Publish Your Own Photo Book

Blurb.com is a website that lets you produce your own photo books in quantities as few as one.  I’ve always wanted to publish a coffee table book and Blurb lets you do that without suffering the multiple indignities of receiving enough rejection slips from publishers to wallpaper your bathroom.

The Blurb website lets you create many different sizes in hard cover with a dust jacket or softbound versions. The most important thing to know is that the books are priced by page count not by the page. Tip: A zero to 20 page books is one price and the 21 to 40 page books costs another amount so it pays to stay on the high end of page count hitting the number of pages that’s highest before moving into the next more expensive category. Options include Square (7×7-inches,) Standard Portrait (8×10-inches,) Standard Landscape (10×8-inches,) and Large Landscape (13×11-inches) and Large Square (12×12-inches) starting at $49.95. There are also Pocket and Trade and Notebook options that are printed using text weight paper

Where Blurb differs from some “print on demand” sites is they provide free software, called BookSmart, that lets you produce the book off-line using professionally designed templates that let you merge multiple images and text to produce a professional-looking book with no design experience.

As with any photo book the secret is collecting all the images that will appear in the book. BookSmart works with JPEG files and the largest photos you can use, for a full-page picture in a 13×11 book, should be no bigger than 3900 x 3300 pixels. Placing images larger than this will not improve the final product but will make uploading slower and can cause scaling artifacts. On the other hand, Blurb accepts images down to 150dpi but depending on how big they’re used may not appear in print as well as you’d like. Tip: To remind yourself of these requirements, write them on a sticky note and attach it to the bottom of your monitor when working with BookSmart.

BookSmart includes a number of standard book page templates, so use them to make your book look like a “real” book. Or  use the “Wing It” option that lets you work from scratch. If the size of your monitor permits, use the side-by-side page layout that lets you see adjacent pages at one time. This is  one of the three views possible in BookSmart and while, it’s not Adobe InDesign it’s easier to use and learn.

When you think you are finished adding photographs and text ask a friend to review the book, checking for errors. You can even print a proof copy but not owning stock in an ink company I’ve never used this option. When your ready for printing, BookSmart lets you upload the book and then you get to pay for the book and shipping using a credit card. Eight days later, the finished nicely packed finished book(s) will arrive via UPS.

After you’ve ordered one book, you can make them available to the public and add whatever mark-up you like to make some money on future sales. You can even create a description page that lets you describe what the book is all about as well as include a brief biography. More importantly you can publish a book that major publishers would ignore because the potential market is too small. Since Blurb lets you publish as few as one book, no niche is too small.

Joe Farace is the author of “Acapulco, Paradise of the Americas” and “How I Photograph Cars” which are self-published via Blurb.com.

Author: Joe Farace

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