about as many roads to publishing books as there are reasons to publish, I recommend working with a book publishing company, or book packager. Book packagers do exactly as the name implies: package a book from start to finish, from its first manuscript to its final sales and marketing. Unlike Subsidy Press, a book packager is personally invested in the success of the books they publish. When a book packager begins work on a project, the quality, comprehensiveness, and consumer success of the finished project directly reflect the aptitude of both author and book packager.

“Know Thyself”-Realistically Addressing Your Publishing Concerns

Once authors get their feet wet in the publishing industry, the process may still seem mystifying and risky, and they can feel a very real sense of trepidation. It is also common for those new to the industry to become guarded when communicating with publishing professionals and book publishing companies. Worries while publishing a book and doubting your book’s outcome and success are completely normal!

A call and conversation with a book publishing company is a helpful first step in determining what it takes to produce a book. A book project requires much time and planning, and speaking with someone within a book publishing company can realistically help you identity goals and limitations will be crucial to a smart business plan. As a publisher in the business for 30 years, I’ve found people to be suspicious and nervous to commit at many stages, simply because they are wary of what they don’t understand. I have multiple conversations with potential publishers as we consider a business plan together, and typically each phone call gets less and less guarded as some of the mystery to publishing a book is taken away.

Bring it Home-Selling & Marketing Your Book

Frequently, I will meet an author who is extremely skilled at writing and wishes to publish, yet lacks the technical experience to produce that successful book design. Other publishers manage well enough to package a good book, yet fall short in the selling & marketing aspects of publishing (a separate yet entirely vital aspect on its own). That is why an honest assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses will put you heads above other publishers when it comes time to sell. If you know you are someone who does not enjoy marketing and self-promoting, simply recognizing this will identify which areas will need extra planning.

Realistically, the best chance of marketing a book after it’s been published is with authors who already have a network of followers in their field. A network is a group of people or potential customers that have some level of relationship with the author. Some of the most successful authors Sea Hill Press has worked with in the past include coaches, chefs, lecturers and teachers, each of whom had a pool of students and fans to directly market their work. Relationships with potential readers can be built and maintained through simple name recognition, and using low-cost strategies, such as e-mailing lists. In a business where large Book Wholesalers and Distributors charge outsized fees to distribute at virtually no risk to themselves, a great move is to follow alternative models of distributing your work.

Photo Book Versus Photo Albums – Which Is Best?

The photo album was the staple presentation format for photographic prints since film cameras and popular photography took off in the early 1900s. The photographer would use manual light meters and their knowledge of camera settings to capture a moment on film, hoping for a high success rate when depositing their 24 or 36 frame film roll for development. The local photo lab,would take a few days to chemically-process the film, manually correct the colour, and providing photographic prints in specific sizes, generally 6 x 4″ or 8x 6″.

Once printed, it was the job of the photographer to insert the photos in to a photo album. If the pages were plain, photo corners or backing adhesives could be applied to the prints to hold them in place, or a full-page sticky sheet would secure them to the page. More recent album designs included plastic sleeves with 6-8 slots in to which you would slip 6×4′ print. This was always problematic for viewing portrait shots, as the inserts only catered for landscape snaps.

The discerning photographer or family memory keeper would ensure that the photo album included acid-free plastic, and could then spend hours handwriting in the details of each photo’s date, location and subjects. With endless photo album sizes, formats and cover designs available, the family photo collection was generally a motley crew of tattered spiral or clamp-bound folders reserved for the bottom shelf of the bookcase.

The longevity of the photos was questionable depending on where the prints were processed, the archival quality of the album and the way in which the album was handled and stored. For those that treasured photographic memories, photo albums were beautifully preserved in order to carry on the family history, and were often the first or last item grabbed in a fire, flood or natural disaster.

Photo albums were still the presentation format of choice when the digital camera emerged in the late 21st century, but within a few years there were plenty of competing ‘showcase’ options available including digital photo frames, online photo sharing sites and the photobook.

Just like the digital camera and its analogue ancestor, the photo book differed dramatically from the photo album as the photographer was now also the designer, responsible for laying out all elements of the book design. Accessible via kiosks at retail outlets or via download over the internet, free software allows us to layout digital photos with text, frames and embellishments on to a book page.

Easy design tools are available in the form of templates and auto-fill quick pages, along with the ability to adjust colour, cropping, rotation and image sharpness. Rather than having to wait days for photo processing, the photobook design can be previewed and adjusted at all times. The finished file can then be printed on the spot, in retail environments, or uploaded and printed a local print hub for delivery within 14 days. The physical production is still the domain of the expert photobook printer but the photographer plays a much larger role than simply snapping the shot.

In addition to design options, there are many photobook format options available including various archival, acid-free paper stocks, multiple book sizes, hard or soft covers, in designer linen, genuine leather or printed imagewrap covers. Previously unavailable finishing options are also possible including personalisation of the cover with emboss text and a dust-jacket for extra protection. The end result is generally a better looking, higher quality, lightweight and compact book that looks equally at home on the coffee table as it does on the bookshelf.

One of the biggest advantages of digital technology and the photobook format is the ease and cost-effectiveness of producing duplicate copies. Create once but print multiple times, even in different sizes if you like. Some services such as Momento Shop also allow you to sell your photobook to family and friends or the public. Whichever photo presentation format suits you most, remember that backing up and printing your photos is the best way to preserve your photos, guaranteeing you can share your special memories with future generations.

The Best Modern British Art Books Of 2011 So Far

It has already been a fantastic year for Modern British Art publications ranging from the very best in British Design to long awaited monographs on renowned masters of modern art in Britain.

The highly anticipated John Piper in Kent & Sussex concentrates on Pipers love of the British Landscape. With contributions by acclaimed experts including Alexandra Harris, David Heathcote and Richard Ingrams this title explores the full breadth of Pipers art including the stained glass and church vestment works produced for the Romney Marsh Churches and the famous Chichester Cathedral Tapestry commission. Some of Pipers most important works were produced in Kent & Sussex, and for those with a particular interest in Sussex includes notable works from the collection at Pallant House Gallery.

John Piper in Kent & Sussex is a must for both Piper fans, and those interested in art works associated with the Sussex and Kent Landscape.

Following the success of the recent publications on Ravilious – Ravilious in Pictures and Ravilious at War, the third volume in the trilogy has now been published. Ravilious in Pictures: A Country Life features twenty-two beautiful watercolours painted in north-west Essex and on the coast. Accompanying essays by James Russell explore the artist’s home life, introducing the people and places he know around the villages of Castle, Hedingham and Great Bardfield, and offering insights into the culture and customs of 1930s England.

For those with a passion for design there have already been a number of comprehensive books published.

The revised and updated version of Lesley Jackson’s Robin & Lucienne Day: Pioneers of Contemporary Design and A Symbol for the Festival: Abram Games and the Festival of Britain by Naomi Games are just a taste of the collection of design publications released in 2011.

Both books celebrate British design at its best and coincide with the 60th Anniversary of the Festival of Britain and the current revival of interest in post-war art and design.

For those interested in post-war British painting, the long awaited and first ever full-scale monograph on John Craxton, written by Ian Collins will be welcomed. Illustrated throughout in colour, this book brings to life his paintings from the early neo-romantic pastoral pieces to the vibrant paintings inspired by Crete. The book examines Craxton’s important role in post-war British art and covers his early relationship with Lucian Freud. It also looks at his wonderful work for ballet and book designs.

Later in the year, Pallant House Gallery will be holding the first major retrospective of the work of Edward Burra since 1985. The large collection of his paintings on show will be accompanied by a major publication written by Simon Martin and will bring to light previously unpublished paintings.

Home Plan Design – Design Harmony and Proportion

This article is meant as a reference toolbox for home plan design harmony and proportion. The author prefers to deal with the practical how-to of it subsequently. The author, a custom home designer, suggests that there’s a place in designer home plans for age-old Western notions of unity, harmony, order, proportion, even Classicism.

Noteworthy, virtually all of these means and motives potentially applicable to designer house plans have been addressed in the literature and elsewhere principally to public or very large private structures – coliseums, churches, huge bank buildings, and the like – rarely to home design.

The author has begun applying some very old ideas of design to some very new houses with success and surprises.


There’s a lot of reading on architectural design proportion and Classical design. Most of it’s not especially interesting – clinical mathematics, nautilus shells and phyllotaxis, irrelevance borne of style, size, etc.

In the author’s opinion, these works are some of the better:

1. The heady, heavy-going: Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism by Rudolf Wittkower, W. W. Norton & Company, 1971.

2. The intellectually entertaining and well-written The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, The World’s Most Astonishing Number by Mario Livio, Broadway Books, 2002.

3. The commanding presentation of the Orders, their making and remaking in The Classical Language of Architecture by John Summerson, The MIT Press, 1962.

4. Of methods and materials, Traditional Construction Patterns: Design & Detail Rules Of Thumb by Stephen Mouzon et al., McGraw-Hill. 2005.

5. The thoughtful, The Old Way of Seeing: How Architecture Lost Its Magic (And How to Get It Back) by Jonathan Hale, Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

6. The overarching [but not over-reaching, not hardly], A Pattern Language: Towns, Building, Construction by C. Alexander et al., Oxford University Press, 1977 and its companion The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander, Oxford University Press, 1979.


As to proportion and proportions alone, here are those presently favored by the author, mostly for their simplicity of expression:

1. Golden Mean, or Golden Section or Golden Ratio, or Mark Barr’s Ratio of Pheidias (a/k/a Phidias), or phi.

2. Lambda in Plato’s Timaeus plus 5 & 7.

3. Regulating lines (ou tracés regulateurs à la Auguste Choisy et Le Corbusier)
Subjectively, this is about balance, rhythm, symmetry, a sense of schema from illusive to hard rock.


For perspective, “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” Sidelight on Relativity by A. Einstein, translated by G. B. Jeffery and W. Perret, London, 1922.

The practical use of these metrics so far for the author mostly relates – a) positive integers from 1-9 exclusively, b) plus Phi and phi, c) generally apparent and usually symmetrical lines of relationship.


Comment: The practical use of these formulations is to relate these numerical values and physical relationships –

1. Whole, positive integers from 1-9

2. Plus Phi and phi

3. Generally apparent and usually symmetrical lines of relationship

4. The Fibonacci series in aspects of progression

Comment: In this designer’s opinion, you can get almost anywhere from here with ordered proportions using a matrix relating 1-9 to 1-9, keeping it simple. You know, 1:1, 1:2 . . . 9:8, 9:9. This home designer has also leaned into Phi=1.618, phi=0.618, and early entries in the Fibonacci series 0, 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, … Vesica Piscis, logarithmic spirals, dodecahedrons, and the like are fare for others for now.

Comment: Rule of thumb (not this designer’s, but he cannot recollect whose sentiment this first was, and he thinks that, though the first guy was talking cathedrals or the like several centuries back, the point is a better reference for home design than for larger constructs): attend mostly to ratios between 4:3 and 7:1 as the range of casually observable size distinction.

Comment: If you’re simply in the hunt for numerical relationships, knock yourself out: “music theory online: pitch, temperament, & timbre; lesson 27” by Brian Blood,, supporting (among others) Julien Guadet’s proposition, “Les proportions, c’est l’infini.” Eléments et théorie de l’architecture by J. Guadet, Four volumes, first ed. 1901-1904, fourth ed. 1915, Vol. I, p. 138 ff.

Forming home design in a framework of proportion, the author finds that –

1. It’s way easier to begin drawing with proportion in mind as a design premise than to attempt its imposition later on.

2. Complexity can overcome order or at least leave the practical realm when proportions proliferate beyond the 9 chosen integers and the 2 chosen irrationals, a/k/a while rigorous in harmonious design does not mean slavish, it also does not mean sloppy or obtuse.

3. Getting obsessive with this stuff can make you crazier. Enjoy.

4. There is a tendency to momentum, a propensity herewith in that proportional opportunities can present themselves sui generis with proportional precedent.

5. There arise practical limits particularly on interiors whereat function can rule.

6. There is no escaping a community’s inattention to these matters when a client demands the project must necessarily conform to sometimes hideous design choice points in keeping up with the Joneses, e.g., outsized windows, cascades of gables, unbalanced segments, predetermined clad and trim, etc. [a point which is mirrored in client or community insistence in ignorant or insensitive departure from well-expressed style], a/k/a give it up, the horse won’t drink; you hauled the water.

7. Whimsy accounts well now and then. So does artful, or creative; a little divergence is a good thing.

8. Don’t ever be telling yourself that those who have gone before you were slacking in architectural design efforts of pattern. Your barren ignorance would be showing. Even jobsite tradesmen not all that long before your time were steeped in knowledge of sacred geometry and Classical style [would that you are doubtful, sit down sometime with the photographed front elevation of a fine example of some well-know residential architectural style of, say, the late 19th century, and layout that elevation using a basic knowledge of harmonious design and the parts fit over and over and over again], those designers and builders being at the tail end of millennia of practice, practice, practice and respect, respect, respect for the craft.