If you've ever tried to get a book published, then you know that the traditional publishing industry is a tough nut to crack. In recent years, however, many people have bypassed the gatekeepers in favor of self-publishing.
That was the case for Waterford couple Tony and Chelsea Northrup, who started their own publishing company, Mason Press, in 2011. Even though Tony Northrup is an established author with more than 30 books to his name, when he pitched his idea for a digital photography book, he found no takers.
"We started the publishing company as a work around," says Chelsea.
The advent of electronic books has made this easier than ever to do but Northrup also realized that the possibilities of e-publishing are far greater than simply taking a book from paper to e-reader. His latest book, "How to Create Stunning Digital Photography," takes advantage of every opportunity presented by electronic publishing.
It's not just a book you can read, it's a book you can click on to see video demonstrations. And, because technology changes faster than lightning, Northrup keeps his readers current with regular updates, which is something that traditional print publishers could never offer.
"We release updates
about four times a year now," Northrup says.
To accommodate readers with questions, the couple went one step further. They created a social network for readers to share their images, swap information, and get Northrup's expert advice.
"Once they receive our
book, they send us an email and we accept them into a private group on Facebook," says Chelsea. "People will post and share ideas. It’s become a community."
The Future of Publishing
Northrup's book is on the cutting-edge of publishing and he does it all from his home in Waterford.
"I worked in technology companies for a long time," says Northrup. "I learned to always look five years ahead and build what you wanted to see. I started this before tablets really existed. When the first I-Pad came along, we had everything ready for the hardware devices. No one else was even thinking about it. I couldn’t find another company that was doing anything like it."
Working from his home office and home video studio, and with Chelsea as his frequent model and business partner, this is a cottage industry with a global reach. To launch the book on Amazon, they decided to offer the book for free for five days.
"There are literally
hundreds of photography books that actively compete," says Northrup. "It wasn’t the best books that
were selling the best. Making great content wasn’t going to be enough. We also
had to get that attention."
To date, the book has been distributed to more than 100,000 readers. That was enough to get the attention of one of the big distribution companies that previously ignored all their pitches. The couple now have a national distribution deal.
The fact that Stunning Digital Photography is the first book ever to be awarded the Gold Seal of Excellence in the Benjamin Franklin Digital Awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association didn't hurt either.
Recognized in the ebook category, Stunning Digital Photography was highlighted for excellent use of technology, attractive design, and ongoing free updates and videos that made Stunning Digital Photography stand out as a good investment.
Judges described it as a book “all photography fans will have fun with,” a hands-on how-to photography book that was created as a result of Northrup’s passion for photography and dream to use technology to enhance education.
As an author of 31 educational technology books before this latest one, Northrup has
learned that each person has their own method of learning. For this reason,
Stunning Digital Photography not only includes over 200 pages of concise,
no-nonsense text, but also over 6 hours of video training to supplement the
text, and an online community where Northrup offers one-on-one lessons to his
readers and a place for people to share their pictures and progress.
It's a novel concept in this brave new world of publishing and this Waterford couple are way ahead of the curve.