Posts Tagged ‘ebook’

As I’ve been saying since I published my first e-book, Tropical, recently, I love e-publishing!

Because Tropical was so much easier, faster and more affordable to create as an e-book than it would have been as a conventional book, and because the response to it was so great, I immediately started work on a second e-book.

For a long time I’d been wanting to put together in book form a collection of my early male figure drawings and paintings. I started drawing male nudes around 1980, and my first drawings were from naked guy magazines of the time like In Touch, Playgirl, etc. Back then, the models in those magazines were almost always white guys. But my passion was Asian, Polynesian, Black and Latin men, so I used to draw from those magazine photographs and turn the white guys into interesting ethnic experiments.


Early Simonson drawings. Both these images started out as photographs of Caucasian men.

Then as I got more confident I started taking photographs of some of my friends who were willing to pose, and I drew from those photographs. This took some courage, and was a huge shift for me, since working from my own photographs meant I was seeing myself as the creator, not just an interpreter of someone else’s images. This was the very beginning of what would turn into a lifelong career as a painter (and later as a photographer, too), though I didn’t know it at the time.

I’m prejudiced, of course, but I think those early years and the art that I was creating then make an interesting visual story. And of course such a collection would be interesting to anyone who likes to look at male nude art. So I decided my second e-book would be a sort of retrospective of my first decade, 1980-1990. I decided I would call it Classic Simonson.


Thanks to Photoshop and many hours of work, I was able to transform a lot of my old, scratched-up 35mm slides into clean, clear digital images.

Classic Simonson was a challenge to put together mostly because I didn’t have very good source material. When I first started making drawings of the male nude I didn’t have any practical way of keeping copies of the art once it had been sold. This was long before the era of home scanners, and getting a professional negative or transparency made was not affordable for me back then. In most cases, I made do by putting the art on an easel and shooting 35mm slides of it.

As primitive as some of those early attempts at documentation were, they were a lot better than nothing. I began to sift through those old slides and sometimes negatives and photographs of the early art, and I found a surprising number of useable images. And some that didn’t seem that useable at first blush eventually yielded good results when I digitized them and applied my Photoshop skills. I wound up with about 150 works which I eventually whittled down to 128.

I decided to put the art in order chronologically, year by year, to show my progress as an artist. It’s interesting to see it in that context, and I think when you view the book you’ll find the progression and growth interesting. For me personally, going through these early artworks was a bit like reading an old diary. I was reminded of people who had come and gone in my life; boyfriend dramas; friends I’d been close to and who are now gone; and lots of wonderful memories.


Beginning to work from my own photographs was a big step. Chinaman's Hat is a painting from an early photo shoot with Jon K., and on the right, Coconut Milk is from a North Shore photo shoot with Dwayne.

I recently met a heavyset older guy at Hula’s, and only after talking to him for a few minutes and looking into his eyes did I recognize one of my best and most beautiful models from those early years. I was shocked. I’d been living with the 1985 image of him for all these years. I realized in a whole new way how much time has passed. (I have to say, though, when I was talking to him, I could still see that spark of beautiful-boy sexiness twinkling in his eyes.)

So looking at these drawings and paintings is looking back in time. And knowing that the beauty captured in them has not endured in the real world just adds to their beauty. Now they’re not only sexy and beautiful, but poignant as well. I like that the book I ended up putting together puts my early work in context and gives me (and hopefully you, too) a new, broader perspective on it.


On the left, the cover of my newest e-book, Classic Simonson, which is available both on the Amazon Kindle and in PDF format on my website. On the right, my first e-book, Tropical, which Amazon thought was too racy to be put on the Kindle.

Once I had prepared the images, I wrote the introduction and designed a cover, and began the process of converting the digital files into e-book form. As I said, Classic Simonson is my second e-book. The first one is a book of photographs, Tropical. When I finished Tropical I wanted to put it on Amazon in Kindle format, so I spent a lot of hours learning how to convert my content into the format Kindle uses. Then I submitted it to Amazon. To my surprise, they responded a couple of days later with a rejection notice. They said the book did not meet their “content guidelines.” I can only guess what caused that. Maybe they don’t like erections? Oh well…it’s been selling fast on my website and from the feedback I’m getting, people are loving it. Maybe it’s a selling point that it was too racy for Amazon!

At any rate, I decided to try again with Amazon with this new book. For one thing, there are no actual erections in these early drawings, and for another, they’re drawings, not photographs. So I prepared Classic Simonson in Kindle format, and submitted it. Amazon accepted it! That made me happy. I’m thrilled to have an e-book on Amazon. Then, since I also wanted to offer the book in PDF format (the Kindle format isn’t as good as PDF for viewing on non-Kindle devices), I created a PDF version of Classic Simonson to offer on my website.

Both versions are available now. Click here to go to Amazon and see the Kindle version of Classic Simonson. Click here to see the PDF version available on my website. Whichever version you choose, I hope you enjoy this look back at the early years of my career as an artist of the male nude.

I had been wanting to create a book of my male-nude photographs for quite a while, but I kept putting it off–

Because I know too well the amount of time and work and money it takes to publish a book. So even though I really wanted to do that new book, I kept not doing it.

Which was too bad. Because I have a lot of male-nude photographs that would work really well in a book format.

(Yes, I have over 13,000 images on my Simonson On Location subscription website, but those photographs have to be kept fairly small so they load quickly. And viewing photographs on a website is a very different experience than viewing a collection of images in a book.)

But hey, I thought not too long ago, after seeing the five-hundredth article about how digital is redefining the book business–what about an e-book? Never mind that I had never seen an e-book of fine-art photographs. There must be such things!

Well, maybe not.

I started researching the subject online and found a lot of…nothing! There were a very, very few e-books of fine art, and fine-art photography. But none of them looked very exciting or beautiful, or made me want to buy one.

That’s probably because the e-book industry is still defining itself. And until recently, e-readers didn’t do too well with images. But that’s changing, and changing fast, as devices like the iPad and the Nook and all kinds of other e-readers and tablets become available. The more research I did, the more I thought this seemed like the perfect time to make an e-book happen.

I got very excited about the idea of creating a new book without having to go through the tedious (and expensive) six-month process of proofing, printing and shipping huge boxes of books from Asia.

So I dived in.

My first hurdle was deciding on a format for my book. How to create an e-book that would display my photographs the way I wanted to see them–big, beautiful, rich with color and detail?

After a lot of research, I discovered the perfect format for such a book is one that’s been around for a long time: PDF.

Since you’re reading this on a computer, chances are you’re already familiar with Adobe’s Portable Document Format. It’s ideal for an e-book composed mostly of images because it preserves your formatting and does a good job of compressing images. And you can view a PDF on any computer, and on the iPad and many smartphones.


Some of the first images I chose to be in the new e-book.

So with the format issue handled, I began the next step: going through tens of thousands of photographs looking for likely candidates for the book. This process turned out to be a several-days-long job. But I loved doing it because I was so excited about the project. And I kept finding buried treasure. I have been doing this a long time and I don’t always remember every segment of every photo shoot. It was exhilarating to discover hidden caches of gorgeous images I hadn’t seen or thought about in years–especially knowing that I now would have an exciting new venue in which to display them.


An amazing Chadwick image that will look great in the book.

As I started putting together the images I wanted to feature in my new e-book, I also started thinking about a theme. Well, I say thinking about it, but the truth is, it came to me in a flash after I’d chosen maybe the first 15 images.


That’s the title I thought of. And of course Marcus had to be the cover model. I knew exactly what image I wanted, too. There was this photograph of Marcus from our very first photo shoot in Angra dos Reis where he’s holding this huge tropical leaf over his crotch and looking right at the camera–it’s a great image. I opened it up, and pasted the word TROPICAL over it in orange, and it looked amazing. As soon as I did that, the subtitle came to me: Hot Men in Warm Places. Sometimes choosing the right title for a book (or a painting or drawing) is a difficult process. This wasn’t. It came to me in a flash and felt totally right.


I’d been excited about the book before, but having the cover in front of me, and loving it, made a huge difference. Now the book had a real identity and a theme. Choosing the rest of the photographs for it became much easier because the cover set a tone. It was immediately clear to me, as I continued to go through possible photos for the book, which ones fit with the theme and which ones didn’t.


Two more images that made the cut.

I’d envisioned the book being about 100 pages long, and I ended up with 110 pages. But on those 110 pages there were over 170 photos, since I put multiple images on a single page in some instances.


Sometimes I told a story by clustering several photographs on a single page.

Once I had all the images in place, I wrote an introduction and an “About the Photographer” blurb, and then used Photoshop to create the PDF file. I did this MANY times before I found the magic balance between file size and image quality. The final PDF file was just over 36MB which is bigger than most e-books by far, but not too big a file for easy downloading. And at that size, the PDF format still allowed me to offer very good detail and color depth on the images. I had an e-book, and one that I was very happy with!

What remained was to work with Mitch, my web guy, to set up a download link so that buyers of the book would be able to download it easily. That was not too difficult to set up, and a few days later I was able to send an e-mail to my mailing list announcing my first e-book. The next few days were an exciting time as I watched the orders flood in. Not only were people buying the book, they were loving it! The feedback was entirely positive, which of course made me feel great.

The best part of all? I created and published a beautiful book in under 1 month!

If you haven’t yet gotten your copy of Tropical, it’s available here. With instant payment and download, you can be enjoying your copy of the book just a few minutes from now.

So what am I up to now? I’m working on my next e-book…