We do alot of different types of great books every day, but occasionally a particular book project comes through that really stands out from the crowd. This spotlight interview features a new coffee table photography book self published by Matt Steinhausen called The Least Interesting Place. Matt is an amateur historian and sixth generation Nebraskan who takes pictures of his surroundings. This book is a compilation of favorites from over 3 decades of his Nebraska images. Matt’s first printing of the book is out just a couple weeks and is selling fast! He is potentially planning on a 2nd printing soon.
Let’s get started:
MP: Matt, Tell us about the idea/concept behind The Least Interesting Place
MS: It’s a book about Nebraska – a state that is one of the least popular tourist destinations in the country. I’ve personally always enjoyed exploring and photographing places other people don’t go, especially in my home state of Nebraska. The title is a reference to me doing things and going places the general poplution typically doesn’t have much interest in. And to be frank, the title preys on people’s curiosities (how uninteresting could it be, right?) and I think it also incorporates a twist of irony, because the images and stories are indeed actually interesting, if I say so myself.
MP: I know you have a wide variety of imagery you had shot over the years. Were there any
challenges to that in editing or design?
MS: The main challenge of assembling the book was sorting the images into different groups and chapters. I wanted the book to ‘flow,’ but had problems arranging things in a reasonable order. Another challenges was sorting through and choosing from over 100,000 photos from 30 years of photography. There were about 50 images that I knew were no-brainers, and a lot of other images I thought were compelling, but was unsure how to fit them in or whether others would appreciate them. It took over two years to lay it out it in a way that would transition from page to page seamlessly. Also, I’m not a great writer – I spent significantly more time rewriting, proof reading and editing than I did actual writing.
MP: Before taking the plunge to self publish this book, did you have any other thought on trying to get the book produced through a traditional publisher?
MS: I had a publisher I wanted to use that’s done lots of books in the same genre, but they turned me down without even looking at what I was doing, explaining they were “very selective” at choosing what they published. However, they never even looked at what I was doing, so how could they know whether it was worthy or not? I suspect they prefer to deal with accomplished writers and photographers, thinking that it guarantees sales, but I would’ve preferred a straight-up “no” rather than an excuse insinuating I wasn’t even worthy of consideration. Either way, it motivated me even more to put together a quality product, and I’m thrilled I self published.
MP: You’ve had a great response to the book and pre-orders. Which social media platforms
are you actively promoting this through?
MS: As I was putting the book together I solicited ideas from friends on facebook, which helped me decide objectively which photos and stories were more interesting to others – it’s hard to judge one’s own work. Facebook has been my main platform for promoting the book, mostly by posting updates and being open to feedback relative to my ideas. I think people feel involved in the project via my posts, and they have enjoyed seeing it come to fruition after so long.
MP: Having gotten to the finish line on this book production, would you have any tips or advice to authors or photographers who want to go the DIY self publishing route?
MS: 1) Learn how to use Adobe InDesign for layout; 2) Find a good printer you trust; 3) Know your subject matter, and more importantly, know your audience; 4) Edit, edit, edit. I hired a friend to copy edit (offer suggestings and proof read) after I thought I was mostly finished, and through that process I learned I had a lot to learn about writing and editing.
MP Tell us about the retailers and online options we have to order your book?
MS: I’ve been hesitant to get too many retailers on board until the books are printed and ready for delivery, but two retailers who are already on board are Rockbrook Camera in Lincoln and ArtisanMark Coffee+Goods in Crete. I hope to get at least one more Lincoln bookstore and a Nebraska specialty shop to retail my books, but as of today I’ve not yet made those solicitations.
MP: Thanks for your time Matt, it has been a pleasure working with you!
MS: Thank you Martin – I couldn’t have done it without you!
The Least Interesting Place by Matt Steinhausen | Production Notes
Size: 12″ w x 9″ h Landscape format
Extent: 234 pages text + end sheets + cloth bound Hardcover with Foil stamp front and spine + dust jacket
Text: 4 color printing throughout on 100 lb Silk text
End Sheets: Plain white 100 lb Accent text
Cloth: Verona ( Espresso) with silver foil stamp front and spine, wrapped over 0.098″ boards
Dust Jacket: 4 color printing on 65 lb cover stock + gloss film lamination