my first published book
A friend of mine recently asked me if I would like to prepare something for a silent auction fund raiser for the transgendered community program AmBigYouUs. Given the success of my work around Lost Lagoon of late, I decided to give it a try.
The website blurb.com has all you need to prepare, design, layout and print to-order art-quality books. If you have ever used a layout program (MS Word, MS Publisher or Adobe InDesign) this program will be easy to use right away.
Start by downloading and installing Blurb's BookSmart software (version 2.0 is the latest).
This cross platform (PC and Mac) Java based application is a bit clunky on a Windows XP 3.0GHz HyperThreading Intel PC with 3GB RAM and a 10,000 RPM RAID0 SATA hard drive, so be warned. It can take a while to load up and start, and some of the screen painting functions are tedious, particularly when modifying type. It tends not to be intuitive when it comes to modifying object attributes; particlarly noticeable is the lack of a useable right-click menu (usually object properties).
That said, I like the programs rich library of templates. You can create your own, but the ones supplied have professional looking layouts and colour palettes. It allowed me to create a fairly simple layout in under four hours. And for me the real magic is that, given certain constraints, the same layout can be ordered in hard cover, soft cover and "ImageWrap" formats.
Once you choose the template, its time to start placing photos on the pages and adding text as desired. While the format is predetermined by the template, you can override individual elements (like font face, style, color, etc).
One of the issues I had was that when the wizard is used (which you can exit at any time), I had no idea how large to create the 300dpi JPEG image files the program prefers to use. You have to leave the wizard and click on an image placeholder to have a tip show up noting the image dimensions needed. A bit backwards, but with some fussing around, its not too hard to figure out.
Its easy to add new pages, or remove some to get just the number you feel is right. Because your customers can order a hard cover format that includes inside front and back flaps, you need to make sure to fill this information in otherwise the flaps will be blank, which is not what most people will expect and the end result will seem a bit incomplete.
When you're happy with your layout, use the programs Preview function to get a good idea of what the end product will look like. When ready, click on the Order button. The program will connect to blurb.com and upload your completed book. On a slow internet connection, this will take a bit of time (up to 30 minutes), particularly for "large" books.
Once uploaded, you have the option to allow the book to be public so any one browsing the blurb website can order a copy (heck, why not make a little money on the side). Send family and friends a link to the books webpage (each author gets a page, and each book has one as well). From the website, your potential clients can preview the first fifteen pages of the book (just to keep lookie-loos down to a minimum). The goal is to get people to order your books and make a bit of money. You can offer the books at blurbs standard rates, or you can add a mark-up for each style of cover.
Blurb ships all around the world and has several shipping options. If you join their marketing program and make your books available for purchase, mark up your books a bit. They will cut you a cheque after deducting a processing fee (not too excessive).
All in all, I'm very happy with site and it's offerings.
I'll let you know how things turn out when I get my first copy ... stay tuned!