Publishing a book isn’t easy, says Jenn Smith, project coordinator for Chantilly, Va.-based Lewis Aquatech.

The pool building company has been professionally photographing its projects for more than 10 years (always obtaining a photo release upfront, as well as getting unlimited rights to the images), so finding art suitable for the Coffee Table Book wasn’t an issue. Designing the book, however, was a whole different ballgame.

“You can draw a pretty picture but turning it into a useable file is a tedious process,” Smith notes. “I was an accounting major, so I couldn’t even Photoshop a picture before this.”

Prior to beginning the project, she met with several local printers to better familiarize herself with the tools and software needed to create the book. They instructed her on what programs to use, what types of files to provide and what information would be needed. One printer, the company that ultimately landed the job, even offered advice on paper (the book features several sheer overlays for special interest) and assisted in finding someone to design the custom wire “O” binder that will enable Lewis Aquatech to update the book without having to reprint it in its entirety.

“Three years from now, when I want to add new pools and redo the inside, I don’t have to rebuy the binders,” she explains.

Knowing the format of the book in advance helped Smith with the planning, but this still didn’t prevent some unexpected hiccups, especially toward the final stages. For example, co-owner Don Gwiz wanted to include photos of some high-end outdoor furniture, so at the last minute, Smith had to add two pages after she thought the book was finished.

“If you throw a page in the middle, you can lose the margins and the minute you do that it can cause a lot of alignment problems,” she says. “Don’t start anything until you have all of the pieces together. Be ready because if you’re going to make a good book, it’s going to take a lot of time.”

Plan to be published

If you’ve picked up a book by a pool builder, landscaper, or exterior designer, there’s a good chance it was released by Schiffer Publishing. The Atglen, Pa.-based company has 4,700 titles in print and publishes roughly 300 new books a year in a variety of niche, focused specialty markets. While getting a book published might not be easy, owner Pete Schiffer says the company is always open to new ideas and encourages builders to share them. Although he sometimes has an author approach him with nothing more than a “thought,” he says there are a few things to keep in mind when pitching a book.

First, he usually asks for a sample table of contents and an introduction so he can understand the book’s tone and focus.

Also, he likes to have an understanding of what makes the book unique, and worthy of publication beyond vanity.

Lastly, he wants to see samples of the imagery that would visually represent the idea.“The goal for all of these books is to help everyone be successful,” he says. “Everyone in your industry should create books and buy them so they have a deep resource library.” 

For more information on how to submit a book for consideration, visit