“ Self-publishing. „
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THIS COMPANY HAS TERRIBLE SERVICE. I ordered an expedited book, paid extra shipping and the book arrived damaged. they will not allow me to call them to discuss the issue or replace is in a timely manner. It is for a masters thesis project and all they say is sorry but I can't guarantee any help with the issue. Now I have a damaged as in rolled bent all over the cover and back cover and they have the nerve to not even give me a supervisor to speak with. This is a faceless company with "no phones" as they say so they don't really have to help customers when they make huge mistakesIf I could I would give them 0 stars
I first came across the Blurb website through a friend who advertised her book, a photographic study of trees, through Facebook. It looked great in the advert, and I was interested to see how the site worked. It seemed easy enough to navigate, but I found (not surprisingly) that I had to register to be able to download the template and book-building software. Registration was very quick, with just a username, password and email address required. There's then an automatic email, which you have to open and click the link to verify your email address. You're then registered, and away you go! With the endorsement from my friend, I thought it was worth a try, so I went ahead and downloaded and installed their free "Booksmart" software.
The website is easy to navigate and very full - there are many subject headings for books that have already been published and are available for purchase; there's a whole section on various publishing options, and there's an extensive help section. It's well worth spending a fair bit of time just having an explore of the site, which is what I did at first - you could easily lose half a day browsing in there!
At this point, I'd like to say that I have used the photo book option and not the text book option, so I can't give an opinion on the written word side of this software. For a photo book, it is very straightforward, and apparently fairly idiot-proof since I haven't had any major mishaps yet. There is the opportunity of an introductory tutorial when you open it up, which is well worth taking. When you decide to start your book, you are taken to a page where you can choose the size and format of it. On the left are the options for full colour or black & white text, while on the right you are shown the options available for each one. For instance, if you choose the 'Small Square' full colour option, it tells you that the approximate dimensions are 7"x7" (or 18 x 18cm), and that it can be printed as a hardcover with dustjacket, as a hardcover with imagewrap, or as a softcover (ie paperback).
There are also links here to the main Blurb site that take you to pricing options and further information. The cheapest option is for a book containing 20-40 pages (20 is the minimum, with 440 being the maximum), which was what I opted for in my first attempt. When you've made up your mind, you are presented with an initial 20 page template to start playing with.
MAKING YOUR BOOK
Each individual type of page has a host of different templates. This can be a bit mind-boggling at first. This is where a bit of playing helps a lot, it's well worth just trying out various pages and templates for a while to get the hang of it all. For example, the cover has several different options, including a version for a loose dust-jacket so that you can choose a picture and text to go on the fold-in flaps front and back. You can choose to have a photograph and text or just one or the other on the cover, and whether a picture covers the whole of the front or is in a box. This is pretty typical of the individual page options too, except that there are a lot more to choose from!
There is an obligatory copyright and 'published by' page (you should look out for this, as my daughter noticed that I had to replace some of the text with my own name and insert a couple of other bits of information too. I'd not seen that at all!). There are options for a title page, contents etc. It saves your work automatically, so there's no need to panic if your computer crashes, which is a great bonus. Once I had used up my initial twenty pages, I found that it was easy to add more, either at the end or in between existing ones.
I had no problems with importing my photos from the PC's hard drive. I use a DSLR, and although the recommended resolution is quite high - 300dpi - and mine is 72, thankfully the pictures are so huge that they're acceptable when they're squished into book form. This is NOT the case with any digital camera though. The software does say that most 'straight from the camera' images are accepted, and the key word here is MOST. Our youngest daughter is having a go at her own little book, and has found that pictures taken with her point & shoot are too low a resolution to work. Hers is very cheap though, and I guess that most reasonable digital cameras, even camera phones, would produce high enough resolution images to pass the test. I've just put a 2MP picture from my phone into a standard landscape format book to test this and in fact it's fine!
From my experience making my photo book, I've found that you can change the page template once you've placed your photos, as long as you stick to the same number of photos per page. It's also possible to click on a 'fill' button to make sure that your picture fills the available frame, as they're often a little too wide one way or too tall the other. You can change the background colour of your pages, and even insert patterns and borders, and choose whether to apply this change to just one page or to the whole book. You can also change the size of your book, and not just the size but the format too, for instance you can change from landscape format to square. It doesn't appear possible to change between landscape and portrait layout, which is understandable if you think of wide photos suddenly having to fit a narrow space, or narrow photos floating around in wide pages.
When you feel that you're close to completing your book, you can press the 'Book Preview' button to view the pages without margin and border lines. I found that this was a great help and showed up a number of details that needed a little more work. From the book preview, you can either choose to go back and do some more editing, or move forward onto ordering your copy.
COMPLETING AND ORDERING YOUR OWN COPY
For each book that you create, the only obligation is that you buy one copy yourself. I chose to order the dust-jacket version with standard paper, partly because it was the mid-cost option, but also so that I could see the quality of the dust-jacket. You can order multiple copies at trade rates in order to have a stock to sell for yourself. When you order your book you are also offered the option of adding your book to the Blurb Marketplace. You can add your choice of profit to the basic price of your book, which you keep should you sell any copies. This is paid to you through Paypal every month that you reach £12.50 or more in profits. If you don't reach this total in a month, it's rolled over to the next. I hope one day to update this part of my review if I eventually manage to sell some copies and the payments happen!
When signing up to the Marketplace you are asked if you are a US citizen and in any way subject to US taxation (the company is registered in San Fransisco). You also have to provide your Paypal email, and agree to the terms & conditions. When you're all registered, you can customise your book's profile page in the shop, write an author profile, decide whether to make your book publically viewable or just to invited individuals, etc. There are also several promotional tools, for instance a customised email 'to all your friends', widgets for your blog, and sharing options for social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE BOOK
I received my book pretty much when they estimated it would arrive - they say to allow at least 7 days from order through printing to delivery. It comes from Holland, by the way, not all the way from the States - presumably a service for Europe. It was very well packaged, sealed in a plastic wrap and snugly placed inside a custom made cardboard packet. It arrived in perfect condition. The printing is very good - as I stated above, I opted for the standard paper for my first copy, and although it is fairly thin paper, it's still semi-gloss and serves the photographs well.
All of the photos and text pieces are present. It's worth noting that with the dust-jacket version, the cover pictures are only printed on that - the hardback book itself underneath has a plain black cover, possibly to match the black background that I chose for the book's pages. The dust-jacket is fairly good quality paper, it hasn't yet settled into its folds so it is a little like thick photo printer paper when you try to fold it without scoring it first - it's quite springy still. I think that it will settle in time. I'm not certain however that it would bear frequent use, but then that's true of most dust-jackets!
A few days after receiving my book, Blurb sent a short customer satisfaction survey via email, and a couple of days after that, a 10% e-voucher off my next order, valid for a limited time, as a thank you for using the site. This was valid against a single or multiple order.
As a vanity project, it has been fun to see my photos in a book! As a money-making scheme, my book isn't 'niche' enough to grab people's attention and sell (at least, not yet). It's worth noting that while you can publish text-only books, the bias is towards photograph or art-based material, although this can range from a collection of paintings or travel photos to recipes, crafts and scientific studies. But if you are looking to self-publish and sell seriously, there is one major problem with Blurb - there is no ISBN number for your book, and the only place you will ever sell it is in the Marketplace or out of a box yourself. You could perhaps pay for your own ISBN numbers and stick them on? There are other self-publishing companies that do provide ISBN numbers, Lulu immediately springs to mind, and I'd be interested to use them to see how they work for the sake of comparison.
However, Blurb has the great advantage of having very easy to use software, and a huge variety of templates. The cost per copy is quite high, which for anyone looking at buying someone else's book in this economic climate would probably be an immediate barrier. My seven inch square, hardback, dust-jacketed, 40-page full colour book cost me £14.95. I've added £2 on to each variation for the Marketplace. By comparison, if you make a text-only book, it could cost as little as £1.95 for a 40-page paperback.
Publishing photo books is increasingly popular, and there are many different companies producing them (even Tesco and Boots do). Blurb, in my opinion, does go a little further, particularly with the Marketplace option, and also with the ability to take as long as you like to construct and perfect your book. I'm already planning a couple of others, and I'm trying to think of more unusual subjects that may be more likely to get some buyers interested! So I do recommend them, as long as you bear in mind the limitations that I've mentioned.
Here's a link to the bookstore, the rest of the site is accessible from here too : http://www dot blurb dot com/bookstore
I can honestly say as I writer attempting to self publish, Blurb.com, with its raving reviews and fair prices, seemed like a dream come true. The site is easy to use, well organised, and appealing to the eye. The books are well printed and very professional.
However, if you are planning to download 'Booksmart' (which in itself is an ironic name - there is little smart about it) be warned to have your patience about you; it will be tested.
I am currently working on my second book within Booksmart, and have in fact taken a break from my work to write this review, as I can hide my criticisms no longer.
First and foremost; font. This program will not accept which font I want to use, and changes it every time I add new text.
Second; Size; the text I paste in from my word processor is size ten. When I look in Booksmart, it is a random mixture of size ten and twelve, which I have to correct page by page. When I try to highlight and change the whole document, the program crashes.
Third; Alignment; I want my work aligned to the left, but again, when I paste it in, it is randomly centralised in parts, which I have to correct page by page, lest the program crash.
It may seem like I am being petty, if not lazy, but these bugs are adding hours to my work, and were it not a matter of price, I would have immediately gone elsewhere. It is only the price and the print that is keeping this review at three stars, the program has TOO many bugs.
I am a true blue writer. The first book I ever wrote was entitled "Wallace and Grommitt and the Puppies", illustrated by myself and totalled at 6 pages long. I made my own barcode on the back and sold it to my mum for 10p.
I loved writing my own books. I would often be frustrated when other books didn't turn out how I wanted them to - or the writing style did not satisfy my standards. Not to say that other authors weren't good enough for me - but I just had my own likes/dislikes. Therefore, I always dedicated my time to writing stories and making books.
So book making was not a new idea to me. We have all been creating our own novels for years. Perhaps in a more primative way - by all means - but making books all the same. Yet, in my adult years I forgot about this and thought that in order to be published, you must first go through an agent (no point approaching the publisher unsolicited, no one will read your work - unless they are a particularly small company) and then wait for rejection letters by the dozen before even getting accepted by an agent! Then it would be even longer to wait for an offer from a publisher.
Then I found Blurb.
Well, actually my brother found Blurb. You see, I wrote a children's trilogy and was collecting my own little pile of rejection letters from various agencies and publishers. I was disheartened and wondered if I would ever get my book in print. So I get this call from my brother - all excited - explaining this easy website that allows you to create your own book and have it printed on demand. No fees upfront, no rejection letters, no fuss - you have complete control over the design and make of your book and you can just buy one copy if you like. Wow. I had to check this website out.
The Blurb.com homepage is simple, easy-to-read and to the point. You can download their book making software (for free) and upload your book (or you can do it by PDF) If you use their software, you can change the font, design, layout, size, paper quality, title, formatting....pretty much EVERYTHING about the book before you upload it for printing.
The software is easy enough to use. Upload any photos or word documents you want included in your book, preview the book and fiddle with all the features. The books can be diaries, photography books, novels, black and white paperbacks, hardbacks or portfolios. The prices vary - depending on the size and length of your book. You can also decide if you want glossy pages or not.
Once you have uploaded the book to their site, you can then order it. You will pay a discounted price for your work and if you buy 10 books you receive a further 10% discount. The discount is better if you buy larger batches too.
You can also choose to publicise your book online - via twitter, facebook, email and a bunch of other social networking sites. Get your friends and family to buy your work and you can set the price of your book to whatever you like. e.g:
Your books costs you: £2.90
You choose a profit of: £1
Your book is then sold to your friends or anyone else: £3.90
You can make the profit as high or as low as you like. Bear in mind that people will not be too keen to buy your book if it's 20 pages long and costs £100.
OR you can choose not to sell your book publically at all. You can still order books for your friends and family but keep the book private. This is especially useful for wedding albums or family history novels.
I have a couple of books published with Blurb.com. They haven't sold much - but that's okay because I just wanted them in print. So really, when you're thinking about self-publishing your book, you need to think about what it is you're publishing your book for. Is it for money? If so, I suggest you don't go through Blurb. Not unless you want to dedicate all your time advertising your work.
You may never get your profit sent to you either. For example, I have about £3 on my account which I can't do anything with. They wont send you a cheque until your account reaches the £12.50 limit. This is nearly impossible unless you have friends willing to buy your book - which in theory should be easy but in a recession like this and friends like mine, no one will. Lol.
If you want something sentimental for friends and family or just for yourself, then Blurb is perfect for that. It's cheap (well doesn't cost anything at all to publish) easy to use and very quick. (You can expect your book to be made and arrive at your doorstep within a month)
There is also a really friendly forum on Blurb.com full of members who can help with any questions or problems you might have with making your book. Or if you're really stuck and you've got a bit of money to spend, you can hire one of their book designers to create your book for you.
In conclusion, go for it for small-time works or sentimental books - for the epic novels and best-sellers, you need to go through the slow and hard process of literacy agencies and publishers. Why? Because the other thing you don't learn about Blurb.com is that your printed book with not include a barcode or ISBN number. This means you can't advertise your books on Amazon or in any book shops. Now you CAN buy an ISBN number but it is quite expensive (ranging from anywhere between £50 and £1000) which you can photoshop onto the back cover of your book. In my opinion, this is just a little too fiddly for my liking.
Blurb.com would be the best self-publishing website on earth if it was still free and they gave your work an ISBN number. (But they wont, because they want your books to be advertised soley on their website)
I hope this was helpful in some way. If anyone has any other questions regarding Blurb.com please do not hessitate to messege me and I would be happy to help. :)
I first took the self publishing plunge earlier this year when I released the Book Airsoft Infidels: The Very Best of Airsoft & Milsim Photography Book One.
I'd researched the possibility of getting a literary agent but when I weighed up all the costs and the printing outlay to actually print and manufacture the cost ran into thousands, money which i didn't have.
Instead of repeating much of what is written in the other Blurb review on DooYoo I hope the following info contributes to giving you an overall picture.
Speaking from personal experience the road to self publishing isn't as daunting as youd probably think, the freedom and sense of acheivement in having your work in print is second to none and Blurb provide probably one of the best platforms out there for budding authors and artists to get themselves on the printed page with your very own printed and bound book.
Blurb print in excess of 80,000 books per year and over the last couple of years has refined its operation considerably, for me I wanted to be able to produce a photographic book but remove the hassle of dealing with printers, couriers and payment headaches so Blurb and its self publishing setup was perfect.
My book was 80 pages, which was my own decision and was based on Blurb production costs,basically the number of pages you have in your book dictates your final price. Blurb establish a manufacturing price to produce each book, book format size and finish also affect this price and then you set the overall retail price that buyers purchase the book and you pocket the difference as profit, delivery is paid for by the consumer the book is printed by Blurb and then shipped direct.
Initially I was worried about print quality and because I was offering a product to consumers through I wanted the finished article to look just as good as any Amazon book if I was get repeat customers and stand up to scrutiny, Blurb has a reputation of being more expensive than other self publishing sites like Lulu but print quality is better.
To test the water I produced a small format 10 X 8 photo book of a holiday in Florida which ran to 40 pages, I downloaded Blurbs own book making template called Booksmart and over the course of about a week laid out the book.
Desiging your book is super easy, Booksmart is a program that comes ready made with loads of different page layouts and fonts from which you can just upload your images,click and drag,deleting, swapping and editing is also an absolute breeze and great for beginners or people with no design acumen.
Once your book is ready and you've checked and edited the content you just upload to Blurbs server, and don't worry, the book and its content remains your property, you don't give up any publishing or rights to your work to Blurb.
For my main project book Airsoft Infidels I set 3 different prices against 3 different versions of the book, softback 10 X 8,Hardback with dustjacket and imagewrap.
Another great thing with Blurb is that you can set up a product page for your book if you intend to sell it publicly,alternatively you can keep the book private and just allow close friends and family access to buy printed copies of it so at every step of the way Blurb is giving you the control over every aspect of your book.
the only downside with Blurb is that delivery costs, courier times and overall costs can be expensive,normally a 10 X 8 photo book of about 100 pages would set you back £12.99 if you bought from Amazon but with the way the pricing,margin and manufacture is set up it prevents you from pricing the book competitively through traditional retail routes. Because of Blurbs manufacture costs your aspirations of publishing on a grander scale are quickly brought into check unless of course you approach a proper book publisher.
I marketed my book with press releases and a website in addition to its own product page on Blurb, sales have been okay, nothing spectacular but then Airsoft, the sport that I play is relatively niche anyway so I wasn't planning on becoming a millionaire from it.
There are many other self publishing sites out there, Blurb and Lulu are two of the most recognised, you can check out Blurb on you Tube for more information but if you want to test the waters in self publishing then perhaps create a small photo book to begin with and see how you get on, another benefit is that all your digital photos at least get to see new life in printed form.
prices and formats do vary,if you want to produce a paperback novel or a large format glossy art book then there are options to cater for you, paper stock and cover options can also be selected depending on what you want your project to be.
Overall self publishing is about giving you the ultimate control in your book, no editors, no publishing agents and very little hassle to stress about.
Have you ever dreamed of having your own work in print?
Perhaps you have written a novel or a set of poems.. Perhaps you would like to get your blog printed in book form.... Perhaps you would like to showcase all those photographs from your wedding that you have sitting on a cd somewhere.. Perhaps youwould like to produce a school yearbook, a cookbook of your own recipes, a note book featuring your favourite photos... perhaps you are an artist and would like to publsih your best works.. Perhaps you would like to have a professional looking portfolio showing off your photographs, or craft projects..
Well Blurb.com is for you - you just need plenty of time, and some imagination!
I have tried making photo books with a few different companies, and havent been disappointed with them - however, I recenty did some wedding photography for some friends, and wanted something of a bit better quality.
However, Blurb is more than just a book printing company - you can also create and manage your own bookstore. If you have a book that you have created - be it text, photographs or whatever - you can display it in your own online bookshop, and set the price to whatever you like. Blurb handles the order, prints the book, takes the payment, and ships to the customer without you having to deal with any of that hassle. You get paid once a month once you have reached a certain amount of profit. If you dont reach that amount, it rolls over to the next month. The only charge is a processing fee when you are sent a cheque (in the UK it would be £3) everytime you get sent a cheque no matter how much profit you have made on your books.
So how does it work? I would suggest browsing throught the video tutorials and forums looking for "How to Get Started" tips. I did one book without reading all of that, but benefited greatly from reading a bit more when making my second book.
Basically, you download their bookmaking programme called "BookSmart" onto your computer. In some ways this is an advantage - but for me it was a bit of a downside - I could only work at my book on the computer I originally uplodaded my photographs onto (unless I downloaded the BookSmart programme onto each computer I was going to use, and imported the file I was working on.. then I would have to save the changes, and import it back onto my original computer.. blahhhhh .. too much hassle!!).
So you download BookSmart, and it guides you through the bookmaking process. You basically import the photographs you want to use, and then arrange them onto the pages of your book. It can take a while to get the hang of it, but once you do, its great fun! There are a number of page templates - at first I thought they were very limited - but after watching one of the video tutorials, I discovered that they are a lot more versitile than at first glance.
There are also many variations in colours, shades, backgrounds, frames etc that you can play around with until you have found your style.
For those designers out there (perhaps digital scrapbookers?), you can design your pages in Photoshop (or similar) in exactly the layout that you want, and import those pages - also described in the help section on the website.
So far I have just tried the photo books, so I cant comment on the journals, cookbooks, blog books.. but I will try them out too one day!
When you are happy with how your book looks, you upload it (Publish it), and off you go. They keep your book online for 15 days - and if no one buys it, they will remove it to make room for other books. However, you will more than likely order a book for yourself, so that solves that problem, and your book remains in the Blurb bookstore for others to buy!
In the bookstore, you can preview the first 15 pages of any book. Its worth looking through other books that people have made to get layout ideas, and inspiration.
The books come in 5 sizes (sizes in inches)-
5x8 (b&w text only)
You can also choose softcover, or hard cover - you can get your hardcover book printed with a dustjacket (which I have done both times - looks very professional!), or you can get an "ImageWrap" book with the cover printed directly onto the book itself. Again, look through the website to see examples of each before you decide (as you cant change your mind half way through the book, or after it has been published).
They have recently added the option of "Premium Pages" with a higher quality, heaver paper being used. I have had one book printed with this paper, and to be honest, I didnt notice a huge difference.
The pricing is extremely good value in my opinion for what is a good quality end product - you really do end up with a book that looks as if you have bought it in a bookshop! Price start from £6.95, and increase depending on what options that you choose, and how many pages you have in your book. As an example - I chose a 10x8 hard cover book with a dustjacket that had 62 pages, and it cost £17.95. Very reasonable I think.
I think that the European orders are produced in Holland, but even so, I thought that the delivery time was very slow. The book takes about a week to print, and it has taken over three weeks for each book to arrive. I did chose the economy option - but I still think it was slow. However, once you know that, you can allow for it.
The books arrive well packaged in a cardboard envelope, and plastic covering inside. As I have already said, I was impressed with the overall quality of the books - especially compared to other companies that I have used.
It's a great idea for a really special gift for someone!!
So get creative, and get printing!!
(Review also on ciao)