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

Updated: Apr 15, 2022

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?