Kensington Gardens Treescapes - The story of a book #6 - Some Poetry - Where did that come from?

Some Poetry - Where did that come from?


My intention had always been to intersperse the photographic plates with historical anecdotes about Kensington Gardens and some tree facts.  For example, the photograph shown here is of a "Veteran" Sweet Chestnut tree, so in the book there is a short explanation of what the term "Veteran" means when related to trees.....

Veteran Trees
The term “veteran” is applied to trees that are still alive but have stopped growing and show signs of age with their gnarled trunks and craggy limbs.

I have also included historical anecdotes in order to emphasise the age of some of these beautiful trees...

.....the Sweet Chestnut trees shown in this collection age gracefully and very slowly. They are called “veterans” and many are
over 250 years old. This means that they were “born” at about the same time as the construction of The Royal Chelsea Hospital - home of the war “veterans” known as Chelsea Pensioners.

Then, one sleepless night with all these ideas buzzing around my head the following lines came to me...

The Veteran Chestnut
The Veteran Chestnut stands tall and proud
Alone in the park looking down on the crowd
With twisted bark and jagged limbs
And hundreds of years laid down in rings
Despite its age it fruits each year
Making roasted treats for winter cheer
It has seen Royal Hunts rampaging by
When, as a sapling, it shot for the sky
And now, in its dotage, it stands serene
Reminding us mortals of things that have been.

At first I was reluctant to include this but have been persuaded to do so... along with a few other poems that "occurred" later.

I hope you like them!

Kensington Gardens Treescapes - The story of a book #5

Services for self-publishers

Kensington Gardens Book

Due to the rise in popularity of self-publishing, a number of traditional publishers are offering their services to would-be authors for a fee.  At first sight some of these services seem attractive not least because they seem to offer a "helping hand" to the publishing novice.  I researched several of these options, cherry-picking the services I thought I would need and at the heart of which lay the actual printing of the book.  The additional services included book design, ISBN registration, printing, distribution, marketing, ebook conversion and so on.

For me it was crucial that the print quality was excellent, so in addition to gathering costs and ideas for the various services I was also researching print quality by looking in bookshops for large photographic books and making notes on the print-houses for those I liked. The print-house is usually listed on the Half-Title Verso (ie on the back of the inside Title page) where the copyright, publisher, ISBN etc information is listed. You can also research this on Amazon by "Looking Inside" similar books where the copyright page is often shown. Of course you can't tell the print quality on Amazon!

In the end I obtained quotes from a number of publishers and printers and was astonished at some of the results! In one case where printing was included in a list of basic services the costs added up to more than the potential income - even at the full cover price of £30! Authors beware! By this stage I had decided to design the book myself as I perceived the book to be an "artwork" in its own right with the photographs as elements making up the whole.  But I would need help with PR and distribution as these two areas were so industry-specific, and, of course, I still needed to find a printer that could produce a high-quality product at a realistic cost.

In the end it turned out that my preferred printer for quality was also the cheapest!  I had decided on the quality issue by looking at books such as "British Wildlife Photography Awards" - various Landscape photography books, and that well-known tree lovers book "Meetings with Remarkable Trees" by Thomas Pakenham. The printer was Printer Trento - but in Italy!  Initially I thought this might be a problem but luckily they have an agent in the UK who helped me obtain the initial quotation. Dealing with the staff in Italy has been a pleasure with proofs posted in the evening in Italy arriving mid-morning the next day in the Black Mountains in Wales! Just for comparison the cheapest quote from a reputable UK printer was 40% more!  But I must stress that my research was not exhaustive.

Kensington Gardens Treescapes - The story of a book #4

Kensington Gardens Blog

When I started this project the only books I had "published" were photo collections using Blurb.

Here is an example.

Now although Blurb do produce beautiful books, the cost is prohibitive if you are considering selling to a wider market online or through bookshops.  My vision for the Kensington Gardens book was a large hardback "coffee-table" book. 

The only way to produce a book at a reasonable unit cost was using off-set printing - ie through a traditional printing-house.  I quickly realised that either I would have to get a publisher interested in my project or I would have to self-publish. Judging by the reaction of other would-be non-fiction authors and photographers that I had researched online - attracting a traditional publisher was nigh-on impossible unless you were already an established "name" (Catch-22!).  So I was going to have to take the self-publishing route - which, encouragingly, seemed to be a rapidly growing field. But how would I design it?  What tools would I need to produce a "print-ready" manuscript? How would I get it to market?  Who would distribute it? There were so many unknowns, but by this time the idea had taken root and so I started climbing the steep learning curve.  

First of all I had to learn as much as possible about the publishing industry.  A book that helped me was "Publish your Photography Book" by Himes and Swanson.  This sets out the main elements of the traditional publishing world, and also some of the terminology employed when referring to parts of a book - "front matter" and "back matter", the difference between a Foreword, Preface and Introduction, half-title page and verso etc etc  And, of course, there are many online resources - too many, because it takes time to find the useful ones!  Here's one I did find useful  The Book Designer   

From all this research I learned that the book would need to be designed in Adobe InDesign which, in turn, would produce a specially formatted PDF file acceptable to a printing-house.  I was already using the Adobe products Lightroom and Photoshop and around this time Adobe introduced the "Creative Cloud" - a subscription service that gives you access to all Adobe products.  In order to manipulate PDF files I would also need Adobe Acrobat and so I subscribed.  Now, it must be said, that InDesign, is not for the faint-hearted!  Undaunted, I set about learning how to use InDesign and, as an experiment, produced a sample book using the Blurb website but designed using the Blurb InDesign "plug-in".

See it here......

Kensington Gardens Treescapes #2

Kensington Gardens

I was in London a few years ago attending a Royal Photographic Society Conference and stayed overnight in a Bayswater hotel.  The next morning, a Sunday, I went for a walk along the Bayswater Road to look at the artists exhibiting their works - not quite the "buzz" that it was in the 60's - but still busy with some nice work on show.  Eventually I turned into Kensinghton Gardens - a park I have known and loved since early childhood - and was immediatley struck by the beauty of the many old trees.  Now, I must have seen these trees hundreds of times before, but maybe because my head was in "art mode" and also because I had become mildly obsessed with photographing trees in the wilds of The Brecon Beacons I wondered whether anybody had photographed these fine specimens in the middle of London.

Back in my studio a few days later I "googled"  to find that there was virtually nothing on the subject and the idea first entered my head of publishing a book of photographs of these wonderful trees.

It's a good job I like a challenge as I will try to explain in this series of blogs!

Kensington Gardens Treescapes #1

As some of you will know, I have been working on a book for two or three years called "Kensington Gardens Treescapes".  Having decided to publish this myself it has been a very steep learning curve but I have finally sent my pdf files to the printers and I'm waiting for the final proof to arrive this week.

Now I plan to set down here, in a series of blogs,  some of the lessons I have learnt for the benefit of others contemplating a similar project. 

So, please watch this space.....