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New Book

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
3 min read
New Book

I wrote a new book. Sort of. Actually, it’s a book that condenses every post I ever made at the A Lesser Photographer blog into a few dozen easy-to-read chapters. I completed writing on it yesterday and now it’s on to editing, design and publishing (the fun part).

Some chapters were lightly edited from the source material and some were completely re-written. The idea is to put a bow on the blog, wrapping it all up in one package you (or I) can refer to when we need a hit of honesty about photography.

In case you're interested in the process behind such a project, here's how it went:

I started months ago by clipping every article (around 400) from the A Lesser Photographer blog into Evernote. Evernote allowed me to retain the images, text and metadata behind each post. This served two purposes: I could read posts offline and on my phone, and it backed up the entire blog in case anything catastrophic happened to the blog during the rest of the process.

After all the posts were safely in Evernote, I moved the blog to my personal site and forwarded all the URLs to the new URLs. Now, everything is under one roof and there's no mistaking what you're signing up for with my newsletter.

From Evernote, I re-read every post, usually during episodes of True Detective. If the material in the post was good enough for the book, I tagged the post with "alpbook." I could have done that part within the blog's CMS, but that would have updated the RSS feed as well, which is not what anyone wants.

I copy and pasted every post tagged with "alpbook" into Scrivener as plain text. I could've done an easier import, but ebook publishing is hard and starting a manuscript with plain text solves multiple problems before they even appear.

Different types of posts got different icons (quote bubbles for quotes, for example). I stacked posts with similar topics together under the best post on the topic (often, this was a chapter from the original A Lesser Photographer manifesto).

The hardest part of the process was condensing all those stacks into small chapters. Some stacks took days to comb through and combine. Others were a matter of finding the best sentence to express a thought and deleting 90% of what was left. Sometimes, entirely new chapters had to be written to fill gaps I perceived while editing.

I changed the color of the icons in Scrivener to indicate whether each chapter was a first draft (red), revised draft (yellow) or final draft (green).

When the process was completed (as of yesterday), what was left was just over 12,000 words that summarized the past 4 years of blogging.

What's left to do?

Editing. I will print out each chapter, mark it all up with a red pen. This catches a lot more than working on screen. It just does. I'll also seek out an outside editor, after I'm done implementing my own edits.

Photos. I haven't decided for sure yet, but I think I'll take the same philosophy as the blog did. I want the reader thinking about their own photos, not mine, so at least the first release the ebook will be all text with a single photo on the cover. In the future, and especially if it goes to print, I may change my mind, but only if I can add more value to the book with my photos.

Design. Designing a mostly text Kindle, iBooks or ePub ebook is much easier these days, thanks to apps like Scrivener and Vellum. PDFs are still hard.

Distribution. I'm thinking Gumroad right now, but I'll do a solid weekend's worth of research between now and then to be sure. I do love the idea of treating the book like software, updating it from time to time with new and revised content.

Why am I telling you this? A lot of writers like hiding their work until it's fully completed. But, the artists I like wouldn't dream of that. And, Austin Kleon makes some really great points about being open with your process in Show Your Work!, so I'm giving it a go.

If you want to stay up-to-date on the book and ensure you'll hear about it when it's released, sign up for the newsletter.