Matthew Lickona 11:49 p.m., Dec. 10
I haven't written my blog here in a long time, due to the fact that I have been working on a book. The amount of work it took drained me of the will to write elsewhere and even the blog on my own website www.markholmesphoto.com suffered.
It was quite an experience writing an instructional photography book. I've written many things over the years, but this is the first time my name will appear on the cover of a book distributed widely.
I turned in the book proposal before Christmas 2010. It took until February for the publisher to get contracts together and then they wanted the manuscript in a very short time. I started working frantically on it, to be told after a few weeks that I should hold off turning it in, because the publisher needed to get their act together on the programming end. The book is not just a book, but is also going to include a CD of interactive computer-based learning exercises.
eLearning is a new venture for Wiley and my book is an early example, so it took awhile to get the relationship with the programming team together. I turned in the manuscript in May 2011, but heard nothing back about it as the lessons for the CD were taking priority in development. I spent much of the summer reviewing storyboards for the training and getting together extra photographs, most of which I had to shoot. As a result, there are lots of recognizable scenes from San Diego in my book.
In October, just as I was about to head off on a photography job in Qatar, the editor came back saying author review was due in two weeks. Then, there were problems with the template that the book was developed in, so the two weeks slipped to six or seven weeks.
When the book was finally signed off I was extremely disappointed to hear that it wouldn't be in the stores until February. It had been stop-and-go-hurry-up-and-wait all year, so when I heard that it wouldn't be out in time for Christmas I was not amused. However, when I saw the final layouts I was very pleased with the results and calmed down a little. I thought that even if the book didn't sell I'd have a very useful tool to support my live photography workshops.
I experienced another pang of anxiety when I searched the web and saw how many booksellers and websites were offering it for pre-order sale. I'd written the book with friends in mind and now the reality hit me that strangers all over the world might read it. What would they think? I'd found plenty of errors in the layouts that I'd corrected, but I wasn't sure I'd caught all of them. I imagined an expert army of reviewers all ready to tear into me for daring to think I could teach anyone about photography. Oh well, too late now.
Today, I received an email from my publisher telling me I was to do a talk and book signing at Barnes and Noble in Mira Mesa on February 24 at 7pm. They asked for a photo of me for publicity. Great. I'm not the most handsome of guys and hate appearing in pictures. I don't know why they need a picture of me. I think it might scare people off rather than encourage them to come to the event.
I can deal with doing a talk and signing a few books. What I dread is turning up to the bookstore and sitting there for two hours surrounded by books with customers just staring at me and walking by. If you want a laugh you should stop by and see if you can spot me hidden in a corner somewhere.
I'll certainly be glad when the book is finally out and I can move on mentally. Nelson Photo in Little Italy has kindly offered to host the launch of my book on February 7. It will give me the opportunity to thank all the people who helped me write it and all the attendees of my workshops who supported me through it. There's a place to register for the event on my website if you feel like coming along.
Also this year, I've relaunched the members area of my website with forums and galleries. I am organizing free monthly group shoots where photographers can meet in different San Diego locations and spend time together taking pictures. If you're a photographer you are welcome to join us. Details are on my site.
By-the-way, the name of my book is Digital SLR Photography eLearning Kit for Dummies. Quite a mouthful, eh? When my agent contacted me about the book I said I never considered my students to be dummies and it didn't fit with my branding. Then I heard what the advance was worth and I quickly decided to get behind the respected "For Dummies" brand of instruction books!