In my experience of writing and providing all the photographic content for five such books I've found that this is not the case at all. All five of my projects were more or less self-directed, after getting approval of a very brief, two page outline, and an advance check from the publishing company.
Having always been interested in book writing as a career I had the illusion that I would experience the publishing industry as it's represented in movies and on television shows. I'd submit detailed outlines and perhaps the first few, tentative chapters, and then the publisher's editor would invite me up to NYC for some face to face lunch meetings at which we'd drink martinis, eat fabulous steaks, and I'd get gentle instruction and direction that would improve the quality of my books by leaps and bounds. I imagined that as the process went on the editor and I would engage in a respectful push and shove over my flippant use of grammar or her insistence on including material I thought to be too cliché or remedial.
Judging from the "writer's journey" that I saw in movies we'd have one or two major disagreements and then we (myself and the editor) would have some sort of shared epiphany and find a third way of proceeding that would exceed our wildest hopes and expectations. Of course, absolutely none of this happened on any of the five books.
After a very successful first book the publisher's people would query me about what I might want to do for a second book. I would think hard over the course of one swim practice and decide on subject I thought I could cover well and I'd send over a two page outline and maybe a paragraph or two describing the project in a hopeful and flowery way.
The publisher would respond "yes" or "no" and then, if yes, I'd get a contract to sign which would revisit their requirements. Which were always very loose. Like: "Between 25,000 to 50,000 words. No longer!" And, "should be illustrated with between 100 and 150 photographs, lighting diagrams or other visual content." Not a word about style or content of the images but the presumption that the photographs and captions should reinforce the written words on the pages.
When I started on the first book I called the editor early on to ask if they wanted sample chapter and if they wanted to make sure we were aligned on a single purpose. They politely told me that the book was my own project and they were only interested in "opening the envelope and assessing the book" when I had totally completed the entire project; writing and photographs. At first it seemed rather scary but I soon realized that while being totally responsible for the content that also gave me the freedom to shoot whatever I wanted, cast whoever I wanted, and to shoot in whatever style I wanted to.
My assistant, Amy, and I would discuss the chapter I was working on in the moment and we'd make a quick list of all the different images that we'd like to have on a wish list both for that chapter but also to have as a catalog/resource that would allow me to sprinkle images throughout the book to re-inforce ideas, fill space, etc. Then we'd look for models we wanted to work with. And that's how I found Jana (photo above) and ended up working with her for many photographs in the LED Lighting book.
I saw her photo on one of the online model resources. She was a student at UT at the time. I sent her an e-mail outlining the project and asking if she would be interested in working on it in return for a daily modeling fee. She was interested and I suggested we do a test shoot on a convenient afternoon just to see if we were a good match to work together. She showed up with a friend in tow. A chaperone.
She wanted to make sure this was a safe situation and not some sort of icky scam. That sure made sense to me. But I also made sure that we shot the first tests around downtown and in public just so both of us felt relaxed. We worked well together and I booked Jana to work with Amy and me for a few days in the studio and around the VSL compound. I really liked her energy and additionally booked her for the cover shot.