Approaching a Photobook Publisher


How should I approach a publisher with my concept for a photobook?

Answer by: Dinesh Khanna, Photographer and Educator

Before you figure out how to approach a publisher, the first question you should be asking yourself is this… Why do I want to make a photobook? For instance, is it for my love of photography in general or because I want to engage with a specific subject and explore that in depth? Am I looking for a way to self-aggrandising myself or do I have something interesting or important to say and share? Inherent in such questions will be the answers in terms of who your audience/reader will be, and it’s important to understand this so that you can then choose the kind of publisher who is interested in and strong in that area.

Once you’ve decided, after asking yourself some searching questions about your book project, the next one ought to be whether you should be looking for a publisher or should you self-publish. Each of these options has its own merits and minuses that are worth considering seriously. For instance, a publisher accepting a book project is a validation of the work, whereas self-publishing may well be dismissed as a vanity project. On the other hand, if you decide to publish your own photobook, you will be taking on, both, the responsibility for the content and presentation, as well as the onerous task of ensuring that the book reaches a discerning audience. Whereas, a publisher may well insist on tailoring the content according to their ideas, and lay down the condition that you should pre-sell enough copies to cover the publishing costs.

Having gone through the process of asking these questions about what the photobook ought to be and who should publish it, you should then consider how to ‘sell’ the idea to a publisher. To my mind, the single most effective way to do this is by thoughtfully editing at least 25-30% of the book, and preparing a full scale dummy, so that the publisher can get a very good idea of what the flow of the book would be, and also it’s size and number of pages. By doing this, you will exhibit confidence in your work, and create a strong impact on the publisher.