A month or two ago, I was chatting about [my book project](/categories/livre/) and [decision to find funding](http://www.viddler.com/about/contact/) to [Joi](http://joi.ito.com/). He suggested that a trip to the [Frankfurt book fair](http://www.book-fair.com/en/portal.php) might be useful.
First on, the Messe is just *huge*. I spent a morning there and just walked, and walked, and walked. Overall, I found my visit rather disappointing, though I did learn some useful things (though they weren’t exactly what I wanted to hear). Here’s the information I gathered, from a visit to the Swiss booth and discussions with a few people.
– I have a list of Swiss (French-speaking) publishers, and a shortlist of 4-5 who could be suitable for my project.
– Publishers, distributors, and bookstores are all part of the same organisation (in CH).
– The market is saturated, publishers are swamped with manuscripts, and it’s even worse in France than Switzerland (so, I should stick with local publishers — the fact I’m already recognised as a local authority also pushes in that direction).
– I can forget about a deal with an advance, so I need to look at other sources to finance the *writing* part (Loterie Romande, educational associations, foundations… I’ll hunt around a bit to compile a list.)
– Swiss publishers don’t like agents, and having one might make it even more difficult for me to find a publisher.
– The publisher deals with the printing guys to get the book published, and deals with the distribution guys to get it distributed. [Hunter](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_Lovins), a seasoned bookwriter, tells me that unless I’m getting a huge advance, having a publisher is not worth it — I can deal with printers and distributors myself. Will just have to check if this is a viable approach in the Swiss market.
– The publisher is precious for the editing process, because he knows what is good and what is not, the head of this Swiss association tells me. Hunter, on the contrary, tells me this mostly gets in the way. A good editor can be precious but chances are I won’t be getting one.
– If I go the self-publishing way (offline), then I’ll need funding for the printing, which could be a problem.
– One option, which Joi suggests and I’d been getting at, is to start off by online-self-publishing (Lulu, Blurb, or another), and once there is enough buzz, sales, reviews, etc, approaching publishers.
– I really need to work on a proper proposal, and I have a better understanding of what such a proposal needs to look like. I got some advice from talking with a publisher over dinner (thanks again!) and Chris Webb left me a pointer to [his interesting series on book proposals](http://ckwebb.com/tag/book-proposal) in the comments to [my previous post](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/10/09/first-draft-of-book-presentation/). From what I gather, the more there is in the proposal, the better.
So, where do I go from now?
– **Write a proper proposal in French** (as the book will be in French). This obviously needs to be broken down into manageable pieces (GTD-style), and I realise that the big nasty bit for me is the outline. I have tons of ideas of stuff that I want to put in the book, but I’m not sure how to organise it all yet. I’ve been mind-mapping, but it’s a bit overwhelming and messy. So I’ll start by writing all the rest (the easy bits).
– **Write a project funding proposal** which will probably not be as detailed as the one for the publisher.
– Ask around for leads to getting funding, compile a list, send out funding requests with proposal.
– Send the proposal to the 4-5 publishers on the list, once it’s done.
Language? Isn’t it kind of weird I’m speaking about this in English? On the other hand, I don’t want to “cut out” my English network by blogging exclusively in French about this book project.
All this thinking about self-publishing has given me the desire to put together one or more photo books. I’ve barely been printing since I went digital, and it’s nice to have photos in physical form too, as [Moo](http://moo.com)’s success demonstrates. My friend [Andrea Lindenberg](http://www.andrealindenberg.com/) has put together a [collection of her best riding show photographs](http://www.lulu.com/content/1192654) — if you like horses, you should definitely check it out. She’s very talented.
My [Flickr photo collection](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/) is approaching 10’000 photos. So, again, the inevitable **choice** problem. I’ll certainly make a book of my best Indian photos at some point (most of them aren’t on Flickr but are either slides (first trip), negatives (second trip), or digital-[dumped-in-directories](http://old.climbtothestars.org/dumps/) (third trip). I have a set called [My Favourites](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/1292259/), but it’s very out-of-date and doesn’t contain any recent photos. I can probably dig out the photos I use for Moo cards or stickers and add them, though.
Any opinions? If you see any photos of mine that you think deserve ending up in the (a) photo book, don’t hesitate to tag them “forthebook”. Thanks!