I have written or contributed major portions to 34 books and am working on my 35th book—A Life in Photography—consequently photographers often write me asking about how to get their pet book idea published. Here’s what I tell’em:
Write about what you like. If you know a lot about antique or sports cars, it will show in the photographs that you make and in the text you write. Having a package of text and images is an easier sell than one that just has pretty pictures.
Coffee Table books are a hard sell. Unless you have some exclusive images that nobody else in the world has AND they’re great-looking AND nobody has published a similar book in a while AND if they did it sold like hotcakes, then stick to how-top books.
Don’t write the book and hope to sell it, do research first. I have seen many author’s hearts broken as the carted a full-size mock-up of the book around trying to sell it to various publishers. Look in the latest Photographer’s Market for publishers that specialize in the kind of book you want to do, then send them a letter with your proposal and qualifications. Include a few photographs to get their interest. If you want them back, remember to enclose a prepaid envelope.
Be professional. Even if this is your first book, make sure that your proposal looks like you know what you’re doing. Everything from the label on the envelope to your letterhead should look like you’re serious about what you do. Send the proposal to one publisher at a time. They could be upset when they get back to you and it’s already sold to another publisher. If you must send multiple submission make sure they’re different and not different versions of the same book.
Be persistent, but not annoying. The book you proposed may be similar to something they have in process, but is not yet in stores. If so, send additional and different proposals later. I did this for several years before one publisher finally said “We don’t like your proposals, but like you. Would you be interested in writing a book that we have in mind?” I ended up writing three books for this publisher.
Don’t turn any book projects down. If you ever want to have your dream book published, it will be easier if you have a track record. Writing a book that the publisher has in mind will expose you to the way that publishers work and help you sell future projects.
In How I Photograph Cars, there’s also lots of information on photographing motorsports from sports car racing to drag racing including safety tips when working around fast racecars. You’ll go behind the scenes as I photographs a small car collection for a client and look at not just the challenge of photographing a group of cars but the logistics involved in making the shot happen.