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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best creativity magazine in the UK“, photographer Gim Liu writes about how his new book, A Beginner’s Guide To After Dark Photography With Gimagery, helps fellow photographers.
Written by Gim Liu
The main inspiration to write my book ‘A Beginner’s Guide to After Dark Photography with Gimagery’ was taking on the challenge of writing a book and getting it published. For me, it was all about wanting to undertake the challenge as I would consider it one of my greatest achievements if I could successfully do it which would also be self-fulfilling.
In the photography world, my greatest desire and ambition is simply to inspire creativity in others. I believed that writing my book would facilitate this aim by enlightening readers of my book and my promotional articles to the discipline of long exposure photography. Spreading my expert knowledge and experience would provide people with an in-depth theoretical and practical understanding, leaving them with the skills to create eye-catching images. In addition, writing a book would provide me with the opportunity to showcase my skills and also to teach people two photo styles that I made myself.
As there are ups and downs throughout the process of writing a book, I believe it is important to keep your reason/s for writing it in your mind to help you when it gets challenging.
Having come up with my idea, I first drafted a chapter outline. This provided me with the structure and something to work from which could progressively get ticked off as they got written. The chapter outline did change somewhat through time but it did stay relatively similar to the original outline. Unfortunately, I did not write it in chapter order and cannot remember the order that they got written in. I don’t believe it is necessary to write the chapters in the order of how they are drafted. The important thing is to make note of which ones are finished and which ones are still needed to be written. To maximize your understanding, this was my final chapter outline:
Chapter 1: Exordium
Chapter 2: Camera settings & features
Chapter 3: Camera familiarity
Chapter 4: ADP formula and equipment needed
Chapter 5: Safety measures & precautions
Chapter 6: Light painting words photo guide
Chapter 7: Vehicle light trails photo guide
Chapter 8: Steel wool photo guide
Chapter 9: Outlining photo guide
Chapter 10: Trajectory photo guide
Chapter 11: Epilogue
After deciding on the chapters, I then had to decide what information should go into the chapters in order to begin writing them.
For chapter 1 (Exordium), this was the introductory chapter so I decided that I must include explanations of what is being taught, how it will be taught, who is giving the guidance and why it is being taught.
For chapter 2 (Camera settings & features), as my book is aimed at photographers that are beginners in the discipline of long exposure photography, I knew that I had to provide a theoretical understanding of settings and features on a camera. This chapter went in-depth into this to make sure a firm understanding was achieved.
Chapter 3 (Camera familiarity) follows on from chapter 2 and provides a practical understanding of the settings and features on a camera. All camera settings and features were explained which are necessary for long exposure photography.
For chapter 4 (ADP formula and equipment needed), I created the after dark photography formula that explains the process of undertaking a long exposure photo which also takes the form of a guide that is used in the upcoming chapters. This is explained which was then followed by describing and explaining all of the equipment needed to be used.
Chapter 5 (Safety measures & precautions) was the last chapter before beginning to teach how to take the actual photos. As some of the photo types use hazardous materials, this chapter was of great importance to ensure the safety of the reader and of others. It outlines general safety measures and precautions along with ones that are specific to some of the photo types.
Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 is where photo guides were provided to follow in order to take photos that involve light painting words, vehicle light trails, steel wool, outlining and trajectory. It used the after dark photography formula I created and provided interactive running examples for clarity.
Chapter 11 (Epilogue) was the concluding chapter of my book and ended with touching upon the post-processing of images, giving some final tips and parting messages.
This was my writing process which happened over a time period of approximately 3 years and 8 months. This was just the period of time, I was not writing every day or every week for that matter. My final piece ended up being 30,490 words spread across 152 pages.
Experiences from idea to publication
The following is an outline of the entire process I went through which was over a time period of 4 years and 10 months:
Thought of idea > conducted market research > drafted chapter outline > wrote book > created book cover > got it proofread and done a lot of editing to perfect it > got it piloted > submitted it to publishers for publication > chose to self publish so set it up for self publication > reached out to companies to promote it > released the book > carried out promotion and marketing.
To excite readers of this article and inspire the writing of a book, I am sharing my experiences of parts of the process that I believe to hold most value.
Creating my book cover
From my research, I noticed that the book covers in my subject area were not particularly interesting or eye-catching and thought that I could definitely create a better one than those that I saw. I used a fantastic free graphic design program called Inkscape to create mine. This gave me complete control and freedom to create the front and back cover as I wanted. Inkscape is not difficult to use/learn and there are plenty of tutorials on Youtube in order to learn how to use it.
Proofreading and editing
Having completed the entire process, I realised how imperative it is to get your book proofread by someone and also to do a great deal of editing. This part of the process is quite lengthy but it enhances the quality of your work significantly. It became apparent to me that you can infinitely edit your work so a tip I would like to give is that when you get to a point where you are happy with your book, stop there. You could literally edit forever.
After I had finished writing, proofreading and editing, I found volunteers who were willing to pilot my book. I believe this was very important to ensure what I had written was understood by the reader, my instructions could be followed and to get suggestions for any final changes that could be made. No matter what genre your book is, I think it is a good idea to get several people to read your book to see if any problems arise that you can fix before publishing it.
Submitting to publishers
From researching and my personal experience, I found that it is rather difficult to get publishing deal. I submitted to 109 publishers and from these, 58 didn’t respond at all, 49 of them said no and only 2 of them were interested. Of the two that were interested, one of them could not give me an indication of when their publishing schedule would be free enough to publish my book. The other one lead me along for months on end to then turn around and ask me to make significant changes to my content which would take a long time.
I decided not wait around or put in the work of making significant changes to my book and made the decision to self publish on Amazon. One piece of advice I can give from my experience is, if you want to submit to publishers, be prepared for rejection, don’t be disheartened and be persistent. I actually sent three rounds of submissions to the same publishers who didn’t reply to encourage a response which worked in some cases.
Marketing and promotion
For me this was the last step in the process and it is ongoing even to this day since publishing on 20th October 2022. One of my main avenues for promotion was reaching out to big companies in my subject area of photography and asking them if they would promote my book in some way.
I reached out to 93 photography companies and 11 got back to me willing to promote my book in the form of interviews, podcasts, reviews and guest post articles. Just like submitting to publishers, 11 out of 93 is not the best turn out, but it did help to successfully make sales. If you take a similar route for your marketing/promotion, keep in mind that a lot will not reply at all so be prepared for not getting a response and also for rejection.
Additional avenues I took were making a book video trailer which I uploaded to Youtube, Instagram and Facebook. I also posted my trailer in 202 different Facebook groups. 151 of these were author groups and the other 51 were photography groups.
Find more from Gim Liu now:
Link to book on Amazon: mybook.to/ADPwithGimagery
Book video trailer: https://youtu.be/juGVmvEjQ7k
Author profile: https://www.amazon.com/author/gimagery
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