Request for Feedback – Book Proposal Part 2

Many thanks to you who read Part 1 of my book proposal and to those who responded with comments and suggestions.

In Part 1 of my proposal I noted:

  • The provisional title – My Brother Michael;
  • The goal – share my experience as a sibling of a low functioning, nonverbal autistic individual;
  • A synopsis of the book;
  • Suggested category for the book: photographic memoir; although this may be to restrictive a category.

Today I offer more information about the book and supporting information that may be of use a book publisher.

The section below about books similar to mine is a bit lengthy. I am interested to know if I should delete any entries or add some more recent books.

Once again, thank you for your interest and attention.

Estimated length of book: 130 pages with about 90 black and white photographs and about 6 watercolors.

Assessment of the market for the book:

  • General Readership/Mental Handicap Community – In addition to being a good story for general readership, another market is the support community for people with autism. Autism was practically unknown when I was growing up. Today everyone knows something about autism. However, there are not many stories or images from the perspective of a sibling of an autistic individual and far less about autistic adults.
  • Fine-Art Photography Market – The caliber of my photography allows it to compete in the fine-art photography market. This is borne out by the reception my photographs received in my 1995 photography exhibition, Brotherly Love at Pulse Art Gallery in New York City. The international publication, Art in America, gave me favorable. Dr. Temple Grandin, celebrated author and autism expert, sent me a note in appreciation of my photographs.
  • Self-Help Market – My book does not compete directly with the many self-help books which help parents get through the day, or with books which attempt to explain the clinical aspects of autism and its origins. The only overlap my book has with this market is its appendix, which contains facts about autism and the treatment of mentally handicapped people.

Other books competing in this field:

Of the books listed below, very few directly compete with mine. Therefore, I have listed several categories of books which I believe come close to being competitive with mine. Rather than competing with books in the categories listed, my book would be complementary. This list perhaps would be of best use gaining a better understanding of the market for my book.

General Readership/Mental Handicap Community

Books by Siblings – Of the categories of books described, this is where my book would fit:

The Ride Together (Washington Square Books, 2003, $20.00, 208 pages) by Paul and Judy Karasik is the most similar to mine.   My book differs from this in that it is a photographic memoir. The Karasiks use their talents (writing and comic drawing) to document life with an autistic brother. My narrative does not attempt to portray the details of our family life, as this book does. It is more sparse, and is an accompaniment to the strong photographs. My book also will include an appendix which will serve as a reference for the reader interested in the subject of autism.

The Normal One (Delta, 2003, $12.95, 224 pages) by Jeanne Safer. This book documents the relationships in her family which had a disturbed family member and extrapolates to families at large. As a therapist she had the opportunity to include bits of interviews with some of her patients (with permission) to support her global observations. My book is about a family relationship, written by a “normal one” who, in contrast to most of the anecdotes in this book, faced his family and the interrelationships directly.

Imagining Robert (Wm Morrow & Co,1997, $24.00, 305 pages; Rutgers University Press 2003 $18.00, 313 pages) by Jay Neugeboren – a memoir by the brother of a schizophrenic. This is a detailed biographical account of the personal relationship between a normal and schizophrenic brother. The account which I portray is of an entirely different type of relationship: one in which one brother is not reachable. However, both books are very personal in nature.

First-hand accounts of autism:

Thinking In Pictures (Doubleday, 1995, $22.95, 222 pages; Vintage, 1996, $12.95, 240 pages) by Temple Grandin – Dr. Grandin gives us insight regarding how an autistic individual sees the world. She has a unique perspective, being autistic and also being a scientist.

Nobody Nowhere (Doubleday 1992, $21.00, 219 pages; Perennial Currents, 1994, $14.00, 256 pages) by Donna Williams – an autobiography by an autistic woman, which details her struggle to survive in a non-autistic world. For a family member of an autistic person, this book gives rare insight to what an autistic person must experience.

Mental Illness Memoirs – I only list two of the many books published in this genre:

An Unquiet Mind (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995, $22.00, 224 pages) by Kay Redfield Jamison – a first-person account of experiences of a manic-depressive person. Dr. Jamison also happens to be an authority on manic depression.

Welcome to My Country (Random House, 1996, $22.00 199 pages) by Lauren Slater – a memoir by a psychologist, about her personal experience of being mentally ill.

Fine-Art Photography – Other photographic treatments of mental illness:

Untitled (Aperture, 1995, $60.00 112 pages) by Diane Arbus… a sensitive look of the mentally handicapped. Photographs in this volume were taken at mental institutions in the late 1960s. No written narrative accompanies these haunting photographs, but one is led to appreciate the humanity of .

Pictures From Home (Harry Abrams, 1992, $172.00 (out of print – used price), 127 pages) by Larry Sultan – a photographic memoir and nostalgic look at Mr. Sultan’s family.

Ray’s A Laugh (Scalo, 2000, $29.95  112 pages) by Richard Billingham – a personal document depicting Mr. Billingham’s family life, with his alcoholic father, his mother and his brother, in a poverty stricken environment.

Partial View  (Southern Methodist University Press, 1998, $24.95, 97 pages) by Cary Smith Henderson (text), Nancy Andrews (photographs) – a memoir written by a history professor, stricken by Alzheimer’s. This first person account of a person suffering from this dreaded disease gives one an appreciation of the confusion and frustration involved.

Ward 81 (Fireside, 1979, $100.00 (out of print – used price), 96 pages) by Mary Ellen Mark – From the era of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, this book documents life in a locked women’s ward of a mental institution. Ms. Mark and associates received permission to live alongside the patients for more than a month, to complete this work.

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