Mr. Donald B., FASLA, CEO and Chairman of a well-known landscape design firm, accidentally read a copy of my original manuscript on planting design. He was amazed by what he read and encouraged me to seek the possibilities of getting the manuscript published. I never knew Donald before. He requested a friend of mine (an employee of his firm from whom he got a copy of my manuscript) to set up a lunch meeting with me. He told me in that meeting that he could not describe how impressed he was by my manuscript, and he felt like he had found a hidden treasure and loved to let others know about it and share it. He thought it was too good a piece to be left sitting on the shelf, and considered it to be a much needed piece in the field of planting design education and practice. In fact, he loved the manuscript so much that he requested my authorization for his firm to reproduce 6 copies of the manuscript for its in-house use. He also requested the every designer in his firm to read my manuscript and use the principles and concepts in their design.
Donald's firm is a well-known landscape design firm that designed many landscape projects in Las Vegas and other places, including Mirage Hotel, Bellagio Hotel, etc. Donald is a well-respected landscape architect and has over 50 years of experience in Landscape Design. He is a Fellow of American Society of Landscape Architects (FASLA, the most honorable and highest level of member of ASLA). His encouragement really gave me more confidence in trying to get my manuscript modified and published as a book.
Like many people, I did contact almost every traditional publisher on the planet to try to get my first book published. I did get a deal with a big architectural publisher for my book, but the royalty was very low, and half-way through the publishing process, the publisher wants me to make a lot of structural and content changes because they think it'll make the book sells better. It I were to make the changes they request, I'd rather NOT publishing my book. I decided to cancel my deal with them and published the book myself. I selected a POD publisher, so I have NO inventory and very low initial investment because I do believe there is a need for my book and I want the need to drive the publication of my book.
This turned out to be a very good decision. It only costs me a few thousand dollars, and I made them back from the royalties of my book in almost no time. Since its publication, my book sells much better than I expected. (Top 5% at Amazon most of the time, sometimes it is top 2.5% out of the over 4 million books at Amazon). It is ranked as one of the top 5 royalty earners for my publisher (out of the over 2,000 books published by my publisher) in 2008, and a Book of the Year Finalist (ForeWord Magazine). My second book, "LEED AP Exam Guide: Study Materials, Sample Questions, Mock Exam, Building LEED Certification (LEED-NC) and Going Green" also sells very well. I am working on my third book now. It is entitled "ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE SIMPLIFIED: Secrets of Building Construction Others Don't Tell You."
I'll NOT go with a traditional publisher anymore, and I will stay with POD publishing and my current publisher. Because I can really control how much money I want to spend and how much royalties I make, and keep 100% control of my rights and other benefits of my book.
Gang Chen, AIA, LEED AP
1. LEED AP Exam Guide: Study Materials, Sample Questions, Mock Exam, Building LEED Certification (LEED-NC) and Going Green
2. Planting Design Illustrated