Friday, April 15, 2011

Blog Book: Q & A

Thanks for all the great feedback yesterday on my blog book! I received a number of questions - so let me see if I can help you here.

I would love to have a few hints on how you picked which post to add and which photos to add.

There were very few posts or pictures that I deleted. If a picture was repeated several times (like the button for Works for Me Wednesday) or was very poor quality - I left it out. If I wrote a quick post saying I was home from a trip or would be away from my blog for a bit, I left those out. I would probably leave giveaways out as well unless there is a post that goes with it that is more than just a "commercial" for the item I'm giving away. All in all, it was a very large percentage of what is actually on my blog that ended up being printed out in the book.

I included things like my deal shopping (won't my kids get a kick out of that!) and meme's that I'd been tagged to do. Those seemingly random things were important enough to me to post and are part of who I am - so they stay in, in my opinion.

The great thing about this, though, is that it is entirely up to you what you include and don't include!

I think I want to do that but I don't want to spend a lot of time on it, I would like something like, print the blog from this page to this one. Is it that simple or is it a lot of work if you want something simple?

I will admit to you right up front that my book was very time intensive. I have been working on it for about two months just an hour here and an hour there. The program moves slowly and lost some of my work here and there that I had to re-do. Now, having said that - there is another option. When you are setting up your book (more on this below) you can choose to have your book auto fill meaning that their software program will just take your posts and place them right into book pages and you can print it and be done. Easy peasy.

But, because I wanted mine to look a certain way (code: I'm a control freak, perfectionist, etc...) I did mine the hard way and added each post individually. This allowed me to change fonts for headings, some spacing, page layouts, etc... I edited each post and/or photo as I went along.

So, the bottom line is that my book was not quick to layout and edit. There is the option of doing it quickly but I cannot vouch for how well the results would be on that. I think my blog book looks like I spent a lot of time on it - ahem. That is because I did!

Will you make three copies of each book, one for each of your children?
No. This book was $70 and for three copies and multiple books this would simply get too expensive for me. They will have to use their great skills of sharing and pass it around! :)

The books are priced based on the number of pages (I already mentioned mine was 300) and the size and binding options. The softcover would've been slightly cheaper (less than $10) but David and I agreed that it was worth a few extra dollars for something that would last a lot longer and hold up better.

I frequently do a quick Google search before placing orders online looking for a coupon code and I did find one for first time Blurb customers which saved me 15%.

Also wondering if you scrapbook too or if your blog is your scrapbook?

My blog is a scrapbook in a sense. However, I see it as more of a journal. It is my place to process what is going on with me and that often involves my family - so I share a lot about them too. I'm very much a processor and writing is the best way for me to process. I love photos and beauty so a lot of that comes through as well.

I do not scrapbook in the traditional sense of the word. I do not like to scrapbook and for me to do it the way I'd want to do it - it would be so expensive I could not afford to keep up!

With all that said, I make every effort to send out a "newsletter" once a month on each of my children. Each child has their own and it has pictures and news about that child. I create these in Word and then save as PDF files to e-mail out to family. Sometimes I get behind and send two months at a time, but my goal is once a month.

My mom graciously prints these out for me and I put them in plastic sheet protectors in a three ring notebook that I have for each child. Learn more about this here.

Of course, there are times that the pictures or info shared may overlap between my blog and the newsletters. But, frequently there are more detail pictures on my blog and more of the children in their newsletters.

* * * * * * *
Ok, let me see if I can give you a basic idea of how to get your book started:

First of all, you visit Blurb and download their software that walks you through the book making process. It will prompt you to enter your blog address so it can "slurp" your blog into its system. (There's an appetizing thought.)

I have not figured out any way to sort by date or choose a date range, so unfortunately, you have to click each post you want to include. This took me about 45 minutes for each book (I've started the second one now) and the first time this was where we hit snag after snag and I needed tech support to help me out. The second time, this has worked like a charm I'm happy to say.

Once you get through this very beginning process, each time you go in you'll see a screen that looks something like this:

There are three books on mine because I started the first one several years ago and gave up when I saw how long it was taking. This time I persevered!

Here is where you'll spend the bulk of your time. If you click to enlarge this, you'll see that this is really where you edit and enter each post. You can choose layouts, page backgrounds, fonts, formatting, etc...

On the left side you'll see a list of all of your posts. When you click to add it to your book it gets a check mark beside it so you know that one is done.

Across the bottom is each page and the spread - how it will look when your book is laying open in your lap, gives you an idea of the flow.

One thing I love is how customizable everything is. But, a word to the wise: even though this program insists that it auto saves, trust me when I say that it does not. I spent quite a bit of time re-doing work that I lost due to various locking up issues, etc... But, I did through trial and error finally figure out how to save! Each time you exit the program (not when it throws you out) your work will be saved. So, I would try to do this every 20 minutes or so.

Just to give you an idea on time - the other day, I did the cover and binding for this second book plus seven posts and it took one hour. For some perspective - I have nearly 2000 posts total that I'm attempting to edit into posts. Uh, yes - quite lengthy in both content and time investment. I was slower when I just started than I was as I began working on it here and there over the past couple of months.

Once you get your book the way you want it, the ordering process is quick and easy. My book came very quickly and the quality is amazing! I'm very thrilled with the results!

I hope this is not discouraging to you - I wish I could say that it was super easy to get a great book in no time. But, that was not my experience and I am just trying to be very honest to those of you thinking about pursuing this so you know what to expect. Perhaps with another program, there would be a different experience? Or even your own blog could work out differently.

At any rate, I am so glad to have this started and wish I had not waited so long to do it! I wouldn't be trying to do three books in one year if I had kept up on it as I went along. And, it has sort of been on my radar for several years, so I'm glad that I've at least gotten started and am 1/3 complete!


Kristin said...

I love Blurb for photo books. Compared to other places out there, they are actually quite reasonable for the amount of pages you get. I do a family photo book per year using Blurb. You book looks great from what I saw of it! Good job to get it all caught up!

Melissa said...

Yay for you! All this info is even more encouraging to get started. Thank you for taking time to provide these details. I didn't ask questions yesterday but I was curious about a few things, and you addressed them here.

Nancy at said...

That is very cool. Thanks Monica for all the information and taking the time to answer our questions.

Jenny Lynn said...

I am so glad you shared all this information. I am going to set some time aside this summer when I am not working to create mine.

Jthemilker said...

there should be a button on our blog with the option of sending the post to our blog-book so we could create it as we go and then choose when we want to stop, print, and start a new one... I think of stuff like this but have no idea how to invent it.

Debbie Fisher (debbiedee) said...

I think this is just the neatest idea! Your book will be such an inspiration to your family for years to come!