Q&A About Books and Book Reviews

by | Sep 6, 2019

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Next to questions about finding glamour models, I get lots of questions from readers about books and lately about some about the book reviews that appear on the blog. You might want to read my previous post on a similar subject first, whatever works for you…

Q: Why haven’t you written any books lately?

A: The short answer is nobody has asked me to and I haven’t pitched any book ideas either. In the not-so-distant past, some publishers approached me about writing books but the deals never closed.

One publisher wanted me to write a book about black and white digital photography and I was excited about the concept. They asked for an outline and a sample chapter to see if I could write a photography book. The 34 other books I’d written was evidently not enough proof. I submitted an outline and sample chapter along with 30+ illustrations. A committee reviewed the material—nobody in publishing wants to make a decision if they can blame it on someone else if the book doesn’t sell—and they liked the outline but didn’t like the chapter. They never told me why they didn’t like it but asked me to write another chapter. I declined telling them I already had seen that movie and Lucy always pulls the football away at the end.

My own book ideas? The publisher of my last four books and I discussed my writing a book about shooting with Micro Four-thirds mirrorless cameras and I was excited about this too. The problem was he wanted the book to be a series of horizontal images along with a bunch of captions. I can understand minimizing costs and I’m sure book designers are expensive. This is a trend I’ve seen in other recent photo books, including one written by a friend that was clearly not designed; pictures were just slapped onto pages with no concern about their relationship to the text. The mirrorless project went nowhere for reasons that I’m still not sure about.

Q: Why haven’t you done more book reviews recently?

A: Writing book reviews take time and unlike when I wrote book reviews for Shutterbug, nobody is paying me to write them for my blogs. And you may or may not be surprised that some publishers send a press release and access to a digital version of parts of a book and expect me to write the review from these sources; I will not.

Other publishers send me physical books to review but few of them make the cut because I prefer to review books that are useful and have content that will help the reader. While there are exceptions, such as this and this, far too many photo books these days are published just because the authors have 100,000 Facebook or Instagram followers. I explain why that is in that above linked post.

I tend to write more book reviews for my car photography blog because these publishers reach out to me asking what books I want to review rather than sending me a stack of books and hope I like them. So I get to pick and choose the books I’m interested in so there are always more book reviews on that site than here, such as this and that. Check’em out if you like cars.

Q: So what happens to all these unwanted books?

A: I donate them to my local library. While some Internet pundits say this is a bad idea because the library doesn’t want your books, my local library does want them. They don’t want them for the stacks but they run a used bookstore inside the library and sell donations to fund the books they really want to buy. That’s why they are happy to see me bringing in books and always tell me they appreciate my donations.

I hope that my book writing and reviewing career is not over because I have more to share with readers, especially on the subject of mirrorless cameras. But if that is the way of the world, I can only say as the late Doris Day once sang, Que será, sera, Whatever will be, will be…

If you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to treat me to a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), click here. And if you do, thank you very much.


The last book I wrote was Posing for Portrait & Glamour Photography and brand new books are available from Amazon.com for $18.95, with used copies (for some reason) starting at $17.85, as I write this. Kindle versions are $11.99 for those preferring to have the book in digital form.