Creative: August Self-Publishing Project, Chapter Five

So the book is coming along. A Blurb, 8×10 portrait book, designed in InDesign using the Blurb plugin.(It is awesome!) I’m thinking of using Proline Uncoated stock, and I’m also keeping in mind something NEW that Blurb has coming in September.(hint, hint)


I would describe this book as ugly and strange. Not a classic book by any stretch, but again, the only audience for this little publication is my family. I’ve designed about forty pages so far, maybe more. There are six chapters, some dealing with historic imagery and others dealing with things like paintings.(What I’ve had the most fun with.) I’ve also got a truly horrible looking section at the back that details the history of the bookmaking, including the blog posts I’ve created to cover this story, something I’ve never done before. I’m also toying with using Google Earth for a section, just to make things even uglier…IF THAT IS POSSIBLE.


There are spreads with simple, full bleed imagery, spreads with all copy and each new chapter has a spread. It’s somewhat organized, but if I was going to make this for the public I’d really have to rethink the design.


This has been SO much fun, and I can’t wait to surprise the klan with it. Let me remind you why I’m doing this. Primarily it is to show people how easy and rewarding this kind of bookmaking really is. There is no pressure, no “right way” of doing this. There is only doing it or finding some reason NOT to do it. Creating books like this makes you sharper as an imagemaker, a storyteller, a bookmaker and all around creative. It’s liberating actually. You solve one section of the puzzle and suddenly a door opens up and you see something else to inspire you. I just came up with a new idea, for a new book and work making strategy, something I had never considered before I began assembling this story. I’m as excited to try this new idea as I am to finish this project.

Key steps to get this far this fast:

1. Chose trim size based on specific needs, wants and past history of bookmaking.
2. Made material decisions. I’m not stuck with them but it feels good to have a plan for the final look and feel.
3. EDIT, EDIT, EDIT. I made a tight edit of existing family photography and work from prior trips to the region.
4. Came up with general design plan. Again, not stuck with it, but it’s nice to have a target.
5. Worked in short, focused periods of time.
6. Kept ideas and designed focused solely on being as personal as possible, ignoring the “rules.”
7. Never lost track of how much fun this is compared to the rest of life.

Any questions hit me up below. Good luck on YOUR projects.

10 Comments on “Creative: August Self-Publishing Project, Chapter Five”

    1. David,
      No idea. Maybe it’s like the 13th floor in buildings? I think I skipped it. Math was never my strength.

  1. I like the ideas of fun and breaking rules.

    I presume that trim size and book size are different, Daniel?

    1. Mike,
      Nope. Trim size is just another way of saying “book size.” Although when it comes to printing there is a “trim safe” area you have to keep in mind.

  2. Thanks for bringing us along…really enjoying the ride! You hit on something with this project I’ve been thinking about recently, which is making prints of blog posts (imagine all of the blog posts out there — some interesting, some not — that will simply vanish into the ether years from now if not printed). Maybe I’ll look up my Blurb password and take a swing…

    1. Scott,
      Do it. You won’t regret it. Even if you choose a format like magazine or trade, which are far less expensive than photobook.

  3. Dan, as usual, great to read about the process. You mention the InDesign plug-in. I agree, great tool. When you are preparing images to “place” in ID, do you go through the steps of preparing them (e.g., softproof in PS) as listed on the Blurb website? Any tips to getting them close to right before placing them?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. David,

      I’m a super simple person when it comes to post and prep. I calibrate my monitor and keep in mind density when I’m prepping my files. I don’t soft proof anymore because I know what will print and what won’t. I see these HDR, super saturated images online and you know the creators will never go to print because nothing can touch those files. What I do is get my images exactly the way I want them, so when I drop them into ID I don’t have to exit the program to go tweak those same files and then reimport. My entire post procedure is import, apply present, export. That’s it. This is also helpful when progressing on a project. I see so many photographers get lost in post and never end up making anything. I’ve said this before but I’ve never seen a perfectionist make a great book with Blurb. Not to say you work sloppy but the book is about far more than perfect color, at least for me. And I shoot mostly black and white anyway! Keeping those Blurb rules in mind is helpful, but keep it simple. And a test book, or a portion of a test book is worthwhile as well.

    1. David,
      I don’t when I use the Blurb software, but with ID I have that option. I typically don’t, but others do, and I think it’s more about your comfort level. I might do a test doing both and see what is what, just for kicks. Again, for me it’s about efficiency and past experience.

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