Publishing, Book Marketing, Design

How to Publish A Coffee Table Book?

How to Publish A Coffee Table Book

Coffee table books are a beautiful way to showcase your photography, artwork, or any other collection. Placing your creative work between hardcovers and displaying it in homes allows your art to be appreciated for years. If you’ve amassed a portfolio worthy of a printed book, self-publishing your coffee table book can be a rewarding experience. Let’s explore the step-by-step process.

Define Your Vision

The first step is defining your creative vision for the book. Take time to conceptualize thoughtfully:

  • Subject Matter: What overall theme or collection will the book feature? Landscapes, portraits, still life’s? Narrow your focus.
  • Style: Will the aesthetic be minimalist, graphic, or whimsical? Look at styles of books you admire for inspiration.
  • Tone: How do you want readers to feel when viewing the pages? Thoughtful? Uplifted? Captivated?
  • Selection Process: Carefully curate the specific photos/artworks that tell your story best. Only include top-quality pieces.
  • Design Elements: Consider page layouts, use of captions, and additional text/quotes. Sketch potential designs.
  • Intended Audience: Who will enjoy this book? Be specific to help guide your production and marketing strategy.

With a clear subject and style in mind, your coffee table book concept is ready to develop into a tangible project.

Compile Core Materials

Now it’s time to start pulling together the essential materials that will make up your book:

  • Images: Gather all pertinent photos/art files in high-resolution digital formats like TIFF.
  • Editing: Review your entire collection and select only the highest quality pieces worthy of print.
  • Text: Write captions, credits, and potential essays to complement your visuals. Format them neatly.
  • Table of Contents: Make a logical flow to how you want images/pages grouped.
  • Sample Layouts: Use graphic design software like Photoshop or Illustrator to design sample spreads showcasing your intended overall look and feel.
  • Cover Design: Conceptualize striking front and back covers that will entice potential readers to pick up the book.
  • Research: Learn best practices of your non-fiction genre by examining similar successful published books.

Take time organizing these materials—they form the backbone of your book proposal and ensure you present your concept professionally to publishers.

Develop a Book Proposal

Develop a Book Proposal

To pitch your coffee table book idea, you must tell a compelling story via a polished proposal. Include:

  • Title Page: Book title, your name/credentials as an author, any collaborators or publishers.
  • One Page Summary: Crisply introduces your key selling points in a few short paragraphs.
  • Table of Contents: Outline how images/chapters will flow logically.
  • Sample Spreads: Showcase 2-4 curated pages via high-quality digital proofs.
  • Intended Market: Specify who would enjoy this book as a gift or personal purchase.
  • Author Bio: Establish yourself as a credible content creator/subject matter expert.
  • Promotion Plan: Offer marketing channels you’ll utilize to reach your target readership.
  • Production Details: Estimate printing specs, trim sizes, binding styles, and expected length.
  • Copyright Details: Provide details on image/text licensing.

Proofread meticulously and present neatly—a strong proposal is critical to success! Then, email it to multiple potential publishers.

Land a Book Deal

With a polished proposal, start pitching to publishers that fit your book type. Cold call or use networking opportunities to get referrals to acquisitions editors. Be ready to:

  • Follow Up Persistently: Send new info and stats every few weeks, respectfully following the initial query.
  • Request Meetings: Ask to discuss your concept in more depth via phone or video conferences if interest arises.
  • Address Feedback: Incorporate constructive criticism to strengthen your proposal each round.
  • Consider Self-Publishing: Platforms like IngramSpark or Blurb allow complete control if traditional publishing fails.

With perseverance and refinement based on feedback, your non-fiction book could land an interested publisher. You are securing a deal that funds the next vital steps in production.

Formal Book Production

Once partnered with a publisher or opting for the self-publishing route, the real work of transforming your proposal into a finished book begins:

  • Finalize Layouts: Polish sample spreads into camera-ready pages to print.
  • Source Designer/Editor: Hire professionals to refine text/visuals if required.
  • Copy Editing: Have the entire manuscript scrubbed for errors and consistency.
  • Book formatting: Build electronic manuscripts in digital printing format.
  • Cover Design: Conceptualize a stunning cover to draw readers in.
  • Proofing: Closely review final page proofs before sending them to print.
  • Printing: Order bulk run from the printer or opt for Print on Demand flexibility.
  • Marketing Campaign: Promote pre-orders, launch events and book signings.

Incorporating all necessary steps smoothly transitions your concept into a beautiful printed book.

Launch & Promote

To maximize sales, share your newly published coffee table book far and wide:

  • Book Signings: Display books prominently and chat with admirers at signings.
  • Media Outreach: Pitch reviewers for potential local/travel press coverage.
  • Blog Tours: Collaborate with influencers in your niche for featured exposure.
  • Gift Guide Placement: Aim to be included in relevant holiday lists.
  • Social Media: Consistently share captivating imagery and behind-the-scenes stories.
  • Grants/Contests: Explore funding sources like publisher subsidies for specific book tours.

With creative promotion, your art collection, housed beautifully between hardcovers, can find an appreciative audience for years. The rewards of self-publishing are seeing your vision realized and connecting your book to engaged readers worldwide.

Incorporating Feedback to Strengthen Your Concept

Incorporating Feedback to Strengthen Your Concept

One key to successfully publishing a coffee table book is incorporating constructive feedback to strengthen your overall concept and proposal continuously. As you begin pitching publishers, pay close attention to any notes provided:

  • Subject Matter Focus: If editors suggest narrowing your topic to a more niche area, research popular related subgenres and refine your selection of works accordingly.
  • Competitive Analysis: Reviewing similar successful books can help you determine your target audience specifications, page count, trim size, and pricing strategy.
  • Sample Spreads: Feedback on initial layout sharing may indicate areas for improved text flow, additional captions, and the utilization of blank space.
  • Marketing Plan: Publishers will want to understand potential channels for book promotion and the readership they can reach. Strengthening strategies here shows commercial viability.
  • Production Details: Receiving input on estimated printing costs, delivery timelines, and commonly offered trim sizes allows for refining realistic expectations.
  • Manuscript Revisions: Taking the time to fully address any editorial notes or recommended changes before resubmitting shows a strong commitment and ability to collaborate effectively.

Incorporating publisher perspectives into your book concept strengthens it and better positions it for interest. The key is to see revisions as an opportunity rather than a criticism.

Designing and Formatting Your Manuscript

Once your book proposal is polished and the final content is ready, the next phase involves thoughtfully designing your manuscript for professional printing:

  • Choose Trim Size: Standard coffee table book dimensions include 8.5×11 or 9×12 inches—aim for a consistent size with competitors.
  • Format for Bleed: Design pages slightly larger than the trim size for printed images that extend fully to the edges after cutting.
  • Allow Gutter Space: Leave a 1/4″ blank margin down the inner side of each page spread for the spine/binding.
  • Utilize Layout Grid: Create uniform placement guides via rows/columns for consistent placement of elements like images and captions.
  • Set Text Styles: Use appropriate readable font styles, weights, and sizes for body copy, captions, headers etc.
  • Insert Folios: Add page numbers for navigation and demonstrate sequential flow during proofing.
  • Image Placement: Carefully curate arrangements of photos to feel cohesive yet compelling from spread to spread.

Following industry-standard formatting practices shows your book is professionally presented for printing. Many self-publishing platforms provide templates as well.

Arranging for Composition and Design

For some self-publishers, hiring freelance experts to handle book layout and design may be preferable to a DIY approach:

  • Book Designer: Source a skilled graphic designer experienced in page composition for interior layouts and cover concepts.
  • Editor: Engage a manuscript editor focused on photography books to proofread all text for consistency, flow and proper style.
  • Illustrator: Commission illustrations like maps, diagrams or other graphical elements as needed.
  • Formatter: Have your final manuscript assembled professionally in digital formats printers require, such as InDesign or PDF.
  • Color Profiler: Calibrate screens of all parties working on the book for accurate color representation.

Outside help from publishing specialists ensures your coffee table book has a beautiful, cohesive, and professionally executed design, from the proposal to the printed pages. This investment is worth it for many higher-concept projects.

Mastering Self-Promotion Techniques

Traditional publishers provide built-in promotional support, but self-publishers must get fully hands-on with marketing their books. Consider tactics like:

  • Website: Create an attractive book-dedicated site showcasing full covers, sample spreads and purchase options.
  • Newsletter: Grow an engaged email list by regularly sharing behind-the-scenes processes or new shots from your collections.
  • Blog: Maintain a photography, art or coffee table book-inspired blog to build authority.
  • Social Media: Channels like Instagram are ideal for consistently showcasing your visual work to potential buyers.
  • Contests: For exposure, enter book awards like Goodreads Choice or Independent Publisher Book Awards.
  • Events: Schedule exhibitions featuring your prints and book signings in libraries, bookstores and galleries.
  • Influencers: Reach new audiences by gifting review copies to relevant YouTubers, podcasts and blogs in your genre.

With some marketing know-how, self-publishers can successfully promote their personal passion projects to appreciative readers worldwide.


Publishing your coffee table book allows photographers, artists and collectors to share their creative visions on a broader scale. With dedication to planning, production and promotion, independent authors now have viable paths to transform their portfolios into beautiful printed books. By embracing the publishing process, creators can turn their dreams of releasing art books into reality and connect with appreciative audiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I start publishing a coffee table book?

Begin by curating your content and designing your book layout. Research printing options and consider self-publishing or traditional publishing routes.

2. What size and format are ideal for a coffee table book?

Typically, coffee table books are large in size, around 9×12 inches or larger, and feature high-quality, glossy pages to showcase photographs and artwork effectively.

3. How can I ensure my coffee table book stands out?

Focus on unique themes, stunning visuals, and high-quality production. Consider hiring a professional designer and investing in premium printing to make your book visually appealing.

4. What distribution channels are available for coffee table books?

You can sell your book online through platforms like Amazon or Etsy, or through brick-and-mortar stores. Consider partnering with galleries, boutiques, or specialty bookstores for niche markets.

5. How can I market my coffee table book effectively?

Utilize social media, email marketing, and targeted advertising to reach your audience. Attend book fairs, art shows, and exhibitions to promote your book and connect with potential buyers.

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