The bird man of Vancouver Island

Comox schoolteacher retires, becomes a bestselling author

Mike Yip (left) retired from teaching and soon thereafter published a coffee table book with photos he took of birds.

Erin Haluschak

Record staff

 

 

Mike Yip thought retirement would involve a lot of golfing and relaxing.

The former Comox school teacher was at the golf course five days a week at first, until one day in 2005 when it was a frosty morning.

Instead of playing golf, Yip took a drive and saw some ducks with “weird-looking beaks that looked like Mallards,” and snapped a few photos with his camera.

He admits the pictures didn’t really turn out, but it was the sighting of that first duck which drew Yip not only into nature photography, but becoming a bestselling author.

By the fall, Yip had amassed a large collection of bird photos, and admits being a teacher at heart, he knew he had to share them so that people could learn more.

“(At that point) I had a website so I thought, ‘what about a book?’”

Yip decided to enter the world of self-publishing, and began the challenge of selling and marketing his first book – Vancouver Island Birds, Vol. 1.

He had just over 5,000 to sell, and was ready for the challenge.

“When the (delivery) truck came with the books, it was kind of awesome,” he says.

Yip not only self-published the book, but did everything himself including editing, layout and copy-writing. He used his experience with the yearbook club in school, but also knew he wanted to try his hand at all aspects of creating a coffee table book.

“I needed about 150 images, then I sorted them depending if they were water, land or field and forest birds. It’s not a bird guide, but a photographic coffee table book.”

Making the decision to market the book only on Vancouver Island, Yip notes there is “a method to my madness,” adding many readers feel the birds are “Island birds and they’re ours.”

He says there are more than 250 species of birds on the Island, most of which can be spotted in the Comox Valley.

Since having the book reprinted in 2008, Yip has sold 5,000 copies – hitting the milestone for a Canadian bestseller.

He has donated more than 100 books to the Nature Trust of British Columbia and another 100 copies for other fundraisers across the Island.

Between marketing and selling his first book, Yip began work on volumes two and three of Vancouver Island Birds, printing 3,400 and 2,000 respectively.

He shifted gears for his fourth book – Vancouver Island Butterflies – and printed 500 copies, and most recently published Denman & Hornby Nature at 1,500 copies which documents island landscapes, birds, wildflowers and butterflies, with undersea photography by Amanda Zielinski.

With five photographic books in 10 years, Yip acknowledges the tremendous growth in the development of digital cameras.

“In 2004, I was one of the few people on the Island with a really, really big lens. Now they’re a dime a dozen.”

He says one of his biggest challenges with being self-published is committing to the book. He notes once you have an idea, it’s a balance between a passion and finding a topic that’s marketable and will have an audience.

“The first half of it is just doing the book and the publishing; the other half is selling yourself.”

While Yip says he’s not thinking about a sixth book, he adds: “… who knows when inspiration will strike again.”

For more information on Yip’s books or to view more photos, visit vancouverislandbirds.com.

 

Just Posted

Comox child care centre among $10 a day prototypes

Government rolls out universal child care project, using 53 centres in pilot project

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Little Qualicum Cheeseworks cheese linked to 5 E. coli cases in B.C.

People are asked to throw out or return ‘Qualicum Spice’ cheese

Jim’s Clothes Closet celebrates 50th anniversary

Store began in Port Alberni, expanded on Vancouver Island and beyond

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

Throw a snowball to help kids at BC Children’s Hospital

Effort will raise money for sick kids over the holidays

Expect ride hailing in B.C. by 2020, Premier Horgan says

Taxi-style insurance option needed for part-time drivers

Comox Valley Nature invites the public to learn about nature photography

Comox Valley Nature is hosting a public lecture on photography. Join Terry… Continue reading

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Canada Post strike having ‘critical’ impact on retailers, eBay tells PM

Canada Post says it is now facing an unprecedented backlog of shipments, largely as a result of strikes

NASA wants Canadian boots on the moon as first step in deep space exploration

The U.S. is seeking broad international support for the next-generation space station to send into orbit a in 2021

B.C. Lions GM Ed Hervey has plan for busy off-season

The Lions’ season ended Sunday with a crushing 48-8 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division semifinal

Fundraising firefighters complete quest for B.C. Paralympian

The four Penticton residents raising money for Victoria Paralympian complete journey

PHOTOS: Hockey history in B.C. as Team India comes to play

Squad played its very first game in Canada on Tuesday against Surrey Falcons

Most Read