Sunday, December 10, 2017

Book launch

Almost ready to go! After I get squared away with an accountant, I'll be opening my new website for online orders. Please save a bookmark for! While I was planning to go live before the holidays, it is taking a bit longer to get some things lined out, so now I will probably wait until after the new year to avoid my having to fill any orders while on vacation.
Because I am running this side business and filling orders by myself, I need to keep things simple. I am not set up to take PayPal at this time (only major credit cards through the Shopify interface) and I will not take cash/check orders through the mail. If you wish to buy my books with cash/check, it must be done in person at the various events I attend through the year, in particular the NW Leps Workshop in Corvallis (OSU) each October.

The business
Northwest Butterflies is my business name, under which Speyeria Press (my self-publishing title) operates. Speyeria is the genus name of greater fritillaries and is pronounced "spay-area". I thought of many butterfly names, both English and Latin, before settling on this. While it may not roll off the tongue easily for folks not already familiar with the name, I believe with time it will become more recognizable. I chose Speyeria Press because I like the name, I wanted something not likely to be used by other publishers and because one of the most popular parts of my book has to do with the fritillary guide I created.
Speyeria Press logo: Coronis Fritillary female (Speyeria coronis)
The story
This venture started around seven years ago, when I wanted to try to recreate a Washington butterfly atlas similar to the one compiled by John Hinchliff in 1996 but using my GIS skills to produce updated and more easily readable maps. I decided to start small, using the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area butterfly records as a template. Then-manager Dale Swedberg was excited about the idea and we discussed creating a "Sinlahekin butterfly atlas" with records shown at a quarter-section scale (1/2 x 1/2 mile squares) rather than the Township scale (6x6 mile squares) used in the WA atlas. The finished version of Butterflies of the Sinlahekin uses a grid of sixteenths (1/4 x 1/4 mile) to illustrate records.
One thing led to another: butterfly photos started supplementing the maps, then a bit of text turned into an entire book! To fill some of the gaps in my own collection, I spent a day in Don Rolf's collection photographing specimens from Okanogan County. As the project neared completion, I was asked to find and supply photos for Bob Pyle's next book (Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest to come in April through Timber Press, Portland). In order to create new specimen plates for that book, I photographed specimens at the Burke Museum in Seattle and the Oregon State Arthropod Collection in Corvallis. This allowed me to further supplement my library of photos.
The remainder of my project was spent studying the layout of many butterfly guides and researching layout and publication guidelines. I chose to violate one cardinal rule of artistic layout design: substantial white space! I packed every square inch with as many photos, text and maps as I could manage. The result is a 296 page, 3 pound reference book packed with information about the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area but which is also useful for much of the rest of Washington. The Butterflies of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area is unique for a number of reasons and I'm pleased to be able to share it with all of you!

The Stats
  • 14,314 acre Sinlahekin Wildlife Area (SWA) in far north-central Washington State.
  • The SWA is the first state wildlife area established (1939) in Washington.
  • 14 years of butterfly records (2003-2017).
  • 124 butterfly species covered (92 in or near SWA + 32 elsewhere in Okanogan County); this is 80% of the total species (~155) recorded in Washington.
  • 86 confirmed butterfly species on the SWA.
  • 1 likely but unconfirmed species (Canadian Tiger Swallowtail).
  • 5 species found less than two miles from the SWA boundary.
  • One of very few books that uses real butterfly photos instead of sketches to illustrate anatomy and wing regions.
  • One of few, if any, books to illustrate many less-than-perfect specimens, which grants the user a more realistic idea of what they might see.
  • Possibly the first book to illustrate more than two pairs of specimen photos for most species.
  • 6 reference maps and 92 species record maps.
  • 1163 photos depicting 691 specimens.
  • 230 photos of living adults.
  • 140 photos of immature stages.
  • 145 habitat and other miscellaneous photos.
  • 296 pages and 3 pounds—this is a reference book, not a pocket guide!
  • $55.50 purchase price (roughly $60 with sales tax in WA)

Thanks so much for all your support! I have been overwhelmed by the response to this book even three years ago when I first started showing drafts to people. It is humbling and exciting to look back over the past few years and see how much this book has affected the course of my "professional hobby."

Other Projects
Two side-projects these past few years have been short guides I printed myself: Field Guide to Okanogan County Butterflies (2015, no longer offered now that the Sinlahekin book is finished) and Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of Washington (2017). I hope to produce similar pocket guides for other states—next project!
The pocket guide will be available through my website for $18.50 plus shipping (no additional shipping if purchased with the Sinlahekin book). This 42-page guide covers all 155 butterfly species recorded in Washington. Specimen images are used to illustrate nearly all of these species, together with short tips for identification, providing an easily comparable standard. The goal of this booklet is not to replace field guides or other reference texts, but rather to supply a lightweight, quick reference guide that can easily be thrown in a pack. The spiral binding allows you to easily view the pages with one hand while holding a butterfly or camera in the other hand for identification. A list of books and other resources is included for those who wish to learn more details about these and other species.
Some might think all these guides would compete with each other but I have found that they fill different niches: different people prefer different types of guides or reference books, not to mention the butterfly-lovers, like myself, often purchase several butterfly guides to use for different purposes. It is handy to have a lightweight, at-a-glance style guide to carry in a pocket or backpack in the field, then to come home to detailed guide books or heavy-duty reference books.

Do you have a favorite guide book style? Are there geographic regions you wish had better coverage of butterfly guides? Comment on this post or send me an email.