Wildlife of the World: Making of a Bestseller

Wildlife of the World: Making of a Bestseller

Vineetha Mokkil

Senior editor, fiction writer, traveller. Author of the short story collection "A Happy Place and Other Stories" (April 2014). Enjoys writing fiction and editing non-fiction. Mostly finds the truth stranger than fiction.
June 24, 2016

“[G]orgeous coffee table book of animal life across the planet... This book is a perfect reference guide, a delight to page through...” — Publishers Weekly

Working on Wildlife of the World was the equivalent of taking a virtual tour of the planet's scenic ecosystems and meeting the members of the animal kingdom who live there. The journey was exciting, the road paved with discoveries – a wealth of information about diverse ecosystems, little known facts about animals and their survival strategies, in-depth insights into the interconnected world we inhabit.

There was much to marvel at. Much to learn.

To begin at the beginning... When the table of contents and the authors' briefs were finalized, we started the hunt for photographs. To find images that do justice to the animals (ranging from lions and tigers and polar bears to pygmy seahorses, silky anteaters, and parrot snakes) was a challenge.

Apart from being technically perfect, the pictures had to capture the animal's “personality”. A cheetah had to look like he could outrun the wind, a leopard's picture had to announce loud and clear that he is a stealthy hunter, a meerkat clan had to look like the world's friendliest mongoose mob, a Cape cobra's picture had to send shivers down the reader's spine.

DK Wildlife of the World

Pictures showcasing the animal's interaction with the environment – migrating wildebeest in the desert, hornbills hovering over stretches of grassland, red lechwes racing across murky swamps, gharials snoozing in the water – had to be dynamic, animated and heart-stoppingly real. A picture could make it to the pages of the book only if it spoke a thousand (or more) words!

After a long, extensive search and many rounds of vetting by the DK UK and Delhi teams, we zeroed on the pictures that fit the profiles. Slowly, the pages came alive. The marriage of image and text created magic! Each ecosystem and its residents took on a distinct character. Together, they painted a vivid picture of the rich variety of species and habitats that animate the world. A visually stunning and incredibly detailed reference guide was ready for publication.

The recent announcement that Wildlife of the World has received an award in the Special Trade Book category in the 2016 New York Book Show is wonderful news. We set out to create “a beautiful work of art filled with truths”, and the award is proof that we have done a good job of it.

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