I recently published my ebook about music photography called Get In The Loop – How to make great music images. The making of it involved 6 months of work in 6 countries, going through 1000s of images and writing 25,000 words and nearly losing my mind!
The idea is born
In October 2014 one of the amazing bookshops in Portland, Oregon I found the book Who Shot Rock & Roll by Gail Buckland.
This is an amazing book about music photography through the past 50 years, including all the masters such as Jim Marshall and Annie Leibovitz. I bought the brook and it traveled with me through the US, to Singapore, to Australia and back to Singapore.
Somehow at some point in April and May 2015 in Australia the rather insane, ambitious and somewhat overconfident idea “I want to make a book about music photography” formed in my brain (or what passes for a brain!). Some other part of my brain (also overconfident so they get along well) said “great idea, that shouldn’t take long at all!” So I immediately posted the following picture on Instagram in the middle of May – notice the “coming soon”.
I opened up Pages on my Macbook, created an empty document and it had begun.
The writing process
“Pictures cannot stand alone – they need writing”. Charlene has said this many times, and I totally agree. It is just that I loathe writing anything longer than a short stream-of-consciousness blog post. So I would like my primary school teachers to take note – somehow the boy who could not write, who hated writing, spat out a 25,000 word draft! It was messy and ugly – but it was long!
The book changed form quite a few times, it started out being mostly about the images with small stories and then Charlene suggested that it could be so much more than that, it could be a “how to” book too if I poured all my experience and all my knowledge about music photography into it. This was a most important change in the direction of the book.
Over coffee in Penang, we kicked around ideas for a title. I wrote down every word I associated with electronic music, a long list, and we started playing with possible titles that had to mean something cool, be 2-4 words long, and not be already in use by any well known movie, song, artist, project etc. Not an easy thing but after an hour we ended here:
Get in the Loop has several meanings, most notably “to be provided with sufficient information” and it also plays on electronic music being built on loops. We had a title!
Selecting the images
This was the easy part, I had my Lightroom library and I knew my tens of thousands of images well so I had a pretty good idea in my head of which images that I wanted to write about. My first rough selection had about 150 images I think. Then the first draft had 60 images, that got edited down to 46 images in the final version.
The printed version, edit 1
In July while we were in Penang, Malysia, I finished draft 1! We got it printed, 110 A4 pages at a printing shop in Penang, and this became the manuscript that Charlene used for editing.
Now this is where the real magic happened. Charlene is an exceptional writer and editor and she spent days reading through my messy draft with her Editor hat on (there is no actual hat, it is me using a metaphor!). As you can see, a lot of pages had more corrections and suggestions than my original writing! I kept re-writing and she must edited 5-6 drafts before we had a final version and then on top of that she proof read the whole thing 2-3 times just before the final launch. How she managed to edit this ebook and my horrible writing and not replace me I do not know – but I am forever grateful! The book only reads so well because of her.
I made the design just mucking around with ideas gathered from all kinds of magazines and books. Especially the absolutely amazing book For The Record: Conversations with People Who Have Shaped the Way We Listen to Music. I had a lot of fun doing the design, it was a nice break from the writing.
“You gotta be crazy to make something special” – someone once wrote something like that I am sure. Or someone should. I am not sure about the special part, but I did go crazy (or more crazy than I was) so I got that part down to perfection.
Work began in May (remember “coming soon!”) and 6 months of work, 20,682 words and 6 countries later (Australia, Singapore, Denmark, Malaysia, Germany, Sri Lanka) and Get In The Loop was ready for publishing on the 30th of November 2015! Coming soon indeed! I hit publish while we were living in Colombo, Sri Lanka and we instantly hit the town to celebrate. Here, 6 weeks later, I still sometimes find it hard to believe my book is “out there”, finished and published.
I must admit I had many days where I thought this monster would consume me, and would never ever get finished, that I had taken on an impossible project. I got so mad during the writing process so many times it is a wonder my laptop survived! This is probably the one and only ebook I will ever do, so I approached the project with that it mind. There will not be a follow up next year, this is it, the one and only – so it had to be right, I had to have covered and shared everything I could think of. And I have.
I am immensely proud and happy with the final Get In The Loop ebook. It is a product that I – with amazing help and support from my partner Charlene – made myself from scratch to final product. I shot the images, came up with the idea for the book, wrote the draft, re-wrote and re-wrote, designed the book, created the selling page on my website, marketed and sold the book. That is an extremely satisfying thing.
“I am armed with a small screwdriver and overconfidence, I am absolutely sorted” – Doctor Who once said something like that and I agree. If there is a dream or anything you want to pursue, do not think “I would be crazy to do it” but instead think “I would be crazy not to try”.
I have now sold more than 250 copies – thank you everyone who have bought and supported the book and the great feedback I have received. It means so much to me, I cannot tell you how much.
I also owe so many thank yous to so many wonderful people and there is a full page in the book listing everyone. I have to mention one person here, the love of my life, Charlene – for supporting me and kicking my ass to keep improving, and working with me on gigs and on this book and on well, everything. You are magic my love and you make me magic. This book would never have happened without you.
Where do I buy Get the Loop?
Glad you asked 🙂 Head on over to the page for the book or click the image below and it can be yours, 220 pages, 6 months of work, everything I know about music photography + 46 pictures and 20,000 words – for only $6.99 USD!
PS. Charlene also just edited this blog post, and fixed a few typos 😀