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A self published effort, or how I went down the rabbit hole and haven’t been seen since. (1 Viewer)

BryanP

Little known member
Canada
Well, here it is, our little self published/home made field guide which we are calling “101+ Common Birds of Costa Rica”.

Why this topic you ask? To be honest I’m not sure but we had to start somewhere and tackling the more common birds seemed like a good beginning. True, the project has always had a tilting at windmills vibe but dammit why should Helm, Cornell and the other big boys have all the fun to themselves?
Besides the usual field guide author/illustrator duties not having a publisher in our corner meant we did all of the editing, copy editing, book design, layout and proofing. We’ve also recorded all of the calls in the field for the eBook version.
The format and layout along with the kind of illustrations I forced on the project meant we couldn’t follow the classic and sensible multiple bird plate style but we shoehorned them in anyway.
We haven’t learned our lesson yet because we’re more than half way through the next book. “The Regional Endemics of Central America” Since it’s still at a malleable stage I’m hoping it can benefit from any ideas the members here might have.

So there you have it, our little boutique effort, a labour of love built on a firm foundation of never recovering our costs.
For better or worse its now up on Amazon Books.
Cheers,
Bryan
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birdcat

Well-known member
Supporter
United States
Well, here it is, our little self published/home made field guide which we are calling “101+ Common Birds of Costa Rica”.

Why this topic you ask? To be honest I’m not sure but we had to start somewhere and tackling the more common birds seemed like a good beginning. True, the project has always had a tilting at windmills vibe but dammit why should Helm, Cornell and the other big boys have all the fun to themselves?
Besides the usual field guide author/illustrator duties not having a publisher in our corner meant we did all of the editing, copy editing, book design, layout and proofing. We’ve also recorded all of the calls in the field for the eBook version.
The format and layout along with the kind of illustrations I forced on the project meant we couldn’t follow the classic and sensible multiple bird plate style but we shoehorned them in anyway.
We haven’t learned our lesson yet because we’re more than half way through the next book. “The Regional Endemics of Central America” Since it’s still at a malleable stage I’m hoping it can benefit from any ideas the members here might have.

So there you have it, our little boutique effort, a labour of love built on a firm foundation of never recovering our costs.
For better or worse its now up on Amazon Books.
Cheers,
Bryan
View attachment 1418286
Congratulations! Is there any way to purchase this outside of Amazon?
 

BryanP

Little known member
Canada
Congratulations! Is there any way to purchase this outside of Amazon?
Hi Birdcat,
I get the sentiment but sorry, at the moment no.
We are working on other channels that can distribute to brick & mortar bookstores. Setting that up will be even more convoluted than publishing with AmazonBooks so it may take a while.

I’d love to be able to keep Amazon out of our calculations but for independent authors and self published efforts they are essentially a monopoly and behave accordingly. I’m always made to feel like I’m a barely tolerated low level employee when dealing with them.

Although not without its snags we feel more like partners when dealing with Apple for the ebook version. If they ever start selling physical books I’ll dump Amazon in a heartbeat or at least put them on the back burner.
Cheers,
Bryan
 

BryanP

Little known member
Canada
I should add here that the new edition of the eBook version of this book will be up soon. Right now its the first edition that is currently on both the AppleBooks and AmazonKindle stores.
I’d suggest waiting for the second edition, the paintings are way better now😉
Cheers,
Bryan
 

birdcat

Well-known member
Supporter
United States
Hi Birdcat,
I get the sentiment but sorry, at the moment no.
We are working on other channels that can distribute to brick & mortar bookstores. Setting that up will be even more convoluted than publishing with AmazonBooks so it may take a while.

I’d love to be able to keep Amazon out of our calculations but for independent authors and self published efforts they are essentially a monopoly and behave accordingly. I’m always made to feel like I’m a barely tolerated low level employee when dealing with them.

Although not without its snags we feel more like partners when dealing with Apple for the ebook version. If they ever start selling physical books I’ll dump Amazon in a heartbeat or at least put them on the back burner.
Cheers,
Bryan
Thank you for the detailed response. I may check out the Apple ebook when it’s out. This looks very interesting to me.
 

ABCY 1

Well-known member
I will jump in here as this is such an unusual and interesting publication. I should say that I have virtually no knowledge of Costa Rica or its birds, but some decades of experience illustrating birds for identification, most recently contributing to the Australian Bird Guide.

This book could hardly be more different but it has strengths that should appeal to the serious birder as well as the casual tourist. The artwork shows birds in action in their habitats, something quite rare in conventional illustrated guides which typically omit any real-world distractions such as foliage and varied light conditions. There is always a trade-off between ‘explaining’ the key features of a bird and making it look typical and life-like; this book seems to do an excellent job of depicting recognisable living birds, quite a different challenge from simply taking photos of birds in habitat.

The ‘Common Birds’ title might suggest a superficial level of detail but this book is full of information, including maps, that would stand comparison with many highly-regarded conventional guides. Having access to calls in an e-book version would make this even more valuable.

This looks like a really nice piece of work and I wish the team every success. It’s not all about the money!

Cheers, Peter
 

BryanP

Little known member
Canada
I will jump in here as this is such an unusual and interesting publication. I should say that I have virtually no knowledge of Costa Rica or its birds, but some decades of experience illustrating birds for identification, most recently contributing to the Australian Bird Guide.

This book could hardly be more different but it has strengths that should appeal to the serious birder as well as the casual tourist. The artwork shows birds in action in their habitats, something quite rare in conventional illustrated guides which typically omit any real-world distractions such as foliage and varied light conditions. There is always a trade-off between ‘explaining’ the key features of a bird and making it look typical and life-like; this book seems to do an excellent job of depicting recognisable living birds, quite a different challenge from simply taking photos of birds in habitat.

The ‘Common Birds’ title might suggest a superficial level of detail but this book is full of information, including maps, that would stand comparison with many highly-regarded conventional guides. Having access to calls in an e-book version would make this even more valuable.

This looks like a really nice piece of work and I wish the team every success. It’s not all about the money!

Cheers, Peter
Hi Peter,
Thank you for the observations and kind thoughts.
It was only when the ebook was first published that we realized the phrase “common birds” could be construed as a superficial treatment of the topic. By then it was a bit late to change the title so we left it as is.
It’s also true it was a fine line to walk keeping the birds in the paintings accurate with clear markings, shape and colour but at the same time having them appear in a natural history setting.

A little background for information’s sake. there are three of us working on this, Noel Ureńa, Carey Lee my wife and myself so a lot of different hats are being worn by all.

Before I had met Noel fourteen years ago Richard Garrigues told me that he thought Noel was one of the top three birders in Costa Rica. I’ve spent time with some truly brilliant ones down here but every time I accompany Noel in the field I’m gobsmacked by his skills. So, yeah, I concur with Richard’s comment.
Noel wrote the descriptions and natural history of each bird as well as creating all of the distribution maps. He has also collected and recorded all the calls in the field for the eBook version (that bit was fun). He runs a full time birding guide business with staff and concerns of his own so has done a great job juggling all that with the demands of the books.

Carey is the project manager, science editor, assets manager, editor, copy editor, continuity editor, style sheet boss, fact checker and webmaster amoungst many other duties. Suffice it to say if it weren’t for her Noel and I would still be flapping our gums about how cool it would be to write a field guide.

Then there’s me, I paint the pretty pictures.

I have to say here that this project has been a wonderful experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Tasking myself to painting the birds of Central America has taught me much about how to look at and look for birds. Having to spend time in the field researching and studying for these paintings has been a rare gift indeed.
If nothing else all this has made me a better birder and in that dept I can use all the help I can get.

For a fun example heres a painting that shows our efforts to bring some natural history into the visual description of the species
Rufous-naped Wren (Campylorhynchus rufinucha)
This Wren will build their nests (shown in the background) in a species of tree that’s usually populated with an aggressive species of ant. This ant species is very antisocial towards other bird species but for some unknown reason happily tolerates the Rufous-naped Wren. I tried to tell that story here
Cheers,
Bryan
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BryanP

Little known member
Canada
Resurrecting this thread since a few people had asked me if I would keep them posted when the new ebook edition of the “101+ Common Birds of Costa Rica” is finished.
so it’s up now on Amazon and Apple books.
Took a lot longer than we’d planned, thanks for the convoluted maze Apple and Amazon.

Hope you enjoy and I’d love to hear any suggestions for improvements as I’m hoping the next book “The Regional Endemics of Central America” will reap the benefits of the feedback.
Cheers,
Bryan
 

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