The struggles I faced when creating the book of 'love, sex and relationships'

Updated: Apr 15

Each of us has its own story.

Every decision made and not taken has both positive and negative consequences, especially when we are at your first experience.

I thought that sharing my adventure - the creation of the photo book of love, sex and relationships - might be useful and give a bit of clarity for those who have to make decisions about creating a photo or art book.

The first obstacle to be faced is discouragement, frustration, confusion and that little voice in our head that repeats over and over again - You will never make it!

When I decided to transform the video-photographic project of love, sex and relationships into a book of black and white photographs mixed with intimate conversations, thoughts and poems, something changed in me.

I knew it would be a very difficult undertaking, at least for me.

I was aware of the difficulty of realizing the idea (knowing my inexperience in the publishing sector). But, I was sure I had an art project in my hands with interesting content to publish.

And even though I had no contacts in the publishing sector and never published a book previously, I thought about embarking on this new adventure.

The first thing I did was - start believing in myself.

From the beginning I knew that it would be a self-publishing editorial project and that to make it happen I would have had to widen my circle of contacts.

I would have needed a graphic designer, an opinion from an editor / publishing house, a consultation with a crowdfunding expert and an expert in Marketing and Communication strategies and a quote from a typographer.

And I had different tasks to do: for example, organize the content of the book in advance before sending it to potentially interested people, plan the content of the crowdfunding campaign (what to write, which prizes to propose, which crowdfunding platform to choose and use for fundraising and when to decide to launch the campaign online ...), to understand how to involve associations and institutions in the project, journalists, bloggers, influential people, friends, strangers by promoting the crowdfunding campaign on social media, as well as having to deal with the distribution and sale of the book once it has been created.

In short, a massive work that has nothing to do with being a photographer or artist.

So I prepared a presentation-pdf-draft of the final book with Indesign, to make it clear that I had clear ideas at least on the book-project.

To all this work I must add the pre-production period of the project, that includes the search for couples and individuals who took part in the project, interviews, photographic shots and post-production.

The post-production such as organisation of 40 hours of English interviews, transcription, correction (I was helped by two of my friends, English teachers - Jonathan Graham and Peter Dixon), video-editing with English subtitling, collection of poems, thoughts and reflections, black and white negative's processing, scanning and cleaning photographs with Photoshop, photographs and text contents selection to be included in the book, layout / structure book creation with Indesign, contacting an editor and a graphic designer, production costs… etc proved to be a rather complex operation.

I discarded the traditional publishing option and decided to consider self-publishing with all problems related. At that moment I wanted to have complete control over the book contents. I was quite naive.

If I went back I'd choose to work with a publisher as the decision to work alone on such a complex project has kept me busy for more than six years. And I'm still here working on it.

I then, decided to find an editor interested in my work.

After several searches, I contacted Steve Bisson who helped me to organise the layout of the book and contents giving a structure to the book.

I felt understood and motivated.

I was also aware that being an unknown photographer wasn't going to help me.

The first question I asked myself is - Self-publisher: what does this mean?

Self-publisher is a form of independent publishing that in recent years has also spread very widely here in Italy. Abroad, and especially in Anglo-Saxon countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, self-publishing has been a valid alternative to traditional publishing for years.

It is an effective way to self-publish, to become a publisher of yourself, taking care of everything about your work: drafting, layout, distribution, price and other related activities.

It is a very different channel than traditional publishing.

However, “visibility” is important, being able to reach as many people as possible. Traditional publisher can generally guarantee it with security because the books go directly on the bookstores shelves and readers who have seen the book's advert in specialised newspapers, online magazines with large numbers of followers and on TV.

Self-publishing is a real job. It is like becoming editor and entrepreneur of oneself, taking care of all steps that go from conception to bringing the book to the reader's table (or smartphone).

But the topic is much broader.

And so I begin to inform myself, read and acquire knowledge on self - publishing and publishing.

Time passes. The first year, then the second.

I feel trapped, not only by Covid-19's period but also by this new world that I try in every way to know and understand. I don't photograph anymore so I'm busy understanding how to produce the book of love, sex and relationships.

I decide to focus only on the goal by giving myself a deadline.

As the days go by I become more and more aware of the difficulties and also more clarity. The discouragement is big but I do not give up.

I'm just wondering: And now how can I proceed?

The second question I ask myself concerns the organisation of the crowdfunding campaign and understanding who the followers are, who will support the project during the campaign and where to find them.

But first of all, what is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a collective financing of a project that is carried out thanks to the contribution of ordinary people who, believing in the strength of the project, want to contribute to its realisation.

There are several crowdfunding platforms, such as Indiegogo, Kickstarter, Crowdbooks, GoFundMe… to name a few.

The success of the project may partly depend on the type of platform chosen. Although certainly the difference will be made by the validity of the project itself, its presentation and its promotion.

In fact, it is not enough to enter the project on the platform and wait.

The hardest work often begins when the project is launched online.

Another completely new topic for me.

The most difficult job is to create an ad hoc pre-crowdfunding campaign, deal with market / customer analysis, brand positioning, find the right influencers who can support the idea and vision, look for journalists who can write about it in magazines or in online magazines and engage the followers so that they can believe and trust us and help us achieve the goal.

There is lot of work to do.

But who are the supporters / followers and where can we find them?

It would be nice to have a community that already follows you or friends who strongly believe in what you do. Surely among your followers there will be people who can't wait to support your projects.

One piece of advice - do not exclude anyone. You never know who he might know.

Take part in groups discussion, commenting their posts and online events, tell everyone about your project, update your social media.

Meanwhile, questions pile up in my mind: Will they take me seriously? Will they be interested in my artistic work? Will they buy the book?

To make my life easier, I contacted few crowdfunding experts.

I showed them my work and overall situation to understand if I could manage to run the crowdfunding campaign by myself.

One of them discourages me even more.

To reach your goal you need 650 people who believe in you and who can invest at least 30 euros each - he tells me.

30% of the project must be funded in advance, before launching your crowdfunding campaign. 400 is enough to get started - he continues.

Where do I find 650 people who believe in me? - I answer him - I'm not that famous!

Don't you have friends, acquaintances, colleagues, people you've known all these years? - tells me.

Not 400 - I answer him.

Okay, then you will have to work on them and you will find them through Marketing and Communication strategies, mailing lists, contacts with journalists and the press, newsletters, brand positioning, blog posts, influencers posts…. If you don't find those 400 people, your campaign is doomed to fail.

A real job. A new world I've never thought of.

Again - the dark.

The third question I asked myself is: publishing with a traditional publisher or self-publishing?

The dilemma of the century!

Self-publishing or not, you can't do it all by yourself - I tell myself.

Because the first thing to consider does not concern self - publishing or the publisher but knowledge of one's limits.

If I consider my experience as a life lesson, I understand that to create a book we need skills, resources and time.

It really is a grueling process if you are alone.

I still have doubts, perplexities, uncertainties and the crowdfunding campaign has yet to start.

Publishing with a traditional publisher is definitely advisable.

If I went back I would do this. It is really complex to know how to do everything on your own - it is practically impossible to be an expert in different fields.

There are several steps to creating a book:

Organization (to take care of the project)

Writing / photography (to be able to do it)

Editing (to take care of it in quality)

Graphics (for the cover and layout)

Web Design (for the creation of an author site where you can talk about your works)

Blogging (for writing engaging content)

Marketing (for online and offline promotion)

Crowdfunding (create the ad hoc campaign)

Distribution of the book and sale

Delegating might be one solution, probably the only one unless we're good at everything.

But no serious professional works for free and without a real investment we will never get a professional job.

Then I read: "Whatever your idea, to be successful you have to go to the web. You will need a blog, you will have to learn how to write content for the web and learn how to use the tools for creating online courses. One important thing is self-promotion.

You must have an online presence. You have to get noticed, talk about the things you write, your books, your approach. In short, you have to give information, disseminate it and make yourself known. People want to know who you are, why you do what you do. Either you grab attention or you don't go anywhere.

On the other hand this is a bitter truth.

There is a lot of work to do.

But the most important ingredient for success in life is desire, the obsessive passion in wanting to carry out a life project, as well as talent, willpower, perseverance and enthusiasm and the ability to get out of our zone of comfort by exploring alternative ways and opportunities.

The new is always scary and is necessary for our personal, mental, emotional and spiritual growth.

Struggles are important. Failures are important.

They teach us new perspectives, they change our thought's mechanisms and make us accept more and more our human frailties and imperfections.

If you want to know more about the book of "love, sex and relationships' here is the link of the Sign up! form on my website where you can add your email and follow future updates.

Thank you.

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